Radio Stations – They’re Now Web Sites That Also Happen to Broadcast – Part 2

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Article highlights:

  1. How radio stations have married social media and traditional media into entertainment powerhouses.
  2. Why social media is important if you wish to be a guest.

Yesterday I introduced you to Alex Hinojosa, former full-time radio personality and current Senior Campaign Manager at EMSI. Alex was working as a talk show host/executive producer in a major market, Atlanta, when I lured him away in September of last year, so he has an up-to-the-minute understanding of the changes radio has undergone.

I asked him to explain those, and how they affect people who use radio appearances as a core part of their marketing strategy. Here’s the rest of our interview.

Marsha: You’ve worked in smaller markets like Lubbock, Texas, and Lansing, Mich., and the biggest, like New York, Washington, DC and Atlanta.  What differences did you see as a talk show host in smaller markets versus larger markets?

Alex: A small but dedicated audience can be even more valuable than an audience that’s five times as big but more likely to channel surf. Because of PPM (Personal People Meter, the ratings system that tracks listeners minute-to-minute) and the corporate structure of radio now, major markets are overrated.

Trust me.  I have many contemporaries in radio who know they were able to do a better show and conduct longer interviews in a smaller market because the ratings system is different. So, as a guest, you’re going to get more time to share your message and it’s going to be with a much more dedicated audience, since listeners have fewer talk shows to choose from.

Marsha: It’s clear when you watch TV or listen to radio, hosts are more intent on having listeners follow them on social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter.  Having just come from the trenches, can you give us the inside scoop on the theory behind that?

Alex: Here’s what’s going on: Most radio stations now are basically Web sites that happen to broadcast. Just last Friday, Clear Channel Radio dropped “radio” entirely from its name! It’s now Clear Channel Media and Entertainment.

Talk hosts and DJs are trying to build social media connections with their listeners so they can market to them at any time – tell them about the next great guest, or contest, or whatever. They’re using Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to drive people back to the radio show’s Web site because the more traffic the station can move to the Web site, the more it can potentially charge for online advertising. It also wants those visitors to sign up for its listener club because, like any other business, building your in-house opt-in database is marketing gold.

Getting listeners to the station’s site has become so important the hosts get bonuses for those Web hits.

Marsha: So what are the implications of this trend for talk show guests?

Alex: The bigger the social media following someone has, the more valuable they are becoming to talk show hosts. All of the guest’s followers are potential new listeners and clicks to the station’s Web site.

If you, as a guest, have a good social network, lots of followers on Twitter for instance, the host will use that, which helps him and you. He might tweet to his listeners, “Hey, tune in on Tuesday when we’ve got @MarshaFriedman from EMSI coming in to tell you all about how to become an expert celebrity.” They go to @MarshaFriedman to check you out and before you know it, you’ve got a bunch of new followers.  Of course, the host hopes you’ll tweet that you’re going to be on his show so that your followers will tune in or listen online.

Marsha:  Another benefit of the online component is that it gives interviews a whole new life.

Alex: Yes! As you know, in the old days as soon as an interview was broadcast, it was over. You had to hope that the audience was listening at that exact moment to hear your message. But now, interviews can live forever. They’re streamed online, sent to people’s phones, captured digitally and turned into podcasts that people can listen to and share at any time. Hosts will use a great interview to drive listeners back to their Web site through social media. They might tweet, “What a terrific chat we had with @MarshaFriedman! If you missed it, go to www.(insert station name here).com and click to listen.” 

Marsha: So, Alex, what do we really need to remember about this new age of radio? What’s the takeaway?

Alex: The best guests not only provide great content, they also have a lot of social media connections. What every producer or host considers before booking a guest is what I call the three C’s of radio.

  1. Content. The expertise you’re going to provide has to benefit my listeners.
  2. Credibility.  When I Google you, does your name come up and do you have credentials to back up your content?
  3. Connections. Is your social media following large enough to benefit me?

Marsha: OK, Alex, one last question. Will you promise to never leave EMSI again? I can’t take another shot through the heart.

Alex: I’ll make a deal with you, Marsha. If I ever get the radio bug again, I’ll stay if you’ll co-host a weekend show with me again. Deal?

Marsha: Hmmmm ……

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