RadioFlag is a marketing concept that
combines traditional radio broadcasting with the customization of social media.
The service does this by allowing member to “flag” (select via instant
messaging) the kinds of music, news topics and lifestyle choices to which they
RadioFlag’s “live radio content search engine” uses these flags to
create lists of suggested stations for these and other listeners, which can be
accessed via RadioFlag’s website.
plans a branding campaign, which he calls ‘a rallying call to action for our
industry with all that has happened to it.’
Says Tony Roman, founder and CEO: “On
RadioFlag you can search live content; connect with DJs, talk hosts and other
listeners in real time; and listen from anywhere from the company’s website or mobile
apps if you have a smartphone. These flags are searchable by other users, which
enables them to find the radio content they most want to hear, and also link up
with like-minded listeners.”
Roman is an entrepreneur whose
background includes a tech startup backed by Silicon Valley venture
“I launched RadioFlag simply
because I love radio and could no longer stand to see it be ignored by social
media markets, considering it is the original electronic form of social media,”
he said. “I guess you would consider me an expert professional radio listener.”
Unlike Pandora and other customizable
online music services, RadioFlag is focused on live content from both
broadcast and Internet-only radio stations.
In particular, the site gives
prominence to “free-form format” (college, local, indie and community)
stations, “where some of the most unique and original on-air talent and content
can be heard,” Roman says.
To underline this point, RadioFlag
recently took part in College Radio Day, the October event that brought U.S.,
Canadian and Jamaican college/school stations together into an ad hoc network.
RadioFlag was selected by College Radio Day as its official listening social
“No other format is better positioned
to re-energize this medium like college radio, by remaining uncompromised and
leveraging today’s new social channels,” says Roman. At the same time, “Being
able to choose which radio coverage to tune into based on the flags you read,
then communicating with other listeners who hear what you’re hearing, makes it
a very interactive experience.”
RadioFlag also has joined with several
student stations to create the College Radio Advisory Board.
at the University California, Irvine, participated in RadioFlag launch day in
2011. Broadcaster Rich Marotta, far right, and RadioFlag’s Ravind Kumar are
shown interviewing a student athlete. Tony Roman is standing. Photo credit Sofia Panuelos
“Together we will work towards better
planning, organization and promotion of college radio,” Roman says. “These
stations, with the influence of their young listening audience, will also help
us better develop the products DJs and listeners want for a better broadcasting
and listening experience.
Facebook, Twitter and other social
media are central to RadioFlag’s goal of treating radio as a two-way medium.
Roman hopes that listeners will establish their own online communities based on
shared tastes, be they musical, political or whatever brings people together.
These communities will tie into their favorite stations via RadioFlag and the
Web, thus bringing young listeners to radio.
A big question is money. Can RadioFlag
find a way to pay for itself as it fosters the concept? Currently this website
is free to users (both listeners and radio stations), with no income to speak
“We are not yet generating revenue, as
our primary focus is to promote traditional radio by growing our user base,”
Roman said. “When we do monetize RadioFlag through advertising as one
revenue-generating stream, it will be non-invasive and laser-targeted so our
users only received offers for products and services they would welcome.”
Fred Jacobs is president of Jacobs
Media, a radio consultancy and provider of radio-oriented apps. He looked over
RadioFlag for Radio World to offer a third-party perspective.
“Conceptually, it is fascinating;
combining a search element to find the kind of content a consumer desires,
while marrying a social piece so they can connect with like-minded consumers,”
“The reality is that there are problems
with the service as it’s being rolled out. The site and sign-up process are
confusing; there appears to be few users; and even bands you’d think would show
up well, like an Arcade Fire, really don’t.”
However, this is not Jacobs’ largest
concern about RadioFlag.
“The biggest issue is that the system
isn’t automated — it’s not parsing metadata or other encoded info in streams —
so it’s up to someone at the station to tag and flag their content,” he continued.
“I can tell you that most stations don’t have the personnel bandwidth to be
able to do this.”
RadioFlag engineers and
tech managers review a new product demo.
These problems notwithstanding, Fred
Jacobs likes the thinking behind this service.
“RadioFlag’s trending of individual
users/contributors is cool, along with trending interest,” he said. “The
concept is very interesting, combining community building and content referral
in one. It needs to be simplified, and the participation from the radio station
staff piece is a puzzler.”
Asked about the future, Roman said RadioFlag has plans to
boost the brand and improve its offerings.
“Through our initial
non-structured flagging approach, we have acquired a vast amount of information
and metrics on how users invest their time listening, discovering and
interacting with DJs and fellow listeners alike,” he said.
information will be used for fine-tuning the service this year. A planned
redesign “includes a new metadata approach, making DJs and their shows the
center of the RadioFlag experience, along with a much simpler registration
process, integrating further with Facebook and other social sites.”
There are mobile versions of the service for
the Android and iPhone, while BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 versions are
planned. Also in the works is a DJ app to help DJs interact with
Efforts also include creating an Internet radio network for
the American Basketball Association and possibly partnering with indie record
labels. As well, “We have recently filed to trademark ‘Save the Radio Star,’”
says Roman. The phrase plays off the iconic song title “Video Killed the Radio
“We have many plans in which to use this new extended
RadioFlag brand in our attempt to further promote traditional radio.”