This is one in a series of case studies in a special section of the Oct. 7 issue of Radio World called "Radio 2010: Traditional Solutions Blend With the New," in which radio managers discuss how they are preparing for the next decade of the millenium by improving their businesses in traditional and nontraditional ways.
Jenny Rose Gonzalez helps Frank Anthony, afternoon drive host for the Walrus, upload video and pictures to his blog. They don’t call it interactive radio, yet. But compared with much of our history, during which radio audiences mainly just listened, radio today is interactive.
"Radio is not the medium it was even five years ago," said Jenny Rose Gonzalez, director of digital media for Broadcast Company of the Americas (BCA Radio), an independently owned radio group based in San Diego that owns and operates XX1090AM Sports Radio on XPRS(AM), oldies 105.7FM The Walrus on XPRS(FM) and talker SD1700AM on XEPE(AM).
"Strong communication between programming, digital media and sales is vital." she said. "If a listener hears something that interests them on-air, the first place they go is the station’s Web site; if the information they seek is not there, then we have failed our listener.
"We recently underwent a major redesign for two of our station’s sites and our traffic has increased significantly," she said. "With the introduction of many new areas of content, the integration of our loyalty clubs into our main site’s design and an overall better look and feel of the sites, more listeners are coming more often, and visiting a lot more pages than before." In fact, the station’s group saw its page views increase over 70-fold to 1.2 million a month.
The company engaged Platformic for its Web platform and online Web development environment. "It’s a very user-friendly platform; even the most un-Web savvy guys can use it to upload a podcast interviews, highlights from the live shows and videos in a timely manner so the listener can access them right away."
XX1090AM Sports Radio on XPRS(AM) Online interaction for BCA has even replaced a radio staple.
"We don’t do 10th caller giveaways anymore," said Gonzalez. "This method of giving away a prize doesn’t benefit the listeners, the station or the client who is giving away the prize. Most people don’t react to ‘be caller 10’ because they know that they probably won’t get through. In fact, those that do are often not even regular listeners to the station. Our online loyalty clubs enable us to reward those who are not only listening, but gives those who listen more an even better chance to win."
The stations have also added the social networking capabilities of Facebook and Twitter as more arrows in their online quiver. But Gonzalez cautions that the dizzying array of online offerings can become confusing.
"You have to be careful not to overwhelm the listener. You want to give them as many ways to interact with us, without them having to spend time thinking about how they are going to. It’s all about options: giving our listeners options to interact with us in the manner that is most convenient for them.
"You also need the buy-in of the on-air talent. These are the guys telling our story so they have to be fluent with all the different platforms. It’s really important to consider all the different parties involved as new medias are introduced into your digital media strategy."
"At the end of the day, we’re a radio station and our headliner is what you hear on-air — the talent, the entertainment. Digital media has presented us with a way to make this product, bigger, better and more relevant to the lives of our listeners, enabling us to super-serve these very important customers. It’s a very exciting time to be in radio."