This is one in a series of special reports for “Survival Guide 2: Radio’s New Media Leaders,” a supplement to the Sept. 24, 2008 issue.
(click thumbnail)Entercom digital exec Sandy Smallens belts out a Sex Pistols song.
iPhone users can tune into Entercom Communications’ radio stations on their handsets — for free.
Entercom stations in San Francisco KOIT, KDFC and KBWF, and in Seattle KNDD, KMTT, KISW and KKWF, all FMs, are being offered free of charge to FlyTunes subscribers.
FlyTunes streams radio, video and podcasts to iPhones and other Web-enabled “smart phones.” Eventually, all of Entercom’s 110 stations will be carried on the service.
“iPhone users are heavy consumers of multimedia and Web content,” said Sandy Smallens, Entercom’s SVP Digital, who is in charge of its new media efforts.
“We want to be where our listeners are; that’s why we are now on their iPhones.” Cost-wise, supporting FlyTunes “is analogous to providing audio streams through our own Web sites,” he told RW. “It’s quite affordable.”
“Being where the listeners are” sums up Entercom’s approach to new media. But that’s just the beginning: To stand out from the thousands of stations on the Web, Entercom is pursuing what could be termed a uniqueness strategy: It is emphasizing the unique personalities and programming that its stations offer, which Web surfers can’t find anywhere else.
(click thumbnail)FlyTunes user interface. The service offers 650+ channels of content to smart phone listeners.This is where the company sees the best chance of prosperity in the years ahead, as ever more listening options emerge for consumers.
“There is a big difference between automated jukebox Internet stations and live, personality-driven broadcast radio,” said Smallens.
“It is this difference that makes our stations attractive to our new media listeners, especially because our talent is constantly reaching out to our listeners through video simulcasts and blogs. This comes naturally to them, because radio has always been an interactive medium. We are merely extending what we do on air onto the Web through what I call ‘unduplicatable content’; that’s content you just can’t find anywhere else.”
According to Smallens, Entercom has received substantial and very positive feedback from its iPhone audience so far.
His advice for other stations planning their new media strategies? “Be positive with staff when exploring new media ideas; don’t frighten by saying, ‘We’ve got to get this Web thing under control or we’ll all be irrelevant in two years.
“Next, don’t chase every trend; pick and choose which new media options you are going to try, then put serious resources into them.
“Finally, be tolerant of the roughness of your staff’s initial new media ventures. There’s a learning curve attached to this process; you shouldn’t kill something just because its first iteration isn’t as polished as you want it to be.”