Blog Post #10: Radio & Smart Speakers

For us, radio will be here to stay. Whether or not you feel as though the radio industry is dying, there will always be a medium for radio. I enjoy the spontaneity of radio and not knowing what’s coming next unlike a playlist even if you shuffle. 

I enjoy radio in the car, but other than that I will admit I do not listen to the radio. I will occasionally listen to a podcast here or there. I do not listen to SiriusXM or iHeart Radio and only when I’m outside of range for the tri-state radio stations, will I put on Spotify in the car. 

But earlier this week, Ernesto Aguilar of Radio World published an article titled, “Community Broadcaster: “Google, Play Me Community Radio.” He explores how radio and digital have always been rivals and have had to combat the new technology every so often. 

But now with smart speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, Radio has another larger threat unless they partner together which is exactly what Google announced last week.

Google announced that smart speakers will now be able to be customized to your preferences. If you ask for news stories, you will get news tailored to your location and past preferences. 

If radio can find a way to start producing content tailored to people’s preferences because those who listen to the radio are tired of listening to the same songs constantly or the same advertisements, then radio will be able to stay afloat. 

Radio needs to partner with these digital media companies in order to prosper and fight for their lives because customized advertisements, preferences, and settings are the new wave.

The Millennial and Generation Z population prefer customization rather than the notion that ‘one size fits all.’ 

According to NPR and Edison Research


Among the 53M+ smart speaker owners A18+ in the U.S.:

69% of smart speaker owners use their device daily, and households with children are even more likely to use them daily

Smart speaker owners who have owned the device for 2+ years use an average seven (7) skills per week, compared to an average 12 skills per week among those who have owned the device for less than three (3) months.

66% of those who own a smart speaker with a screen say the screen has made it easier to discover new content, and the same number say having a screen makes the smart speaker “easier to use.”

Radio needs to be more accessible rather than on the radio in the car, they need to ride this technological and digital movement. 

Blog Post #9:Sleigh bells ring, are ya listening?

November 1st, the end of Halloween season and the beginning of Christmas season? Or is it?

In actuality, Thanksgiving is less than one month away and Christmas is just about two months away. But when is it an appropriate time to begin playing Christmas music?

According to The Enquirer, a radio station in Cincinnati began playing Christmas music this year on November 1st exactly. While 93.3 is a Christian station, it seems a tad bit early to begin playing Christmas music.

This may contribute to why it seems as though radio as an industry is dying. Stations begin playing the same music and then they don’t stop playing that music.

According to Radio Ink who did a study on how radio can improve, they found “When asked why they’ve been listening to less radio, survey respondents said the reasons were too many commercials and repetitive music (both at 40%).”

Likewise, ““Hearing favorite songs” was listed 66% of the time,” which means that if you are not a proponent of early Christmas music, you may turn off The Enquirer or any station that plays early Christmas music for good or stop listening for a while.

During a time where there is no shortage in music with E! People’s Choice Awards on November 10, American Music Awards on November 11, Country Music Awards on November 14, amongst several other awards shows; people should be listening to popular music and the music that will be featured on those shows in order to stay up to date in music. You can find the full lineup here.

According to a study done by Bustle, 52 percent of people believe it is acceptable to play Christmas music after Thanksgiving which falls on November 28th this year. But interestingly, 2 percent said it is never acceptable to listen to Christmas music and 9 percent think it is acceptable to listen after December 1st.

But, the Cincinnati radio station 93.3 said, “We believe Christmas is the most joyful time of the year! It’s all about celebrating the birth of Jesus,” the station’s website said, “It’s never too early to celebrate the holiday.”

It would be interesting to pay attention to how their followers tune in and tune out when a Christmas song comes on the air especially for all radio stations and for what time of year.

Blog Post #8: What is the industry doing and how can it improve?

Radio Ink wrote an article this week, “How Can The Radio Industry Improve?” and we were curious what this exactly meant.

Obviously over the course of this blog, we’ve seen streaming services prosper, radio stations thrive, but also close, and seen a large share of profit go towards Pandora Radio and Sirius Radio.

Many other industries such as books, magazines, and newspapers have to go digital in order to keep up with the times, but I think that radio is in this limbo stage because there is not much room for growth given the fact that they have added a digital component such as a website and social media accounts, but people will always use radio for what they use radio for.

Uses include: driving, obtaining news, and older generations listen even in their homes, but there is this transition that media and news can come from anywhere now. For us personally, we listen to the radio because we like the spontaneity of the songs on the radio. On Spotify, you have your playlist and could shuffle it but for the most part, you know what’s on it or coming next.

With that, Radio Ink interviewed some managers from different radio stations about the future of radio and how it can improve and these were some of their responses:

Self-promotion. Radio has a perception problem that needs to be addressed. Radio reaches 93% of the population each week. More people are listening to broadcast radio than are using Google or Facebook or Twitter, yet there is this impression that radio is a dead medium,” Ray Quinn said from iHeart Radio.

“Every radio station gives special access to a unique group of people and we need to do a better job of being a matchmaker between our listeners and our advertisers. When we truly know and understand our audience, we make better recommendations for our clients wanting to grow their business. And the creative! We have to resist the clichés and deliver a message that is compelling and moves people through the buying funnel,” Ami Graham said from NRG Media.

Two things jump out to me. First, radio needs to be better at telling our story. The dollars we command are not commensurate with the audience we deliver. It’s been that way for many years and it’s beyond time that radio takes control of our own narrative. There is a common misperception that radio is dying and our industry needs to do more to combat that. Secondly, we need to be more proactive in doing what radio does best – deliver local customers to the doors of our advertisers. Radio has been far too reactive in accepting new technology, new ways of thinking, and ultimately new ways of reaching people. We’re in the audience delivery business and whether we reach that audience over the air, online, through podcasts, on smart phones, at live events or whatever comes next, we need to be as proactive as possible in making sure that we’re never out of touch with the ways people consume media,” Paul Kelly of Longport Media said.

After looking at the numbers, Radio World did a study in 2017 about “Why do listeners listen,” and the response they received:

“Consumption via radio and music apps were at 63%, followed by streaming audio (58%), smart TV (54%), MP3 players (47%) and video games (44%). Satellite radio was at the near-bottom of the pyramid with 23%, followed by the likes of podcasts, HD Radio and smartwatches.”

““Hearing favorite songs” was listed 66% of the time, followed by the fact that the format is free (57%). The power of local DJs, hosts and shows was important (at 56%) as was the simple power of habits: Fifty-two percent said the main reason they listen to AM/FM radio is because it is a habit.”

“Even radio’s reliability as an effective communicator made the list. Respondents said the main reason they listened to radio was for emergency information (33%), followed by weather and traffic at (27 and 24%).”

“When asked why they’ve been listening to less radio, survey respondents said the reasons were too many commercials and repetitive music (both at 40%). Other factors included lifestyle changes (37%), less time in their car (33%) and the impact of music streaming services (30%).”

With these extremely beneficial numbers, we think that radio has this notion of ‘struggle’ since they don’t necessarily connect with their followers. We don’t know if it’s a lack of technology that they possess, but they may be out of sync with what their listeners want to hear.

If that’s the case, they should obtain the proper technology and figure out when listeners leave their station during what songs, programs, DJs, and advertisements and make improvements that way.

If they have that technology and are still having this issue then they need to make a major cultural shift because what they’re doing is not working and need to listen to their listeners because people will tune out and radio ultimately will as well.

Blog Post #7: Saying Goodbye to WBAI

A shock to most, radio station WBAI FM 99.5 has announced that after 65 years they are shutting down.

WBAI 99.5 was a listener-supported radio station based out of New York City. The station ran on mostly listener contributions. WBAI has a nonprofit parent as well, which is based out of California. It seems like both parties have been struggling for a while, and shutting down the station was the last thing they could do.

NY Post states that the radio station had about half a dozen employees at the time, and some volunteers. After a recent visit to WNYC, we learned that volunteers are very important to companies in the radio industry. It is clear that the ratio of employees to volunteers was not enough to keep WBAI on air. Even one of the hosts of the show was a volunteer.

WBAI was the go to station for counterculture in the 60’s and 70’s. Recently the station featured a lot of classic musicians like Pete Sagar.

The abrupt end to this radio station was shocking to so many listeners. I have a feeling that a lot of radio stations may be coming off the air soon due to the lack of listener contributions.

Blog Post #6

Streaming services have taken revenue away from many traditional business practices and industries. For example, Netflix is hurting movie theatre ticket sales and Spotify is hurting the sale of artists’ albums. 

With Spotify beginning to produce more and more podcasts, will they begin to take over the radio industry too?

According to The Guardian, the immediate answer is no. They said, “radio listening in the UK appears robust, holding steady at around 48 million adults – 88% of Britain’s adult population – listening to just over $1B hours each week.”

“Spotify’s move earlier this week to spend hundreds of millions on two podcasting companies – and earmark up to $500m (£387m) for more acquisitions in the field this year – is a clear indicator that the rise and rise of podcasts looks set to be the next looming challenge for traditional radio. Spotify quantified the scale of the threat, saying it expects that over time 20% of all listening on its service will be non-music content. It currently has 207 million monthly active users,” Mark Sweeney of The Guardian said.

But, radio has see a decline in youth listeners. Why is that? The younger generations may be spending more time outside, playing video games, listening to Spotify, watching Netflix, or to put it simply: don’t have direct access to a car. 

Studies by The Guardian show, “Radio attracted an average of 6.5m 15-24-year-old listeners per week in 2018, a fall of approximately 840,000 since 2010.”

Unfortunately for radio, “The BBC admitted last year that it had found for the first time that 15 to 34-year-olds spent more time listening to streaming music services – such as Spotify, Apple and Amazon Music, and YouTube – than all of the BBC’s radio services.”

This poses the question, what can radio do to get back in the game with streaming services? 

For starters, they use on-air commercials to drive revenue and by being live on-air, they have the ability to do give aways in order to keep listeners involved, but they can also take call-ins for interactions about hot takes, song requests, etc. 

We don’t see radio dying nearly as quickly as we see movie theatre sales falling. Radio will live longer and prosper longer than most industries rivaling streaming services. 

Blog Post #5: Paying the Price

Entravision Communications Corp. is facing serious fines from Global Music Rights for illegally playing numerous artists on their radio stations. Artists such as Metallica, and Steve Miller were having their songs played thousands of times without any pay.

But get this, this has been happening for years. Bloomberg states that, over 130 clients of Global Music Rights have had their songs played close to 10,000 times. What is this going to cost? Global Music Rights is asking for $150,000 per each time a song was illegally played. If you do the math, thats $1.5 BILLION dollars Entravision owes.

GMR has quite the A-list artists, they have signed to work with the company because of their reputation. GMR has offered them the best deals when it comes to performance royalty’s. However, it looks like someone slipped up making sure they are secure.

Since songwriters really rely on these royalties fro radio stations playing their songs (to pay recording studios and other staff members), this mishap could have really affected a lot of them. Stations like IHeartRadio has agreed to work with GMR, but Entravision never responded to any of the deals offered. A majority of Entravision’s stations include Spanish radio in popular areas like LA and Miami.

The lawsuit is set to take place fairly soon. It will be interesting to see how Entravision responds considering they haven’t had made any comments since being sued.

Blog Post #4: ESPN Radio personality to get big payday

Andrew Marchand from The New York Post wrote an article a few months ago saying, “Stephen A. Smith poised to become richest talent in ESPN history.”

Smith’s salary is currently $5M and has two more years on his current contract, but Marchand said that Smith’s salary can reach as high as $10M in two years.

But, what does this mean for the radio industry? What does ESPN do that other radio networks don’t do? Why does Stephen A. Smith who spews blasphemy get paid the most?

ESPN is paying Smith $5M, and Marchand said, “Mike Greenberg is paid $6.5 million to host “Get Up!,” which is the network’s highest publicly known salary. PTI’s Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser are believed to be in Greenberg’s neighborhood.”

With that, most radio networks do not even bring in that much revenue. While ESPN’s slogan is “The World Wide Leader in Sports,” some could argue that specified networks such as NFL Network, MLB Network, and YES Network do even better analysis than ESPN.

In my opinion what makes Stephen A. Smith unique is his ability to spew nonsense and outlandish statements that makes him a must listen when driving to work in the morning or to catch on the flip side.

Smith is known for his bold claims, classic “Stay off the weed” comments, and his inability to make correct and valid points in his analysis of several different football players.

In the previous video of Smith’s analysis of the Chargers vs. Chiefs playoff game, Max Kellerman and Tedy Bruschi’s facial expressions say it all. He tells his viewers to look out for Hunter Henry “And the way he has played this season and how effective he’s been,”

Stephen A, Hunter Henry tore his ACL in preseason and did not play one game that season. Did not catch one pass. Not one.

Which makes me wonder, how is Smith the highest paid analyst in sports radio. I will admit, I do find his show to be entertaining. Not for his analysis, but how much fun he has and his fearlessness to say even the most grotesque statements. I don’t think people are looking for the best quality, but actually the most entertainment.

That’s the bottom line, he’s entertaining. I appreciate Smith’s comments always and will certainly tune in when I can.

Blog Post #3: Redefining Alternative

New York radio station ALT 92.3 has been struggling trying to redefine what alternative music means for its viewers. Right now, ALT 92.3 is New York’s only major contemporary rock station – playing a wide variety of artists such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bastille, Green Day, & more. What ALT 92.3 is currently dealing with is that ‘rock’ music isn’t what listeners are most interested in. They want to hear new poppier music mixed in with the throwbacks. Program director from ALT 92.3 Mike Kaplan stated, ““We don’t even say the word ‘rock’ on the radio station — we’re New York’s new alternative…” (New York Times)

Platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora have made it hard for certain radio stations to develop because streaming music allows the listener to pick exactly what they want to hear. Radio stations have to guess what their listeners want, if they aren’t playing the right music the listener is just going to change the station. ALT 92.3 has been trying to figure out the perfect balance of alternative music and top hits. They figured out that while most listeners do enjoy the throwback jams of pre 2000’s they do still like to hear new artists. Current artists are doing a lot of cover songs as well – that helps with keeping theme to alternative music while also keeping it fresh. Another obstacle the radio station runs into is finding new talent that Spotify or Apple Music didn’t pick up before them.

ALT 92.3 statistics show that a majority of their listeners are male, roughly 60/40. In turn, a majority of the artists they play on their station are male artists. Program Director, Mike Kaplan wishes that he could boost female listeners to open up and diversify the music being played. Going forward I think the company should look into targeting females in their advertisements and make it more appealing for them.

Blog Post #2:What does PLJ shutting down mean for radio?

Are you sad about 95.5 PLJ shutting down this summer? Join the club.

WPLJ ended its radio station this summer after thriving as a potent New York City radio station for over 50 years. According to Billboard, “Since 1983, PLJ has been either top 40 or hot AC.”

Although in recent years, the station has not flourished. According to Radio Ink, the estimated revenue for PLJ from 2010 to 2017 has decreased significantly.

2010: $27,100,000
2011: $19,100,000
2012: $17,700,000
2013: $18,600,000
2014: $12,900,000
2015: $ 8,975,000
2016: $10,275,000
2017: $10,475,000
Source: BIA

It cannot be the music they’re playing as the covered most genres including pop, rock, classic rock, and alternative amongst many other genres and songs. So that raises the question, why?

Why would one of New York City’s longest lasting radio stations have it’s revenue divided by over one-third in just five years?

Their long time anchor Scott Shannon left PLJ for CBS only just a few years ago, but they have been on a steady decline for a while.

Phil Boyce told Radio Ink that he actually thinks, “Hybrid formats are always a problem, especially when you’re in a market like NY where you have many, clearly defined radio stations. Again, the problems really get exaggerated when the ratings are slipping.”

The issue is that they tried covering too much. When you’re in a market like New York City you should try to specify and define the genre of your station and music. They tried covering news, music, weather, and just too much all at once. In New York City, you have Z100 who owns pop and the Top 40 and Nash FM 94.7 who covers country amongst many other specialized stations that include 102.7, 103.5 KTU, and 104.3.

Also not too long ago, 92.3 AMP Radio sold their radio station and it become ALT 92.3 who ‘specializes’ in alternative music. This may have had more to do with the merger between CBS Radio and Entercom Communications, but PLJ means more to do the industry and makes us question the future of radio and how stations will survive with Pandora and IHeart Media bringing in billions of dollars alone.

Blog Post #1: Internet Radio

The Radio industry is changing. For the better?

Only time will tell. But, what does that mean?

Internet radio has become a dominant source for American’s daily news intake. After analyzing, IBISWorld’s , Internet Radio Broadcasting Industry Research Report, we realized that total revenue in 2019 was up $4 billion and total businesses increased to 527 as well, but compared to traditional radio broadcasting, the number of businesses decreased drastically.

After analysis, we believe that internet radio could be monoplozing the industry. While there is not one dominant company, IHeart Media and Pandora are the leaders of the industry and bring in the largest share of revenue. IHeart Media brought in $913 million, staggering compared to the rest of the industry, bringing in nearly a quarter of the entire industry’s revenue. Even so, IHeart Media was up 2.4% from 2018.

Even more eye-popping, according to Inside Radio, SiriusXM who purchased Pandora Radio brought in a record second quarter 2019 revenue of $2 billion. Clearly, internet radio has not diminished as there is still money to be had in the industry.

According to Statista, “The continuous presence of advertising on radio, heard in cars as well as in public areas, is an incentive for many businesses to invest in this medium of advertising. The retail and communications industries are the largest radio advertisers in the United States, with companies spending hundreds of millions of dollars on radio advertising each year. Advertising revenue often keeps traditional formats afloat, and is greatly important not just for radio but also for magazines, newspapers, and TV, but also for music streaming services like Spotify.”

The industry may not be what it once was with hundreds of ‘booming’ radio stations, but more of an oligopoly, where two internet radio stations are able to provide sports, news, weather, and entertainment all at the click of a button. But with revenue numbers up from even just a year ago, all is not lost in radio, just more centrally located.

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