We can thank digital (again) for another disruptive year in radio

December 7, 2017 - 3 minutes read

2018 Digital Fireworks

The word “disrupt” always comes with a negative connotation: the disruptive person in the movie theater, a disruption in a project timeline, etc.

When it comes to radio, though, it’s time we start to view it in a positive light.

A good example of positive disruption is Amazon’s Echo, a voice activation device fondly referred to as “Alexa.” Alexa allows users to ask her anything and delivers on the request. Unsurprisingly, one of the most popular items queried is… music! Alexa offers music through Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora and music aggregators Tunein and iHeartradio, amongst others.

Music is, of course, something radio has been delivering for over 90 years. Yet with Alexa you can get the music you want, when you want it. It’s a truly on-demand service. This is disruptive and potentially harmful to radio, but the opportunity for radio is greater than the threat.

Federated Media chose to seize on this opportunity. Earlier this year, with help from XAPP Media, Federated became the first commercial radio company in the country to build an interactive “skill” for Alexa. This skill allows users to access a radio station’s stream, podcasts and custom music channels all by simply saying “Alexa, play (radio station name).”

Podcasting is another example of significant disruption for radio and expanded its on-demand footprint in 2017. Podcasting takes shape in many forms of content, from sports, food, art, crime, etc., all varying in length. There are literally thousands of podcasts to choose from. A user can start, pause and stop a podcast. Commercials are few and far between and can be targeted to the wants of the listener.

So, are podcasts just another threat to radio or an opportunity?

At Federated Media we chose not to run from podcasting, but to run at it with all our resources in tow. We created over 50 original podcasts from our on-air talent base, something that’s unique and advantageous to radio. In just over a year we reached a milestone of over one million podcast downloads, and continue to grow at our fastest rate yet. We’ve had early success in the podcast environment in large part because of talented on-air personalities and our ability to promote through our radio stations and digital platforms.

Digital disruption to traditional media is not likely to slow down this coming year. As we look ahead to 2018, Federated Media will continue to invest in radio and in digital to satisfy our customers, advertisers and our employees in a way that is profitable for all.

If radio is willing to embrace, adapt, innovate and provide the best possible user experiences for its customers and clients, its future will be bright.