Cumulus Gets ‘XAPP’-ed With Alexa Skills


Want to listen to the Jack Diamond Morning Show on Washington’s Mix 107.3 or enjoy your dinner with Melissa Maxx cranking out classic rock tunes on 95.5 KLOS in Los Angeles?

Now, you can do it easily through any Amazon Echo device, as every Cumulus Media station can communicate with “Alexa,” and she’ll understand your request just fine.

The nation’s second-largest radio broadcasting company by number of stations has just launched Amazon Alexa skills for 300 local radio stations — plus several nationally distributed Westwood One brands and, just in time for Santa’s big day, a dedicated Christmas Radio skill.

Cumulus calls it “the largest collection of custom skills available with Amazon Alexa in the U.S.”

To get the news out to listeners, Cumulus stations are fueling local on-air, video and social media promotion of the Alexa skills.

Individual stations are creating messaging; top Cumulus markets including New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Dallas stations are now available.

“Voice-interactive technology is bringing radio listening back into the home and office, and will enable interactivity with our stations in the connected car,” says Cumulus EVP/Programming and Content Mike McVay. “Our strategy to create a custom skill for individual radio stations and programs, while educating consumers, is critical as smart speakers have created an entirely new, and rapidly growing platform to consume audio content.”

Westwood One President and Cumulus EVP/Corporate Marketing Suzanne Grimes added, “At an aggregated network level we will have access to valuable data and insights on this rapidly-evolving audio ecosystem.”

Why did Cumulus select XAPPmedia? Grimes cites the company’s expertise in Voice and AI technologies, along with its “strong relationships with radio broadcasters,” and the XAPPmedia One Voice AI SaaS platform that automates deployment and management of voice apps for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana.

“It took just a couple of weeks from the project kick off to launching hundreds of stations live on Alexa; across the board XAPP was efficient, organized, and adept,” she notes.

Pat Higbie, CEO and co-founder of XAPPmedia, says Cumulus challenged his company to move quickly “because they wanted to have an immediate impact; no company has brought hundreds of media properties as individual and local custom skills to Amazon Alexa with this speed and at this scale.”

To sample a Cumulus local station skill, we used KLOS as an example:

  • Just ask your Amazon device, “Alexa, enable Ninety-Five Five, K-L-O-S skill.”
  • After it is enabled, access the skill by saying “Alexa, open Ninety-Five Five, K-L-O-S.”

Cumulus says it will be rolling out new national and local audio experiences, and plans to share new insights on skill discovery and usage, as their Amazon Alexa skills network continues to grow in 2018.

XAPPmedia was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.