Listener reaction to Cox Media Group’s recent decision to flip its Alternative WSUN-FM Tampa 97X to complete listener song picks has been overwhelming. So far it has generated thousands of song downloads, Facebook likes and over 1.7 million song votes.
97X was the first rock station in the U.S. to let its listeners take total charge and fully decide every song that plays on the air in real time.
The technology supporting the new station format is provided by LDR (www.LDRinteractive.com), a Cleveland-based interactive broadcast technology company that pioneered crowdcasting technology in 2009. Since the company’s launch, it has deployed its patent-pending, interactive programming systems on over 160 stations around the world.
The ‘LDR.Takeover’ platform used by 97X allows listeners to vote on each song that plays on 97X throughout the day by voting on the station’s website (www.97xonline.com) and through a new Apple and Android mobile app that LDR custom-developed for the station.
Initial data in the first seven days since the changeover:
Mobile app downloads – 17,300
Mobile user sessions – 178,700
Unique voters online – Over 300,000
Number of Facebook votes (‘likes’ & ‘dislikes’) – 1.7 Million (4 votes per second in prime time)
Third most Facebook ‘likes’ in Tampa radio
Average number of ‘Open Mic’ song introduction requests – 1 every 3 minutes
“We’ve created the first ‘social music experience’ in the country and have given the keys to our airwaves over to our listeners,” said Keith Lawless , Cox Media Group vice president and market manager. “Together with our technology partner, LDR, we are presenting a listener opportunity to interact with a radio station in a way never seen before in radio.”
The new format allows listeners to choose music from an expanded playlist of more than 1,800 songs covering 30 years of rock music including deeper cuts from albums and artists not typically heard on 97X before. The station is leveraging social media and its mobile app to keep listeners connected to the station. The app also has an innovative ‘Open Mic’ feature allowing listeners to record and upload a song introduction. Listeners are notified by SMS, email and twitter alerts when their favorite songs are about to play, and share votes on social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. 97X listeners can also earn social media ‘badges’ by interacting with the station.
“The engagement levels and average time spent on 97Xonline.com as well as the 97X LDR mobile app are extremely encouraging,” said Daniel Anstandig, president and CEO of LDR. “Since LDR launched, we’ve been fine-tuning our approach to developing crowdcasting technology that uniquely merges social media, mobile and web technologies and broadcast programming to drive broadcast ratings, revenue and web traffic.”
In addition to the music voting features, the LDR platform also offers other interactive elements. It allows listeners to record their voice and send it directly to the station for broadcast, sign-up for instant SMS, email and twitter alerts when their voice or their favorite songs are about to play, and share votes on social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Also, when they earn “badges,” they can share their accomplishment on Facebook and Twitter.
RBR-TVBR observation: If these numbers stay consistent, they can be used to sell against—without having to wait for ratings. This is what many advertisers are looking for now—a digital and social media component. They can and will want to immerse themselves beyond spots and dots with new ways and means of involvement and sponsorships.