Terrestrial Radio getting ready for a digital future today


RBR-TVBR observation: RBR-TVBR has been stating this for over two years – the necessity for every local radio and television station to make the investment and enter into the new digital age (some are calling it new media—it’s not new).

We are so entrenched in our old way of thinking – we (radio and TV) get the connotation of “old media” because we’re not progressing with what the consumer is using at their fingertips—smartphones and all of the apps that go with.

So as you go forth, the biggest fear that most broadcasters have told us over the last two years is simply fear of the unknown.

They see other sites with all of their bells and whistles and assume there must be a big staff behind that. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

You have to approach it just like you’re building a brand new facility/station from the ground up and you have your people interacting in all areas of your station. A PD not only can become a good copywriter and produce good commercials, but the on-air staff also produces commercials and does voice-overs. People are multitasking today in all facets of the environment. As you read further, the Bridge findings emphasize what we have been stating since the year 2008.

For further RBR-TVBR observations on websites and how to get these things moving, see our RBR-TVBR obsrvation tips below. Your website, just like RBR.com, is your ‘New Asset’ in all areas of growth.

Bridge Ratings Discovery:
Bridge Ratings sought to discover in its latest survey and analysis analysis that spoke with 242 general managers and/or market managers in the top 150 radio markets to better understand what’s preventing them from being more proactive when it comes to digitally transitioning their businesses. This study reflects an industry’s awareness of the need for rapid digital transition and its frustration with an inability to act.

The word has been out for some time now; the warning to all entertainment and media companies is “adapt to the consumers’ preference for online and mobile platforms or be forgotten.” Terrestrial radio has been exposed to the potential of increasing audience and advertising revenue through digital platform transition, but this new study by Bridge pinpoints just how unprepared they are.

In a study released in June 2010, Bridge focused in on the impact that social media marketing can have on any business. Terrestrial radio was included in this study. Results of a very specific four-week marketing process called “The Social Marketing Hierarchy” showed that over time and with repeated and proper messaging terrestrial radio’s tune-in occasions were positively impacted. (see chart below).


Yet, whether the tool is social network marketing, loyalty clubs or increasing online listening, terrestrial radio executives seem to have their hands tied.

The study was conducted during the month of May and June 2010 and while there are some market size variances the general complexion of the study can be ascertained by looking at the average among all executives that were interviewed.

When asked “What is preventing your station(s) from having all the digital resources they need to build audience and increasing billing?”, the responses break out as shown in the following chart:


While these key obstacles rate very high for all stations, the two of greatest concerns are Budget (92% of GM’s responding) and Know-how (91%) or having the properly trained and managed personnel dedicated to their digital efforts.

The fact that costs and personnel assets to direct and operate digital strategies are the number one and two issues makes sense since they are inextricably tied together; station management can’t have one without the other.

And while staffing a digital department ranks as the third obstacle to effectively moving forward more quickly, it is clear by these interviews that traditional radio’s executives find themselves between a rock and a hard place; the desire to move faster is there yet the resources are not.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel
A simultaneous national Bridge Ratings study conducted among 2,612 persons ages 12+ underscores the urgency related to terrestrial radio’s rapid adoption of all things digital.

The following chart shows media use among this sample. Two findings are quite clear:
•For the immediate future terrestrial radio should maintain it’s weekly listenership penetration and
•Internet radio and social networking show the greatest growth.


However strong is weekly tune-in to traditional radio stations (AM/FM), TSL is the continuing concern for the immediate future as more consumers of radio find alternate entertainment sources.

What is the potential impact on terrestrial radio?


According to this sample, less than 10% had recently come in contact with a social network communication sourced from a radio station. This chart tied to the previous chart, highlights the importance of radio’s use of these tools and that the light at the end of the tunnel is the social networking train coming on fast.

The Real Impact
Of those who had communicated with a terrestrial station through a social network, the power to move them to action was quite clear as shown in the following chart:


44% were motivated to visit the station’s web site and 38% indicated they listened to the station in question by virtue of some social network contact whether through Twitter, Facebook or any one of hundreds of social network entities.

All indications suggest that social media marketing is and will play a major role in the future business success of traditional radio where it is very feasible for radio’s analog universe to interface with powerful digital tools.

Mobile Consumption
The mobile future presents yet another opportunity for traditional radio as part of being prepared.

91% or 285 million Americans own cell phones. Activity on cell phones is no longer limited to a simple phone call for most users. The cell phone has become a hand-held computer and consumption projections provide insight into not only which activities are growing but which offer the best opportunity to marketers.

In this latest Bridge Ratings study, 2311 panelists were asked about their current and potential use of cell phone activities. This chart expresses these interests as the percentage of panelists who expect to use the activities more in the next 6 months based on their current usage.


Social networking (29%), Text messaging (25%) and Tweeting (22%) are mentioned most often with Internet radio streaming in a close fourth position. All of which provide outstanding business growth opportunities for terrestrial-based radio businesses.

Bridge concludes by noting that over the last two years the digital landscape has rolled out much faster than expected. While the Internet has been pervasive for years, its power on a personal basis has been exposed through social networks and the speed with which communication travels.

Knowledge is the most combinable thing humans have, but taking advantage of it requires special conditions: the size of the community, the cost of sharing that knowledge, the clarity of what gets shared and the cultural norms of the recipients. No other environment exemplifies this more than the Internet and its communication capabilities.

Terrestrial radio management in general seem to be getting the message that leveraging the Internet’s tools to further its business is a critical component of future growth and success. Intellectually it is clear. The ability to empower the radio business as a whole is stifled by recent economic developments and corporate rationale concerning reinvesting a greater portion of profit margins.

Entertainment and media companies that figure out how to apply the digital tools to their business models will escape marginalization. In the old days, the speed of change was manageable in an environment where the ability to act was sometimes detained due to operational limitations. In 2010 the luxury of waiting to act is more of a detriment.

RBR-TVBR observation: RBR-TVBR has been saying this for the past 2 years that the internet / your local website will become radio’s new asset builder. Of all media, it is radio that has the advantage with their built-in loyal listener base. By driving listeners to participate on your website, you will build a new asset in revenue and in metrics / ratings.

To accomplish this task there are just a few simple rules that one needs first to confront: 

Rule #1 Wanting to Engage into New Media. You have to think new. This is the new asset-builder for the radio and TV mediums. You have to want to challenge yourself and build this new asset; change your old ways. That is why many refer to radio as ‘Old Media’ and the internet as ‘New Media’ — just because it is newer.

Rule #2 Become self-taught — just by searching and reading about how to establish a website. You have to engage in the process of learning the new terminologies. It doesn’t mean you have to personally build one, just learn the terms like you did about radio or TV. Radio and TV executives have to find their comfort zone and get familiar with the “new language.”

Rule #3 Retain the services of an individual that has been working in the internet field and has the resume to prove it and websites for you to review. If you are lucky as RBR-TVBR was to find and retain a young man or woman that not only wants to know about radio but is a walking guru on today’s internet environment. We at RBR-TVBR were able to learn ‘New Media’ by putting our questions in media terms and then having them explained in internet terms. Today www.RBR.com is a solid working media news and information website with Google Analytics metrics to prove it. 

Rule #4 Use your station’s airwaves in the search for that key person that will walk you into the internet business one step at a time. He or she will be able to help in finding the right CMS/Content Management System and the right designer to work together to build your website. You will be surprised that it does not cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.  And, you do not have to commit your next unborn child to any company that says they can do everything at once. Go slow and learn.

Rule #5 Overcome the fear factor once the website is completed. Suggestion: everyone is involved with the website. At RBR-TVBR everyone knows the working parts of our website and everyone contributes content to make it work. Once you find it is easy, then think as a creative Production Director because the sky is the limit in building your new station asset. You can never “screw it up” because what you put up on your website you can always take down. 

Rule #6 No one can afford not to begin to establish a website presence because it is where your radio listeners and TV viewers are today and will be tomorrow. It does take work to maintain any website and social media interactive involvement.  The key to success on the ‘net — or your new station’s asset — begins with Rule #1.

Rule #7 RBR-TVBR additional comment: The task is not nearly as daunting as some people think… there are great tools that do most of the work for you…most of the Social networking stuff can be automated…

The other is that just having a site doesn’t mean people will care about it…too many radio sites are first-generation “tossed together “websites.

Think of your website this way: You would never consider running low-grade ads or production, yet push people to websites that poorly reflect the professionalism of their brand. Again, our recommendation is retaining that internet architect.

How much does it cost to start a website?: RBR.com was designed, skinned and on the air for less than what you may think…the RBR-TVBR staff runs it from there.

Another suggestion is understand the value of the tool. Too many times we have heard, “we need this tool.” But do you even understand what you can do with the tool? You don’t go into Home Depot and walk the tool aisle and just grab the shiny new thing. You have to understand what the tool does (in function) and determine if that will help you get the job done. There are hundreds of great tools at Home Depot, but if you are not planning to use it or commit to learning how to use it properly – why are you buying it?

RBR-TVBR on Apps: Everyone thinks they need an iPhone App… but will they gain anything from it? Most people don’t understand if you do an iPhone app, you then need a:
1. Blackberry App and a
2. Droid App and a
3. WebOS app…
So it is not developing 1 App, it’s developing 4 apps.

RBR-TVBR note: We are always here to help any broadcaster with questions as we too are broadcasters.
Jim Carnegie, Publisher – [email protected] 813-909-2916