Part four of a five-part blog series, “The Alexa Effect: How Radio Can Thrive in a Connected World”
Somewhere between your first impassioned teenage crush and the mundane joys of adult relationships, you realized it. Your love life is ultimately a lot more fulfilling when your beloved is actually into you. You might think pursuing the one who blows you off is “adventurous” when you’re young and dumb. By adulthood, however, most folks know Rob Base was right: “It Takes Two to make a thing go right.”
No, I haven’t hijacked the Integr8 Research blog to process my college dating life—or lack thereof.
We’re talking about radio listeners. And Radio, some of the listeners you’re chasing just aren’t that into you.
“If she just had a radio, she’d love me!”
“Everyone wants to listen to the radio—but the barrier to listening beyond the car is having access to a device that plays radio programming.”
Following this belief, you might assume that listeners who don’t own an AM/FM radio at home would be more likely to stream their local FM stations using all those new connected devices that replaced their radios.
Unfortunately, that’s not at all what’s happening. As we noted in our last post, listeners who don’t own an AM/FM radio at home are actually less likely to own a smart speaker, partly because they’re younger—and younger listeners own less stuff in general.
However, there’s something more fundamental going on.
Listeners who don’t own a radio beyond their cars are the least likely listeners to stream a local radio station than any other segment we examined.
Which listeners are most likely to stream a local FM station when they’re in the mood for music? Ironically, listeners who still own a regular radio beyond the one in their cars, whether at home, at work or a portable radio.
Why are the listeners who could most easily listen to the radio over the air the most likely listeners to stream their favorite local stations?
If you believe people don’t listen to the radio because they don’t have a radio, this finding makes no sense.
However, if you instead believe that people who are most passionate for radio programming will find the easiest ways to listen, it makes perfect sense.
People who don’t own radios simply aren’t that into radio.
Not only are listeners without radios beyond their car less likely to listen to local FM radio—both terrestrial and streaming—they’re also less likely to use the iHeartRadio and TuneIn platforms, Sirius/XM (whether via satellite or online), online-only internet radio stations and even Pandora.
In contrast, people who do still own a radio beyond their cars are four times more likely to stream a local FM station.
The second most likely group to stream a local FM station regularly are those listeners who pay to hear radio—namely, Sirius/XM subscribers.
“Who Loves You, Baby?”
Some people who aren’t into radio simply aren’t that into music. Others want total control over what they hear. Both groups existed long before Spotify did.
Listeners who use radio do so because—they really like radio! They appreciate that we pick out the songs they want to hear, not just because it’s convenient, but because of the shared experience. They count on us to introduce them to new songs we think they’ll love. They appreciate the entertainment and companionship we offer beyond the music. Finally, at our best, radio fans feel like their favorite radio station is a club where they belong.
These radio fans seek out radio, whether on the old clock radio they still have on the nightstand, or on the new Amazon Echo they have in the kitchen.
Instead of trying to win over the self-curation control freaks, or conversely the listeners who don’t care that much about music in the first place, radio should seek to maximize listenership from folks who already love radio.
Emphasize that a real person curates the music for them.
Promote the personalities who share the music with them.
Showcase new music so listeners can feel excited that they heard it first.
Most of all, make listeners feel they’re among their tribe whenever they tune in.
Stop trying to please the listener who is never going to think you’re enough. Instead, focus on the listener who loves you for—you!
Make great radio for people who love great radio.
We’ll show why using our personalities to make great radio is especially critical to the future of contemporary formats in our next post.