Time Shifting & Radio

Radio has an on demand problem. As Fred Jacobs spells out, people are returning to an audio experience, but appointment listening is about the listeners’ schedule not the programmer’s.

Many have said for a while, it’s not enough to just put your live signal on a stream for a digital strategy. It’s also not enough to chop up your air signal into hours or segments for on demand listening.

But, why isn’t that enough? That’s essentially what TV does, right?

My on-demand menu on Comcast is full of TV shows that already aired. Missed the Daily Show? Watch it later. Missed Homeland, Walking Dead or Game of Thrones? Watch them when you want.

So why can’t radio do it? The answer is too much of the content isn’t worth listening to later. Is there a broadcast radio show you would “DVR” and listen to later?

Public radio has it figured out. (From a content point of view, not financial) It’s a lesson we learned at CNN Radio when we made the transition from a traditional top of the hour broadcast network to purely on demand digital.

What will people listen to?

There isn’t enough value in a 5 minute news update crammed with 20 second headlines for an on demand audience. We saw what anyone can see: the podcast charts are dominated by This American Life, Fresh Air, RadioLab, Planet Money and other public radio staples.

These programs are smart, entertaining, engaging and have some shelf life. Listeners learn something and/or are entertained and they can do it on their own schedule.

So who will radio tap to produce more relevant, desirable content? Go into a news/talk station these days and nobody’s home. Most “news” departments — if anyone is local — consist of one person aggregating what they can from wires and other services to regurgitate on air.

Talk shows are mostly syndicated leaving just a computer in the studio and control room. If there is a local show you have a host and maybe a board op. Who is going to do the compelling on demand content?

It’s not just news and talk stations either. I think music stations have a HUGE opportunity in the on demand space. While the on-air signal is being voice tracked, on demand offerings should have really good in depth interviews with artists coming through town. And I mean REALLY GOOD. CBS Sunday Morning good, or Teri Gross good or Charlie Rose good. Not the kind of interview you get on the Tonight Show or Jimmy Kimmel.

Producing that gripping, compelling, engaging kind of content is hard. It takes skill, it’s an art that needs to be developed.

Who at your radio station is going to do it? Who is going to support them?

Thanks for reading, you can find more ways to connect with me at www.tylermoody.com

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