Listen to Your Stream!

By Charese Fruge’

It’s a no brainer! All Program Directors should be listening to their stream on a regular basis. Especially now that the world is working from home due to the COVID-19 scare. Everyone is looking for quality entertainment. If you don’t have time, find someone to help you. It’s your brand and your name on the line. I do a lot of deep diving on radio stations across the country. That means I’m listening to them on the stream instead of in the actual market on a radio. Truth be told, streaming radio verses listening to an actual traditional radio signal is becoming the norm. Even in the car. How many times do you hear stations (ALL STATIONS) run promos that say listen to us on line, on the app, on your phone, on your smart speaker, Alexa, bla bla bla. Programmers and on air talent spend so much time driving people to their streams, but have no idea what they actually sound like. I have to believe that, because some of them are so awful, I can’t imagine they would ever want to take credit for it. 

I just recently spent some time listening to a local Top 40 radio station and because I don’t own an actual radio anymore (besides in my car) I listened on Alexa. I couldn’t even make it through more than an hour of listening because the stream was so obnoxious and bad. I’m not joking. I had to stop listening, and I am supposed to be one of the people who can sit through stop sets and bad radio because of my years in the business and because it’s my job. It wasn’t so much the music as it was the two 30 second (total of one minute) rotating elements that were used as filler content for a minimum of 7 minutes worth of commercials. One was an actual commercial and the other was a music feature. And all day the only thing running in these long spot blocks were these two elements. The repetition was so annoying that I just couldn’t do it. 

No wonder you’re getting NO “at work” listening. And yes, that’s not exactly abnormal for that format, but seriously, take a listen to your brands. Why would you intentionally drive people away when it’s so easy to be creative. Especially when your primary target demo has no idea what a radio is and it takes everything to tear them away from the Spotifys and music services of the world and keep them loyal in the first place. And it’s not just the Top 40 stations that have bad streams. It’s as if we as an industry refuse to accept how normal streaming has become. It’s even more critical now that all stations that traditionally target or rely on “at work” listening have fresh new promos, commercials and music features rotating at all times. 

Even if you work for a big company and corporate controls your streaming filler content, teach yourself to update the stream or find out who in the corporate office will help you or do it for you. If your sales team isn’t making money on the stream, then get creative and use the opportunity to your advantage to keep those who are coming to you via your stream coming back for more instead of pulling their hair out because they have to hear that music feature about Dua Lipa for the 5000th time that day. It’s one thing to bang power hit records, but content in-between the music needs to be engaging and entertaining. Keep your stream as fresh as your radio station.

 There are a few simple steps to keep your stream fresh and up to date at all times:

  • Run your updated weekly and weekend promos during appropriate times on the stream.
  • Require your talent to do a minimum of 2 audio features to swap out each week. 
  • Require your talent to insert a quick audio promo to insert every day before their show and use it to set appointments.
  • Update regular Morning show re-cap promos and insert them into the stream often. When they burn, replace them. 
  • The stream is a great opportunity to have talent promote events your station will be at.
  • If you still need more content, run PSA’s or have talent record PSA’s to run. You get credit for that and it goes into your public file.
  • And worse case scenario, play new music as filler content. Sure it’s not smooth when you go back to regular programming, but if you have enough songs in rotation, that will prevent burn, and new songs appeal to a younger audience which you know is listening via stream and at least you are providing variety. It’s still better than the same thing over and over and over again (unless of course there is revenue attached).

All of these ideas can easily be packaged up and used for sales purposes, or God forbid “added value” or “bonus spots” if needed. It actually may provide you with some revenue opportunities you hadn’t thought of before.  

I can’t say it enough. Your station’s stream is just as much a reflection of you as is your traditional signal. The industry as we know it has changed and we MUST be in the digital and streaming game if we want to compete. If you can’t do it yourself, then have someone monitor it for you. It’s a much better choice than losing to yourself because you didn’t take the time to make it engaging.