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Three strategies to build impactful radio programs

Jack Cales Apr 16, 2021 9:57:45 AM
build impactful radio programs

As a company that has provided radio broadcast tools and services for decades, we’ve seen how radio has ridden the airwave evolution and continues to be a trusted source of news, information, entertainment and companionship.  Based on our passion and experience, we believe captivating programing is key to radio’s growth in a new audio world and wanted to share our thoughts on ways to build impactful radio programs.

Compelling programming is at the heart of radio’s future. With increasing streaming and podcast options, engaging content and programming give listeners a reason to tune in.  So how do you build impactful radio programs that can grow your listenership? We outline three strategies below:

  1. Recognize compelling content will always draw an audience.
  2. Develop the right content for the right platform.
  3. Make sure your content can be found.


Great audio will always draw an audience

Radio caters to all audiences: news junkies through trusted investigative reporting and/or respected opinion based personalities, rock fans wanting to hear classic tunes they first heard in high school, sports fanatics looking for in-depth game-by-game analysis and younger demographics looking for the latest chart hits and context around the artists’ contribution to pop culture. Regardless of format, gripping programming is all about the on-air talent creating a deep connection through authentic engagement and embracing the audience as their personal friends through skillful storytelling.

Borrowing from the European model, one trend that continues to grow in Canada is the expansion of national brands. Most broadcast companies have implemented this strategy to some degree - the most recent example is Bell’s ‘Move Radio’ rollout, creating a recognizable brand familiarity to 10 adult contemporary stations across the country. Some of these national/regional brands are broadcasting programs into multiple markets, live or sometimes tape-delayed. The theory being that in this hyper competitive digital age, live and local is trumped by relevant, entertaining and engaging shows.

As for re-purposing content for multiple platforms, James Cridland, who is arguably the world’s best known ‘radio futurologist’, firmly believes that in this new environment broadcasters are reconsidering the advantages of airing pre-recorded segments as stand-alone pieces or integrated within. Cridland is on the record stating “Polishing things first instead of broadcasting them live works better than taking live content and then editing it down for on-demand consumption.”


Create the right content for the right platform

As digital platforms continue to emerge, new distribution avenues will provide radio broadcasters opportunities to expand their brand through programming. It is not simply a matter of re-purposing content already aired over the transmitter, but growing it for new channels - the right content for the right platform, whether that is over-the-air, digital or social. The key is to use existing talent, as they are the established brand ambassadors that already have an engaged and loyal following, to produce supplementary content. This can range from in-depth artist profiles to behind-the-scenes perspectives. Produced and marketed effectively, it becomes required on-demand listening.

Taking it one-step further, content can be created for specific delivery systems. One example could be developing a story-telling series about cooking, targeted for listening in the kitchen through a smart speaker, sponsored by a food company’s brand. As long as it remains true and cohesive to the radio brand, it can be monetized without using up the limited over-the-air commercial inventory. Compelling audio is always in demand.


Make sure your content can be found

Radio maintains a huge advantage over emerging audio content producers as there’s already a built in audience to market to. The trick is ensuring the station’s listeners are aware of all the brand’s offerings, whether that be live broadcasts, re-purposed programming or original on-demand content.

Equally as important is an awareness of all the platforms where one can listen to the content; from station branded to industry shared apps, from broadcaster owned websites to smart speakers, from smart TVs to adjacent HD radio frequencies. Regardless of platform, the content has to be one easy push, click or command to access. Taking advantage of the re-birth of audio where the public is seeking out compelling audio content, the opportunity exists to grow the brand’s audience through creative marketing and promotional initiatives via social media channels, aggregators or existing partners just to name a few.


We see a bright future for radio and encourage broadcasters to consider these strategies as they continue to experiment and compete with the new audio sources vying for a listener’s time. For other opportunities we see for radio thriving in a new audio world, click here.