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Does Radio Have a Strategy For Smart Phones?

When you get an opportunity to spend time with people using their iPhones or Android devcies, you get a real sense of how consumers have developed relationships with their device. Radio, for the longest time, has had a special relationship with consumers. Radio executives and managers, to this day, tout the bond listeners have with their local station or morning DJ. When Fred Jacobs played video of consumers he tracked in a recent study, it was more confirmation that consumers are doing nearly everything on these tiny devices. Banking, games, e-mail, making calls, using it as a flashlight, taking pictures, and yes, listening to music. But these consumers in cities like L.A., Cleveland, Baltimore, and Dallas were not telling Jacobs, "I have my favorite radio station App" on their phones. Is that a problem for radio?

Jacobs moderated a panel Tuesday at Radio Ink's Radio Tech Summit called "The Moblie CX," and it was fascinating to actually see the consumers in the video and listen to radio people react to their responses. The most mentioned "music" app was Pandora. "I've died and gone to music heaven," one consumer said. How often does radio get that reaction anymore?

Jacobs says radio can do better: "But this also speaks to the marketing challenges that many stations have in effectively communicating to their cumes that listeners can now enjoy their streams on their mobile phones. And this also presupposes that station apps are about streaming, when in fact, many apps provide much more content and resources than just their streams. In fact, from a jacAPPS perspective, we encourage stations that are designing apps to incorporate other aspects of their brands in apps to create a better consumer experience."
A member on the Jacobs panel said, "When I was growing up, WABC was my radio station. You don't hear that a lot anymore." In fact, one of the consumers in the video had several wires coming out of the dash just so he could listen to his Pandora App on his phone. Jacobs says it's about the content, and that's the way we should look at it. "Regarding Pandora, all the listeners on the video called it 'radio' or 'Pandora Radio,'" he said. "So to me, it comes down to the consumer experience. Anything that provides audio entertainment while serving to usurp radio listening or radio's presence on devices and platforms may as well be 'radio.'  Let's put it this way [Pandora founder/Chief Solutions Officer] Tim Westergren thinks it's radio, although maybe radio redefined."

So the big question remains, does your station have defined goals to compete on mobile devices? Do you have a strategy to keep your listeners tuned in when they are using that device for everything? Or are you content to allow them to leave you once they step out of the car? That is, if they are still listening in the car, and not all wired up.

feedback at
Fred Jacobs can be reached at

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