Why BuzzFeed's WIN, LOL and WTF Moments Might Work Perfectly on Radio
BuzzFeed surprised even its fans Monday morning when it said it was starting a weekly hour-long call-in show on Sirius XM, but curating viral content for the web may fit radio better than you'd think. Especially satellite radio.
Sirius approached BuzzFeed about a show after noticing that Sirius hosts were already using a lot of the site's posts for fodder, according to Ben Smith, editor-in-chief at BuzzFeed. And although social media and radio initially seem worlds apart, BuzzFeed became confident that its material would translate well. The impulse to react and share is common to radio listeners and web surfers, according to Mr. Smith. And commenting on a post and calling in to a show are "similar emotionally engaging experiences," he said.
"BuzzFeed Radio" also continues a strategy that Sirius has employed since its inception. "If you look at the history of our content, it has been about finding content that is out-of -the-box for traditional audio media," said Scott Greenstein, chief content officer at the satellite-radio company. That has meant partnering with magazines such as Cosmopolitan and personalities including Bruce Springsteen and Eminem. More recently, however, Sirius decided that social platforms around the web were providing an untapped resource for radio.
"As social media began to grow, it was a natural progression," Mr. Greenstein said.
Late last month Sirius announced a new show, "Politics Powered by Twitter," that revolves around the politics being discussed in tweets. That show and now the BuzzFeed partnership have encouraged other social outlets to express interest in working with the company, Mr. Greenstein said.
BuzzFeed said its only role is to provide content; it will not be involved in selling the radio ads that Sirius said will eventually come. The companies declined to discuss terms.
For BuzzFeed, the weekly hour on Sirius provides an opportunity to promote its brand among Sirius's 22 million subscribers, Mr. Smith said. "BuzzFeed Radio," hosted by BuzzFeed editors Jack Moore and Whitney Jefferson, will discuss the week's big viral hits, explore how they were created and share reactions to them. The show will air live on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. EST and play again Wednesday mornings and evenings.
Sirius will also air "BuzzFeed Shorts" across a variety of its channels, featuring "WIN," "LOL" and "WTF" moments -- labels that web users apply to posts on BuzzFeed's site.
The show is just the latest step in BuzzFeed's expansion over the last year. Well-known for its animal videos and its humorous lists, it has delved into more original reporting of late, hiring reporters and editors such as Mr. Smith from more traditional outlets for journalism. In June it said it will open a Washington, D.C., bureau.
Mr. Smith could not say whether BuzzFeed's latest venture would lead the website to team up with other traditional media outlets, but said the site is careful about choosing its partnerships. It previously said it plans to collaborate with The New York Times on live video coverage of the upcoming political conventions.