Even in Radio, Small Might Be Good Bet for Your Clients

Navigating the Radio Chaos: Part 3

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Part 1. Part 2.

Doug Zanger Doug Zanger
Someone in the radio industry recently asked me why we were taking everything in the direction of Small Plate Radio. They said it seemed as though I was diverting from the path that I had tread for 13 years. They also mentioned that it seemed as though that I was "abandoning" radio and running head-first into the digital world. In some cases, I can see the point. But, when you look closely, we are doing anything but running away from the "traditional radio" world. A few issues we discussed:

Over-the-Air Radio Has Many Established Players
It seems pretty simple to us. We just aren't set up to get into the syndication game. Creating over-the-air radio content takes more time and resources than we can absorb. Plus, there are many established companies who already do good work. We felt as though that we could take the best of radio and develop a new place to create. We all greatly admire NPR, but also have been exposed to the best of commercial radio. By adding the "social radio" element, we felt as though that Small Plate Radio could bridge the gap between the two disciplines, to create content that listeners, brands, agencies and advertisers could enjoy and use to great effect.

We Can Go Deeper
One of our litmus tests was the idea of "going deeper." Take a morning show, for example. In a traditional broadcast environment, they recycle listeners every 15 minutes or so. Because of that, interesting topics can sometimes only get surface attention. We felt that a number of these topics deserved a bigger stage.

Think about our industry. It may, in traditional radio, get a brief mention. In the Small Plate Radio format, it can be segmented into different disciplines to appeal to specific audiences. We can also take the time to dig deeper into things that are relevant at the time. In fact, we're building something called the a:radio network. It's content that is all about advertising, marketing, branding, PR and media. In a traditional environment, it might not work. In this format, we think it can.

For an agency, this presents a good opportunity to dig into an existing strategy to see where you could go deeper for a client. As we've said before, there are some amazing stories out there and this gives clients some control over how they can communicate better, especially in the digital space.

We Can Still Play in the Over-the-Air World
As radio groups develop their digital strategies, we are hopefully developing content that can be syndicated on their online properties. Appland, a show all about iPhone/iPod Touch apps would probably appeal to certain audiences. I can see/hear it on 94/7 in Portland, on The End in Seattle, on KBCO in Denver/Boulder. This is content that listeners seem to want. Stations can benefit because we can strip out the advertising and they can slot their own in. Advertisers and agencies can benefit because it is another platform to build content.

The Model Chose Us
As had been documented, this all started with the Radio Advertising Bureau and their faith in us for Advertising Week 2007. We thought it was just going to be fun to do. What we didn't realize was that this concept chose us and that it would be a disservice to us if we didn't try to see it through. With the continuing emergence of technology, it became clear that "social radio" is a viable opportunity. But, we're not in it alone. It is up to our partners (including agencies) to help us see it through. We have the ideas, but the spirit of collaboration is what ultimately will make this a success for everyone involved.

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