LISTENER DRIVEN RADIO
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL RECENTLY PROFILED THIS
GROUNDBREAKING NEW ‘CROWDCASTING’ INTERACTIVE PLATFORM,
EMPOWERING TERRESTRIAL RADIO LISTENERS TO SHAPE PLAYLISTS
AND INTERACT WITH LOCAL STATIONS VIA THEIR WEBSITES
AND SOCIAL NETWORKING PORTALS LIKE FACEBOOK,
MYSPACE, TWITTER, AND FRIENDSTER
With Agreements Already In Place With
Media Companies In the United States, Europe, Australia, And
The Asia Pacific Region, LDR Recently Announced
A Significant Partnership In The U.S. With Citadel Media, Which
Has 4,400 Affiliates Reaching More Than 100 Million Listeners
Ever dream that you had your own radio station where you could call the shots and play whatever you feel like? Imagine the fun you’d have and the impact your own cool, diverse musical tastes would have on thousands, maybe millions of listeners!
Dream no more. Now, thanks to Listener Driven Radio you and your fellow listeners can call the shots. All you have to do is click to pick your favorite songs via your mobile phone, your local station’s website, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Friendster and more than 80 other social networking sites.
For terrestrial radio station owners, LDR is groundbreaking software that empowers listeners and consumers to become programming collaborators, fostering loyalty via real time interaction. Listeners can access a radio station’s playlist via mobile or the station’s website and vote for their favorite songs. Input and voting from listeners directly affects the “waiting” time for the next spin of a song in the station’s playlist—playing more popular songs faster. The platform will automatically email and send an instant message to the listeners who opt in, informing them that their track is about to spin.
On December 31, 2009, Sarah McBride of the Wall Street Journal profiled Listener Driven Radio in an article entitled “For Radio Listeners, a Louder Voice.” She wrote: “Crowdsourced radio takes the concept of caller request lines and kicks it up a notch, with a voting element. While some radio stations allow listeners to vote for a top song, usually it’s just for a small portion of the programming, rather than the whole…In an era where radio audiences are increasingly measured by electronic recorders called Portable People Meters, which can track minute-by-minute listening, jumpstarting tune ins has become crucial.”
There are opportunities for sponsorships and advertising at various listener touch points along the way—including those embedded in these emails and IMs—which by design translates to extra revenue streams for the stations, and usable product information of value for listeners wherever they are.
In addition to general voting on songs and making requests, some participating stations encourage voting on literally which songs will be played next. Others allow local musicians to upload their own music for audience consideration; listeners can help these indie artists build careers by deciding which of them are worthy of airplay.
“Just as it is on hit TV shows like American Idol, ‘crowdcasting’ is part of the excitement of the experience, listening to how your friends and the station’s other listeners are shaping the station with you,” says LDR co-founder Daniel Anstandig. “Having a voice in shaping the entertainment experience is more fun—and it translates to higher Time Spent Listening.
“The great news for Program Directors is that it gives them an opportunity to better serve their audience’s wishes by giving them more feedback and data,” he adds. “LDR is not about replacing the role of the Programmer or breaking rules. Rather, our platform is an enhancement to what they’re already doing, working within the station’s guidelines and playlist parameters and helping them to cultivate loyalty via active, real time participation. Radio stations have historically depended on a long feedback loop to gain an understanding of what their audience wants to hear, but today’s listener lives in an instant gratification world. With LDR, stations play music not ‘to’ their audience but ‘with’ their audience. We integrate into the station’s Legacy automation system, which programmers have used for generations.”
With an initial rollout out in the summer of 2009, Listener Driven Radio is quickly becoming a global sensation and rapidly expanding beyond its base of early subscribing stations and networks in France (Virgin Radio, RFM), Italy (Radio 105, Radio Monte Carlo, and Virgin Radio), and the U.S. (the Joy FM Network, B96 in Minneapolis, Border Media stations in Texas, Vox Media in Burlington, Vermont). Following up on partnerships previously announced overseas with SMS New Media in Australia and others in the U.K, Europe and Canada—and the launch of Listener Driven Radio in the Asia Pacific Region—LDR recently partnered in the U.S. with Citadel Media.
Citadel has 4,400 affiliate stations reaching more than 107 million listeners in the 12+ demographic each week, and includes programs and services like “Rick Dees Weekly Top 40,” “Imus In The Morning,” “American ABC News Radio,” “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” “The Brian McKnight Show,” “American Country Countdown with Kix Brooks” and ESPN Radio. The network has a digital partnership with SustainLine, the nation’s largest green ad network, which delivers more than 31 million unique visitors per month.
The impetus of Listener Driven Radio was a provocative conversation that Anstandig had with fellow veteran radio executives Mike McVay (owner of McVay Media and McVay New Media, the latter of which Anstandig is Partner and President) and Lee Zapis, a 25-year industry veteran whose company, Zapis Capital Group, is an active investor in technology and media companies.
Anstandig recalls: “We asked ourselves, ‘How different would radio be today if it had been invented after the internet? And how would that affect listener interaction?’ Typically, Program Directors put out old business model ‘thermometers’ into their communities, take the listener’s temperature and then singlehandedly decide what kind of music millions of consumers will consume. In this day of high speed connections and instant gratification, every wrong choice is more costly and so much more is at stake. Lee and I began researching the way programmers and station managers in large and small markets were doing business and strategized ways they could better engage their listeners for longer periods of time. All of the data we compiled kept leading us to developing a platform where stations have a real time connection with their audience and could shape their programming around that.”
After two years of research and development, Anstandig, Zapis and their partners in the venture assembled a powerhouse team of some of the best software engineers and development team to create the system that evolved into Listener Driven Radio. This behind the scenes cast includes the most experienced and innovative specialists from the Silicon Valley as well as others who have worked for corporate giants like Disney, Amazon.com, McAfee and Ebay.
LDR stations have access to a 24-hour support team available to assist with IT, engineering and programming questions. Each station receives specific sales materials designed to produce sponsorships on the LDR system, helping to immediately monetize the platform for each affiliate.
“For our entire team at Listener Driven Radio, the most exciting aspect of this venture is that we are creating a new generation of radio, a new way of fashioning programming that gives the audience more access to shaping playlists just as they do with their iPods,” says Anstandig. “It’s as if we are giving listeners a ‘magic chair’ that they can pull up to the program director’s desk so they can become co-creators, giving them virtual ‘ownership’ of the station.”