02/14

CBS Sports Radio gets Interactive (and so should you)

From Inside Radio:

Aiming to bring talk radio fans closer to the studio, CBS Radio is beta testing a new iPhone app that enables faster, more spontaneous ways for listeners to get involved with its shows. Sports “The Fan” WFAN, New York (660) afternoon host Mike Francesa is the guinea pig for AudioRoadShow, which went live yesterday afternoon. CBS Local Digital Media president Ezra Kucharz called the new app “game-changing for sports radio” for its ability to let hosts quickly take the pulse on talk show topics and guests. For example, Ten Seconds of Glory, the digital equivalent of the comment line, lets listeners answer a question from a host on their phone and then send the audio to the show producer to be played on air. A separate app feature that lets listeners thumb-up or thumb-down interviews and topics will provide a fast read on how a guest or subject is being received by the audience. “You’ll get real-time feedback from the audience about how a guest is doing,” Kucharz says. Listeners can also participate in Spot Polls from their phone, responding to a question the host poses on the air. The free app allows live listening and includes a mini-program guide that lists topics and guests coming up next — updated in real-time.

This is a sterling example of a broadcaster viewing its audience as a “community,” not an “audience” per se.

An “audience” is a gathering of people listening passively together with no interaction between them and only minimal interaction with the brand (e.g., applause in the case of a theater audience and the occasional call-in in the case of radio).

A “community” interacts with the brand and each other in that brand’s presence.

The former is a traditional media audience, while the latter is the “Arab Spring.”

CBS has half the formula right – the “interact with the brand part.”  That’s clearly the more immediate problem to solve.  And don’t be surprised when a successful test of this app leads to more development down the road which showcases interaction between community members (the other half of the formula).  You can bet that’s on the drawing board.

So kudos to CBS for transforming the radio “audience” into the radio “community” and the Sports Radio “station” into the Sports Radio “experience.”

Note to Sports Radio stations:  Isn’t this exactly what your station app is supposed to be?  Don’t you wonder how long it will take for CBS to license this app to your stations (my prediction: not long).

Note to all broadcasters:  Isn’t this why “everybody all-aboard a streaming aggregator” is only one small part (at best) of radio’s future?  Radio’s future is not about replicating the AM/FM bands on new devices, it’s about adding value to the lives of consumers in a field of choice on their terms.

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