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I finally figured out how to Profit from HD Radio

So I’m meeting with a wonderful Christian radio client who relies on direct financial support from their listeners, like many in their format.

They are very successful thanks to a clear, broad, mainstream focus for their stations. But this also means some of their original listeners who are getting older find their tastes less satisfied by the station than they used to be.

The problem is that some of these older listeners provide very strong financial support to the station, even remembering the station in their estate planning. This makes them VIP listeners of a very particular kind.

“How many are in that category?” I asked.

“Maybe 300” they said.

“Here’s what you do,” I suggested. “Give them all free HD radios. Then find out exactly what those 300 people want to hear: Send them a questionnaire and have them check off their favorite Christian music artists. Then create an HD channel which plays all the hits from those artists and all the favorites for that audience of 300 listeners.”

“But how old do we go? What format will this be?” They asked.

“It’s not a format,” I replied. “It’s the Christian songs which best suit these 300 people.”

The end result will be a vastly improved and direct relationship (after all, you’re not only giving them a free radio but you’re programming a radio station exclusively for them), vastly improved loyalty and satisfaction, and – I suspect – vastly improved financial support.

And isn’t a service personally tailored to that degree entirely worthy of magnanimous support? Especially when that support goes to fund a profound spiritual mission?

A Christian radio station is much more than its frequency. It is the spiritual nexus for its fans. The kind of brand expansion I’m describing is entirely mission-appropriate.

End result: A logic for HD radio.

Imagine that.

And by the way, this same logic could apply to Public Radio stations and their Classical Music VIP’s.

Is this the way HD Radio was supposed to work for our industry? Obviously not, but if it accidentally solves a different problem, then who cares?

After all, the sweetener in Splenda was discovered when the scientist trying to find an anti-ulcer drug accidentally licked his fingers.

Too bad HD radio leaves such a bitter aftertaste.

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