Team Paragon attended the Triple A Summitfest in Boulder last week and I was invited to participate in the panel, “Reenergizing the Audience.” The panel was led by Colorado Sound program director Margot Chobanian. I was accompanied by station and industry leaders who had many inspiring and thought-provoking ideas to ramp up the audience’s enthusiasm around the station. My perspective was focused on digital content and marketing.

In today’s rapidly evolving media landscape, where digital platforms dominate the way we consume content, radio stations face the challenge of reenergizing their audience and remaining relevant in the digital age. In other words, getting people excited about tuning in and engaging on digital. One solution lies in embracing digital marketing strategies that not only engage the existing audience but also attract new listeners. By seamlessly integrating the worlds of on-air radio and digital media, stations can create a dynamic and interactive experience that captivates their audience and breathes new life into the medium. Here are some of the points we covered:

Turning Digital Engagement into On-Air Programming: Song Requests

One powerful way to bridge the gap between digital and on-air radio is leveraging the interactive nature of social media to influence on-air programming. Allow listeners to request songs through social channels like Instagram and Facebook to create a sense of ownership, belonging and anticipation. Incorporating requested songs into regular on-air features ensures that listeners feel heard and valued, and also encourages them to tune in to hear their chosen tracks. A great example of a station who is doing this is KUTX, Austin with their feature Topical Paradise. This synergy transforms digital engagement into on-air content, providing a seamless transition between the two mediums. This is also a great way to develop new listeners who may find you through engaging efforts on social.

On-Air Hosts as Digital Ambassadors

To cultivate a deeper connection with the digital audience, radio stations can integrate their on-air hosts into their social media content strategy. By developing a presence of the hosts on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, stations can humanize their brand and extend the personal connection that listeners already feel while tuning in. On-air hosts can share behind-the-scenes insights, anecdotes, and updates, offering listeners a glimpse into their lives beyond the airwaves. This personal touch can significantly enhance the digital audience’s sense of belonging and loyalty to the station.

To take it a step further, develop a social feature that the host owns and can also discuss on air. The key here is to allow hosts to lean into what excites them, their passions, hobbies, whatever it is that will feel organic to them to talk about and will also feel organic to the audience as well. This could be anything from ‘best songs of the month’, food reviews of local restaurants, movie reviews, etc.

This can happen one of two ways, hosts can build up their own social presence by posting on their own personal accounts and creating station-focused content that can then be reshared by the station or contributors of content to the station’s social accounts. This dual presence amplifies the human connection, making the hosts more relatable and accessible, further solidifying the listeners’ relationship and loyalty with the station. Whether it’s sharing their favorite music, discussing their experiences with artists, or interacting directly with fans, this approach creates a dynamic relationship that transcends the traditional radio experience.

Organic Integration: Providing Value through Content

Instead of simply treating social media as a promotional tool, stations can reimagine their approach by integrating content organically. Take, for example, a segment spotlighting local record stores. Rather than a straightforward shout out, consider a more holistic approach that adds value to the audience’s experience. Highlight an artist recently played on the station and encourage listeners to explore more of their work by visiting a local record store. This approach not only promotes local businesses but also enhances the listener’s engagement by creating a direct link between on-air content and real-world experiences.

Thinking outside the box when integrating content into the digital sphere can have a lasting impact on the audience’s perception of the station. By providing valuable insights, recommendations, and unique perspectives, stations can establish themselves as authoritative sources of information and entertainment, further solidifying their role in the lives of their listeners while thinking outside of the box for social utilization rather than just checking off a box.

Reenergizing the radio audience in the digital age is not about replacing traditional radio but enhancing it through strategic digital marketing. By embracing the power of song requests, integrating on-air hosts into digital platforms, and creatively weaving content into the digital landscape, radio stations can forge a stronger connection with their audience. This harmonious blend of traditional and digital elements transforms passive listeners into active participants, breathing new life into the timeless medium of radio and securing its place in the modern media landscape.

Learn more about Michelle Conrad.