Posted on: The
Date: June 18, 2020
Written by: Paul Marszalek

Early adopters of public radio’s Urban Alternative format came together as an online panel for the June 18 edition of NON-COMM Thursdays…

Two years ago, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting announced an initiative to connect with young, multicultural audiences.

The charge has largely been led by Paragon Media Strategies’ Mike Henry and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Jacquie Gales Webb — who, incidentally, was today elevated to VP of Radio at the CPB.

The Urban Alternative panel consisted of Nikki Swarn of The Drop/Denver, Silvia Rivera from Vocalo/Chicago, Mike Mauzone from WNSB/Norfolk. Mike Henry moderated, with Jacquie Gales Webb also participating.

In terms of strategy, the format uses music and entertainment as the gateway to news, information, and arts and cultural happenings within the local community.

Henry defines the target as as 18-49 with 25-34 at the center, and diverse — a mix of Black, Latino, White, Asian, and multi-ethnic listeners. The mix naturally varies somewhat by market, but the common denominator is that the largest segment of support comes from the Black community.

Early results are promising.

The Drop, and HD2 signal complemented with a stream, was named best Denver radio station in just its first year, and WNSB/Norfolk posted a 2-share shortly after launch — putting it in the Top 10 in audience.

Gales Webb described the big picture:

“COVID-19 and the recent awakening regarding race in America has changed all of our lives, and with the challenges come huge responsibilities — and opportunities. CPB provided support to create and pilot a new, innovative music format that radio stations across the country can use to draw young, multi-cultural listeners to public radio. Urban Alternative stations develop programming using market research. These stations have a consistent on-air sound; they hire talented staff who are entrenched in the music scene of their local target audience. They implement engaging digital and marketing strategies to grow audience, and they provide news, information, and education within the music format.

People become loyal fans of radio stations that value what theylove, and so the young people who are listening and are drawn in by music become fans of these great radio stations for many reasons – one being that they feel valued. Urban Alternative is an art form — a mix of music and community. It’s data-driven, designed to serve the local community.”

Read original story here.