The first of this year, I launched a syndicated Country format service. As I’ve not been actively consulting for some years and so have not been listening much at all to any broadcast radio stations. No need, as I’ve not been in competition with anybody for a long time. And the length of commercial breaks that the corporate borg has lathered on is too much to bear. Austin’s great NPR station, KUT has me in the car, internet streams have me in the office.
So, I’m listening to the co-owned iHeart Country stations in Austin and it’s beyond awful to hear. Maybe I’ll get energetic some day and write a programming audit for some of my clients and customers to read; but probably not. It’s pointless to critique people who are rich and don’t know what they’re doing. (Talkin’ the borg exec’s here, not the workers, of course.) But the most maddening thing about listening to any iHeart station now is the constant incessant pitches for their app. Who the hell think’s it’s a good idea to spend so much time and energy telling the audience to go somewhere else to listen?! Ah, but these brainiacs will say the earth’s moved, listeners are getting audio from their devices and so we are planning for the future where that app will be the doorway and we’ll be the dominant source of all listening pleasure. And all on-demand video pleasure. And podcast pleasure. Good luck with that, boys.
A couple weeks back, I got a guided tour of a new radio app from SecureNet Systems and was totally wowed by it. That got me to thinking, and so I installed the iHeart app for the first time. I logged in, created an account, entered zip code. Said my preference was Country. The app presented me with a list of choices, a combination of radio stations and star-channels. The first local station, KASE/Austin was #7 on the list. KVET/Austin was #10. What?! They’ve been pumpin’ this app for, what, over a decade now? Both of those stations promo the app damned near every break and the thing doesn’t list them at the Top of the choices?! Have they heard of geo-targeting? The station in the #1 position is KSCS/Dallas. That’s 200 miles north of me. Were I the program director of either of those stations this would make me scream.