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The Era of Self-Curation

We’re living in a world where everything is like Build a Bear. You know that store you find in strip malls and indoor malls where you can construct a stuffed animal in whatever fashion you want? If you have kids, you know it, as children can spy the store a mile away. The parts are all basically the same, but how you assemble them is what makes them look unique. How you’ll view them for as long as you have them is based on how you made them. In a lot of ways, radio is like that.

Building your own isn’t specific to stuffed animals. There are Build Your Own salads, sundaes, pizzas, and more for food. Construction has DIY’ers for Do-It-Yourself types. Lots of Build Your Own projects exist. Log Homes, Build Your Own for Apps, Luxury Cars, Eco friendly toys … and of course … your own Information and Entertainment experience. Self-curation is where we are as an era today. People are creating their own news channels, their own sports networks and their own music services.

Talk about build-your-own … Amazon’s new ‘live radio’ App labeled AMP, let’s you play DJ with music and call-ins. No one wants to be in “radio” except most everyone who isn’t. A part of the reason that there are so many podcasts “out there” is that so many DIY’ers are creating and posting their own podcasts. The Anchor App turns the average person’s smart phone into a studio and provides an upload link as well as becomes a distribution platform.

Social media has always been a way to communicate, but it’s become much more attractive of late because it gives voice to everyone that’s part of a platform. The benefit of self-curation is that you don’t have to participate in anything that is uninteresting or unattractive to you. The Algorithm kicks in and the type of news you regularly search for starts to come up without searching. Talk about instant gratification. It’s customization on steroids.

Because I personally avoid most political news, because it’s too much like work, I don’t see much in the way of “my sides right and your sides wrong” stories. I am a fan of news, and so I do see what’s trending as it is delivered to my phone. I’m not seeing the hate stuff. Because I am an NFL and MLB fan, I’m seeing the trending sports stories all day every day. Many are taking advantage of self-curation, Get the news, sports and weather when you want, how you want. The bad news is that such self-curation means that I may be missing whatever isn’t a part of my interest-set and I could be missing stories that would be of interest to me … if I knew about them.

This points to the weakness in the strength that the Internet and social media provide in the way of news, weather and sports. News/Talk and Sport stations can take advantage of this slim opportunity by promoting and providing consistently fresh and new information at a set time where the listener can make an appointment to hear whatever it is that’s being provided. “What are you missing” should be the question you promote to an audience that is curious as to what they might have missed.

The information service from Spectrum Cable is branded as Spectrum News. They present “Weather on the Ones” on their Spectrum News 1 channel. Being predictable, in this case, is a positive. Well known legendary News Programmer Harvey Nagler is credited with having invented the slogans “Traffic and Weather Together on the 1’s” … and the same … “on the 8’s” for 1010WINS and 880WCBS, respectively. You know what you’re going to get, when and where to get it, because you’re told where and when to find it. Sports stations that update the hottest stories three times an hour … and tout “20/20 Updates” … build great repeat tune-in. Encourage the audience to make an appointment.

Radio content curators, marketers and talent should focus on creating FOMO. The Fear of Missing Out is the key to increasing time spent listening for spoken word stations, and to a lesser degree, for music stations. The latter is dependent on the talent to create FOMO as there’s little that can be done musically that would surprise anyone. It’s going to have to be the personalities that perform at a high level to encourage repeat tune-in.

Given that we cannot compete with the DSPs in regard to music quantity, and we’re not competing with them in regard to music discovery, we have to shift the paradigm of more-music-less-talk and begin to encourage every talent on every program to “put on a show” that compliments the stations culture and audience profile. Given that what’s trending on social media is open and public, you have an identified source, where you can find the hot topics to share on-air.

If you can provide the listener with entertaining bytes and pieces of information, that they may not be getting from social media, you may be able to give the casual listener a reason to spend more time with your station. If you can create special reasons for a listener to set an appointment to listen, you may be able to convert a P3 or P2 to a P1 listener. Key word, by the way, is “may.”

The content has to be of interest to the target audience if they’re going to invest any time with the station. Cannot phone-it-in. The talent has to be invested in knowing their market and their audience. That’s more difficult if the talents are voice-tracked or syndicated. You have to feed remote or pre-recorded talent content that’s appropriate for your market. Help them help you. “Don’t flick a switch and walk away.”

The weakness in self-curation is the predictability that comes from knowing what’s in your profile. My music tastes are extreme. All types of music are in my library. When I fly, I listen to the music I’ve loaded into my smart phone. Even though those songs are my favorites, they can be predictable and that’s boring. That’s when I search for an online feed of a radio station or I go to a DSP and click on a channel that fits my mood. When I want real variety, I go to a podcast hosted by a personality that I like.

The point being that everyone is living in and a part of the Era of Self-Curation. Niche media satisfies that need. Mass media drives niche media. The only way niche media becomes bigger is when it uses the mass media platform. Think “Netflix” “Prime” “Apple TV.” They were an app until Smart TV’s and the Amazon Firestick came along.

Radio doesn’t have the same luxury as an OTA product. Radio has to be smarter by becoming dependable for information, entertainment and engaging content. Never miss the news, weather, or traffic. Not a slogan. A benefit to present as a promise. Deliver on the promises you make to the audience. Invest in talent who can create FOMO for the audience. Set appointments for service elements, entertainment features and sticky content. Radio needs to capitalize on its reach.

Make our predictability a benefit. When you turn on your favorite station, you know what to expect, but not exactly what you’ll hear.

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