As American consumers continue to seek media that is convenient and accessible anywhere at anytime, broadcasters must look at the new technology of streaming audio content, podcasting and MP3 streaming as a way to capture the increasing number of consumers who use the Internet for audio content.

In a recent survey of 50 news, talk and news-talk formatted stations in the top fifty markets, News Generation found that 27 out of 50 stations are streaming 90% of their on-air content, and 40%, or 20 out of the 50 stations, are streaming 100% of their on-air content. While the majority of stations are audio streaming, only six out of the fifty stations currently use podcasting or MP3 streaming technology.

Stations told us that the overall goal of audio streaming is to keep listener drop-off at a minimum. Only 26% of stations interviewed said they are using their websites to attract new listeners, while 54% said they use the Internet to keep the audience they have and make it easy for them to tune-in throughout the day, at work or play.

With radio station personnel experiencing consolidation or layoffs in the past several years, responsibility for updating and managing station websites is changing. Twenty-three of the 50 stations surveyed, or 46%, use programming personnel to manage their website; 28% public affairs personnel; and 24% use promotion personnel to update and manage their websites.

And how do these listeners know where to tune in on the web? On average, DJs are promoting their sites, mentioning the website two to three times per hour. Forty percent of stations require their on-air personnel to mention the station’s website three times per hour. Active promotion is the number one way stations are encouraging listeners to visit their websites. Other marketing tools include offering free e-mail services, concert tickets, sales of CDs and station merchandise.

While stations have been quick to embrace this new technology, how do stations determine their website’s effectiveness? Thirty-one out of 50 stations, or 62%, use web hits to measure effectiveness; 26% use listener responses; and only six out of the fifty stations interviewed measure the effectiveness by advertising dollars. As the Internet audio broadcasting audience continues to increase, so will the potential to use this medium to garner more listeners and keep terrestrial listeners even in the online and unwired world.


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