A group of guys walk into a bar and the bartender asks them, “where do you guys work?” One of them says “dumb f*cking idea dot com.”
It was a joke, it really happened, and I said it.
It was the year 2000 and a number of my pals had just been let go from eYada.com. I was the one who survived, so, it was up to me to buy the beers. You, of course, remember eYada.com, the first talk radio network on the internet. C’mon, “you gotta eYada.”
To be fair, eYada wasn’t really a dumb idea, but in a world of GIANT, rotary dial, mobile phones, it was just waaaaaay ahead of its’ time. Plus, it was painful to watch us burn through money with little to no audience. There’s lessons to be learned from this short-lived venture. Lessons that can and should inform us today.
As I recall, the shows that had the largest audience on eYada delivered content to a passionate, yet underserved radio audience with little to no cost. THAT WAS THE FORMULA! One that stands out more than any other (and truth be told, one that I hated), was Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Live. The phones were off the hook all day, every day, as rabid fans wanted to talk about (dear God, help us) pro-wrestling. I’m. Not. Kidding. Regardless of my feelings on the genre, it clearly had, and has a HUGE, passionate audience.
Walter Sabo had it right when he posted on his Linkedin blog that AM radio should be “starv(ed)…financially” while given the freedom to “do whatever you want…”
It’s not about tossing cash down a money pit, it’s about finding those people, in and out of your building, who are willing to put in the work to create something new that they are passionate about, that an underserved large audience cares about. That’s the formula for new radio formats.
For example, iHeartMedia has officially announced the launch of “96.7 Pride Radio” and here’s an article on the new, err, oldies format that is kicking ass.
It’s hip-hop. Rap is now oldies, which means I’m old.
Oy, my back.
In three weeks, 93.9 made the improbable jump from 15th place in Central Indiana to first. Two weeks later, i94 officially became 93.9, the Beat. Ratings for January showed 93.9 with a 7.7 share. It ranked first among people ages 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54; women 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54; and men 18-49 and 25-54.
96.7 Pride Radio appears to have been launched based on the success of the format on iHeartMedia’s streaming service. Imagine that…using streaming to determine terrestrial radio plays.
The launch of 96.7 Pride Radio follows the success of Pride Radio, iHeartRadio’s digital entertainment destination for the LGBT community, which is consistently one of iHeartRadio’s most listened-to dance hit and remix stations.
It’s also interesting to look at iTunes podcast charts to see what resonates with that audience. It strikes me that the theme here is content, with unique personalities, that make you think. Are there opportunities for local radio here? Ones that have value to an underserved, large, passionate audience?
Because I am a talk-radio guy, I wonder if there should there be a business of Hollywood station in Los Angeles? Or a technology and business station in Seattle that focuses on Amazon.com, Microsoft and Starbucks? Or a business of music station in Nashville? Or all weather, all day long in Minnesota. Or hybrid comedy stations built around local shows that not only play comedy clips, but also talk around and about them while interweaving local stuff into the station. I mean seriously, does your city really need (or want!) a third sports station? Imagine being the person who has to knock on doors to sell that.
I don’t think all of the current AM signals in the US survive, but I do see innovation leading to new opportunities and cannot wait to see what happens next.