Dribs and drabs of inside information are arriving in our mailbox about the significant changes at KIRO FM. We often remind our loyal readers that no one approaches the level of "insiderness" that Mr. Hood has enjoyed. We wander the vast wasteland of news about raydeeoh until we unearth tasty nuggets. One such nugget was written by Chris Miller, owner of Chris Miller Digital, is a leading radio consultant specializing in research-based strategic planning and smart use of digital media.
He weighs in on radio in general and KIRO's changes specifically:
"SHAKER HEIGHTS –I can tell that we radio folks are more stressed out than ever, because I’ve been in on a few conversations recently where the subject was how people out there don’t understand the value of radio anymore. That’s a change from the previous sentiment, which was that we just needed to get more compelling content on our websites and in our social media. The feeling seems to be now that we have to make potential fans and clients understand what we’re all about, and what we offer.
Then, I see here in TALKERS (10/17) last Wednesday that Bonneville in Seattle is putting one of their key on-air people “in the driver’s seat for bringing unique, local content to both KIRO-FM and the company’s digital space, MyNorthwest.com.” So wrap your head around this. Linda Thomas, who’s been part of KIRO-FM’s morning drive news block … that’s morning drive in the 13th largest market … is moving online. That’s a real commitment on Bonneville’s part.
Linda’s a quality journalist and a solid radio pro. This is a dramatic move, but not just because of the digital commitment. This is also about integrating content across platforms in a way that listeners expect; but that a lot of us in radio simply don’t get yet.
For example, if you go to KIRO’s website, you’ll find news. That page was full of nothing but news when I looked at it! It reminded me of the front page of a newspaper. I think that’s good. Meanwhile, I looked at the website of another well-programmed station in that format. I did find some news. However, there was almost as much front-page content about all the contests they were running. There were also links to viral, non-news videos, and their “hot babe” galleries. More and more smart digital buyers have learned to hate those hot babe galleries. I fear it’s going to reflect on us negatively as an industry, instead of just those stations that have them.
So I’m not saying don’t talk about your contests online. Don’t give them prime, front page real estate that you don’t give to whatever makes you unique and mass appeal. That applies to all formats. If I’m a country fan and I love your country station, I’m assuming that I can go to your website and get caught up on news and fun stuff about country music, as well as the funny things your morning show said that I missed. Galleries of cute pets and hot firefighters? Not so much.
You may be getting web hits on those cute pets, but they’re empty calories. They’re doing nothing to truly build your brand.
If you’re that country radio station, your big fans expect to find great country content at your website. They assume your social media will be chock-full of special news about your station as well as country music. They sign up for your emails or texts so that they can learn exclusive information about you, and get extra access to the music they love. That’s why KIRO’s move is so beautiful. They’re focused on delivering content that relates to what people love about KIRO on all their platforms. That’s what your heaviest listeners want!
Once you do that, then you can start recycling folks from your broadcast to your social media to your website in a powerful way. Not all web hits are created equal. It’s the ones from the people who love your brand that count the most."
As mentioned earlier on BW, Bill Radke is leaving with no hard feelings. From his KIRO page he says:
"You may have heard that Seattle's Morning News is doing a reboot. John Curley will be your morning host, bringing his vitality and intelligence to the mornings. I'm a huge Curley fan.
Linda Thomas will leave the show to become KIRO Radio's Senior Features Reporter and Digital Journalist. She'll continue her fantastic, award-winning News Chick blog and file original web reports on parenting, politics, technology and trends - whatever captures her limitless imagination. She is a jewel in every way.
I'll be moving to another local radio station where I intend to steal all the secrets to KIRO's success: deliver the news and connect the dots through the eyes of thinkers and talkers, from the meaningful to the offbeat, bringing you what's most interesting right now.
KIRO is a Northwest treasure and I'll treasure the friendships I've made here. Thank you for listening, emailing and posting here. Oh, and to my friend Tom Tangney: Tom, I want you to know that I'm about to sleep in for a month. Jealous much?"
We will be watching the morning drive time ratings very closely to see what Seattle thinks about Curly's style and brand of humor----before they have had that first cup of coffee.