Category Archives: Digital/Social/Web

Where to Use Technology-Based Redirects on Your Radio Station’s Website

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

When listeners come to your radio station’s website, you want to steer them toward specific goals, such as signing up for an email list or streaming the station. Often, the most effective way to steer them towards a goal is by removing less important options. Of course, sometimes the path you want to steer a person down may depend upon the device they are using to access your website. For example, you may want people on desktop computers to go somewhere different than people on mobile devices; or, you may want to send Apple and Android users to different destinations.

Fortunately, it’s possible to create technology-based redirects. These are links that send different people to different places depending on the technology that they are using to access your website. This can declutter your website by combining multiple links into a single call to action. Technology-based redirects can be set up through programming code, a WordPress plugin like Pretty Links Pro, or a website like App.url.

Here are some places on your radio station’s website where you might want to use technology-based redirects:

1. The Mobile App
When you create a link to download your radio station’s mobile app, it’s a good idea to send visitors to the appropriate app store on their phones. This means you’ll need one link for people who are on iOS, one link for people who are on Android, links for people who are on Windows or Blackberry phones (if you have a mobile app that supports them), and a link for people who are on none of the above (such as visitors on a desktop computer). A technology-based redirect allows you to create one “Download Our App” button instead of multiple “Download our App for _____ Phones” links.

2. Podcasts
Now that Google has followed Apple’s lead and introduced a (mostly) native Podcasts app, you can create direct links to your radio station’s podcasts in a podcast player on both iOS and Android phones. This means it’s possible to create a simple “Listen Now” button instead of a laundry list of links to the podcast in different apps. Here are instructions for doing so.

3. Contest Forms
Sometimes, you don’t want to send people to different destinations based on their operating system, but rather on the type of device that they’re using — a desktop, tablet, or mobile device. For example, when you are asking people to fill out a form, the type of device they are on makes a big difference. People who are using their phone while waiting in line for a latte at Starbucks are far less likely to fill out a long form that people sitting at a desktop computer at work. You could redirect people to two different versions on an entry form for the same contest — one long and one short — depending on the type of device they are using to maximize the number of people who will enter.

We do this on our website. For example, if you go to one of our webinar recordings, you will be asked to fill out a form before watching it. The length of that form depends on the type of device you use. Technology-based redirects are one way to direct people to different forms depending on their device.

By using technology-based redirects to combine multiple links into a single call to action, you radio station can increase the number of website visitors that take the actions that matter to you most.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Using Interviews to Create Content for Your Radio Station’s Blog

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

At the heart of any successful online strategy is content. But most radio stations find themselves with staffs that don’t have an abundance of time to blog. Fortunately, there are a few shortcuts for generating quality blog content. One of them is to publish written interviews. Here’s how:

1. Make a list of appropriate topic areas for your radio station.
What are your listeners interested in? Make a list. For example, if you have a rock station that targets 28-to-34-year-old men, those topics might include:

  • Beer
  • Cars
  • Movies
  • Sports
  • Stand-up comedy
  • Etc.

On the other hand, if your station targets 25-to-54-year-old women, you might be looking at a list that includes parenting, clothing, wine and cocktails, etc.

2. Brainstorm a list of influencers in the market related to these topics.
An influencer is somebody who has a following of their own. This following could be a television audience, a readership, a social media following or an email list. The hope is that if you interview them on your station’s website, they will share a link to the post with their following, and drive traffic to it. Keep in mind, influencers can be individuals or organizations.

For example, your list of influencers might include:

  • The local paper’s restaurant critic
  • The singer of a popular local band
  • The local food and arts festival
  • A local brewery
  • The quarterback for the college football team

3. Using an email template, send them an invitation to be interviewed.
Reach out to these people and organizations and ask them if they would like to be interviewed for your radio station’s website. You can speed up this process by creating email templates. Depending on the email program you use, you may be able to save email templates (or install an extension that allows you to save email templates) so they can be easily used over and over again. Or, simply save the email copy in a document and copy and paste it into your emails.

I find it best to use two email templates. The first is a very short introduction. For example, it might say:

“Hello, my name is Johnny Fever from 108.8 WKRP. We love the work that you do and we’d like to highlight it in a written Q&A on our website. You can see a past example of this type of interview at wkrp.com/past-interview. If you’d be interested, please let me know and I’ll send you more details.”

If people respond to this email (not all of them will), follow up with a second email that contains five to ten questions. For example:

“Great, we’d love to feature you! Please answer the questions below. Also, please send us a headshot, a logo from your organization, a two-sentence bio, and any links you’d like us to include. Here are the questions…”

I often “overwrite” the questions and then shorten them before publishing the interview. This way, I avoid short boring answers. For example, I might email, “Tell us how you got started. Who were your early influences? When did you first know that this was what you wanted to do?” But in the published interview, I’ll shorten it to, “Tell us how you got started.”

4. Publish the interview.
When the interviewee sends answers back, paste them into a blogpost, format it correctly and publish it. Share it on social media — not just on your station’s social media accounts, but also in any relevant discussion groups. For example, if you interview the lead singer of a Detroit band, share a link in the “Detroit Musicians” Facebook group. Be sure to tag the person or organization in these posts.

Finally, email a link to the post to the interviewee and encourage them to share it on social media. (Use a third saved email template to make this easier.) Hopefully, they will share it with their following and the post will go viral.

Interviews are an easy way to generate content for your radio station’s blog. If you’d like more content ideas, check out this list of sure-fire blog topics.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

9 Places Radio Stations Should Display Their Social Media Handles

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

We’ve known for years that social media can be a powerful channel for radio stations looking to connect with their audiences. One key to growing your social media fanbase is to simply ask your listeners to follow you. Most stations are adept at doing this on their airwaves with a combination of live solicits and production elements. But are you also asking your listeners to follow you on social media in print? Here’s an checklist of places where your station can display its social media handles:

1. Station Vehicle: Next time you wrap the van, be sure to include your social media handles on both sides and the rear.

2. Banners: Include your station’s social media handles on the standard banners that you bring to every run-of-the-mill street team appearance as well as specialized banners, such as stage backdrops for your station’s big concert.

3. Pop-Up Tents.

4. Wristbands, Tickets, and Hand Stamps: If your station hosts events such as concerts, use entry as opportunity to promote your social media presence.

5. Clothing: Got merch? Include a small “@WKRP” on the shirt sleeves or the back of the hats.

6. Stickers: Include your station’s social media handles on the sticker itself or on the peel-off backing.

7. Email Signature: Create a standardized email signature for everybody in your station to use. Include links to all of your station’s social media accounts.

8. Business Cards.

9. Station Letterhead.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Humblebrags: The Key to Getting Shared and Retweeted

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

When it comes to social media, there are lots of data points that we can measure: likes, comments, clicks, shares, retweets, etc. There’s a tendency to lump all of these stats together under the heading of “engagement,” and say, “more engagement is good.” But this oversimplifies the role of social media in our radio stations’ digital strategies.

Key Social Media Stat #1: Incoming Traffic
When it comes to social media, the single most important statistic to track won’t be found in your Facebook or Twitter dashboards; it’s found in your Google Analytics: How many unique visitors came to your website from each social network?

Why is this the most important stat? Because once people are on your website, only then can you encourage them to take an action — such as sign up for the email list or stream the station — that will impact your bottom line. Don’t get me wrong; it’s great if people like, favorite, comment or reply to your posts, but that’s not going to bring more revenue in, so it’s not the top priority.

How do you use social media to drive traffic back to your website? You create original content, such as blogposts or photos, and share them on social media. It’s fine to also share other people’s content on social media, but if your station is only sharing other people’s content, your digital strategy will not bear much fruit in the long run. (Here’s a guide to finding the right mix of station content and other people’s content to share.)

In other words, the key to driving traffic back to your site is to publish Facebook posts and tweets with links back to your compelling content.

Key Social Media Stat #2: Shares & Retweets
But what really moves the needle is when other people or organizations pass the link to your content on their followers. We want them to share your post on Facebook or retweet your tweet. This is what we mean when we say something goes “viral.” In other words, the next important data point to look at when it comes to social media is shares and retweets — not likes, comments or favorites.

(Note that Instagram does not provide an equivalent way to share or retweet a posting. In fact, Instagram is not a particularly good channel for driving traffic back to your website, which is why I think it deserves less attention in your station’s overall digital strategy.)

So, how do you get people to share or retweet your station’s posts?

It’s all in the writing.

Socially Acceptable Humblebragging
A “humblebrag” is the act of trying “to get away with bragging about yourself by couching it in a phony show of humility.” Here are some examples:


Retweeting or sharing a post is essentially a socially acceptable way to humblebrag. If I were to tweet, “Seth Resler is soooooo awesome!” I would appear conceited. But if I were to retweet John Doe saying, “Seth Resler is the coolest guy on the planet!” it would be socially acceptable; it’s perceived as me offering thanks for the compliment rather than bragging about myself.

If you want people to reshare/retweet your posts, the key is to say something complimentary about them that they would be reluctant to say about themselves. Then tag them in the post and include a link back to your website:

  • “We raved about the fantastic donuts at @DetroitCoffee on our show this morning! Here’s the recording: [LINK]”
  • “@StLouisLocalBand has a killer new album out this week! We reviewed it here: [LINK]”
  • “The party was off the chain at @AtlantaNightclub last night! We’ve got photos here: [LINK]”

Two important details to pay attention to:

  • The verbs you use in your social media posts have a big impact. It’s much stronger to “rave” about something thanit is to “mention” it. Passionate verbs increase the chances that your posts will be shared. It’s helpful to brainstorm a list of powerful verbs to use when posting on social media.
  • When looking for people or organizations to tag in your social media posts, pay attention to the number of followers that they have. If somebody who only has 100 followers retweets your station, it’s not going to drive a lot of traffic back to your website, whereas somebody with 100,000 followers probably will.

There’s an art to writing social media posts that get shared. Take the time to craft well-written posts, and you should see a noticeable impact on your station’s website traffic.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Are You Squandering Your Radio Station Website’s Potential to Build Cume?

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

In radio, there are two ways to grow your ratings: Attract new listeners, or get your existing listeners to listen to the station longer. In industry jargon, you can build the cumulative audience (cume) or increase the time spent listening (TSL).

The conventional wisdom is that it is easier and less expensive to focus on getting existing listeners to listen longer. You can entice listeners to stick around to hear their favorite song, a clever morning show bit, or a compelling contest without breaking the bank. Attracting new listeners, on the other hand, is more difficult. You have to go get listeners that you don’t already reach through your airwaves and convince them to tune in. Historically, this has required paid advertising through billboards, television ads, etc. — things that few stations have large budgets for these days. It is also possible to build cume through unpaid earned media — such as the press coverage a station might get for a morning show stunt or a charity event — but this can be unpredictable.

Which is why a radio station’s website can be so valuable. If people who are not current listeners find your station’s online content on social media or in search engine results, they can click through to the station’s website, and discover the radio station. This is how a Content Marketing strategy works:

As a cume-building tool, Content Marketing can be far more cost-effective than traditional advertising…if your station’s website is set up for it.

Unfortunately, many radio station websites are geared towards existing listeners to the exclusion of newbies. This happens because we’re so familiar with the details of our own station, when we sit down to create our websites, we tend to forget that other people may not have the same level of familiarity. But if we’re not conscious of the fact that non-listeners may come to our sites, we could miss out on the opportunity to build cume.

The most common example of this is radio stations that use proper nouns in their website menus. For example, a radio station website menu may include a link labeled, “Fidget and Kim.” Fans of your station may know that Fidget and Kim are the morning show hosts, but others will not. Re-labeling the link “The Fidget and Kim Morning Show” will give these people more context. This issue can pop up all over a radio station’s website: with the names of contests, concerts, specialty shows, benchmark features, and e-mail clubs. Often, adding an extra word or two will make your website far more accessible to the masses.

This issue can crop up again when it comes to the order in which items are presented on the menu of a radio station website. To a P1 listener, it may make perfect sense why the DJs are listed in this order:

  • Johnny Fever
  • Les Nessman
  • Venus Flytra

After all, this is the order of their airshifts on the station. But to the uninitiated, this order makes little sense. It would be helpful to point this order in the menu so it makes sense:

  • Mornings: Johnny Fever
  • Middays: Les Nessman
  • Nights: Venus Flytrap

Sometimes, a radio station’s website can alienate potential listeners not because of what it says, but because of what it omits. For example, does the homepage make it clear what kind of music the station plays? Or is this crowded out by a slideshow? When you go to the morning show’s page, is there a blurb or introductory video explaining what the show is all about? Or does the page assume that visitors already know?

Take some time to review your radio station’s website with a fresh pair of eyes. Pretend you’re somebody who just moved to town, happened to click on a link on Facebook, and you’ve stumbled onto the site for the first time. Is this website welcoming to somebody who’s not already acquainted with the station, or does it presume a certain level of familiarity? (If you want to take this exercise a step further, a Website Usability Test is an excellent way to see how people interact with your site.)

Make sure that you’re not squandering the opportunity to use your website to grow the radio station’s ratings.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

How to Fix Radio Station Blogposts That Don’t Look Right When You Share Them on Facebook

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

When describing the role that social networks like Facebook play in a radio station’s digital strategy, I often compare them to billboards by the side of the highway. Your station advertises on billboards in the hope that people will see those billboards and tune in. By the same token, your radio station should share content on Facebook in the hopes that people will click on it and come back to the station website. (For more explanation, watch this short video on Content Marketing strategy.)

Of course, it takes an eye-catching billboard to convince people to tune in. And it takes eye-catching content to convince people to click through to your website. That’s why, if you’re going through all the trouble of creating great content, it’s useful to use a tool like the Yoast WordPress plugin to control what people see when your content is shared on social media. In addition to controlling your content’s presence in Google’s search results, the Yoast plugin also allows you to determine the headline, description, and image used when your content is shared on Facebook or Twitter.

Of course, every once and a while I blow it with this plugin. Sometimes, I forget to configure the Yoast settings before publishing a blogpost. Other times, I configure them but misspell a word or make another mistake. I usually don’t realize this until I’m proactively sharing our content on social media. I’ll often notice my mistake as I’m drafting a post on Facebook.

What do you do when you want to share your content on social media, but the content doesn’t look right in the post preview?

Fortunately, Facebook has a tool designed for situations like these. It’s called the Facebook Sharing Debugger tool. Here’s how it works: Enter a URL, and Facebook will show you what it saw when it scraped that link. If you don’t like what Facebook sees, you can manually force Facebook to re-scrape the URL.

For example, let’s say I wrote a blogpost called “10 Things You Should Know About Katy Perry’s “Roar,” but when I configured the Yoast plugin settings, I accidentally mistyped and told Facebook that the title of the blogpost was, “10 Things You Should Know About Katy Perry’s “Rear.” This could be extremely embarrassing! Fortunately, as I try to share the link on Facebook, I notice the mistake in the post preview. So I go back to my WordPress post and correct the Yoast settings.

But how can I make sure that Facebook notices my corrections? All I have to do is go to the Facebook Sharing Debugger, enter the URL to the blogpost and click the ‘Debug’ button. Then, when the preview comes up, click the ‘Scrape Again’ button. Ta-da! Facebook picks up on my changes, and Katy Perry and I have been spared from an awkward moment at our next meet-and-greet.

If you are prone to make mistakes with your website content as often as I am, the Facebook Sharing Debugger tool can be a lifesaver. Bookmark it in your browser, use it when you make mistakes, and you could see an uptick in your website traffic.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

How to Subscribe to Podcasts on Your Android Phone

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

The podcasting world is abuzz over a five-part interview with Zack Reneau-Weeden, Google’s Podcasts Product Manager, that was published recently. For years, podcasts have primarily been an iOS medium, with around five times as many downloads happening on Apple devices as Android devices. This is largely attributed to the fact that when you buy an iOS device, there is already a Podcasts app pre-installed. On Android devices, you have to go to the app store and download an app to play podcasts. That extra step results in a huge disparity between Android and iOS podcast listening.

According to our just released 2018 Techsurvey results, only 24% of radio listeners listen to podcasts weekly or more often. In fact, 45% never listen to podcasts at all. Many in the podcasting space, including me, believe that the key to unlocking podcasting’s growth will not be content — a hit podcast like Serial, for example — but rather a technological development. Namely, that Google will start shipping Android devices with a podcast app already installed on it.

Google came a little closer to this goal when they started including podcasts in their native Google Play Music app in 2016. Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to an explosion of podcast listening on Android devices because not many people knew podcasts were available in the app. In reality, this step only caught Google up to Apple circa early 2012, back when Apple was still including podcasts in iTunes. Podcasting didn’t see a significant lift until 2014 when, with the introduction of iOS8, Apple started pre-installing its stand-alone Podcasts app on all of its devices.

The excitement around the recent interview with Reneau-Weeden comes from Google’s first public recognition that it could have a significant impact on podcast listening. “Our team’s mission is to help double the amount of podcast listening in the world over the next couple years,” he declared. Many of us have been saying that for a long time, so it’s encouraging to finally hear it from the mouth of a Google representative. Reneau-Weeden then lays out Google’s vision for podcasting. What’s interesting about this vision is that it will not merely copy what Apple has done — which would probably be enough to double podcast listening by itself — but rather, it will attempt to marry podcasting to the company’s core strength: Search.

Many of the pieces of this vision are already in place. So let’s take a closer look at how you can now discover podcasts on an Android phone:

1. Open up the Chrome mobile browser and search for a podcast in Google.
Here, I have searched for my podcast, The D Brief, on my Samsung Galaxy S8. You can see that the results are formatted specifically for a podcast: It offers a description, the ability to play the three most recent episodes, and a link to “More episodes.”

2. Click on “More episodes” to get to the podcast page.
By clicking on “More episodes,” I am taken to a new page that includes podcast artwork and, more importantly, a button that allows me to “Subscribe” to the podcast.

3. Click “Subscribe” and the Podcasts app will open with the podcast in it.
By clicking the “Subscribe” button, I am now taken to the Podcasts app, where I can find all of the podcasts that I have subscribed to. Interestingly, there is also a “Top Podcasts” section in the app (here featuring Joe Rogan and NPR). This may eventually rival Apple’s “New and Noteworthy” section in terms of importance in podcast discovery.


4. A Podcasts app has now been added to my Android home screen.
I did not have to go to the Android app store to install this app. It was there as soon as I subscribed to my first podcast from the search results in Chrome.


What is less clear at this point is whether or not, in the future, Google will make this app visible on all home screens from the start. In other words, will it appear as a pre-installed app in the same way that the Podcasts app does on iOS devices? Doing so may be the key to truly doubling the number of podcast listeners out there. However, the fact that Google has a dedicated team embracing podcasts is taken by everybody in the community as a positive sign that we could see more growth in the medium soon.

You can read the interview with Google’s Zach Reneau-Weeden here:  Part 1 · Part 2 · Part 3 · Part 4 · Part 5

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Shownotes: A Trick Radio Morning Shows Can Steal From Podcasters

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

 

Radio morning shows and podcasters can use shownotes to proactively engage others on social media. This video will show you how to do it.


For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

5 Targeted Email Campaigns Every Radio Station Should Set Up

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

The best way to increase the effectiveness of your radio station’s email marketing campaigns is to send your listeners information they want and — just as importantly — don’t send them any information that they don’t want. Many radio stations try to cram every bit of information about the radio station into one big email campaign. This can drive down open rates and click-through rates. Instead, you’ll want to set up multiple targeted email campaigns and allow listeners to sign up for just the ones that they want.

You can minimize the amount of work involved by automating your email marketing using RSS-to-email campaigns. When you publish content to your website, you can categorize it. For example, one post might appear in the “Concerts” category while another appears in the “Morning Show” category. Using a category-specific RSS feed, you set up this website content to be automatically emailed to the listeners who are interested. This saves you the trouble of individually writing multiple emails.

With that in mind, here are five targeted email campaigns that radio stations should consider:

1. Morning Show Recaps
On a daily basis, the morning show can publish recaps of its show. These recaps are similar to the shownotes pages that podcasters publish to accompany podcast episodes. They contain links to things that were discussed on the show, and can also include audio excerpts, videos, or photos from the show. A great way to cultivate your morning show’s fanbase is to email these shownotes to listeners who want to stay in the loop. (Shownotes can also be shared proactively on social media.)

2. Artist Interviews
The hardcore music fans in your audience will never want to miss an interview. Indulge them by allowing them to sign up for emails whenever a new artist interview is posted to the station’s site.

3. Concert Info
Let’s face it, not everyone in your audience likes to go to concerts, and even those who do may not go often enough to want a regular email about upcoming shows. Superserve only the hardcore concert goers with an email campaign dedicated to them.

4. Contests
Likewise, many of your listeners will never enter a contest; they’re just there for the music. Don’t annoy these listeners with constant emails about something they’re not interested in. Let those who feel lucky opt into a specific campaign about your station’s contests.

5. Specialty Show Playlists
Specialty shows often have a small but dedicated following. So while you won’t want to send the playlist for your local music show to everybody, you definitely want to indulge the few that are interested. Set up a targeted email campaign for each of your specialty shows, whether they cover new music or public affairs, and allow listeners to opt in.

The more you can segment your email campaigns so you’re sending listeners only the content that’s most relevant to them, the more you will see your open rates and clickthroungh rates increase and your unsubscribe rates decrease. By enabling people to specify what they want to receive, you can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your email marketings.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

3 Things I Learned from Configuring My Alexa Devices

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

When I bought my Amazon Echo a year ago, it immediately changed my behavior at home. I suddenly found myself listening to music around the house far more often. Moreover, I found myself listening to a wider variety of music than ever before. And it wasn’t just music. Suddenly, it was easy to call up a podcast or audiobook while cooking or folding the laundry. Thanks to the Echo, audio entertainment became a far more frequent occurrence in my home.

I recently moved into a new house, and this week I finally found the time to configure my smart speaker setup. I have an Amazon Echo, and my girlfriend has two Amazon Dots. I spent a couple of hours figuring out which device should go in which room. (FYI: A Dot in the bedroom, a Dot in the living room, and the Echo in the kitchen.) Along the way, I discovered a few of Alexa’s quirks. Here are three that radio broadcasters (and audio fans) should be aware of:

1. Devices can be grouped, but they can only belong to one group.
In the Alexa smartphone app that you use to set up your devices, you can create “Audio Groups.” This allows you to play audio on multiple devices simultaneously. So as I move from the bedroom to the bathroom to the kitchen in the course of my morning routine, I can listen everywhere I go.

Unfortunately, devices can only belong to one group at a time. So if I have a group called “Front of House” with my living room Dot and my kitchen Echo, I cannot also have a group called “Everywhere” that contains all three devices. Amazon forces you to pick and choose groups.

2. Bluetooth speakers don’t work with Audio Groups.
While the Echo has a decent speaker, the audio quality from the Dots is subpar. Normally, this is fine, because I can connect them to a quality bluetooth speaker. Unfortunately, when a device is used in conjunction with other devices through an Audio Group, the bluetooth functionality goes away. This apparently happens because there is a lag when using bluetooth, so the audio coming from the different devices would be out of sync.

One workaround is to connect the Alexa device to the bluetooth speaker through an old fashioned audio cable. Unfortunately, I moved into an older house where the wiring isn’t grounded. This means that when I have the bluetooth speaker plugged into a power outlet and connected to a Dot with an audio cable at the same time, there’s an annoying hum. So, at the moment, to get a high-quality voice-activated audio setup that doesn’t require me to manually plug or unplug any wires, I’ll have to spend more money. My advice: Before you plunk down a lot of cash down for expensive bluetooth speakers, make sure you understand how they work with Alexa’s Audio Groups.

3. Alexa Routines now include audio.
Last year, Amazon introduced “Routines,” the ability to chainlink multiple commands and give it a unique name. For example, you can create a routine called “Start My Day” containing weather and traffic actions. When you say, “Alexa, start my day,” she will read the weather and traffic reports. I was bummed to learn that Routines are limited to a short list of actions: news, weather, traffic, volume control, smart home devices (such as turning up the heat on a wi-fi thermostat), and silly Alexa sayings. No music — at least, not on the evening that I was arranging my devices.

Lo and behold, the very next day, Amazon announced that they were adding the ability to listen to music, radio, and podcasts to Routines. However, this audio can only come from a short list of audio providers: Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, or your personal library. The good news for radio stations is that this makes it possible for Alexa owners to include their favorite radio morning show in their morning Routines. The (only somewhat) bad news is that it’s only possible through a third party that radio stations have no control over.

At the Worldwide Radio Summit in May, Fred Jacobs will reveal the results of our latest Techsurvey. This year, over 550 radio stations participated and more than 64,000 radio listeners told us how they’re using new technologies. But we’ve already revealed once juicy tidbit: smart speaker ownership is exploding. In fact, it nearly doubled in a single year, with 21% of respondents reporting that they own a smart speaker, up from just 11% in 2017. The vast majority of these people own Amazon devices.

If the audio listening habits of these people change as dramatically as my own habits have, it could have significant impact on radio broadcasters. If you’re in radio and you don’t own a smart speaker, I highly recommend getting one or two to see what you learn by using them. Plus, you can write them off as a business expense! 

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