I Got One For You…Can Radio Kill The Video Star? Branded Radio in Content Marketing


“I Got One For You…” is a regular blog segment dedicated to sharing something I have discovered that I believe can elevate your brand’s digital marketing game.   No paid public announcements here – just sharing the love.


On August 1, 1981 at 12:01 am, British new wave duo The Buggles launched the MTV era when their music video “Video Killed The Radio Star” was the first to be aired by the network.  By many accounts, this new music medium represented the beginning of the end of radio as we knew it.

Pictures came and broke your heart

Oh-a-a-a oh

In my mind and in my car

We can’t rewind we’ve gone too far

Oh-a-a-a oh


I was fortunate enough to work in radio in the ‘80s and witnessed first hand how the medium actually exploded as a result of the pace and scale at which new bands, artists and genres were suddenly being introduced to the world via MTV. New stations, new formats and new content began to take shape, creating a radio industry that was thriving by fulfilling the multi-channel demands of on-the-go music fan who “wanted their MTV” without the support of  – much less the concept of – smartphones, tablets or even the Internet with which to access the music. If you ask my opinion, what actually “killed” traditional radio was industry consolidation, an emphasis on syndication vs. localization, and a man from Mountain View, California who had a dream of reinventing how people consumed, purchased and shared music in a digital age. But I digress.

Video Revolution 2.0

In today’s multi-device world, online video content production, consumption and sharing is at an all time high. Four billion videos – the equivalent of 340,000 years of online video – are watched every day. Every second, 48 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube. And this is not just consumer generated content; brands are key drivers of this growth. eMarketer recently reported that nearly three-quarters of brand marketers surveyed said they have distributed brand videos through owned media channels such as a website, branded YouTube channels and social media channels. Google is rewarding the use of video content from an SEO perspective with reports indicating that having video on your landing pages makes your website 53% more likely to show up on page one of results. And according to Retail Touchpoints, shoppers who viewed video were 174% more likely to purchase than shoppers who did not.   In short, if your brand is not incorporating video as a key initiative within your content strategy, you’re likely getting killed by your competitors.

So, how has radio fared with with this new video revolution? Can the medium again draft behind the growth of its better-looking sibling as it did more than three decades ago and represent the next frontier in content marketing?

Internet Radio

According to Targetspot, Internet radio “listenership” has reached 42% of adult U.S. broadband households – up 8% over a year ago. Leading Internet radio service Pandora doubled its registered users from 100 million in 2011, to 200 million in 2012. New kid on the block Spotify has 24 million registered users across 17 countries, six million of which have upgraded to their paid service ($5-10/month). Deezer, a widely popular European streaming service that has launched in 182 countries has two million paying subscribers, and is planning a U.S. launch this summer. And TuneIn Radio streams 70,000 radio stations from across the globe to listeners in 230 countries. Never before has audio content been so globally available, accessible and adaptable to the needs of any audience, much less an audience of this magnitude.

A Face For Radio

Creating great video content is not easy. For every Dove Real Beauty Sketches video, there are hundreds of Date Better with Sentra and How To Negotiate a Great Car Price videos. Why? Because most brands have yet to put forth the same level of strategic, creative and financial commitment to online video that has been given to the 30-second television commercial, unless of course you classify the mere repurposing of television commercials as online video content. For online video content to garner consistent audience engagement, quality is not the only dynamic that must be addressed; utility, frequency and freshness are absolute requirements. And quite frankly, most brands simply do not have the resources, time and commitment level to effectively compete in the video game. Enter branded radio.

Not traditionally used as term of endearment, having a “face for radio” has always implied a lower level of attractiveness within the media industry.  I am not downplaying the value of video content; I simply want to expose you to a new way to think about brand-driven radio content.

Your Brand.  Your Message. Your Station.

Now, when I say brand-driven radio, I mean more than just a branded playlist or music selections piped into your stores by Muzak that represent the brand’s tone and character.   Pandora doesn’t own microphones, and a server simply stacked with songs will never drive true brand engagement

I am talking about a branded radio station, airing live, 24/7, with real DJs, customized programming geared toward inspiring listeners to act, and yes, music that your customers want to hear. Now think about that for a moment – your brand’s own radio station. You name it, you pick the call letters, you pick the DJs, you dictate the content, you select the music, you can air it in your stores, and yes, you can even run your own commercials.    And get this – you can launch your brand’s own radio station for one-third of the average production cost of a single television spot.

Making It Happen

RFC Media is the leading creator of custom produced, digital radio stations for brands, events and causes. Their model uses targeted music, live hosts and palatable messaging to create a brand’s own conduit to a particular industry, lifestyle and audience. They do all the work – programming, production, research and scripting, talent, hosting digital streaming, traffic and scheduling and the reporting and paying of all music license fees for the music played –  while your brand calls  the shots. Your station can be distributed via a customized media player embedded on your website, shared on Facebook, and is streamed to smartphones and tablets to 45 million active monthly users on TuneIn’s free mobile app.

Let’s look – and listen – to a few examples:

Third Rock Radio: NASA’s Latest Space Station

When NASA was faced with the challenge of inspiring a passion for space within a younger audience who actually witnessed the retirement of the Space Shuttle they launched Third Rock Radio. Produced by RFC Media under a Space Act Agreement with NASA, Third Rock Radio is designed to help make science cool with a mix of New Rock/Alternative while cultivating a deeper interest in science and technology among younger Americans. Tales of new technology, leading edge discoveries and the bold mission of NASA are set within the fun of new music discovery. In fact, astronaut Joe Acaba, became the first person to DJ a radio station from space broadcasting aboard the International Space Station (ISS).Take a listen to just some of the customized branded talk programming here.



Retail Radio

Online streaming of your station is just the start. For franchisees and multi-unit operators, a branded radio station represents the opportunity to drive your message at the store level and encourage engagement after the sale. Timewise, an operator of 240 gas/convenience stores utilizes Timewise Radio to not only support the environment of their retail experience, but to personalize the brand and drive product messaging. A sampling of Timewise Radio can be heard here.


Pop Up Radio

If the seasonality of your brand dictates a specific time frame, holiday or event to align with, another opportunity that exists is a short-term or “pop up” radio station. Imagine a beverage brand launching a radio station specifically around how to enjoy the summer with great music and content ranging from grilling ideas to summer fashion to summer travel ideas. Here’s a sampling of radio stations launched for a short period specifically to support three music festivals – Outside Lands, Bumbershoot and Free Press Summer Festival.




Information + Inspiration

Video still rocks, but branded radio stations represent a tremendous opportunity to create customized content that is current, frequent and personalized for your audience.  The resource requirements and cost of entry are both very accessible.   And the scale of distribution is infinite.   Video may have killed the radio star as we knew it, but your brand has the opportunity to reclaim and redefine the role.

Oh-a oh…



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