“Entertainment when you want it, information when you need it.” And so begins our journey to yell it from the mountaintop: Radio lovers, you probably have an FM receiver right in the palm of your hand.

Last week, a press release announcing the beginning of an over-the-air campaign to promote the availability of FM radio on mobile devices went out to the public. And before that, the leaders of the NAB, RAB, and NASBA sent out messages of encouragement to broadcasters asking for their participation and support of this industry effort.

“This campaign is the fruition of leaders in the radio business working together to provide listeners with an exciting new broadcast radio experience that is dependable in times of emergency and provides the interactivity listeners seek. Please help us by uniting in this important effort to secure a bright future for radio.” – Gordon Smith, NAB President

We’re very excited about how the first week of the campaign went, and would love to share that with you in this post. But first…

By the Numbers

  • Over 1,740,000 app downloads
  • Over 11,300 FM radio stations tuned to from the app
  • Over 3,060,000 hours of listening through NextRadio
  • A 4/5 Google Play Store user rating

The Consumer Awareness Campaign is ON!

So on Monday, Feb 23rd, the first ads began to trickle onto the airwaves. Traffic or sales managers at most US radio stations had received instructions the previous week from their media rep firms about the spots promoting NextRadio and the website FreeRadioOnMyPhone.org. The spots, available at http://www.nextradioapp.com/campaign, range from funny to serious, but all aim to carry the important consumer awareness messages to radio’s 240 million listeners.

If you are a broadcaster and did not receive these instructions, you can visit the link and schedule your choice of the spots to get the word out to your audiences. There are also web banners in Spanish and English for online promotion.

“As radio broadcasters we continue to collaborate to bring forth innovative solutions to ensure our product is available to our listeners wherever and whenever they want it. This we know is critical to our future,” said Erica Farber, RAB president, in her letter to her members. And Michelle Vetterkind, outgoing president of NASBA noted, “The NextRadio platform is our key to future audience and advertiser growth with a renewed perception of what broadcast radio means.”

Katz Media and other agencies are managing the trafficking of spots so we can measure effectiveness by city.

Continuing the conversation…

The main gist of NextRadio and FreeRadioOnMyPhone.org come through in the commercials, but the 60 seconds goes by fast. Here’s what we hope consumers will take away from them and why we think you’ll find them valuable.

+ An FM radio option on smartphones is something consumers love… once they actually know about it. And consumer demand, we’ve been told, will be the deciding factor for other carriers. So this campaign is about information. What the public chooses to do with that information is up to them, but it’s cavalier to suggest listeners don’t care about radio on their phones when they’ve never had that option before. And so far (see below)… the consumer response has been nothing but enthusiastic.

FROMP_300x250+ NextRadio is actual broadcast radio. While radio is commonplace on phones in the rest of the world, we’re just not used to the idea here in America. And as with any new product, there’s confusion about the experience. From the person who doesn’t understand why an antenna is necessary, to the guy who is utterly amazed that the audio in syncing perfectly with the game he’s watching, the ads serve to clarify that difference.

+ ALL local FM stations can be heard on NextRadio – 11,300 so far. Stations don’t have to “buy in” to be heard. If you can tune to it in your car, you can hear it on NextRadio. And according to our metrics, that’s about 4000 stations every day now. As broadcasters, we’re precious about resources, and NextRadio utilizes your most valuable asset: your FM signal, allowing you to spend your energy where it counts most – that content your listeners love.

+ Just because an app is free to download doesn’t mean it won’t cost you. Because NextRadio’s audio is received by the phone’s built-in tuner and not over the internet, it uses 10 times less data and more than 3 times less battery life. But that’s not where the value ends. Many of our real listeners praise the fact that the radio continues to work when they have no connection at all, which is at the very least convenient, but in the worst situations…

+ A radio in your pocket could be a lifeline in the event of an emergency. If cellular networks are overloaded or become unavailable in a disaster, the radio in your phone will continue to work solely on your battery’s charge. The interactivity NextRadio provides through the internet will be forfeited, but the audio information you need will always be there.

Early Results

Now for some great news: Early signs indicate people are not only hearing the messages, but it’s important enough to them to ACT on it. FreeRadioOnMyPhone.org saw website visits rise by over 6500% in the first 5 days of the campaign – that’s no typo. And almost 19,000 actions were taken from the page allowing users to make their voices heard on the matter. NextRadioApp.com also saw an increase of 500% in traffic last week. Also, every day of the campaign last week was a record-breaking one for NextRadio app downloads with our first ever 10,000 download day on Friday.

With all of these new listeners, you’ll want your stations looking great in the app. Sign up for TagStation to take advantage of its current features as well as the great things to come. Though between 70-80% of the stations in the nation’s top markets provide interactivity through NextRadio, it’s total coverage and saturation that national advertisers will find attractive. Before investing, they want to know the industry is on board. And as we’ve mentioned before, listeners spend more time on NextRadio with stations offering this more immersive experience.

Moving Forward

Stay tuned for continued progress with phones… Visit our growing list of supported devices to see the full line-up of phones that currently support NextRadio. We anticipate that with help from this campaign, this list will begin growing faster.

We’ll be back soon with more exciting news. It was great to see several of you as well as new faces at NABA’s Future of Radio & Audio Symposium, the NAB State Leadership Conference in DC, & Country Radio Seminars in Nashville!

Until then, THANK YOU for your continued support with the campaign.

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