As broadcast radio scrambles to assesses its USP – its unique selling proposition – amidst a sea of new competition, you hear the term “live & local” bandied about – a lot.
Of course, not everyone agrees this is radio's “secret sauce.” In fact, many contend it has become as irrelevant as a local late night TV show trying to duke it out with Fallon, Colbert, and Kimmel.
And then there are the naysayers who believe in the value of being “live & local,” but say that ship sailed for radio years ago. Many point to consolidation, budget cuts, and other “boogeymen” as being the fork in the road where the radio industry took the wrong path.
Clearly, investing in the product and actually walking the “content is king” walk has become an industry-wide issue. But even in this environment, local market visibility matters. Consumers still love to “see radio.”
I've moderated enough focus and Listener Advisory Groups over the years, along with brand advocate/customer evangelist programs, to know just how attractive radio still is for so many people in the smallest towns and the biggest metros. Station tours and open houses are almost always immensely popular, as listeners clamor to see the studio and the celebrities on the air. And even to this day, we know that a well-executed remote broadcast can be successful for both the station and a sponsor.
But what about the idea of taking the radio station on the road? This is a trend that is gaining speed – in markets of all sizes. Powell Broadcasting in Sioux City, Iowa, partnered with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to build a highly visible studio the cluster shares. We wrote about it back in 2016 – a great concept then, and one that's taking flight now. The studio was built (pictured right) in 2014, and five years later, is used approximately 40 hours per week for live broadcasts in one of the city's most popular hot spots.
We reopened the same topic in a post back exactly one year ago – “Why Not Pop-Up Radio?” We made the point that the food truck and pop-up store phenomena is in the same family, where culture on wheels is made available to customers on location. And that's part of the magic.
Inspired by that post, WDHA – The Rock of New Jersey. They retrofitted a station van, turning it into a studio where their “Morning Jolt” broadcasts their show all over town.
While consumers enjoy hearing radio, it's a special treat to see it. And that's where more radio stations are finding ways to take their shows and personalities to the audience.
And now more stations – in different sized markets are picking up the mantle and bringing taking their air studios on the road. Beasley's Detroit cluster worked out a partnership with Lady Jane's, the men's haircuttery with more than 100 locations in Metro Detroit, and around the country.
Owned by a local, Chad Johnson, the company is headquartered in suburban Birmingham where they recently opened one of their shops – a highly visible location right on Woodward Avenue, site of the annual “Dream Cruise.”
Working with the Beasley group – a combined effort by sales, programming, and engineering – Lady Jane's greenlighted the beautiful air studio you see at the top of today's post. All three stations in the cluster – WRIF, WCSX, and The Bounce – broadcast live from Lady Jane's, welcoming listeners in off the street as well as those who drop in for a haircut and other services.
For a station whose home studios are located in an out-of-the-way, industrial location, the Lady Jane's showcase studio is a cool, novel way to have a great local presence that's visible, personal, and yes, sexy.
When conceiving the idea and then making good on his commitment, Lady Jane's slogan “Wicked Awesome” came to life.
“I looked over (at the space) and the thought popped into my head. I said, ‘I’m going to make this area there into the most amazing broadcast studio ever, Everybody looked at me and said what are you talking about? Eight months later, they’re seeing it come to fruition.”
The studio is equipped to let the airstaff take and record phone calls as well as play imaging. The music and commercials are run back at the stations.
The one-minute video clip below is the maiden broadcast from the Lady Jane's studio late last year:
Juline Jordan from 94.7 WCXS during Lady Jane's Studios FIRST EVER BROADCAST!
Posted by Lady Jane's Haircuts for Men on Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Will this trend catch on? Obviously, marketing savvy clients like Lady's Jane's Johnson are a rare breed. But for advertisers, cities, and venues that are looking to showcase their brands, studio partnerships with local radio is a unique way to go. When one of the Beasley Detroit jocks mentions the “Lady Jane's studio,” it's not just a tack-on positioning statement like it is at most radio station. It's the real deal.
Appearance matters and so does visibility. More and more, stations and clusters are thinking of the physical station itself as a marketing statement. Late last year, Inside Radio highlighted Townsquare's Duluth, Minnesota cluster moving to display studios downtown later this year. Passesrby will be able to see the DJs on all four stations in the cluster.
Radio's “cool factor” is a frequent topic in this blog. So is the industry's seeming inability to consistently market itself – its value, its effectiveness, its local roots, and its community presence.
Forget about “a face for radio.”
Broadcast radio can be visionary by being visible.
Thanks to WRIF's Ken Wasilewski, and high-fives to Beasley engineers Mike Kernen and Sherri Powers.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.