The Alertcaster

Viewpoints on FM RDS Messaging

How to stream revenues.

Thursday, 13 November 2008 18:02 by Michael Allen
First, I am not a broadcaster. However, in my role as marketing advisor, I have recently found clients in the radio industry, or did they find me? Our firm recently completed an assignment for Citadel Broadcasting, a pure radio company with more than 220 stations in 50 markets. Now I am working with Radiolicious®, a new native application player for iPhone® and iPod Touch® devices, developed by MySimBook. It allows device users to listen to radio stations that stream their signal online. From my viewpoint, it gives stations an opportunity to stream revenues.

I invite you to visit this website: http://www.delmarvabroadcasting.com/iphone/ to see how one broadcasting group, Delmarva Broadcasting is using Radiolicious® right now.

Why Radiolicious?

There are two reasons.

First, whenever and wherever you can create new, or more loyal, audiences there are advertising revenues to be earned!

Second, whenever and wherever you can create more sponsor value there are advertising revenues to be earned!

At present, FM RDS is the most promising channel available for stations which stream their signal and Radiolicious® offers new FM-enabled device listeners everywhere a great new free service that they can download from the iTunes® website.

Radiolicious® is also free to radio stations.

All of the hardware, software and set-up are paid for by MySimBook. There’s just a low monthly fee to be in the system. This time the rewards actually do far outweigh costs, because it immediately puts radio stations in the interactive radio business on a large scale. Young, and not so young, Americans are demanding more and more capabilities for their preferred mobile devices. They want to communicate, listen and shop while still on the go.

Radiolicious® is the first native application for iPhone® and iPod Touch® that delivers all of those things, and there is more to come…lots more.

We can help stations to stream more than music. There is visual branding, song title and artist, plus your can sell advertisers on running their messages in the application’s Now Playing screen. When users want to buy a song or CD, their purchase is credited to the station and a share of the profits are split between MySimBook and the station. Yes, it pays you to promote your station and sponsors, who also pay you.

When the user completes their Radiolicious® Profile it becomes part of our database that can be shared with the station, and their advertisers, for further marketing and promotion opportunities. Stations can create targeted promotions and sponsors can, too.

Perhaps the best part of the Radiolicious® story is that we have just written the first chapter. As innovation people get a hold of this application expanded new and entertaining services are expected. We also expect the creative minds within our radio stations will find Radiolicious a new palette to explore and communicate with listeners.

Of course, creative sales managers will know exactly what to do: Stream Revenues!

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First time may be this time.

Monday, 29 September 2008 22:08 by David Dubose

As this year’s flurry of destructive storms rages on I am wondering which of them may blow into Alabama. It was just such a worry that led the Alabama Broadcasters Association to adopt an FM RDS emergency messaging in 2006. We recently had a close call from hurricane Gustav, so these days I am glad to have it.

As the immediate past chairman of ABA, I was instrumental in adopting ALERT FM and have stayed involved with its statewide roll-out. Though we have not faced a situation that calls for its use, as more storms approach, the first time may be this time.

The ABA board did not select ALERT FM without careful consideration. Following 9/11 and Katrina, we recognized the deficiencies of the EAS, and as broadcasters, understood the robust and reliable platform of FM RDS. This was not a typical business decision. Our mission was to provide an emergency messaging technology that was capable of warning a large number of Alabamians, even in the smallest markets, before, during and after an event. We viewed ALERT FM as a great opportunity to succeed in that cause.

We have implemented the ALERT FM system for our seven stations in the Birmingham market and all has gone pretty smoothly. There were a couple of glitches early on, but GSS’s technology team was physically in our facilities, troubleshooting problems and solving them to our satisfaction. We have tested the system extensively and found no degradation of signal or effects on our broadcast quality.

I am not an engineer, but the bandwidth requirement seems relatively insignificant. What is significant are the opportunities that such a system offers to broadcasters. Currently, we are using the messaging for “Title & Artist” and station branding. Plus, we are adding a new Advertiser feature that allows additional information, such as business name, phone number or website address to appear during broadcast of the advertiser’s commercial. I view this as a mutually beneficial situation, a win-win if you will. Broadcasters continue a tradition of providing weather and other emergency warnings as a listener benefit, plus music and advertiser messaging. It costs us nothing to have it, aside from the bandwidth we dedicate to the system, and opens up many new and badly needed doors for radio.

This is a new technology era of private message notification, texting and the like. Radio can take advantage of these tools to bind both listeners and sponsors to our station brands. We can message sports scores, traffic delays, Amber and emergency alerts. Some of these value-added features will produce additional revenues and increase our competitiveness.

Think about it. If we don’t adopt these outside links to our marketplaces, we will be stuck selling spots forever, versus offering advertisers integrated marketing campaigns. It is actually the choice to be leaders into a new frontier that will keep radio relevant and alive in the minds of consumers.

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Why we try.

Sunday, 24 August 2008 22:15 by Robert L. Adams
I never set out on a campaign. It found me.  The days after 9/11 were dark for the country as we came to realize the enormity of our disaster and, perhaps more shocking, the actual lack of preparedness for such an urban calamity.

When the towers fell first responders could not communicate with commanders, or even among themselves. Having been engaged in point-to-multipoint wireless technology for about 15 years I was discouraged that the nation did not have an emergency communications standard that could have saved so many lives.
I’m no inventor, and it did not take one to know that FM RDS was the most reliable platform ever built for such a system.

To support that point, a 1996 Radio World article reported a CEMA survey saying that 48% of respondents would like to receive EBS alerts and song titling via RDS. That was 12 years ago. Until now they got just half a loaf.

Matthew Straeb and I are longtime members of the NRSC’s full committee and active with the RBDS technology. Our commitments to the FM RDS space are well known by everyone who knows us.

Over the past 20 years partners and I have invested more than $60 million in technology. Our newest service, ALERT FM, has been deployed for two years, now in South Florida and four other metro areas. Thanks to inspired cooperation from state and local Emergency Managers and Northrop Grumman, our aerospace partner, I am absolutely convinced that ALERT FM will be the long-needed standard.

We have received support from most broadcasters, though some others are still non-believers. Of course, I think they are misinformed. So, this is my campaign and responsibility; to convince everyone in broadcasting of the genuine opportunity such a partnership presents for the radio industry.

Our vision has been a longtime coming, and has a long way to go. But, we have opened several initiatives in diverse emergency and entertainment messaging, mobile communications; and a new category of Awareness-Driven Commerce (ADC) which presents station revenue-sharing RDS opportunities.

Of course, there is the mandated nationwide EAS. But, ALERT FM is way different. A private enterprise solution based on a state and local emergency management network, it is seamlessly integrated and fully addressable; uses switchless satellite communications; promotes and re-repositions FM RDS; supports broadcasters and the Radio brand; is HD-compatible and strives to expand FM by adding more receivers to the general population. 

What do we charge broadcasters for this advanced 21st Century technology and emergency messaging content? Nothing; no start-up costs and no license fees; it is free. Also, ALERT FM is a true public service provided no charge to the public by the station and GSS.

You see everyone’s investment underwrites the cost: Emergency Managers buying technology and providing emergency content; Broadcasters providing some bandwidth to continue their tradition of emergency alerting; The public and businesses who purchase devices (including cell phones if the NAB is successful) to receive emergency messages. 

Who benefits? Broadcasters, yes. FM device listeners, yes. First Responders, yes. Communities, yes. GSS, yes, but to a lesser degree than has been implied, and only if we’re successful in marketing our ALERT FM receivers.

Sure, there are profits to be made from this system and not only by us. But, please remember, we are the ones that spent millions of dollars over five years to make it possible.

Government was not going to do it, so we took the risk and hope for the rewards.  In fact, it is precisely the rewards for everyone that keeps us focused. It is why we try. 

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