One of the great benefits of our jacAPPS division – now 720 mobile apps strong – has been meeting all kinds of different broadcasters who have gone mobile. We’re talking all formats, commercial and non-commercial stations, and even Internet-only radio.
All these stations are very different, allowing us to design and build apps that reflect their individual brand essence. But the one thing they have in common is their grasp of the power of the mobile space, and providing a great experience for their audiences.
Then earlier this year, Techsurvey8 opened a different door – the ability to connect with programmers, managers, and strategists from our 12 different format groups. From Country to Sports to Hot AC to News, I have spent time gaining a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing diverse groups of broadcasters on both the tech and media fronts.
And that’s been underscored by our foray into Christian radio, a sector of the radio universe that admittedly, I knew little about just a few short years ago.
It started with the app development side of our company. We have built mobile apps for large networks of Christian radio, including K-LOVE, Air 1, Shine-FM and others, as well as for an array of individual stations in many markets around the U.S. We knew something was going on in this format when we started reading wildly enthusiastic App Store comments that were overwhelmingly positive.
At the Worldwide Radio Summit in L.A. last April, I met Kenny Rodgers (no, not that Kenny Rogers), who handles national promotion for Word Entertainment, a label that features some of Christian music’s biggest stars, including Chris August, Francesca Battistelli (pictured), Sidewalk Prophets, and Big Daddy Weave – artists that are near and dear to the millions of listeners who enjoy the genre and the message it delivers.
I was asked to speak to a group of select programmers last week in Chicago, and to present the Christian format findings from Techsurvey8. It was a reminder of the power of research when you have the opportunity to boil it down to format preferences and select listener groups.
Christian radio listeners are very different. They are the most loyal by far. In a post last week, we showed Net Promoter scores by format, and Christian listeners profile as the most fervent – far more willing to highly recommend their stations than any other format group.
One of those small but interesting findings had to do with “First Occasions” – the media that consumers turn to first thing in the morning. You may recall that while radio “won” that race, turning on TV, as well as checking email or Facebook, are major activities that are eroding radio’s “first thing in the morning” dominance. Among the Christian respondents, this was especially the case. But we also noticed that the percentage of those choosing “Other” was four times higher for these listeners, an indication that perhaps we had missed something in the responses we provided.
A little digging into the comments section of that question revealed something amazing – 2% of these listeners start their day with a different form of “media” – the Bible and devotionals. It was just another of those cool findings that you stumble upon by asking questions.
Throughout the presentation, it was clear to these programmers that stronger bonds are possible between Christian listeners and Christian radio via email, Facebook, and Twitter, not to mention the audience’s love for the music. And FM radio is an especially strong part of the discovery engine that exposes new artists and songs.
And speaking of which, these Christian broadcasters had no shortage of great questions and comments about Techsurvey8 and what it means to their format. This was an early morning session before the group headed out to a music showcase, a Cubs game, and other activities. But they were brimming with great observations about the data and how it applied to their stations and audiences.
WAY-FM’s Jeff Connell was especially out front with comments and observations. And Susan O’Donnell, program director of KSBJ/Houston, put it best when she said that “Relationships pretty much sum it up when it comes to Christian radio.”
And of course, she was right. In most formats, this is the case. But it’s turbocharged in Christian radio.
My thanks again to Word Entertainment’s senior promotion guru, Kenny Rodgers, and his buttoned-up team. And to everyone in Christian radio who supported the largest survey ever conducted in radio.
In early September, Paul will be presenting these findings as well as other observations at Momentum 2012 in Orlando, a mega-gathering of Christian Music broadcasters.