This article is sponsored by Entercom and was reviewed before publication.
For most of the ‘90s, my brother and I wrestled for control of the radio on our morning ride to school. He chose alternative rock, while I needed my daily dose of celeb gossip and top 40 hits from “Mike and Chantal in the Morning” on 95.5 (no, I’m not a Philly native, sorry).
Years later, I moved into a city where I didn’t have a car or access to my local morning addiction, but every time I go home for a visit, hearing Mike and Chantal’s voices is like hugging old friends.
“People love radio,” said J.D. Crowley, chief digital officer at Entercom. “I still see bumper stickers on people’s cars for their favorite radio stations. It’s an emotional connection.”
As technology continues evolving, changing consumer’s expectations of what’s digitally possible, radio broadcast services must do the same. When it comes to audio innovation, the executives at Entercom are eager to lead the way.
“So much is happening in terms of audio,” said Crowley. “Recently, it’s been the rise of streaming, smart speakers, voice controlled devices and podcasting. I believe we’re only at the top of the third inning in terms of what’s possible.”
Entercom is a national media and entertainment company that owns RADIO.COM, the digital home for its more than 230 broadcast radio stations across 47 markets — including Philly’s top six local stations — as well 500 additional stations including HD and other affiliates, and a robust podcast network that reaches 28 million people each month.
David Yadgaroff, SVP and market manager of Entercom Philadelphia, is doing his part to pave the path for radio innovation through an aggressive approach to data and analytics.
Yadgaroff oversees Entercom’s Philly operation of radio stations and events. The team is composed of content creators — from news anchors to marketers for web/app/social — whose goals are to engage listeners, and data and analytics pros who track detailed metrics to better connect advertisers to their audiences.
“For advertisers, we can track who is listening to what stations at what times on which platforms,” said Yadgaroff. “We know other details like which style of copy works best in the morning vs. evening, as well as what sites people visit directly after hearing an ad.
Armed with such robust data of listener behavior, Entercom has been reimagining the possibilities of radio functionality by way of smart audio innovation.
“When you ask Alexa something, she speaks back to you, while traditionally, radio has been a one-way broadcast,” said Crowley. “We can use technology to bridge that gap and are currently building a practice to reengineer and distribute content, make it available on-demand and offer new forms of engagement through interactivity.”
The most exciting application of interactivity is Entercom’s RADIO.COM Rewind feature. Launched in October of 2019, the feature functions much like a DVR, enabling users to pause, rewind and fast forward live radio and automatically recording the last 24 hours of content.
“We’re looking at ways to change consumption patterns of audio,” said John Pacino, SVP of product. “Traditionally it’s been listened to in a linear format — you get what you get. Now we are introducing features and functionality based on our research. We look at users and represent their wants and needs; working around their behavior and daily habits.”
Entercom’s marketing, digital and product teams are already plotting their next adventure in audio innovation. As it stands, they are currently thinking through the ways radio could create an interactive listener experience with Amazon and Google’s voice-activated products, and how people could engage with radio through smart TV devices like Roku and Apple TV.
“I think we’re at such a transformational moment for audio,” said Crowley.
Interested in seizing the moment with Entercom’s Philly team? Check out job openings here.
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