Pay Attention to the Philly Sports Radio Landscape

Mastering media, today, is without question the most critical strategic and tactical element for your business success. The use of media has the power to impact every single facet of your business. Marketing and sales of course, but more than that your intelligent use of media can impact operational, workforce and customer service performance. This is true whether you are a one man or woman shop or a multi-billion dollar global conglomerate. Failing to make investments to understand how media flows, and how to leverage it to your benefit can be potentially catastrophic, especially in the long run. All it takes is one formidable competitor getting their own media act together and you will find yourself immediately on defense.

A stretch?  Well ask yourself these questions.  If you are forty or older how much trade media are you aware of today? Who are the influencers in your space and when was the last time you heard from or read from them?  When is the last time your children sat through a half hour sticom commercials and all?

If you are under forty the questions are similar but offer a slightly different perspective.  Have you ever spent time consuming trade media in print form? Who are the top five people in your industry that you follow? What social platform is your go to when you check your phone one last time before sleep? When was the last time you watched a network television show in its entirety at its on air schedule?

If you are honest with yourself, regardless of age, what you immediately realize is that your media consumption is fragmented, completely digital, and is more representative of what you like and not as much as what someone else thinks you will like.  And you probably realize that trade media is not what it once was.  Or you are saying ‘what’s trade media’.

And yet media that impacts your professional life not only exists but there is more of it today than ever before. So you have a choice.  Make understanding media a priority and get busy making it work for you or risk the aforementioned situation where you act defensively because a competitor finally got around to making media work for them.

And this is why, as the title of the post suggests, you should pay attention to sports radio in the Philadelphia market.  The current landscape is an incredible case study on how disruption is being handled, and how once unmovable forces in the market are starting to get flanked by something that they don’t necessarily understand.

There are two sports talk radio stations in the Philadelphia area; 94.1 WIP currently owned by CBS and 97.5 WPEN the Fanatic  owned by Beasley Broadcasting Gr0up.  Over the last two to three years there has been quite a bit of movement at both stations. New morning and drivetime shows have come and gone. Hosts with larger contracts have been let go. Acquisitions and mergers have been completed.

The WIP morning show is hosted by Angelo Cataldi. He’s been at the helm for over 26 years, the show has performed very well, but Cataldi, currently 66, is in the last year of his contract.  WIP seemed to attempt to groom a replacement in Josh Innes, a young brash raised-on-Howard-Stern type of radio host, but the experiment ended in Innes’s firing.

While all of this was going on the play by play was being covered by Crossing Broad. The site published over 144 posts on the Philadelphia ‘radio wars’ since late 2014, including one that inadvertently informed an on air talent that their timeslot was being taken from them.

This all matters because Crossing Broad captures close to if not over 300,000 pairs of eyeballs a month.  And the owner of the site, Kyle Scott, has recently launched a thrice weekly podcast called Crossing Broadcast. The show, running Monday, Wednesday and Friday, is recorded first thing in the morning and posted around 7:00 a.m. to accommodate the commuting public in the region.  Through a concerted effort to encourage fans of the blog to listen to the show and review it the podcast quickly cracked the top 10 on iTunes in the sports category.

So that is the landscape, but why does it matter?  Listen to the opening segment on this episode of Crossing Broadcast which opens up with a clip from 97.5’s mid-morning hosts disparaging Kyle’s new work (without mentioning the show by name).

Radio is feeling the pressure like television and print news has been feeling for years.  The only advantage radio still holds is that a large majority of Americans are held as a captive audience to radio airways when they are in their cars.  This advantage won’t last much longer as nearly every vehicle manufactured today has some option to stream media via the driver’s mobile device.  What has radio done to embrace this new more casual format of podcasting?  Absolutley nothing.  And it isn’t just the podcast medium they have ignored, take a look at the website for the two local sports stations and you’ll find an early 2000s browsing experience and audio clips that have been taken from the live shows.  Moreover the social feeds of hosts are not much more than an extension of on air hours.

Meanwhile the key advertising demographic hits Crossing Broad most likely every day, and now lends Crossing Broadcast their ears three times a week.  Radio won’t be going away anytime soon, but Kyle Scott mentions he’s recently hired a sales professional and is changing up his revenue model.  He’ll have a sponsor for the podcast by mid-summer, and if not he should fire the sales guy and find a new one.  (You can listen to Kyle Scott talk about his blog and its business model on this leading matters interview)

The point of all of this is that it doesn’t have to be this way for radio.  They own production know how in the audio entertainment space. They have more access to sports talent and executives than Crossing Broad will have maybe ever but at least over the next three more years.  Yet they are completely locked in to how it has been done. They never experiment, they never produce something exclusive for digital consumption.  An now, at least for WIP, they are left with an aging morning show and no plan for succeeding that show with a ratings winner.

See what i mean.  it is now too late for WIP and WPEN the Fanatic to go on offense.  Scott has captured the digital sports as entertainment media market for now which leaves traditional media outlets on defense.  Whether he knows it or not Scott has in front of him incredible opportunity to literally own what once belonged to the local papers, Comcast, and the national Radio corporations. This is why you should pay attention.  See how this plays out.  Listen to the show and hear it mature from week to week. Look into the advertising that is placed on the site and on the podcast.  All of this is going to happen because Scott took ownership of producing media using the strength of the publishing platforms he has had at his disposal.

So how about you? Are you going to wait around until you have to play defense or are you finally going to get your media act together?

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