R&R News/Talk Editor, Mike Stern, turned us onto a new Carat USA research survey about what Americans are doing with their media time since the writers' strike. While the majority are watching about the same amount of TV as always, about a quarter of the audience has drifted elsewhere.
Where? It appears those watching less TV or wouldn't be apt to watch reruns of favorite shows, the primary destinations are online surfing, more TV channel surfing, DVDs, magazines, and finally video games.
The missing media link, of course, is Radio, which does not make an appearance in the study's exec summary. There has to be an opportunity here for radio, we surmised, so Dave Beasing and I put our heads together and came up with the following thoughts:
The writers' strike might provide that push to stations that have been thinking about launching a special evening show, because the timing couldn't be better. For example, KBZT/San Diego's Big Sonic Chill is well-established and gets big 25-54 ratings -- as a nighttime soft Alternative program that fits the mood late at night. For many, it's appointment listening. Same with Slick Tom Tiberi's night show on 97Rock in Buffalo. It's a consistent ratings winner that's very local and phone-intensive. For these kinds of shows, positioning them as alternatives to the drivel that's now on television would be a nice promotional angle.
And the nighttime syndicated shows ought to follow suit, whether it's Alice Cooper, Delilah, and even the new Greg Kihn show that's coming soon. These are all celebrity shows that might benefit if stations get more aggressive in promoting them as a better option than Moment of Truth.
Also, many studies have shown that online video only gets bigger and bigger. Just as the writers' strike in 1988 spurred a growth in cable TV, this writers' strike is causing even more online video viewing. And its audience spans all demos, but is biggest with younger Men. Stations like WRIF or KMYZ/Tulsa that have online YouTube pages are taking advantage of that trend.
CGM TV is another great tool that can get listeners involved who are bored with TV. The Mikey Show in San Diego (KIOZ) is asking listeners to send in 3-to-5 minute videos about how they listen to the show. These will probably be very entertaining.
And every morning show should be videotaping segments for posting online. For the cost of a digital camera, you're on the air. Remember those hallway ambush interviews with Howard Stern's guests when he had an E! show? There are so many reality shows around the radio station that could be entertaining with minimal editing. The extra intern who's passing out T-shirts from the van could be creating online content. (She probably has the skills, but you need to ask and find out.)
Studies like this Carat report underscore the importance of Radio being more top-of-mind when opportunities like the writers' strike occurs. There's still time to do more than mindlessly voicetrack at night.