Friday, May 11, 2012 - 12:25pm
Mark Edwards is an award-winning radio programmer with experience at WLIT/Chicago, KOSI/Denver, KYKY, KEZK, and WVRV in St. Louis, and more. He's currently managing general partner of Mark Edwards Worldwide, his multi-disciplinary consulting practice. This is Part 3 of his guest essay; read Part 1 here; Part 2 here.
Previously in this series, I looked at the differences and similarities between the online-only KTeshLA.com “radio station” and its terrestrial counterparts. Make no mistake about it: everyone working on this project sees it as a radio station without a transmitter, not a streaming channel, a supplemental service of some kind, or anything else.
“John told me he wanted KTeshLA to be like a regular radio station,” said Chris Shannon, Program Director. “We’re adding more to it every day and treating it like a radio station.” That’s evident by listening, online or through mobile aggregator TuneIn. (The station recently launched its own mobile apps for iOS and Android, but I found the listening experience on TuneIn to be far superior to the Triton Digital-provided Android app.)
Clearly, KTeshLA is a work in progress; the streaming player lacks artist and title information, for example. But the concept of running a real “radio station” and doing it "direct-to-consumer" -- as in without a transmitter, corporate ownership, or the expense of all of that -- is incredibly attractive to content providers like John Tesh and his TeshMedia Group.
A direct-to-consumer, online- and mobile-optimized radio station could be used for a myriad of purposes: to target a single locale (like KTeshLA), to use technology to serve ads to mobile listeners based on their location (whether they’re listening to a locally targeted station or a national service), or to serve specific niche audiences (once the dream of HD Radio).
KTeshLA has a direct format competitor in Southern California: Tesh’s former home, Salem’s KFSH-FM. This raises the question of if, and when, KTeshLA will begin a marketing effort to lure listeners away from their FM competition. Once that happens (and assuming Arbitron is encoding the streams of the online station), the real power of a local radio station without a transmitter might be seen for the first time.
Los Angeles, after all, has a significant number of Pandora listeners, and a huge amount of mobile listening. KTeshLA is poised to take advantage of Angelenos' comfort with listening to mobile "radio." Whether it takes months or years, the station could be among the first to be on par with traditional radio. Developments like the "connected dashboard," streaming aggregation applications, and the growing trend among consumers to perceive anything that makes noise on a computer or mobile device is "radio" may make acceptance and adoption of services like KTeshLA easy... perhaps even easier than launching a new format on FM.
While it may seem odd to call John Tesh a “trailblazer,” his project in Los Angeles may serve as one of the early instances of direct-to-listener "broadcasting."