Gary Berkowitz

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By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

Lately, you can’t pick up a trade without reading an article about Alexa and smart speakers. The consensus is that smart speakers (Amazon, Google, etc.) will bring radio back into homes where radios have been disappearing over the past decade. I support this theory 100%, but there are a few areas to carefully look at as we enter this new territory. If listeners don’t know you’re there and if they don’t know who to ask for, smart speakers will be just one more technology that we (radio) will compete with versus be a part of. With that in mind, please keep these ideas in mind.

Do more than run obligatory liners about Alexa skills. Saying, “Alexa, play Magic 106.5” may not be enough. We need to explain to listeners that we are available there and wherever they have a smart speaker, they have us. The same goes for smartphones. I have recommended to many stations the line “If you have a phone, you have a radio.” Campaigns should be developed that explain the smart speaker explosion (as well as phone apps) and how to listen to us. Be creative. Be fun. This is what radio does best. Making your station a “must listen” on smart speakers is crucial for our new found “in home” success.

I continue to hear stations (in all formats) do a poor job of on-air ID. Jocks more often than not, rush thru, mumble and do not SELL the call letters and dial position. This will have a very adverse effect on smart speakers, because, as the title of this article says, “Alexa won’t matter if they don’t know who to ask for.” Whether you’re a dairy or PPM market, it does not matter when it comes to Alexa. She is all about recall, so it’s back to the future! This all reminds me of “The Bob Morgan Mantra.” Bob was the market manager of CBS/Rochester for many years. In every meeting, Bob reminded us that we had to be “Brilliant with the Basics..” Alexa has brought that back into the forefront (not that it ever left).

Catchy, fun and memorable (sing along) jingles could have a rebirth. We have been in a very “drums and call letter” style of jingles for a while. I suggest that stations use catchy jingles to help listeners remember who they are listening to. Put aside cool and hip. Think “sing along” and “memorable” so when they say “Alexa, play … they say you because they remember you.

Talk content will need careful management to ensure that the Alexa message is clear and easy to remember. Do you want your jocks selling more listening opportunities (Alexa, Google Home) or some tertiary pop culture story (Ok, ok … take it easy on me for saying this!).

In summary. This new smart speaker technology is going to require us to go back to the basics of doing “memorable programming”, so listeners put us top of mind. So, remember, Alexa won’t matter, if listeners don’t remember who to ask for.

  • Call letters and dial position always first, last and in many cases, in-between.
  • Clever,creative promos that tell listeners that they can listen to us on their smart speaker. Go beyond the sweeper.
  • Acquire easy to remember Alexa skills.
  • Review imaging to ensure that it clearly addresses smart speaker technology.
  • Discovering jingles that are clever, memorable and excel in “sing along.”

Smart speakers are giving us the opportunity of a lifetime to be part of a technology that is exploding. Let’s not miss the train! I’m ready to get on-board. How about you?

Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations.