Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, August 15, 2021

I don’t listen to enough radio to give much of a damn about the medium. But one trend has me puzzled: What’s with applying identity-like brandnames to individual stations?

Many radio station names are basically mnemonic devices for remembering the call letters — stations like KROQ in Los Angeles (“K-Rock”) or New York’s WHTZ (“W-Hits”) — and some even manage to turn the mnemonic into a brand, as did San Francisco’s KLLC, known as “Alice,” a name that goes beyond the call letters to effectively evoke its “chick rock” brand identity as well as referencing Lewis Carroll’s famous Alice (their in-studio webcam is called the “Looking Glass”) and the lyrics of “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane (“Go ask Alice…”).

A growing trend, I think, is that more and more radio stations are beginning to realize that there’s no law requiring them to be named after their call letters, so you get stations like San Francisco’s KSAN calling themselves “The Bone,” a name related more to their hard classic rock format and brand identity than their call letters (which, typically, just relate to the local area). When a station has an evocative name, it has more than just call letters or a handy way to remember the call letters — it has a brand. And since radio is now such a competitive big media business, brands are more important than ever. So The Bone’s listeners are called “Boneheads” and KFOG’s are called “Fogheads,” and all kinds of promotion is done playing-off the names.

The local New York examples that come to mind: The Breeze 107.1 (hardly unique, as I’m betting there are a few hundred easy listening stations across the land that use the same name); The Peak 107.1 (Adult Album Alternative format, whatever that’s supposed to be); and The Wolf 94.3 (upstate-oriented country music). The trend is probably more prevalent on non-music format stations, chiefly news and talk.

Music stations are so homogenized, with the same songs on virtual repeat for days/months/years, that some kind of station-based branding is the only way to build listener loyalty. What makes it unique is how it’s applied strictly on the local level — by necessity, but still. Television networks do the same thing, especially when they’re niche (Spike TV, Cooking Channel, etc.); but they have the additional advantage of exclusive content to distinguish themselves. With radio, outside of format restrictions, the same song can be heard on a range of stations.

The big constraint in communicating these brands: They’re always accompanied by the station frequency. That’s another necessity, because the goal is to have people know where to tune in. But it’s an awkward pitch. To me, it sounds goofy: “Music festival sponsored by one-oh-two-point-five The Sound!”.

But again, radio is largely dead to me, so maybe I’m immune to this marketing angle. The charms of station-monikering escape me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/15/2010 09:06pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Radio
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button fly
Blog-housekeeping note: Starting today, I’ve installed Twitter’s official Tweet Button onto this blog, for both individual posts and aggregate post pages.

This replaces the Topsy Retweet Button that I’d installed as a plugin back in March. I’ve long since deactivated that one, as it started exhibiting some bugs a few months back. It doesn’t look like Topsy is even supporting the plugin anymore, so I’m 86ing it. The only thing I’ll miss is the included feature of pulling in “reaction tweets” as trackbacks onto the linked-to posts; but that was the main feature that was bugging out, so I’ll just have to find an alternate solution for that one.

We’ll see how the Tweet Button flies around here. It’s currently in a butt-ugly placement at the end of the post content and atop the post-footer info; if I find the motivation, I’ll hack through the CSS to make it line up prettier. For now, it’s functional, which is good enough.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/15/2010 07:47pm
Category: Bloggin', Social Media Online
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