Dave Does Digital: A Morning Show and Social Media

How a Twin Cities morning mainstay, The Dave Ryan Show, is using social media.

I admit it, I listen to commercial radio quite a bit…yes, even Top 40. I know this is hard for many to admit. There is this pressure that if you don’t listen to NPR all the time you’re some how less of a person. I have my public radio favorites and still love to dig for new and more independent music, but I like hearing the “hits”. It’s the way I was brought up. Whether they be current or more from my formative years, I listen to rock, alternative, country and pop stations and the “hit” music they play. Besides, with a pre-teen and teen in the house and car it’s pretty much a given that I’ll be hearing my fair share of Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift.

It’s for that reason that I noted and was impressed with how one of Minneapolis’ local shows was using interactive and social media tools. What was also impressive was how they were integrating it into their on-air presentation. They often noted that more and sometimes exclusive content could be had online…a practice all too often avoided by stations and personalities.

As I have commented here on RemainComm, commercial radio as a whole has  been slow in adopting and investing in the new forms of media that allow the growth of relationships with their listeners. OK, some just plain suck at it. KDWB’s Dave Ryan Show is an exception. Dave and his cast have done some interesting things and I had a chance to chat with him about his interactive pursuits.

For better or for worse, Dave still looks at interactive as “free marketing”. For the radio business the price tag of free is the main appeal of social media. Dave noted, “You’re crazy if you’re not taking advantage of everything you can to reach your audience.” But to Dave’s credit he goes on to say, “Yeah, you want more listeners but you really do care…about the listeners and the content. It’s like having a booth at the State Fair.” A practice all Twin Cities stations take part in, whether it makes sense as a marketing tool or not. Dave also notes that what they do online is “an extension but it also keeps us relevant. It helps let the audience know that you have your fingers in all the cool stuff.” (More on his use of social media to listen further down the page.)

Here’s a look at what they are doing. Some of it is obvious, some not, and some of it shows great foresight.
Of course The Dave Ryan Show has a website that provides you with all the basics. There’s the bio section, the links to Dave’s Dirt (his daily entertainment report), photos, news, the always vital “Listen Live” link and more. But let’s look at some of the more interactive endeavors:

Twitter:  Unlike many stations and personality Twitter streams who just promote the station, a contest, or a feature, Dave correctly uses it to share his personal side. Dave tells me his foray into to Twitter was not without it’s challenges. He quite often makes observations and jokes and a comment he made about Fibromyalgia early on caused quite a dust-up, followed by an apology from the show.  Even prompting a Youtube video rant. “I think a lot more about what I tweet now.” says Dave.  Follow Dave at @DaveRyanKDWB and you’ll see a fair amount of station business  but also plenty of pics of the kids and what he’s up to outside of his radio world.

Youtube: Check out the Dave Ryan Show Youtube channel and you’ll see a fair amount of interviews, stunts and events. You’ll also see some content produced specifically for the channel like “Dave’s Office”, a send up of the popular “The Office”. There’s also plenty of content provided by Dave’s cast of characters…like a rather disturbing 25 seconds of Crisco using Shake Weights (Think body fat in motion.) that’s been viewed over 70,000 times. Original content is a great way to not only drive people to the site but to provide them with exclusive content they can’t get on the morning show. I’ve always been a fan of this. Sure you can post your podcast of the radio show, but if you really want to find and attract the non-radio audience nothing beats original web exclusive content.

Facebook: The Dave Ryan Show Facebook page has nearly 11,000 fans and is a natural extension of he site with plenty of photos and links that features many of the same things the site does. Dave also has a personal Facebook page under his real name. In fact, that page has actually been discovered by KDWB fans because of photo tagging (and Dave’s lack of use of privacy settings. It makes one wonder if the use of an “on-air” name is effective as a way to achieve anonymity in real life is all that effective these days.)

MySpace: “We have one but I don’t think we’ve updated it in along time. I don’t think anybody uses MySpace much anymore.” They only have 60 friends so I can’t disagree with Dave much on this, though while MySpace is probably not as high a priority, if you have anything to do with music, it’s still kind of relevant.

Photosharing: “We don’t use a specific photo site. We use the photo page on our site.” Clear Channel has established a strong photosharing tool allowing for slideshows and sets so it makes sense to use the tools provided though establishing a Flickr account might get them out into yet another community.

SMS/Text Messaging: “We get more text messages than anything.” according to Dave. We use a service through the corporation and it really is the way our audience talks to each other.” I’ve heard everything from polling, to requests, to general comments reference on the air so Dave and KDWB are doing a great job in using their SMS channel, shortcodeKDWB1 (53921), and keywords .

XBox 360 Live: OK, this one impressed the heck out of me and I think is really forward thinking. According to Dave, “I was playing XBox with my son and I thought we should be a part of this. We decided to set up a ‘party, and invite listeners to play Call of Duty-Modern Warfare. Though we don’t really cater to a young male audience, it was something we wanted to be part of.” Bravo! By the way, Dave himself doesn’t have a gamertag yet, “I know, I need to get one. I really do.”

As you can see Dave and company have taken a very hands on approach with social and interactive tools. They have worked hard and actually added more time to their day to provide unique and relatively compelling content to their audience.

As I’ve noted in the past, radio has always excelled at talking and the Dave Ryan Show is no exception. However, there needs to be time spent on listening, something that Dave has yet to really do. “I’ll answer Facebook messages and emails but we don’t’ really do anything more than that.”

On a side note, this is where not only radio but business in general needs to spend more time. In fact, this is where we should all begin. Yes, radio can possibly get away with just using this channel to push content because they are ‘show biz’ after all, but pulling can lead to so much more. (Needless to say I’ll be turning Dave on to the many ways he can listen in the future.)

I’m sure that there are other stations and personalities using on line tools and channels to interact with their audience but I’m really impressed with what Dave is doing and, most importantly how they are integrating it into their on air presentation.

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By the way, while I’m talking Twin Cities radio…a new format was launched at 96.3 last week. and, as of this writing, their website is…um…not reflective of forward thinking. (Update: 7 days after debuting on-air, the station website is now up.)  Like any new business or venture, there is a huge amount of planning that goes into a launch or relaunch. Online presence is mandatory and should be part of the plan…from day one. “This site is under construction.” is so 90’s.  Might I suggest a link to the Facebook page and an online stream?…I’m just sayin’.

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