Working (and Listening) From Home Is Here to Stay

Woman listening to music in headphones on couch, using pc

Presenting at this year’s virtual Morning Show Boot Camp, preparing a talk for the CMB Momentum Summit next month and chatting with clients in recent weeks, the same themes keep coming up as we talk about radio’s future.

Things aren’t going back to normal anytime soon. The car-heavy morning commute may return eventually, but radio is going to be playing for more in-home listening for a long, long time. With fewer radios in homes, the radio business is more reliant on streaming than ever before – and that means smartphones, tablets, laptops, smart speakers and any other new device that can be used to stream audio.

Let’s spend more time as a business thinking about people listening at home. Make sure listeners know what they need to say to Alexa or “Hey Google” to get your station to play. In the morning, with people preparing for a day of telecommuting and setting the kids up in different corners for virtual school, it’s easy to imagine a radio playing in one room, Alexa playing the station in another and GMA on the TV in a third room. Your content needs to be so compelling that they find themselves drifting back to where your station is playing (and buy another Echo and turn off the TV).

It may take some time for Nielsen to catch up so that measurement works consistently across all modes in PPM, but radio can’t wait. Radio needs to be reasserting itself as a listening option in the home. Station streams need to sound GREAT. The in-app experience needs to be perfect.

We’re fans of Total Line Reporting for PPM markets, in which over-the-air programming and programming on the stream are identical. Nielsen’s PPM headphone adjustment is a much-needed step on the path to making sure all listening is accounted. In a game where an increase of a tenth of a rating point can have massive billing upside, every quarter hour counts.

Working from home is here to stay. Companies are talking about reducing the office space they maintain and having some part of their workforce permanently deployed from home. Those of us at NuVoodoo have been working from home for years and know about the feelings of isolation that can come from not mingling with co-workers. Music-only streams from Spotify or Pandora only go so far; most of the time it’s nice to have the human voices of music radio hosts keeping you company.

We know from our research that listeners believe, if there was a major emergency or something really outlandish occurred, radio stations would break into the music to tell them about it. Even from that very basic level, music radio is not just about music. Music radio is also about content and – at the risk of invoking Professor Harold Hill – that (content) starts with C and that rhymes with P and that stands for People.

It’s about everyone involved with your station working to make it sound PERFECT in every way you can. In this utterly abnormal time in the world, as we’ve said before, listeners are relying on your station for an audio hug – a laugh or smile when it’s appropriate; knowing that someone else is going through this weirdness with them; the reassurance that we’re going to get through this and things will get back to normal.