The Custom Channels Blog

Top 7 Side Channels For Radio Stations

Posted by John on October 21st, 2010

Radio stations on the FM band should be asking themselves the question: “what’s our number 2 stream?”  The number 1 stream is the main broadcast signal.  A number 2 stream then is a side channel.

Increasingly, to compete with internet radio, Pandora and other FM stations, broadcasters need to be launching the number 2 steam on their web site and mobile apps.  Why? It’s something new to promote to listeners and it’s something new to take to advertisers to tap into digital dollars.

Where to start?

Here are the top 7 side channels that any radio station could launch this week and sell to advertisers.


1. New Releases. Many studies are reinforcing that radio is still an ideal place for “music discovery.”  Stations should give their audience a dedicated channel to hear 100% new releases tailored to the station’s format, with local imaging and local advertisers.  There’s new music released every week – provide an outlet for your listeners who are interested to sample it.

2.  Love Songs. Here’s a big library of music that’s a staple of AC playlists and a ratings-getter at night.  Yet it’s music that’s hard-to-find on one channel at any time of day.  Female friendly and at-work compatible, this channel is a logical format extension for any station targeting women.  A Country Love Songs channel is also a fresh idea.

3.  Station Personality. Dedicate a side channel to one station personality, likely the morning host or morning show.  Re-broadcast the entire show and recent shows.  Combine that with web exclusive content from that personality and a music mix that’s either exatcly like the station’s format or something slightly different so it’s unique. “Max In The Morning” can now 24/7 on the web site and mobile apps strengthening both personality and station brand and attracting advertisers.

4.  Jazz & Vocals. Call it Smooth Jazz or Smooth AC, these stations have almost disappeared from the FM band, not because the audience went away but because the Arbitron ratings system changed.  There’s still a listener and advertiser demand for lite jazz mixed with vocals.  And there’s still a demand for this format in at-work listening.

5.  Rockin’ Blues. A music style long forgotten on the radio that still holds strong appeal to both advertisers and mature listeners raised on rock and blues, especially men.  A mix of mainstream blues-based-rock along with the contemporary blues and classic bluesmen make this a good side channel for Classic Rock, Rock, Triple A and even talk radio stations.

6.  Library Country. Country radio today is focused on what’s new and now at the exclusion of all the great songs the format has played heavily over the last 15 years.  This channel is not classic country (although that’s a legitimate side channel, too). This is contemporary country with a library of songs that tested great in the recent past but are now rarely played on radio.  Big stars and familiar songs – call it retro Country from the 1990s and 2000s.

7.  Christmas music. It’s seasonal for November and December but drives high web traffic for those two months.  A Christmas side channel attracts listeners who are looking for format-specific holiday music beyond the three dozen standards that get played in malls and on the all-Christmas AC station. A Christmas channel can keep your audience listening to your brand rather than switching to the all-Christmas FM. This channel is active in the 4th quarter when advertisers are looking to reach gift-buying consumers.

Custom Channels makes starting a side channel, or number 2 stream, fast and easy. To learn more for broadcast radio stations, contact Dave Rahn at Custom Channels.  dave @ — 303.444.7700.

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