Inside Radio News

For Podcasters, 2019 Will Be ‘The Year Of The Brands.’

If direct response advertisers built podcasting into what it is today, brand advertisers are accelerating the medium’s growth. “If you look at the marketplace, you can see an exciting trend that suggests 2019 will be the ‘year of the brands’ in podcast advertising,” says Westwood One president Suzanne Grimes.

She bases that prediction on a new analysis of data from the annual revenue report released by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers, as well as information pulled in from the network’s annual Advertiser Perceptions study that gauged how marketers are viewing the podcast format. “We found brands are much more active in podcast advertising than meets the eye,” Grimes says in a blog post.

The IAB/PwC data shows that brand advertisers doubled their spending on podcasts in 2018. While direct response ad spending grew at a still healthy 22%, the numbers show it was brand marketers that accounted for three-quarters of the robust 53% increase in total ad spending on the 22 large podcast publishers that provided data to the trade group. Brand advertising is growing five-times faster than direct response ads, it also showed. And while direct response ads made up three-quarters of industry ad revenue in 2016, Grimes says the data shows in 2018 it was nearly evenly split with DR ads maintaining a slight (52% to 48%) advantage.

Westwood One also released results of its latest survey in which it commissioned Advertiser Perceptions to ask advertisers and ad agencies whether they currently spend money on podcasts. Nearly four-in-ten said they do. “The May 2019 study reveals a sharp increase in the proportion of clients in podcast advertising: 32% in 2018 to 39% in 2019,” says Grimes. That’s nearly a doubling of marketers who said they use podcasts in the past three years.

A scan of the list of advertisers that are using podcasts to deliver a brand message to consumers includes several names well known to network and national spot radio. As Podcast News Daily reported earlier this month, Magellan’s list of the biggest brand advertisers during the first quarter was led by Geico, followed by Capital One, Progressive, Procter & Gamble, and True Car.

“While audience measurement challenges remain, it’s clear from those brand awareness advertisers already advertising in podcasts that the medium is attracting major players, and for good reason,” says Grimes. She points to a MARU/Matchbox study conducted in March 2019 that showed podcast ads are least likely to be skipped, compared to all other digital and traditional media. It also showed 85% of “Power” podcast listeners—those who listen five or more hours a week—say they have taken an action after hearing a podcast ad. “Given that brand awareness/branded content spend in podcasts is growing at five times the rate of direct response campaigns, 2019 will be the breakout year for podcast brands awareness campaigns,” Grimes predicts.

Inside Radio News

Do Radio’s Streaming Rates Need A New Formula? Caroline Beasley Thinks So.

As the radio industry gears up for a new rate-setting process on streaming rates, one group head believes broadcasters should consider pushing for a new framework for how digital royalties are determined. Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley says as online listening numbers grow, the pay-to-play model that has increased costs with each new listener should be replaced with one based on a company’s revenue.

“I would like to see, rather than a pay-to-play model, more of a percent of revenue because then you could plan your business models going forward and you can make assumptions. It’s very difficult [to do that] in the pay-to-play model. That would be my proposal, but it’s the industry that is going to have to come together and decide what works for the industry,” Beasley said on the latest Inside Radio Podcast. Asked whether broadcasters are unified in that position, she said, “I think there are more owners in agreement than not.”

The deal radio is currently under covers the Jan. 2016 to Dec. 2020 period. The formula adopted by the Copyright Royalty Board set royalty rates on non-subscription advertising-supported webcasts at $0.17 for every 100 songs streamed. Unlike the prior royalty structure, the Web IV rates also didn’t include an alternate calculation based on percentage of revenue, but instead are solely based on per-performance rates.

A federal appeals court last September rejected a challenge to the CRB’s rates brought by SoundExchange, which had argued that CRB erred when it reduced what broadcasters were paying by roughly one-third compared to the $0.25 that most broadcast streamers had been paying under the previous 2011-2015 rate agreement.

The linking of digital streaming rates to an on-air performance royalty is one of the potential ideas floated by the National Association of Broadcasters as a way for the radio industry to settle, once and for all, the decades-long debate of whether stations should pay royalties on AM-FM airplay. “That’s still the architecture. We’re working to trade ideas as to what formula would be applied, what numbers would be applied, those kinds of things. But there’s been no offer,” NAB President Gordon Smith told Inside Radio in a Q&A last October.

Beasley, who just completed a term as chair of the NAB Joint Board, says a formal offer still hasn’t been made to the music industry. But now, speaking just as the head of one radio group, she thinks it’s still something worth discussing. “I would take a look at that,” she says, adding, “But I’m not speaking for the industry.”

Listen to the Inside Radio podcast HERE.

Fast Food Restaurants Will Spend $4B On Advertising In 2019.

Quick-service restaurants, a staple of radio ad diets, are on track to spend $4 billion on local advertising this year, according to a new report from BIA Advisory Services. Local advertising plays a crucial role for the QSR category, which includes well-known national brands and less-known regional and local favorites.

Far from a one-size-fits-all proposition, the per capita ad spending in the QSR category varies significantly from market to market, even in the 10 largest markets, according to the firm’s “Insights into Local Advertising” report. In light of those differences, many marketers favor a localized approach. “Local advertising plays a critical role in the QSR category even for national brands,” said Rick Ducey, BIA’s managing director and author of the report. “As one marketing director noted to us, ‘If you don’t have a relationship with your community, you won’t have a business for long; (local advertising) is an investment, not a cost.’”

Although the lion’s-share of QSR spending will go to direct mail, at nearly 30%, the industry has also been faster to adopt mobile advertising than most, and will spend slightly over $500 million, or 12.8%. The entire category will dip slightly over the next few years, before exceeding its 2019 level.

As the QSR marketing mix becomes more driven by data, technology, competition and industry-specific factors, Ducey noted that media sellers can offer valuable insights, info and recommendations for appropriate campaign strategies.

To examine the media consumption of QSR customers, the report offers a local case study from MRI-Simmons. Looking at QSR customers aged 18+ in the Washington, DC market, the case study identified their most heavily used media as the internet and TV tied at first place (each used by 40%). They are followed by radio in third place at 38%, then magazines (35%) and newspaper (29%.)

Summer is primetime for QSRs with the likes of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Arby’s and local favorites amping their advertising across the board at traditional media—on radio, national TV and cable television, according to Media Monitors. McDonald’s was No. 5 over the AM/FM airwaves from June 10-16 in the 85 radio markets that Media Monitors tracks, while Wendy’s roared to No. 10 from the previous week’s No. 63 at radio. Subway (No. 12), Taco Bell (No. 44), Panera Bread (No. 61), Dunkin’ Donuts (No. 71) and Chick-fil-A (No. 96) all placed among the Media Monitors’ top 100 radio advertisers.

Don’t Agree With Host’s Views? Advertise Anyway.

The scene has been played out on radio many times: A talent says something controversial or sides with a political view not shared by a station’s advertiser, who then threatens, or actually pulls ads from the station.

Many times these advertisers return, realizing their need for the audience the program reaches far outweighs the political views of the host. “Sponsorship doesn’t mean you share values with talent,” Dan Granger writes in Adweek. “It says you wish to share your values with that talent’s audience.”

Granger, the CEO and founder of marketing agency Oxford Road, points to recent controversies faced by conservative Fox TV show hosts, including Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson. Bayer announced they were pulling ads from both programs only to return to advertising a few months later.

“We’ve seen this before. Conservatives in media today are not under threat of state-sponsored prosecution but instead are subject to corporate boycotts at the direction of groups such as Media Matters, Sleeping Giants and MoveOn.org,” the author declares.

Meanwhile, direct brands could not care less what the content is on the programs they advertise on. “Brands like Casper, Blue Apron, ZipRecruiter or 23andMe hold their noses and continue pumping promo codes and vanity URLs into conservative podcasts, talk radio and even Fox News, thinking to themselves, ‘I wish I knew how to quit you, Ben Shapiro,’” Granger writes in the piece.

He continues, saying many marketers may pass over conservative talk programming “for fear of promoting values differing from than their own. This is not only faulty thinking; it is dangerous to democracy and a slippery slope.”

Granger says it’s time for marketers and advertisers “to come out and say it: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will sponsor your right to say it.’”

As EEO Rules Turn 50, FCC Asks If They Need A Facelift.

This year marks the 50th anniversary that radio and television stations have been required to meet the Federal Communications Commission’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) obligations. They not only prohibit a station from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or gender, but they also require stations to provide equal employment opportunities. To mark the anniversary, the Commission has launched a rulemaking proceeding that will examine whether the EEO rules are in need of revision.

The FCC currently requires each station with five or more full-time employees to create a program that ensures equal opportunity and nondiscrimination in employment policies and practices. That includes certifying that when a full-time vacancy is created, the job posting is spread far and wide to ensure a diverse set of prospective candidates is reached. Stations also must provide listings of job openings to recruiting organizations that request them. And the FCC also pushes broadcasters to meet longer-term recruiting initiatives as well as keep detailed records about what steps are being taken.

The most recent update to the EEO requirements came in April 2017 when, at the encouragement of broadcasters and with the support of advocacy groups such as the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), the Commission voted to allow stations to rely solely on online job postings to meet the requirement that they “widely disseminate” information about full-time openings.

Then last July FCC chair Ajit Pai shifted the job of policing broadcasters to make sure they’re living up to their obligations from the Media Bureau to the Enforcement Bureau. While some broadcasters feared the move would mean stricter enforcement and put stations at greater risk of fines, Pai said the move is part of his broader “modernization” of the agency’s functions. “By moving our Equal Employment Opportunity team to the Enforcement Bureau, we will improve the FCC’s enforcement of these rules and strengthen our commitment to fighting discrimination,” he explained.

Focus On Enforcement

As the Commission launches a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (MB Docket No. 19-177) that again examines EEO rules, the focus is on the FCC’s track record for enforcing its rules and asks whether the agency should make improvements to the compliance and policing process. In the NPRM released Monday, the Commission seeks comment on how well the enforcement program has worked, including which elements are no longer working. It also seeks suggestions for ways to improve the guidelines to help them meet their objective.

One focus seems to be on the audit program that includes the random selection of 5% of radio stations each year to examine whether they are doing all that’s expected of broadcasters. Several public interest groups have suggested the FCC examine whether the agency is collecting sufficient information to verify that hiring decisions are made after a job is posted, and not before. They also think the audits need to gather additional information to ensure that the audits uncover discrimination at the points of recruitment, interviewing, and candidate selection.

‘Too Narrow’ Focus For Review?

With more than two dozen rulemakings intended to update media rules since Pai became chairman two years ago, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said it’s high time that efforts to modernize diversity policies are getting the attention they deserve. But she says the list of questions posted in the rulemaking is “unduly narrow.”

While it asks about equal employment opportunity compliance and enforcement, “it neglects to inquire about data that will help inform our work to modernize these policies,” Rosenworcel said. “I’ve often said that we cannot manage what we do not measure. So when this agency asks for input on equal employment opportunity compliance and enforcement, I believe data should be a part of that dialogue.” She said the Commission could have used some of the information collected in another EEO rulemaking that has been in limbo for more than a decade.

The focus of that rulemaking is about the fate of the requirement that radio and television stations submit Form 395-B data about the race and gender of their employees. The collection of that information has been on hold since 2004, after agency lawyers said it had constitutional and statutory obstacles. Earlier this month Pai said he has no plan to restart the data collection. He explained he too has “serious constitutional and statutory concerns” about the workforce reporting obligation on stations.

At the urging of some members of Congress, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks says he pushed Pai to at least consider the topic in the just-launched proceeding. “Unfortunately, my request was denied,” Starks said. He’s urging commenters to weigh-in on the future of Form 395-B nevertheless, specifically addressing any opinions on whether the requirement violates federal law or is unconstitutional. “I see no principled basis to refuse to seek further comment on this EEO data collection, including its constitutionality,” Stark said.

The deadline for filing comments in the proceeding will be set in the coming weeks once the NPRM is published in the Federal Register.

For Tiny Rhode Island, Talk Radio Has Supersized Impact.

Talk radio and the state of Rhode Island are cozy bedfellows. The Boston Globe offers in a lengthy feature story that while the radio format “crackles on airwaves across the country, few places of its size have the kind of intensive morning-to-night all-local talk programs that have long been a fixture in Rhode Island.”

For one, the state is so small, “we know those state legislators and the governor — we see them in restaurants,” says Valerie A. Endress, Associate Professor of political communication at Rhode Island College. “In some ways, it’s tuning into talk radio with your neighbor.”

It has also brought those politicians to the airwaves in Rhode Island. Former Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey and former Republican state representative John J. Loughlin II, have both commandeered talk shows while last week, Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung, a two-time Republican candidate for governor, received a thumbs-up from the state Ethics Commission to fill in as a WPRO talk show host.

Graham Vyse, former communications aide for Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee and now a staff writer at Governing magazine in Washington, DC, adds that talk radio is part of the soundtrack of Rhode Island politics, a medium monitored closely in the State House: “Talk radio has an outsized influence on the news cycle and, as a result, on political actors at the State House.”

Signal Upgrade Delivers Double-Digit Ratings Rise For WXLO In Boston.

Nearly six months after investing $250,000 to improve its signal penetration in the nearby market of Boston, ratings for hot AC WXLO Worcester, MA (104.5) are up by double-digits in the top 10 market. Boston is notorious for the density of buildings, tunnels and other environmental factors making signal penetration difficult. In January, WXLO – a 26,000-watt Class B licensed to Fitchburg, about 50 miles west of Boston – began using GeoBroadcast Solutions’ MaxxCasting technology. The system uses single-frequency network (SFN) booster sites to help boost radio signals in densely populated areas where there are a lot of tall buildings that can cause reception problems.

Now Nielsen’s January-April 2019 trend report shows WXLO ranked sixth among women 35-54 with weekly cume persons increasing from 61,500 in January to 70,200 in April and TSL up from two hours in January to 2 hours 30 minutes in April. Those are increases of 14% and 25%, respectively.

WXLO says the latest Nielsen numbers prove the system is delivering a more listenable signal through the city of Boston in Suffolk and Middlesex counties and making WXLO a competitive ratings force in Boston. “We’re excited that the 450,000+ listeners who tune into 104.5 XLO on a weekly basis, many of whom commute in and out of the city of Boston, will now be able to hear the radio station on their entire commute,” Regional VP Bob Goodell said. “MaxxCasting has also given us the opportunity to reach new listeners who live in the greater Boston area, giving us the opportunity to expand our footprint.”

WXLO’s single-frequency network includes three low-power transmission sites, or “nodes,” including a transmission node located on top of the John Hancock building in downtown Boston. All nodes are located in areas prone to weak signal coverage, using GBS’ predictive modeling software to eliminate interference in areas where signals overlap.

WXLO is the second Boston area station to use the system, which has also been implemented in Chicago, Washington state and Wisconsin. In March, GBS named veteran broadcaster Harvey Wells director of sales development and marketing for MaxxCasting.

Next Up: ZoneCasting

In a move with perhaps greater implications, WXLO plans to implement GBS’ ZoneCasting technology, which will allow a radio station to divide its signal based on a market’s geography. The technology, which is pending FCC approval and has only been tested in a handful of U.S. markets, will allow a radio station to air different news, traffic, weather, PSAs and commercials based on where a listener is located. WXLO says it plans to go live with Zonecasting in the near future, after receiving special permission from the FCC to test the system.

Speaking at last week’s Conclave Learning Conference in Minneapolis, former Cumulus VP John Dickey suggested broadcasters could quadruple their ad loads through the use of ZoneCasting. It offers a way to reduce the price of spot inventory and deliver more value to small business advertisers, Dickey told Conclavers.

Juniper Report: Digital Advertising To Hit $520 Billion By 2023.

Global spending on digital advertising will reach $520 billion by 2023, a significant lift from 2019’s $294 billion in 2019, according to a new forecast from Juniper Research. The growth curve, which averages 15% annually over the next five years, will be driven by artificial intelligence-based programmatic buying capable of delivering highly targeted ads, the report suggests.

And because of its “unparalleled” consumer retail data, Amazon’s ad revenue is projected to rise to $40 billion by 2023, representing 470% growth from 2018, MediaPost reports. The ecommerce behemoth’s share of digital advertising is forecast to rise to 8%, from 3% in 2018.

Google’s digital ad revenue, meanwhile, is expected to exceed $230 billion by 2023, although Juniper notes that because of growing competition from the likes of Amazon and Baidu, Google’s share is forecast to decline by 1% during the period.

According to the report, because of advertising platforms’ focus on increasing access to contextual advertising traffic data to maximize the efficiency of machine learning for targeting, 75% of global online and mobile ads are expected to be delivered via AI-based programmatic advertising by 2023.

“Giving algorithms access to the vast amounts of data generated by advertising traffic, including purchasing habits, user buckets and geographical location, is critical to enabling advertisers to secure a return on their ad spend,” said the study’s author Sam Barker.

Juniper defines digital advertising as online, mobile browsing, in-app, digital out-of-home (DOOH) and over-the-top (OTT) TV services.

Personal Care Products Inundate Top 100 Radio Advertisers.

Here’s to your health. With bathing suit weather finally here, there are five Nutritional Supplements vendors among the top 100 radio advertisers, more than we’ve seen since January 2017.

Leading the way at No. 19 for the week of June 17-23, 2019, is over-the-counter vitamin manufacturer Sundown Naturals from NBTY Inc., according to Media Monitors, which tracks national radio advertising in 85 markets. Just behind is Hims, No. 26, a recently launched online company that specializes in “telemedicine,” including a line of men’s products addressing sexual care, skin care, hair care and oral care.

Proctor & Gamble’s Mutamucil is next within the column, at No. 72 this week, along with P&G’s Sressballs at No. 79 and retailer GNC General Nutrition Centers at No. 98. Hims joined the airwaves the week ending May 12, 2019, at No. 44, and has been present in the top 40 since.

The last time the Nutritional Supplements category was as pervasive was Jan. 17, 2017, with digestive aids SomBiotix and NuBiotix at No. 12 and No. 13, respectively, Force Factor at 29, and Prosvent at 44. Obviously, none of those products are peddling their wares at radio now.

Related products under the broad umbrella of personal care this week also include P&G’s Vicks (Medicated Remedies, No. 13), P&G’s Charmin (Toiletries, No. 19), P&G’s Crest (Dental Hygiene, No. 49), P&G’s Pepto-Bismol (Medicated Remedies, No. 64), LasikPlus (Eye Care, No. 91) and Trojan (Toiletries, No. 94). And among Pharmacies, Walgreen’s is 16 and CVS is 65.

It’s worth noting that Procter & Gamble commands a total of eight among the week’s top 100 advertisers (with Bounty, No. 41)—which is a weekly record, according to the Inside Radio archives. For year-end 2018, four of the consumer packaged goods giant’s products made the top 100.

For June 17-23, 2019, the top 10 on the Media Monitors’ tally are: The Home Depot at 1, GEICO at 2, iHeartRadio at 3, McDonald’s at 4, Indeed at 5, Lowe’s at 6, Progressive at 7, iHeartRadio Music Festival at 8, Sprint at 9 and AutoZone at 10.—Chuck Taylor

Hubbard President & COO Drew Horowitz To Retire.

After 43 years in the radio business, Hubbard Radio President and Chief Operating Officer Drew Horowitz has announced he will retire at the end of the year. Credited with transforming “101.9 The Mix” from a ratings bottom-feeder into a Chicago powerhouse, Horowitz joined Hubbard in 2011 as Executive VP & COO when it bought Bonneville’s four biggest market clusters in a landmark $505 million deal.

“I absolutely know that each of us has learned a great deal from Drew and not just about radio, business and leadership,” Hubbard Chairman and CEO Ginny Morris said in an email to employees. “I know that Drew has touched and helped many of us personally as well as professionally. Drew is a wise and generous leader and it has been an honor to be able to work alongside him for the last eight years.”

Horowitz, 67, was promoted to his current position as No. 2 at Hubbard Radio in July 2014, after serving as Executive VP & COO since April 2011. That’s when he joined the company as part of its acquisition of Bonneville’s four biggest market clusters, where he held the same role for four years. Horowitz joined Bonneville in 1992 and went on to become Executive VP of the company, overseeing all of its markets.

In the email to employees, Morris reflected on his contributions to Hubbard. “Drew has been instrumental in helping us further grow the company as we added clusters in Phoenix and Seattle, bolstered our cluster in St. Louis and most recently, acquired our operations in West Palm Beach,” Morris wrote.

Frequently quoted in Inside Radio, Horowitz has been involved with WTMX since 1992, when then-Bonneville president Bruce Reese hired him to manage the then-struggling station, which used the calls WCLR. WTMX, of course, became a Chicago radio powerhouse and a model for the hot AC format. It has been perched at the top of the 6+ ranker in the Windy City in Nielsen’s two most recent monthly ratings reports.

Earlier in his career, Horowitz was VP/GM of a pair of other Chicago stations – country WUSN (99.5) and the former WFYR Chicago – and ran Chicago-based Lakeshore Communications before he joined “The Mix.” He advanced to President and General Manager of the station in 1993.

“This is as good as I could have ever hoped for,” Horowitz told Chicago media reporter Robert Feder, who first reported the news. “I had a career that I never could have dreamed of when I started selling in 1976. I’ve loved every minute of it. I worked with great companies and great people who respected the industry and respected the people that worked for them. I just was so lucky.”

Looking ahead, Horowitz plans to take some time off and explore other opportunities, including serving on corporate boards, teaching and taking classes. “Another goal is to get someplace warm,” he told Feder. “I’m tired of Chicago winters.”

Morris told employees the company “will be celebrating Drew in the coming months,” but will remain in “business as usual mode until further notice.”

What Will Impact Radio In Washington This Year

By Frank Saxe

    The clock is ticking on the 115th Congress and if its first half accomplishments are any indication, legislation that would impact radio may struggle to gain traction in the coming months. No issue looms larger for radio than a performance royalty and music copyright reform. But unlike in years past, today the radio and record industries are talking.

      There’s more than just a potential performance royalty keeping radio’s lobbyists busy. Washington insiders say that although conventional wisdom says not much gets done in an election year, the best chance of a legislative action impacting radio is passage of a bill that would allow stations to tap into the fund paying for the TV spectrum repack.

        The elevation of Ajit Pai to chairman of the Federal Communications Commission a year ago has delivered a number of regulatory changes that have long been sought by broadcasters as he’s followed through with his pledge to “take a weed whacker” to FCC regulations. Washington insiders think it’s a course Pai will continue down in 2018.

        PEOPLE MOVES

        Public and member-supported 88.5 FM, Southern California’s leading Triple-A format radio station, has tapped Patrick Osburn as its general manager. Osburn joined the station in 2017, and has been serving as its director of business development. He has spent more than 30 years in the radio industry, with 20 years at Triple-A stations.

        • Updated

        Jeff Weber is named Market Manager for Pamal Broadcasting’s six-station Albany, NY cluster. Weber joins the group from LM Communications Charleston, SC where he was General Sales Manager.

        • Updated

        Steve Nikazy, longtime anchor and reporter at Entercom news KYW Philadelphia (1060), will retire June 28. Nikazy, who serves as midday anchor and hosts KYW’s “Reporters Roundup,” has been with the all-news outlet for 29 years. He also co-hosts and produces the film podcast “Cinema Obscura.”

        Chris Conley, PD of iHeartMedia AC “Lite FM 106.7” WLTW New York, add programming oversight of rhythmic AC “The Beat Of NY 103.5” WKTU. He succeeds Rob Miller, now Senior VP of Programming for the South Florida region and Executive VP of hot AC programming and strategy for the company’s National Programming Group. Conley also serves as Adult Contemporary Brand Manager for the company.

        Inside Radio Q&A: Univision Radio President Jesus Lara.

        It’s been a busy month of audio announcements for Univision. In a succession of moves, the company has rebranded its music and audio properties under the new Uforia Audio Network umbrella. It’s also partnered with Napster to relaunch its Uforia mobile app. And it’s announced plans to ramp-up its podcasting business. Inside Radio caught up with Univision Radio president Jesus Lara to discuss the news. An edited transcript follows.

        First, let’s begin with why Univision relaunched the Uforia app.

        We’ve been thinking a lot about our direct to consumer play for quite a while. We had a decent product in the marketplace, but technology is never static. It’s a constant evolution. There’s always new and better best practices that come to the market. So for the past 18 months we’ve been thinking a lot about how we can best represent our direct to consumer experience. We wanted a product that was engaging, that people felt proud about, and excited about. And one of the things that we discussed internally was the best way to convey Hispanic culture is not just through our ears—our music and personalities—but also through the eyes since it’s such a colorful culture. So we created a product that is visually immersive and allows us to create colorful imagery of our culture, the artists that we play, and the many cultural elements that represent what we do into a product that we feel can now compete with other products in the marketplace. The app itself has been created in a way that allows us to not only offer our radio stations, but it also allows us to offer playlists in an ever-increasing number of different formats. It also allows us to easily bring on podcasting in a way that’s visually immersive in a way that tells a story of our personalities.

        Is this part of CEO Vincent Sadusky’s effort to put more focus on local broadcasting?

        First and foremost, he has laid out an incredibly clear vision for the company. The previous management was trying to find growth in chasing things that were not part of our core. He’s brought us back to our core and our number one priority is to super-serve our Hispanic America audience. With that clarity and vision, every department has figured out how to execute on that vision. On the radio side, we saw a big opportunity in bringing all of our audio and radio properties under the Uforia brand. The other reason was we felt we needed a mobile product that can better represent us, our content and our culture.

        Does this mean we’ll see more cross-pollination between broadcast radio and digital?

        Absolutely, without a doubt.

        That includes podcasting?

        The beauty about podcasting is that it is an absolutely natural extension to the relationship we have with our audience. We have an unparalleled connection via radio, via TV, and it’s just another powerful media platform. What I’m most excited about when it comes to podcasting is it really allows us to give our incredible wealth of talent the opportunity to go deep into subject matters that they’re very passionate about. On linear radio you can only go so deep before you start losing an audience. It’s really all about the breath of the topics—you can’t go deep into it because you start to lose the audience. But on a podcast it allows you go deep into those verticals and ultimately to start building communities around those themes. We have talent that is incredibly passionate about motherhood, fashion, car culture, and podcasting allows us to allow them the opportunity to expand that interest.

        Will you rely just on Univision Radio talent?

        The podcasting platform is going to be open to any radio or TV talent that is passionate about a particular topic and they want to develop a show. For example, León Krauze, who anchors the 6pm and 11pm newscast on our KMEX-TV in Los Angeles, hosts multiple podcasts. He hosts Epicentro, La Mesa, El Gabfest en Español. That’s just one example. We also have deals with third-party publishers who have come to us as the expert in Hispanic to help them distribute and monetize their podcasts. We have a deal with TED en Espanol, we’ve got all of their podcasts. We’re looking to offer our entire talent roster the opportunity to further develop their interests via podcasting and we’ll also work with select publishers who want to reach the Hispanic audience and they come to us as the experts in the medium.

        Research suggests the Hispanic market is ripe for podcast listening.

        The Hispanic space isn’t a complicated one, but it can be complex at times. Hispanics in the U.S. are very different from Mexicans living in Mexico or Columbians living in Columbia. Hispanics in the U.S. are made up of 27 different nationalities, with different colors and different nuances, and we’re different. But those are cultural nuances that Univision and Uforia have a clear understanding of because we’ve been in the states for 60 years. We’ve got all the key demographic trends that paint a beautiful demographic opportunity for us. But let’s be clear, it is a new medium. It’s not going to make or break our year. But the sooner we start the sooner we can develop a real business out of it.

        How much of Hispanic listening is already being done digitally?

        The research that we’ve seen at the moment is that Hispanics account for 11% of monthly podcast listeners according to Edison Research. And 45% of them listen to digital streaming. And 21% own smart speakers.

        Does podcasting allow you to reach Hispanics in markets where Univision doesn’t own a radio or TV station?

        Without a doubt. And it’s not just through podcasting, but also our mobile app. So now we have people in Atlanta, where we currently don’t own radio stations, listening to our Miami or New York radio stations. The other thing is in general, we live in a world where there is a lot of transition and people move from one city to another. So after the hurricane in Puerto Rico, people left the island physically but their hearts and minds are still on the island. We have the two biggest-rated stations in Puerto Rico. Our streams of those two stations have increased significantly since then because we have thousands of Puerto Ricans still listening to those stations through our mobile app.

        This month you announced all music and audio properties would be branded under the new Uforia Audio Network umbrella with the “The Home of Latin Music” tagline. What’s behind that move?

        First of all, all 58 radio stations are going to retain their local branding identify, that’s not changing. But we are creating an umbrella brand which is Uforia which encompasses all of the individual market stations, our digital strategy including the app, and our live events strategy. So we can now create a cross-platform, end-to-end solution for our audience, our marketing partners, and the artist and talent that we work with.

        How will that play out what’s all the parts are in place?

        We live in a world where everything is converging and people don’t have a single touch point anymore. So a lot of marketers are requiring omni-channel solutions. They don’t just want to buy a linear radio schedule or a digital schedule. They want a full, end-to-end solution. We can develop a linear campaign that gets extended to digital through Uforia or through websites and then it can come to life at one of our live shows. We can develop an entire brand journey for a marketer tied across all of our platforms. That’s the type of the solution we want to bring to advertisers.

        What about for listeners?

        For consumers, we have millions of listeners who listen to us every day on linear radio as they’re walking into work. As soon as they leave the car they can pick up the app and continue to listen to us on Uforia. If they win a couple of tickets to one of our live shows, a couple of weeks later they can live the Uforia experience at one of our concerts. We want to be available wherever the consumer wants to engage with us. We cannot only rely on connecting with the consumer in the car. The mobile app allows us to travel with the consumer and our live concerts allow us to bring those experiences to life.

        Anything else we should touch on?

        Univision is living its best moments. We have clarity in mission and a very clear strategy. I could not be more excited with what the future holds for the audio division and the company as a whole. These are the first steps that we have set into place to execute Vincent Sadusky’s vision of super-serving Hispanics. We’re bullish about radio and audio in general. And the one thing that we’re most bullish about is being the destination for Hispanic America.