Mark Edwards is an award-winning radio programmer with experience at WLIT/Chicago, KOSI/Denver, KYKY, KEZK, and WVRV in St. Louis, and more. He's currently managing general partner of Mark Edwards Worldwide, his multi-disciplinary consulting practice.
There’s very little doubt that mobile and personalized content are the future of what is now radio, and in some cases that big tower in the corn field won’t even be part of a “radio station” in the not too distant future.
Multimedia content creator John Tesh may be among the first to see and act upon that future. He's put a radio station online that, in fact, isn’t a radio station or a streaming service; it’s both and neither at the same time. Last week, the entertainer launched K-TeshLA (see RAIN coverage here) a site that looks like a "best in class" local radio station site complete with a 24-hour streaming audio service as part of the package. The only difference between this site and most other Contemporary Christian radio stations is that there’s no traditional radio station connected to the site, just the stream.
(The site was launched the site after Tesh's syndicated radio show was dropped by Salem’s KFSH in Los Angeles. Heard daily on over 300 stations in the U.S. and Canada, Tesh wanted to make sure he was still reaching the important Los Angeles market, and so built what's ostensibly a complete online radio station.)
The K-TeshLA site is completely localized for the Los Angeles market, right down to showing the local time and weather, working with local charities and churches, and doing actual contests, giving away $100 a day and a grand prize of an iPad. The station is building its own database of listeners, and has wasted no expense in designing an engaging website and high quality streaming player. Both the site and player have deep integration with Facebook, something not found at many FM or AM radio stations.
While the station doesn’t have a mobile site or streaming app yet, K-TeshLA is available on the TuneIn Radio application, and it looks and feels just like any broadcast property on the roster of TuneIn’s stations. Having that parity with traditional broadcast outlets is certainly one of the first steps to leveling out the playing field between stations that have a transmitter and those who are going directly for online and mobile listeners.
Listening to K-TeshLA, one wouldn’t know that it wasn’t a regular FM station. The stream features lots of music, IDs, and Tesh’s “Intelligence For Your Life” content repurposed from his terrestrial radio show, not to mention both national and local advertising.
The big question is, will a localized Internet-only radio station succeed in the world of AM and FM broadcasters and their continuing consolidation into apps like iHeartRadio? We’ll look at that in the next part of this essay.