Sean Ross reminds radio of the importance of brand-building to listeners faced with thousands of choices

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 12:25pm

Sean RossYesterday Cumulus and Clear Channel partnered to bring Cumulus' nearly 600 station streams to Clear Channel's iHeartRadio web radio platform -- a move that could hint at the platform's future as an aggregator (RAIN coverage here). Meanwhile, Inside Radio reports that Townsquare Media is "having conversations with other broadcasters about potential partnerships with its newly-launched [web radio platform] radioPup."

Respected industry journalist Sean Ross (pictured) applauds such moves in his column today, but warns: "aggregation is not curation."

He argues that users now need to sort through nearly 1,400 stations on iHeartRadio, for example, and the problem of picking from among "a hundred 'Kiss-FMs' or two-dozen 'Jack FMs'" is still "largely unaddressed."

Ross also suggests that national aggregation platforms are a good opportunity for broadcasters to "create unique national content...the potential of national radio is still largely untapped, and national stations are usually an un-hosted, inchoate afterthought."

Additionally, Ross points out that there's still no one-stop platform for all U.S. radio online -- especially since Clear Channel and CBS Radio started pulling their streams from aggregators like TuneIn Radio (RAIN coverage here).

iHeartRadio's growing web radio network In fact, a Clear Channel representative recently told Ross' fellow Radio-Info journalist Tom Taylor: "Our streams are secure and are only available in our player. If content aggregators bundled our radio stations, we would have no control over how our content and stations are presented -- so we couldn't necessarily provide listeners with the kind of premium experience we want to, and that they expect."

Ross disagrees with that position. "I’m still in favor of station streams being available in as many places as possible...Even after the Cumulus/Clear Channel deal, we’re still not close to having every radio station on one broadcaster’s platform, and I wouldn’t begrudge that convenience to any consumer who really wants it."

For a consumer to stream stations from CBS Radio, Clear Channel and Emmis on his or her iPhone -- for example -- he or she would currently need to download at least three different apps: the app from CBS Radio, the iHeartRadio app from Clear Channel, and the TuneIn Radio app (or another aggregation app, or an individual station app) to listen to Emmis. And that's assuming the consumer even knows the stations are owned by CBS Radio, Clear Channel and Emmis.

You can find Sean Ross' full article on Radio-Info here.

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