Media Monday Edmonton: Getting social on Facebook

For some reason I was curious about local media and Facebook recently, so that’s what I looked at this week. If you’re looking for a good rundown of recent news, check out Karen’s latest Edmonton New Media Roundup.

Here’s a quick comparison of Edmonton media organizations on Facebook (as of October 17, 2011):

102.3 Now! Radio Radio 55,454 3,186
91.7 The Bounce Radio 49,280 1,816
Global Edmonton TV 41,963 2,447
100.3 The Bear Radio 21,416 1,786
Hot 107 FM Radio 16,565 1,597
Sonic 102.9 Radio 14,244 1,605
CTV Edmonton TV 12,876 1,080
CISN Country 103.9 Radio 9,799 1,181
CKUA Radio Radio 9,045 198
104.9 Virgin Radio Radio 7,587 848
Edmonton Journal Print 5,695 269
K97 Radio 5,461 334
BT Edmonton TV 5,155 1,222
92.5 JOE FM Radio 3,488 175
up! 99.3 Radio 3,221 482
Edmonton Sun Print 3,134 616
630 CHED Radio 2,026 53
Lite95.7 Radio 1,727 180
Vue Weekly Print 980 14
CBC Edmonton Radio/TV 963 30
The Team 1260 Radio 945 7
96.3 Capital FM Radio 842 54
Metro Edmonton Print 803 14
the edmontonian (retired) Online 744 2
fusedlogic Online 693 12 Online 581 20
iNews880 Radio/Online 354 6
The Gateway Print 336 3
The Unknown Studio Online 296 3
City and Dale Online 251 9
Avenue Edmonton Print 190 6
West Edmonton Local Online 176 11 Online 155 6 Online 54 14
Jay n’ J. Online 21 0

Some thoughts on this table:

  • Radio stations are clearly the heaviest users of Facebook among the local media, both in terms of likes but also activity.
  • Online properties generally don’t have many likes on Facebook. Is this because they’re already online, just elsewhere? Is it because they don’t have as large an audience to promote Facebook to?
  • I would have expected CBC and the Edmonton Sun to place higher in terms of likes. They both have a significant offline audience, but they evidently haven’t been as aggressive at converting that audience into Facebook likes as other media organizations.
  • I think it’s interesting that 102.3 Now! Radio almost never links to its website on Facebook. Instead they posts photos, videos, and general notes, and seem to generate quite a lot of discussion. Contrast that with iNews880, where pretty much every post on Facebook is a link back to the website.

There’s a ton of additional analysis that could be done (which organizations advertise their Facebook pages, which have it integrated into their websites, etc.), but I think this is a useful start.

What do you think about the results?

CKUA Radio Network’s Fall 2010 Campaign

I spent a couple hours with the folks at CKUA Radio Network this summer talking about social media. They’ve been quite successful with it already, amassing more than 7500 fans on Facebook and more than 1500 followers on Twitter (and more importantly they have fairly high levels of engagement). While I was there, they invited me to check out the fall fundraising campaign, an offer I finally took them up on this morning!

CKUA Fall 2010 Campaign

CKUA started in 1927 at the University of Alberta, and has undergone a number of changes since that time. It has existed in its current form since 1994 when Access sold the network to the non-profit CKUA Radio Foundation. Though it went silent for a month in 1997, the network has been going strong ever since. The history is evident throughout their downtown studios, with lots of black and white photos on the walls.

CKUA Fall 2010 Campaign

Though many of the callers were from Alberta (CKUA has 17 transmitters in the province) there are a significant number of donors from around the world. CKUA started streaming its broadcast online on February 29, 1996, the first radio station in Canada to do so. There’s an updated list of cities from which donors have made pledges here in PDF.

CKUA Fall 2010 Campaign

While I was there, Allison Brock and David Ward were on-air. They’re one of the popular announcer teams of the campaign, an Allison in particular is known for her ability to really drive donations (as much as $25,000 in a single hour). Just before I left, Allison announced Double Your Dollars (DYD), a really popular hour during which any new donations are matched by an existing pool of DYD funds. As soon as she said it on the radio, every phone lit up!

CKUA Fall 2010 Campaign

Most of the volunteers answering the phones have been volunteering for years. They’re dedicated and efficient! Every time a new donor calls, everyone around the table rings a bell to celebrate. It certainly adds to the energy in the pledge room!

CKUA Fall 2010 Campaign

The current campaign started on October 14 and finishes tomorrow at midnight. The goal is $625,000, and so far CKUA has raised just over $410,000 (you can see the updated amount on their website). You can donate online, or you can call 1-800-494-2582.

Thanks to CKUA for letting me go behind-the-scenes this morning! You can see the rest of my photos here.

Five new radio stations approved in Edmonton

mic Believe it or not, the CRTC has approved five applications for new FM radio stations in Edmonton. According to the official decision, that would bring the total number of commercial radio stations in the Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) to 21, though Wikipedia already lists 25 stations (I suppose some are considered non-commercial). Here are a few other highlights from the document:

  • From 2003 to 2007, total revenues grew at a compound annual rate of 9.8% in the Edmonton radio market, compared to 9.9% for the province of Alberta and 6% for all of Canada over the same period.
  • In 2007, the Edmonton radio market recorded a profit before interest and tax (PBIT) of 26.7%, slightly above Alberta’s PBIT of 26.4% in 2007 and well above Canada’s 2007 PBIT of 20%.
  • An economic outlook for 2008 released by the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) in November 2007 predicts continued strong economic growth in the region.

Though it might seem crowded, the radio market in Edmonton appears to be doing quite well. It should be noted that 14 applications were submitted, so 9 of those were rejected by the CRTC. The approved stations include an Aboriginal language station covering all of Alberta, as well as Adult Contemporary, Adult Album Alternative, Essential Alternative and Young Music stations. I’m pretty sure that John Yerxa’s New 107 FM was the first of the new stations with a website.

It’s also worth taking a look at the Summer 2008 ratings book, by the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement. As usual, last link on the left has all of the details:

When they’re not spinning tunes or tales, most radio folk will say a summer book is a lightweight and not truly indicative of the market. However, total listenership was up, reaching 1,647,000 compared to 1,631,000 in the previous book, suggesting BBM diary-keeping was done in earnest.

The top radio station for the period was The Bear (100.3 FM), with 630 CHED taking second place and CISN Country (103.9 FM) in third. Corus’ new station, iNews 880, placed 16th. You can read the full report in PDF format. The Fall 2008 ratings book will be released on November 27th.

I don’t listen to much radio myself – CDs and my iPod work well for me. When I do listen, it’s to either 630 CHED or The Bounce (91.7 FM, which placed 4th in the Summer 2008 book). Very rarely do I “station surf” so I doubt I’ll hear much of the new stations first hand.

Another troubled Newcap station rebrands: K-Rock is K-97 once again

K-97 Back in March, Edmonton radio station Big Earl 96.3 switched formats to become Capital FM. The station (CKRA-FM) had been in decline for quite a while, prompting owner Newcap to try something new. Now they’re at it again, this time with K-Rock (officially CIRK-FM). Tune your radio dial to 97.3 FM and you’ll now hear K-97, classic rock.

Here’s what the Edmonton Radio Ratings site had to say in the Spring 2008 book:

While the return of popular morning man Terry Evans was hailed as the second coming (or the fourth or fifth instalment of his career), the station seems to be suffering from the effects of past damage done.

Once a top-three station, the blame of K-Rock’s 11th place showing can’t be solely put on on Evans’ inability to spark interest in the station (he only works mornings, after all). Look instead to a demographic that’s aging, shrinking and growing tired of the same old.

According to Wikipedia, this rebranding is actually a return to the station’s roots:

CIRK signed on the air in 1979 as K-97 and became an Edmonton favourite during the 1980’s. In 1997 the station was rebranded as K-Rock.

More detailed rating information can be found here (PDF link). The next ratings should be released next week, on July 14th. Time will tell if the new (old) name has any effect on Edmonton radio listeners.

The conversation will take place with or without you

conversation I don’t often make “reactive” posts, but I did on Friday when I posted about local radio station Big Earl 96.3 switching formats and becoming Capital FM. I had noticed a lot of incoming traffic to an old post of mine about Big Earl, and decided I’d figure out why. I learned that the radio station “flipped the switch” on the new format that afternoon, and as a result, hundreds of listeners took the web to find out what happened. I posted about it so that others would learn the answer as well.

Now both posts are getting lots of traffic, and the new one has received a bunch of comments too. There are two questions to be asked here: why are people coming to these posts, and once they arrive, why do they comment?

My old post is the #1 result for the “what happened to big earl” search query, and my new post is #2 when you search for “96.3 capital fm“. Until today, it was actually #1, ahead of the radio station’s own website. The top five search queries that people used to find the posts yesterday were “capital fm edmonton”, “96.3 capital fm”, “big earl 96.3”, “big earl fm”, and “big earl”. In the last 24 hours alone, those two posts have been viewed more than 300 times.

So the reason that my two posts are getting lots of traffic is that they are ranked very highly in Google, and the reason people are searching is that they were given no notice about the switch. I guess that’s the way the radio industry works, you can’t really prepare people for a complete 180. As a result, lots of people were curious.

Once they arrived, why did they comment? I think the answer is very simple – Newcap Broadcasting simply isn’t participating in the conversation. Some listeners are happy about the switch, and they want to let the station know. Others are very unhappy, and they too want to voice their opinions. Aside from a very cumbersome “Members Club” section of their website, Capital FM doesn’t make it easy for their listeners to communicate. I think it’s a shame, really.

Like newspapers, radio stations are on the decline. Listeners are abandoning the airwaves for the web and iPods. And companies like Newcap aren’t doing much to reverse the trend. Which would you prefer – a radio station that suddenly starts playing completely different music than what you’re used to and basically says “tough luck”, or a radio station that changes its tune and also tells you to “have your say on our Facebook page?” It’s a no-brainer (even if your opinion won’t change anything, you’ll feel better about being able to share it).

CKRA has changed formats so many times now that you’d think they’d be better at it than they are.

It’s a different world than it used to be. Fifteen years ago, if a radio station switched formats, an article in the local paper would probably be about the only coverage it would get. Today, the web makes it easy for anyone to chime in.

As the comments on my post illustrate, the conversation will happen anyway. Newcap would be wise to join in.

UPDATE (4/1/2008): They’ve created a Facebook group! You can check it out here.

Big Earl 96.3 is now Capital FM

I never listen to the radio anymore, so the only reason I know about this news is because I’ve seen an influx of traffic to one of my old posts about Big Earl 96.3. Back in December of 2005, the radio station switched formats from “96X” which was hit music, to “Big Earl” which was country music. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

If you’re scanning the radio dial here in Edmonton, you’ll notice we have a new station. Or, more accurately, an existing station that has for the thousandth time changed formats.

They’ve done it again. Big Earl is out, Capital FM is in. Here’s what they say on their website:

Finally Edmonton has a radio station that plays all your favorite songs from the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s.   Welcome to the NEW 96.3 Capital FM, Edmonton’s Greatest Hits!

Yeah, because we don’t have that already? Whatever.

I have to agree with the verdict at the Edmonton Radio Ratings site:

It needs to be said. Someone has to take this lame horse of a station to a corner of the pasture and shoot it. Two’s company but three’s a crowd with the greenhorn seemingly regulated to always be on the outside looking in over the fence of the country radio market.

It remains to be seen how much longer Newcap general manager Randy Lemay can sustain the misery before accusations of radio cruelty can be levelled. Exactly five years ago the 96.3 frequency enjoyed a fifth-place 9.6 share … what was somebody thinking?

If you check out the ratings archive, you’ll see the clear decline. I guess they think that yet another format change will save them. Once again however, they’re going up against a Corus radio station that has been very successful for a long time (Joe FM at 92.5).

Currently, the Wikipedia entry for CKRA-FM still identifies the station as Big Earl. The latest switch is the station’s fifth since 1995.

Capital FM? Even the name is completely uninspired. It’s like a terrible car accident happening in slow motion that you just can’t look away from.

UPDATE: This Edmonton Journal article has more information.

UPDATE (4/1/2008): They now have a Facebook group – check it out here.

Broadcast radio turns 100

Post ImageIt was on December 24th, 1906 that Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden produced the world’s first public radio broadcast. When you consider how many technologies have met their deaths in recent decades, it’s amazing that radio is still so prevalent today (Via Engadget):

On Dec. 24, 1906, Fessenden fired up his transmitting station at Brant Rock, Mass., a small village about 50 kilometres from Boston. Together with his wife Helen, a secretary and a small crew, Fessenden started his broadcast at 9:00 p.m. with a brief speech, followed by a Edison phonograph recording of Handel’s “Largo.”

Apparently Fessenden earned over 500 patents during his lifetime, had a U.S. Navy destroyer named after him, and was paid $2.5 million by the U.S. Radio Trust in 1928 for his contribution to radio technology.

Kind of odd that I’ve never heard of him before! As broadcast journalism professor Len Arminio says:

“Fessenden was a true Canadian genius,” said Arminio. “He got lost in the historic shuffle, and that’s too bad.”

Happy Birthday broadcast radio!

Read: Canoe

Google tests Audio Ads for radio…but why?

Post ImageGoogle started testing their radio advertising service, dubbed Google Audio Ads, today. It’s one of the hottest topics in the blogosphere right now. We have known about it for a long time, and it sounds really great (in terms of the technology), but I still don’t get it. Let me explain.

Given this:

The radio industry won’t want to hear this. Advertising dollars are shifting online faster than analysts anticipated. In fact, advertisers will soon spend as much money on the Internet as they do on the airwaves, according to a newly released eMarketer study.

Why this?

Google Inc. has started testing a long-awaited radio advertising service…[that] will help sell advertising on more than 700 radio stations in more than 200 U.S. metropolitan markets. Google hopes to eventually sign up more than 5,000 stations, according to documents shown potential advertisers.

I can think of two potential reasons:

  1. Google wants to ease the transition for traditional advertisers looking to move online.
    I don’t know how good an argument this is, given that so many companies are already advertising online. It does make a certain amount of sense though.
  2. It’s not about radio at all. This is really Google’ first baby step towards rich media advertising on the web.
    Obviously, this is the reasoning that I prefer. Bring on audio ads for podcasting!

I suppose another alternative would be that Google feels there is still enough money to be made in radio advertising that it’s worth trying. My gut feeling though is that Google Audio Ads are destined for something far beyond just radio.

Teenagers listening to less radio? I'm shocked!

Post ImageIn case you missed it, that was sarcasm in the title. A sort of recent study by Edison Media Research shows that people aged 12 to 24 are listening to far less radio than they used to. I found this study via Podcasting News, but I hate the fact that they do not link to their sources, so I am not linking to them. Instead you can read about the study right from Edison Media Research (because they deserve the traffic):

A new study by Edison Media Research shows sharp declines in Time Spent Listening (TSL), Persons Using Radio (PUR) and most importantly attitudes about radio among the 12-to-24-age group, the listeners who represent both terrestrial radio’s future and its greatest challenge.

Perhaps of most concern, tracking of questions on attitudes about radio among this crucial group trend down as well. Fewer young people expect radio to be an important part of their future lives.

Almost every teenager I know owns an iPod or some other sort of portable media device. I don’t find it surprising at all that time spent listening for this age group is down. Teenagers today make their own radio station every day by creating playlists.

Read: Edison Media Research

Sonic 102.9 FM acquired by Rogers

Post ImageAny Sonic-heads out there? Big news regarding one of Edmonton’s newest radio stations! It appears that Sonic 102.9 FM has been acquired by Rogers Communications. Details from Broadcaster Magazine via Tod Maffin:

Rogers Communications, long seeking a radio presence in Edmonton and northern Alberta, has found its channel, with a $39.8-million acquisition of OK Radio’s Sonic Radio 102.9 FM and World Radio 101.7 (CKER FM).

The deal also includes two stations and a transmitter in Fort McMurray, a station in Grande Prairie and transmitters there and in Peace River and Tumbler Ridge, B.C.

The deal will be heard by the CRTC on September 11th, though it is expected to be approved. This has got to be some kind of record! I mean Sonic only launched in 2005, and now it has been sold. I guess their former owner, OK Radio, was founded a long time ago though, back in 1973.

Hopefully the new owners don’t change too much…

Read: Broadcaster Magazine

UPDATE: You can find Sonic 102.9 on the web at