Community Radio

Internet Radio Discovers Its Local Voice.

There’s a unique phenomenon going on in radio. Some consider it a radio renaissance, others refer to it as a revolution.  Community and streaming radio stations are appearing nationwide serving specific communities and demographics. In northeast Ohio 4 new stations have launched in Wadsworth, Cuyahoga Falls, Kent  and Cleveland. The opposite of broadcasting, the appeal of community radio is that it can focus on the needs of a much smaller audience. And while the business model has yet to be defined,  as an industry some see this trend as a rebirth of radio. Much like the 1920s which saw all kinds of formats and business models experimented until the current model of spot commercial advertising emerged.

“ The art of radio is not dead but the platform has changed”  John Gorman former Operations Manager of WMMS and Chief Content Officer at the new oWOW Now Cleveland. While internet radio has been around since the early 2000s,  John Gorman sees now as the perfect time to launch a local internet radio station. In our conversation, John compared the current streaming radio phenomenon to the 1970s when FM radio became the dominant radio frequency.  Each week more listeners are discovering streaming radio and they tend to listen longer. For oWOW Now Cleveland, which accepts commercial advertising, John said “Client advertising on internet radio has a better chance to be heard”.

Nationally streaming services include Pandora, Spotify, Beats Music and iTunes, to name just a few, and most use a listener’s musical tastes to design a unique playlist but offer no local content other than commercials.. While oWOW Cleveland is aiming to serve the Cleveland, Akron Canton markets other streaming stations are working to serve specific demographics or communities.  Tim Davisson with Wadsworth Community Radio says, “ Professional broadcasters are becoming involved in Low Power FM’s or streaming only radio stations to micro target a specific geographical area.”  Wadsworth Community Radio does not accept commercial advertising but is funded through business underwriting.   With content that is specific to the local audience, “were an audio version of the local community newspaper”. Davisson said.