StreamGuys Bolsters Streaming Presence for KALW(FM)
SAN FRANCISCO — KALW(FM) is the oldest
noncommercial FM station west of the Mississippi — and was the first FM station
to hit the San Francisco airwaves in 1941.
We’re a mixed-format NPR
member station that serves the core of the Bay Area, though at 1,900 watts, we
don’t have the terrestrial power to reach the edges of the nation’s No. 5 market.
The inability to reach a significant percentage
of what Arbitron would assume is our audience has made streaming media a
priority for KALW. That’s true for many broadcasters, and extends beyond the
desktop and laptop to mobile devices — especially in markets where most
listeners carry smartphones. Making a commitment to streaming high-quality
audio content, both online and to mobile devices, has paid off for our station.
KALW launched its online stream several years
ago with a much larger content delivery network. We switched to StreamGuys
based on recommendations from public radio colleagues who shared positive
The company has since
delivered a diverse streaming media platform that has been instrumental in
growing our online audience, regionally and beyond. This includes financial
support from new members across the country.
KALW prides itself in being
local and global, mixing in popular locally produced programs like “Your Call,”
“Crosscurrents” and “99% Invisible” (a unique show about design that’s been
downloaded more than 2 million times on iTunes) with programming from the BBC,
CBC and other international broadcasters. Strategically, it made sense to
enhance our online platform, ensuring that more listeners can receive our
diverse and innovative programming.
In addition to our live streams, StreamGuys also
helped us build our “Local Music Player” for on-demand Flash streaming.
Visitors can choose from 16 musically-oriented programs (including “Bluegrass
Signal,” “Africa Mix,” “Music From Other Minds” and more) to access the most
recent broadcast for each show. The shows are immediately uploaded to
StreamGuys’ cloud-based streaming architecture after the terrestrial broadcast
and archived for on-demand play.
StreamGuys has also helped diversify our live
streams, launching new MP3 and Windows Media services for multiplatform
delivery. Listeners can access the streams on our website and a variety of
mobile devices.iPhone (as well as
iPad/iPod Touch) users can listen via the free Public Radio Player application
available in the iTunes App Store. Android and BlackBerry users can access the
stream via the free TuneIn mobile app.
Our online audience has increased more than
tenfold since migrating to the StreamGuys platform. Today, our MP3 stream
boasts between 10,000 and 12,000 unique listeners each week — up from 600
weekly listeners with our previous CDN. The on-demand Flash player continues to
generate interest, with hundreds of weekly listeners. Meanwhile, StreamGuys
remains flexible in pricing, building new and economical streaming packages
when applicable to meet our evolving needs.
Listeners from Atlanta, Salt Lake City and
Princeton, N.J., were among those who became members during our most recent
membership drive. In addition to saying that they valued KALW’s programming, many
commented that KALW’s online audio quality was superior to their local
stations. This is a real testament to the importance of a robust and consistent
There is also strategic value in directing
listeners to online radio for continuity. Many of our local listeners can
receive our over-the-air signal at home but not at the office, or vice versa.
The ability to offer our local programs on-demand allows listeners to quickly
pick up where they left off.
Online streams also provide true audience
measurement in comparison to the sampling methods of measuring terrestrial
listeners. StreamGuys offers two tools to analyze audience numbers and trends.
SGMon provides the most immediate value for KALW, with clear data that outline visitor
numbers over any period of time. We often use this tool to study listening trends,
and to connect how or why certain programs may hold or lose an audience from
the previous program.
The second tool, SG Reports,
provides richer data and statistics that identify unique IP addresses,
geographic locations, listener devices and other statistics that offer a deeper
view into audience patterns. We are still learning to use this tool to better
effect, but both products offer the option to build custom reports. It is very
powerful to look at a particular hour or show over a period of time, and learn
from those results.
Technical support has also been exceptional, far
exceeding the attentiveness of our previous CDN. StreamGuys is always quick to
respond and help troubleshoot, even when attribute a streaming problem to an
in-house network issue.
Last week, we had a network connection problem
with our T1 line, and StreamGuys responded immediately to provide direction and
walk us through the necessary fixes. They later followed up with reports to
help us diagnose what happened. I was impressed that rather than say “it wasn’t
our fault” and focus only on their contractual obligation, they worked to make
sure the stream as a whole was more stable. Our approach to technology is to be
at the middle of the curve. We are a smaller station with a modest marketing
budget, and cannot always be on the leading edge. But it’s our responsibility
to go where the listeners are in the digital space. StreamGuys has been
instrumental in keeping costs manageable for us as we explore new ways to
deliver our programming beyond the antenna.
For information, contact Jonathan Speaker at
StreamGuys in California at (707) 667-9479 or visit www.streamguys.com.
Radio World User
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