In May, Richard Branson’s Virgin Group brought his “Virgin Radio” brand into its ninth nation with the launch of what they describe as an “American Top 40” format in Beirut, Lebanon.
The new “89.5 Virgin Radio Lebanon” held a soft launch on May 1 and a full launch on May 15 complete with a launch party at a night club, regular contesting, and a full airstaff in place.
GinosBlog.com broke down his discussion with station GM Najy Cherabieh into a list of the ten things that differentiate Virgin Radio Lebanon from their competitors and in doing so spotlights many ideas worthy of copying by stations new and old. Some of them are commonplace such as branding to emphasize you’ll always hear 10 songs in a row, so here’s the ones that stick out to us in particular:
It’s All About Social Media
Virgin Radio Lebanon’s use of social media is extremely exceptional, especially a Facebook page that began producing content months before the station went on air, a very active YouTube channel, and constant posting of promos and on-air bits to SoundCloud. The station is promoting its use of mobile and web apps to handle as much as possible.
Studios Open for the Public
While there are stations with storefront studios, its not a common occurrence as clusterization has led to larger complexes in office parks to become the norm. VRL is going a step further with an open to the public studio that fully-equipped bar and rooftop lounge.
No self promotion
How many stations in a market can be the “Number One Something Or Other” anyway? Most stations constantly beat you over the head with what they’re best at spinning Arbitron data instead of just doing it. With so many alternative media choices now does being the “Market 225’s Number One Rock Station Between Women 25 and 45 Who Rent Homes Within Walking Distance To Their Child’s School” mean anything? Virgin’s branding guidelines prevent that and just promote what the station is doing as opposed to what they want you to think they’re doing.
This one is huge. As Gino explains it, “If you interact with anyone in VRL online, they have to answer you back, even if you’re being a dick.” The station requires anybody who takes the time to interact with the station in any form to get a response whether it be positive or negative. That is how you build a community within your station and potentially convert non-fans into P1’s. This is something every business regardless of type should be doing.
VRL is turning their remotes into ways to promote their social media branding and on-air content simultaneously and more importantly combining attempts to produce on-air, online, and NTR revenue.
If the commercial radio industry is going to compete with new media, its going to have to take chances on doing things differently. Launching with 10,000 songs in a row jockless to save operating costs may not be the only option. Jumping in the pool with both feet and a full staff ready to go may be a better alternative. Enable yourselves to come to the listeners instead of waiting for them to find you.