UX: Not Just Another Set Of Letters


(By Dick Kalt) While the new hot term UX, for “User Experience,” is mostly associated with online engagement on commercial websites, it has just as much relevance to radio — but nobody really thinks about that.

Now more than ever, broadcasters must realize that user experience involves far more than just playing the music they think people want to hear. It’s about engaging in multiple ways to provide satisfaction — and more — for the time spent invested in listening.

Think about how frustrating it is when you go to a website and it’s not formatted correctly for your smartphone, or every time you click on something you’re fed another pop-up you don’t want. That’s the way we live today. Is that a good user experience? No.

Now think about how your station deals with its listeners. Yes, they want to hear music, I’m sure, but they can hear their favorite songs in many places besides your radio station. And when they do tune in, do they have to slog through eight minutes or more of spots in exchange for a music sweep of about three songs? That worked for a while, but everybody knows they can tune around to find a competitor that isn’t following the same clock.

Think in terms of today’s listener and the meaning of UX. It’s a different world now. What are you doing to make the user experience for your listeners better than ever?

Make The Music Experience More Interesting For Them

Break the formula you’ve been using all this time, and slip in something different, exciting, a new artist, enhanced music discovery, something they weren’t expecting.

Today’s listener is now accustomed to skipping — nearly 50 percent of listeners skip to another song before the first one finishes. Segue through more songs, perhaps by tempo, key, theme, or artist, before they finish. It takes thought and work, but listeners will be surprised at the combinations
you create and will feel it fits the pace of how they are listening to music now.

Pay more attention to time of day and mood. Listeners look to your station to enhance a good feeling or turn around a bad day. The mood you set with your music combinations and the tone of the air personalities have a much greater impact on listeners than you may realize. It’s about a feeling, not a formula.

On your website, how easy is it for your listeners to find what they want? Can they find what they’re looking for in no more than two clicks? Is it delivering local news they can use? Will they feel they got value for the time they spent on the site?

Are you offering material on the site they can’t get on the air but want to know about?

How easy is it for them to communicate with you?

Are you developing more seamless integration between on-air, streams, and your website?

Does your website feel like something you “had to do,” or do you encourage listeners to use it?

Here’s the bottom line: Listeners are more demanding than ever when it comes to how they spend their time. You want your station to be incorporated into their daily experience as they live now. That can be done by understanding how they consume your content, which is all about the user experience. Remember, it’s not just about listening, it’s about engaging on their terms. The days of telling a listener how they will use your product are over. Be there when they’re looking for you instead of hoping they will find you.

UX, the user experience. You know what it’s about when you’re frustrated by a poor one. Make sure that doesn’t happen to your listeners.

Dick Kalt is the EVP of CRN International. 203.407.3339; [email protected]


  1. Although it happens infrequently, I am still pleased when someone like Dick steps forward with useful and accurate commentary.

    Of course, corporate radio and many others will simply disregard the materials and the encouragement, and continue to wander around – chanting ancient mantras and whistling in the dark.


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