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How to create an app for a Radio station

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Like the press, radio is a medium that has been facing a profound shift in usage in recent years. Their distribution and monetization models have been turned upside down. 
Radio has the advantage of being a media that can be consumed everywhere and that is not exclusive: it is largely possible to listen to a radio station or a podcast while practicing an activity on the side. Moreover, since 2017, the cell phone has become the first screen to surf on radio and music websites and applications. The stations have really digitized their offers and it's not for nothing. 

At the same time, streaming radio and podcasting consumption habits are becoming more and more significant. Offering an app for your radio will allow you to stay close to your listeners and of course to convince new ones. It will allow you to explore new ways of communication and to diversify your content types.

The new challenges for radios

Radio stations face several challenges that you need to consider when deciding whether or not to go with an app for your radio.  

First of all, as you've already understood, consumer habits have evolved. Today, a large majority of listeners want to be able to access your content at any time. Podcasts have been widely democratized. This change in the way people consume information and entertainment, especially among young people, should push you to offer podcasts, videos, or other content to your listeners who are now used to accessing this type of content. Today we identify two major trends of additional content:
  • Native podcasts: unedited content in on-demand listening.
  • Filmed radio: personify your hosts by allowing listeners to watch behind-the-scenes of your radio shows.
Another issue for radios is obviously monetization. In the case of small radio stations, it is necessary to find innovative methods to generate additional income.  As you can see, as a radio station and no matter what your field of action is, you have to do everything you can to try to meet the expectations of your listeners in order not to be cannibalized by other types of media that will better meet their needs. 

To each type of radio its app

The term "radio" is very broad and it only refers to one type of media without taking into account the objectives of each one. Two different radio stations will certainly not choose to build their app in the same way. Before you start creating your app, you need to ask yourself what is the purpose of your radio. Are you an entertainment radio? Do you already have a strong community or do you want to create one? 

In short, take the time to analyze your situation and your ambitions to choose the best features and the best UX for your app taking into account your target and its needs. Here are some examples of apps created for totally different types of radios.  

1/ A radio to share your passion
The Stadium radio app serves a radio specialized in sports. It is therefore intended for a well-informed public that comes to look for precise information on a theme that already interests him. Its number 1 objective is to rally around a common passion and to position itself as a reference in this field.  

The home of this app has been built around the main contents: the Live and the podcasts. A big call to action is proposed at the top of the list to invite listeners to listen to the live radio stream right away, with a central button in the navigation mode that reminds them of this action.  
The rest of the homepage is dedicated to other types of content offered by the radio: videos, blog posts and agenda.  

To highlight the primary content the navigation mode is concise at first glance but it is complemented by a sub-menu "more" which contains the secondary features of the app, that is to say the social features. The icons make the menu even clearer and make it possible to know every second where to find the content that interests us.  
2/ A radio to manage a community
Radios can also be used to gather a community. This is the case of Campus Radio, which decided to offer an app to its listeners, all members of the same university. Its objective is to engage its community and to reinforce the feeling of belonging of the members of the university.  

Live radio is the most highlighted feature in the app, with a contrasting banner in the first position on the home page and a contrasting central button in the navigation mode. Then come naturally the most popular podcasts and events.  
With the objective of creating links between listeners, participative social features are highlighted on the home page: song selection form, user-generated content and a chat between listeners. Further down, we find the radio's blog and listeners' feedback. Finally, a module to subscribe to the radio newsletter and links to social media are proposed on the homepage. 

The navigation mode is discreet, it almost blends into the home but it remains useful despite the fact that the main navigation is rather on the home. Menu sections have been used to organize the static content of the radio (Podcast sections for example). Listeners can easily navigate to the content that interests them.  
3/ A radio to inform
With the Radio News app, we are getting closer to the objectives of a newspaper. Indeed, the vocation of this radio is to inform its listeners about fresh and general news. The app must therefore be able to inform the listeners quickly and simply and must present several content formats. 

It is also important that the app allows finding information easily, that's why a search function is always within reach of each listener, in the header of the application. The home page presents almost all the podcast sections available in the app. Additional written content can also be found at the bottom of the page. Finally, the home page ends with a newsletter module and links to social media.  

The menu, still as simple as in other radio apps, presents this time all the audio content of the app, including the Live section that allows you to listen to the radio live. The podcasts are organized inside a Menu section, which allows integrating a double navigation in the app.  

Key features for a great radio app

A powerful player
GoodBarber provides you with a player allowing you to listen to live audio and video directly in the app. Fully customizable, it allows you to easily broadcast your radio shows or live videos from your backstage. 
Your listeners can listen to your radio while browsing other sections of your application. A mini player is displayed in all sections of the app to allow your listeners to control the playback. 
Background audio playback is available in native versions of your app: the broadcast is maintained even if your users exit the app, allowing them to simultaneously use other applications on their smartphone. They will be able to access advanced information about the track being played directly from the audio player: title, cover art, artist. They can also buy the track, or share it on social media in one click. 
Finally, the sleep mode allows your listeners to choose their listening time using an integrated timer. Once the duration is over, the live broadcasting stops automatically.  
Podcasts for on-demand listening
Easily create your replay offer: your listeners will be able to listen to your shows anywhere and anytime thanks to podcasts. Each episode of a podcast can have an illustration associated with it, allowing you to choose either a visual per show or a thematic visual for each episode. The podcast episode detail view can be customized with additional content such as text or images to enhance your audio track.


Push notifications for smart communication
Use push notifications to announce the release of your new shows or episodes. The notifications are sent automatically: you promote your content and your interested listeners are sure not to miss a single episode of their favorite show. Think about it also to announce the beginning of a live show or to be reactive on current events. Rest assured, your listeners will be able to choose which shows or which type of notifications they want to be kept informed about.


Interactive features
Use the form to allow your listeners to interact with you: autograph requests, song choices, contests, or survey responses, the form is a great opportunity to give your community a voice. Also consider user-generated content to get them involved in your content creation by allowing them to send you images, videos or text.

Best practices to follow

Broadcast your podcasts offline: 
Thanks to the Favorites section, your listeners can easily listen to your podcasts even without a network. Indeed, once bookmarked, your content is synchronized from your back office and stored directly in the app for offline playback. A feature that greatly improves the user experience and is very popular with today's listeners.  


A subscription system to enhance your content  soon
Think about "closing" a part of your app with a subscription system. For example, leave the live broadcast free, but submit some podcasts to subscription. Using a freemium model is a great way to introduce your product to new users and show the value of your radio app before they commit to a subscription. It is the easiest way to monetize your app and is much more appreciated by listeners than in-app ads. 

Present your programs clearly: 
Use a calendar to allow your listeners to clearly view your program schedule and be alerted to the programs they are interested in with automatic push notifications. This is a great way to present your content and attract your listeners.  

Conclusion

An app ensures the best possible experience for your listeners. Your content is enhanced, but certain features also allow you to offer a premium service to your listeners. It's the best way for you to retain your audience, attract new listeners and maximize your revenue. 
Whatever your type of radio, an app will be the answer to many of your problems, and will allow you to increase user engagement and provide a more satisfying user experience.