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Echo and Home are all the rage. Can your station land a spot on one?

Smart speakers are sure to be a hot holiday item. Indeed Amazon Alexa, Google Home and other devices are growing in popularity. A new report (pdf) indicates findings relevant to community radio. These include:

  • 90 percent of users buy a smart speaker to listen to music
  • 77 percent of users buy a smart speaker to listen to news/talk
  • 68 percent report regularly listening to music on a smart speaker
  • 32 percent report regularly listening to news/talk on a smart speaker
  • 62 percent of users perceive their smart speakers can provide better music than radio
  • 53 percent listen for music discovery
  • 44 percent seek news talk or sports talk
  • 39 percent use smart speakers to replace an old stereo

The smart speaker market seems like an exciting new place for community radio stations to appear. How does a community radio station get placed in a smart speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home?

First, it goes without saying, but knowing their appeal means it is a good move to purchase a Google Home, Google Home Mini or Google Home Max or Amazon Echo Plus, Echo Spot or similar device. Owning one also gives you a chance to test and what language you use to educate audiences about your smart speakers.

For Google Home, there is a tutorial available for trying your station. If your station is on the apps of TuneIn or iHeartRadio, you may need to add “on TuneIn” or “on iHeartRadio” to your verbal request. Google also monitors this thread, if you are having issues with your station appearing.

Amazon goes the extra step of allowing you to program Alexa via Echo, Echo Dot and related products. The developer center allows you to create calls to Echo to see your community radio station as a “command” and to interact with it per the user’s requests. Similar to Google Home, you may add qualifiers like “on TuneIn” to your voice commands.

If your station is already on TuneIn, you just have to say, “Alexa, play (station) on TuneIn.” And there you are!

Using Alexa, some community radio stations may want to consider building a means to provide daily content, such as local news or regional updates with a “Flash Briefing Skill.” This has been likened to the dot-com rush in the 1990s, where you can claim “[city] news” for your organization. Amazon outlines Flash Briefing Skills here. There are a variety of services that provide conduits for radio stations to land on smart speakers if you do not want to do the programming on your own.

Once you have confirmed your presence on smart speakers, it is important to figure out how to talk with listeners about your station and how they can hear it there. “Find [station] on Alexa and Google Home by saying” should be followed by specific commands users will need. Don’t overlook outreach! You will want listeners to be able to find and hear you once you’re there.

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