We read a lot about regional radio being a struggling media format. It certainly does have its challenges, including the transition (or expansion) from terrestrial to digital. But by taking a strongly branded and highly curated approach, some stations are perfectly poised to take advantage of the combined offline and online space to grow and strengthen their brand.
In a recent chat with our president of media and entertainment, Dave Alder, he told me about his latest hobby hosting a weekly specialty show on Wine Country Radio’s station KRSH, "The Krush."  He is not paid, has virtually no marketing support from the station, and uses all of his own music and materials to prepare the show. It’s an unusual format--he designed it as a vehicle to share his love of British music and wider popular Brit culture, which he believes has a constant allure in the States. Within just over a year, KRSH UK  with Davy, has grown to a 9.6% market share and is currently the highest listened-to show in the region during his timeslot. It got me thinking about his brand--and the takeaways for others:
1. Think Laterally
Much of the music played on KRSH UK is available through a myriad of heavily formatted stations and shows. For example, The Beatles on oldies stations, Led Zeppelin on classic rock formats. But by bringing all Brit music under one lateral brand umbrella, a true destination has been created.
2. Small Is Beautiful
It’s easier to be more creative at a micro level when the details really matter. Take the time to refine your proposition and develop a proof of concept rather than running too fast and missing the learnings.
3. Tell Stories
As with most successful brands, a key component of KRSH UK is storytelling. Between every block of songs, a story is told, such as how a track got its name, the inspirations of the writer, how the band came to be, or why it became a hit—and they are all delivered with a slightly irreverent Brit spirit.
4. Stay On-Brand
Nurture relevant brand partners. Don’t be dismissive because of their small size or limited awareness. A strong brand fit, especially in the early stages, far outweighs higher financial support offered by larger brands that could be off-brand.
Mr. Trombley’s Tea  is a stunningly perfect brand match for KRSH UK. Trombley’s is an independent tea brand that blends 125 varieties of tea and offers over 1,500 teapots of every imaginable design. Alder is able to integrate the tea brand into multiple aspects of the show. He drinks the teas throughout the show commenting on them in an honest, script-free way and plays tea-themed songs (yes, they really do exist). Mr. Trombley drops into the studio for on-air tastings, he runs tea contests and the British interviewees are sent packets of tea as thank you gifts.
Regional radio stations--and brands in general--need to stop following the herd to be heard. It’s time for them to understand what makes them unique and what they, as well as their listeners, are truly passionate about. There is a place for brands who opt for quality over quantity. Find your niche and stick with it. Be an expert, not a jack of all trades, and when you find something both you and your audience love, run with it.
Shawn Parr is the The Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond , an innovation and design consultancy headquartered in San Diego whose clients and partners have included Starbucks, Diageo, Jack in the Box, Adidas, MTV, Nestle, Pinkberry, American Eagle Outfitters, IDEO, Virgin, Disney, Nike, Mattel, Heineken, Annie's Homegrown, The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, CleanWell, The Honest Kitchen and World Vision. Follow the conversation at @BULLDOGDRUMMOND .
[Image: Flickr user John Spooner ]