Online listening gives radio a new lease on life in Canada

Steve Kowch talks about online listening in his On The Kowch BlogFrom where I sit On The Kowch, God bless the internet. It has given radio in Canada a new lease on life.  That old radio box on granny’s kitchen counter is not the only way to listen to radio anymore. In the past month, 30 per cent of Canadians used non traditional platforms to tune in to their favourite radio station online. Just ask Mike Mohammed, a manager on the Bell Media Research team, and Alicia Olson-Keating, a senior director of the team. On December 19th, they explained on YouTube how 5.4 million or 29 per cent of Canadians 18-54 listen to radio while they are using the internet. A power point presentation drove home the importance of online radio listening. Hell, even I got the Bell Media App to listen to radio on my iPhone in the past month.

Bell Media slide about online listening

“We’ve seen the evolution of radio expand on these new listening platforms,” says Mike Mohammed, a manager at Bell Media Research.

Mike Mohammed and Alcia Olson-Keating talk about online listening in Bell Media PPM Webinar on YouTube

Click screen to watch Mike Mohammed and Alicia Olson-Keating host the Webinar

The first part of the webinar to analyze the PPM ratings in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal dealt with how radio stations have embraced the internet and are now using the station’s website to their advantage by developing complementary visual content online. I have the scars to prove that this wasn’t always the case. Five years ago I would have had to put a gun to the head of announcers to force them to write a blog or post on Twitter what was happening on their show. Today it would be unthinkable to not post online.

“Radio stations use their website as a face to engage with listeners through DJ blogs, Instagrams, Twitter feeds and contesting.  They must be doing something right because 26 per cent of Canadians 18-54 accessed a radio station website November to December 2014. This is up substantially from five years ago,” says Olson-Keating.

Bell slide 5 -personalities connect people on radio

From where I sit On The Kowch, the internet is bridging the divide between AM and FM radio. That’s because many younger listeners don’t listen to traditional radio on the AM or FM band. They listen to radio on ear buds with their iPhones, smart phones and tablets – just like many watch television with their hand held devices. When it comes to listening online, AM and FM are now on equal footing and that is great news for the future of radio as a whole.

Click here for a full breakdown of the PPM ratings in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal 

Steve Kowch ran two of Canada’s largest newstalk radio stations in Montreal and Toronto for more than 14 years. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Making It BIG In Media 

Contact Steve at 647-521-6397 or email