4 Ways To Prepare Your Radio Station For The Driverless Car

4 Ways To Prepare Your Radio Station For The Driverless Car

by Tracy Johnson

The driverless car is no longer coming. It’s here.

Andrew Curran of DMR Interactive points out the incredible growth in technology and how rapidly driverless technology is being approved in this presentation. It’s already happening, and it’s exciting if you’re prepared.

It has a profound impact on radio because so much listening takes place in the car. But choices in the vehicle have, and will continue, to emerge.

This is yet another major change in how consumers will access entertainment, and it presents unique challenges, but massive opportunities.

Here are four ways you can prepare now for what Curran describes as a billion-dollar opportunity for the industry.

Personalities Are The Future! Develop Them

It’s likely that commute times will increase as technology advances. Why? Because in-car time will be productive time, and with the car doing the driving, we won’t worry so much about traffic or longer commutes. Plus, as it becomes less expensive to power the car through electric (and solar?) engines, cost of fuel won’t be a barrier to living farther from work.

So expect more listeners spending more time in the car, and being available to the radio. That’s good news. But, it also means that consumer will have more time to find other sources of entertainment. They’ll be able to mess around with their phone, their dash and all their gadgets more than ever before.

How will your station command attention? Personalities that can build a fan base and lead it. If you have them now, that’s great. Lock them in! If not, develop on-air superstars. It’ll be hard to compete without them.

Develop Can’t-Miss Features

Driverless technology will result in a lower percentage of car owners. More will share ownership or use ride-share services exclusively. That means they’ll likely enter vehicles that have entertainment choices pre-selected.

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Your goal should be to increase Top Of Mind Awareness (TOMA) by developing can’t-miss moments on the air. This is usually with features and special events that provide tune-in occasions that stay in the audience’s consciousness.

Hire Support Staff

When the car is driving itself, listeners are more accessible. That’s great news for interactive personalities. Expect the phone to start ringing more often again. That means you need to actually answer your phone.

It also opens up the potential to produce a truly interactive show on multiple platforms. You’ll be able to engage your audience immediately with video and social media like never before. Are you prepared for that?

It’s time to staff up with producers, phone screeners and dedicated social media producers that can engage your audience in real time. Yes, head count is a talking point in budget meetings and few companies are increasing payroll, but this is a relatively small investment. As Andrew Curran says, this could be a billion dollar opportunity.

We can’t expect our shows to raise their game without the tools to make it happen.

Pre-Produce More Content

Many broadcasters treat voice-tracking as a dirty word, looking down on it. But it’s not. Technology gives us the opportunity to pre-produce segments and improve our product. Many (if not most) segments can be recorded in advanced to:

  • Be tighter and more focused.
  • Edited to simply be better.
  • Re-recorded as needed to be more effective.
  • Know the “end” of the story before it airs.
  • Make it possible to tease and promote more effectively.
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And, when content is “in the can”, talent can spend more time extending the topic on other platforms and harvesting phone calls.

Some shows have already started doing this, and it makes a huge difference. Stop resisting the use of technology to make your show better. Late night TV talk shows appear live, but they’re recorded in the late afternoon. It makes them better. And viewers don’t care.

Use your tools to your advantage.


I hope you’re as excited as I am about the future for personalities and the radio industry. Some will thrive in the driverless future. Others will be left behind. The difference will be personalities in general, but those who get into position to take advantage of it in particular.

Need some help? Let’s discuss. It’s what we do.

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