#WeLoveRadio Case Study - The CEO’s Role in Social Media for Radio.
When the CEO signs up to become a social media specialist for radio, you know he’s taking it seriously.
iRadio is a regional radio station spanning 15 counties along the Border, the West, the Mid-East and Midlands regions of Ireland. iRadio began broadcasting in 2008, originally as two individual stations - i102-104FM and i105-107FM and both stations were merged in 2011. The integrated radio broadcasts from its Athlone studios, and is available in 15 counties of Ireland. The broadcaster is in the ownership of iRadio Ltd. Reaching 347,000 weekly listeners, iRadio is one of Ireland’s most recognisable media brands. A further 500,000+ people visit iRadio.ie each month and they boast over 750,000 social media followers.
Mark Cunning has been with iRadio since its foundation in 2008. Climbing up through the radio ranks, he now leads a team of innovators not imitators. The creative flair from the regional station is something Mark takes seriously and is constantly challenging himself and his colleagues to be better.
Learning Waves Course
To date 10 staff from iRadio have completed the Learning Waves Diploma in Social Media for Radio. Mark said the feedback from his colleague’s was such that it intrigued him to find out more. Asked what motivated him to become a student on the course, he’s very clear...
“That’s how I lead. I lead by example. For me to be in the role of CEO and not understand social media and its impact for the business of radio, would be a concern. Sometimes the easiest thing to do when you are in the chair of general manager or CEO is to just let things happen around you. But social media is changing so rapidly that I wanted to be able to make decisions alongside my team on our approach to it strategically, not just for our station but for our clients”, Mark Cunning, CEO iRadio.
Challenging Yourself as a Leader
By joining the Diploma in Social Media for Radio, Mark had to complete an assignment and this challenged him to use it as an opportunity to develop a social media strategy for a new digital-first product that had been brewing. An iRadio first, a, podcast called Average Joe and the Pro presented by League of Ireland footballer Conor Barry (the pro) and Gary Curran (the Average Joe, and formerly of iRadio), takes a look inside the dressing room (not literally) at all the shenanigans of their pro footballer guests. Stories about wild nights out, stupid fights and the highs and lows of being a pro footballer. Mark says the opportunity to develop a social media strategy to grow the listenership and brand profile of the podcast was a welcome one.
“We started from a base of zero. But what better way to expend the knowledge that I picked up on the course than to apply it to a new sub-brand of iRadio. So, I created a six-month social media strategy and handed it to the guys and it included a step-by-step implementation plan and content calendar. I knew that if they acted on it, it would work", Mark Cunning, CEO iRadio.
Mark says the ambition of iRadio for its clients is central to the creative culture within the station.
“We can sell a week of spots on-air and that’s no problem, but we are conscious that our B2B approach has to be one that offers more. We take the time to sit and understand your business. We want to know your KPIs, what you want to achieve and what is the ultimate conversion – sell tickets, increase sales, re-launch to a captive audience. So that’s our approach to creating solutions for our clients, and now those solutions are a combination of online and on-air”, Mark Cunning, CEO iRadio.
By coming through the Diploma in Social Media for Radio, Mark says he has created a social media blueprint of launching, promoting and building up new iRadio digital-first products which are coming on stream in 2022, including the potential for him to go back behind the mic.
“There is scope to build out our content by leaning into the brilliant talent in Ireland and focus on storytelling through digital storytelling”, Mark Cunning, CEO iRadio.
Presenters are Central to our Social Media Presence
The iRadio on-air talent are also creating content on social media “because great content travels”, says Mark. It’s not enough for presenters to push up the mic, the iRadio brand is multi-platform and cross-device and we work hard to provide our fans that authentic content.
"The growth in smart speaker audio consumption is helping our brand, but we can’t forget that radio content is often produced on social media first", Mark Cunning, CEO iRadio.
- Lead from the first so that you can become a better manager
- Our team expects us to understand the world of social media
- Consistency is king and complacency will kill us
- Be more analytical and understand why social content works and doesn’t work
- Give social content time to grow over a more protracted period of time to identify trends
- and Lean into social media trends for relevance in the now
Advice to Radio Pro Colleagues
“Be willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. We all suffer from imposter syndrome from time-totime, but the best way to counter that is to take action. I’m willing to learn and I want to get better, so sitting in a virtual classroom with trainees just new to radio, is great. I got so much from spending time with radio pros at different points in their career and from different departments within radio. If I didn’t put myself on this course, I would have spent the time staring at spreadsheets, and so see the value in upskilling for yourself and your leadership, but ultimately your station. You don’t want to be a manager that questions your staff because you don’t understand social media or digital generally.” - Mark Cunning, CEO iRadio.
Connect with Mark on LinkedIn