Customer Stories

7 tips to grow your online radio station

Randy Skaggs, owner of online radio station Q108 Kingston, shares his tips for promoting an online radio station effectively.

Randy Skaggs’ online radio station, Q108 Kingston, started out as a hobby. Every Friday night, he and one of his friends would host a small online radio show for their work colleagues.

Five years down the road, Randy’s hobby has grown into an online radio station that plays music around the clock, and features several weekly radio shows that Randy hosts himself. 

Q108’s audience is located in different parts of Ontario, Canada and is composed of women and men over 30 years old who love the hard rock, melodic rock, and glam metal Randy plays on his station. 

Randy shared his strategies for promoting his radio show to his listeners, both online and off, and how he uses PosterMyWall to design all his promotional material.

Here are 7 tips for promoting your online radio station:

1. Use nostalgia as a marketing strategy

Every Friday night, Randy hosts a “Friday Special” radio show where he plays classic rock music from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Recently, he hosted “Back to the ‘80s” – a show featuring rock and metal hits from the ‘80s. 

“It was a whole lot of fun. I really committed to the ‘80s theme by mixing in old commercials from that era, ‘80s TV show references, and of course, ‘80s music,” Randy said.

Randy said that nostalgia can be a great marketing tool because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like to escape to the past every once in a while? “I get a ton of new listeners every week because of these shows,” he said. Lots of people have memories of happier times attached to the music of their lives, and Randy’s playlists give them the opportunity to sit back and reminisce.

At the same time, Randy makes sure not to forget his regular listeners. Every now and then during the show, he gives one of them a shoutout or plays a song they’ve requested (as long as it’s on theme).

2. Leverage Facebook to reach listeners

Randy’s main mode of promotion is Facebook. When he first started out, he tried to use Instagram to promote Q108 Kingston. But for Randy, Facebook has been more convenient because it gives him full functionality on his laptop, which he prefers over using mobile-based apps like Instagram. 

The Q108 Kingston Facebook feed is loaded with news about new rock and metal music. To increase engagement, Randy shares music videos that get listeners talking. “I partner with other big radio stations and find out what new rock and metal music is coming out from across the world. Then I promote their stuff on my page,” he said. 

Randy also uses Facebook to promote his Friday Specials. He makes customized event posters with PosterMyWall and creates a dedicated Facebook event page so his listeners receive an event reminder in their feed. 

3. Collaborate with local artists

Through Facebook, Randy is able to collaborate with small bands and local artists who want to promote their music. “In return, I ask them to promote my station on all their posters and promotions. This way their listeners are able to find out about my station and tune in. It’s a great way for me to bring new listeners in,” Randy said. 

Although he mostly waits for bands to contact him about a co-promotion, Randy said that occasionally he scouts local bars to find new talent, and then approaches them after their show to propose a collaboration. 

Once the deal is done, Randy plays their music on his station and encourages his listeners to check them out. He always checks that the artists have kept up their end of the deal by making sure that Q108 Kingston has made it into their promotions.

4. Increase engagement with Twitter

Twitter is another way Randy promotes his station. He schedules his tweets ahead of time using Autopo.st, a special app for radio stations, so he won’t have to post live during his show.

“Every fifteen minutes, I tweet about the song that I’m playing on my station, letting listeners know where to tune in,” he said. He does this five or six times during each of his shows.

In Randy’s experience, tweeting leads to engagement. “Artists reply to my tweets and say, ‘Hey, thanks for playing my song’.

I also get a lot of replies from people saying they’ve tuned-in or thanking me for playing a requested song,” he said.

5. Build a dedicated following through your website

The Q108 Kingston website is a one-stop shop for Randy’s listeners. They use the site to contact him when they have a question or when they want him to play a particular song. 

Randy’s website also has a chatbox feature, which allows listeners to interact with one another. This gives people with similar music tastes a chance to engage with one another. 

Listeners also use the chatbox feature to talk to Randy when he’s on the air. They send in requests, ask for shoutouts, and even just reach out to say hi. 

6. Display posters in bars

Randy uses PosterMyWall to make incredible posters that increase awareness of Q108 Kingston. He posts them in bars around town that are frequented by music fans. 

“Usually, I reach out to bands that are playing in bars and work with them on a joint promotion. It’s a win-win situation for both of us,” Randy said. Usually his contribution is an event poster featuring the band that says ‘Q108 Kingston presents’ at the top. 

Randy admits that he hasn’t used this marketing approach on a regular basis. “The last year has been tough on bars and in-person events because of COVID. But it’s all coming back now, so I’m going to be using more of this strategy,” he said.

7. Provide easy listening through an app

“Having an app makes the listening experience more personalized and more convenient for my listeners,” said Randy. The Q108 Kingston app displays the program schedule, the name of the song and artist currently playing, and the name and artist of whatever song is in the queue. All a listener has to do is push the play button to join the fun.

How PosterMyWall has helped Randy

Randy uses PosterMyWall to make his posters and do all his online promotions, including creating marketing graphics for his Friday Specials. 

“Before I knew about PosterMyWall, I actually tried to use Paint to make my posters. And as you might have guessed, that didn’t go too well,” Randy said. He came across PosterMyWall randomly one night and decided to try it out. And he’s been hooked ever since. 

“PosterMyWall makes designing so easy – all the tools I need are in one place,” he said.

“Usually before I start making a design, I ask myself, ‘what images or pop culture items represent the show I’m hosting?’” Randy said. For instance, to promote an upcoming show that will feature ‘90s music, he added CDs and CD cases – which were big in the ‘90s – to his design. He also selected retro fonts.

Randy recommends PosterMyWall for anyone building a radio station. “Picking a decent program to promote your station is so important, and that’s where PosterMyWall comes in,” he said. 

As far as his plans for Q108 Kingston’s future, Randy just wants to have fun with it. “I love promoting and graphic design, and I love playing and sharing my favorite music. So I still treat my station as a hobby – and make sure not to take things too seriously,” he said.