As radio stations attempt to keep listeners off mobile music streaming platforms like Pandora and Spotify, two radio stations are embracing text messaging to elicit more listener participation.

C89.5 KNHC is a radio station run by Nathan Hale High School students in Seattle, Washington. It provides a learning environment for students to understand the fundamentals of audio production, programming, and on-air hosting while broadcasting to 200,000 listeners per week. KNHC has successfully integrated Zipwhip to allow listeners to text in song requests and participate in on-air contests.  Program directors can adjust playlists in seconds according to their listeners’ feedback using their existing landline. On average, KNHC receives 50 song requests per day via Zipwhip.


Similarly, WHUS 91.7 at the University of Connecticut is a community radio station operated by students and volunteer members. Their eclectic musical genres range from polka to hip hop to bluegrass according to the DJ’s music preferences. WHUS relies on listener requests to stay on top of the latest music and determine what their listeners want to hear. Zipwhip allows the station to maintain continual contact with their listeners even after unforeseen equipment failures. “We use a specialized multi-line phone system, which occasionally crashes leaving us without phones,” says Andrew Gates, CFO of WHUS. “Zipwhip remains up and running despite this, allowing us to continue to communicate with listeners via text message.”


It is important for smaller indie stations to understand the behaviors of their target demographics. The 18-24 year old demo is comprised of tech-savvy consumers who prefer written electronic communication than verbal communication. No group compares to young adults when it comes to text messaging according to a 2011 Pew Internet report. 18-24 year olds send or receive on average 110 text messages per day- more than double the amount for 25-34 years old. Furthermore, 18-29 year old only make 17 calls daily, more than 6 times less than text messaging. If radio stations want to truly to prioritize listener participation and collaboration, text messaging is the most sensible solution.

Enabling SMS for existing landlines gives listeners more convenience than talking with someone over the phone and more immediacy than writing an email. If broadcasters are trying to create listener engagement through a call-to-action, i.e. “Be the 17th listener to win tickets” then SMS is simply the easiest method for their listeners. It also offers more privacy than public forums and social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter. Listeners don’t have to feel self-conscious for requesting a guilty pleasure such as Heads Will Roll by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, or submitting a question during a live interview.

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Zipwhip is the productivity tool that lets businesses and customers text each other. Zipwhip text-enables your existing (landline, VoIP, or toll free) business number. With direct connections to tier 1 carriers, Zipwhip is the trusted, scalable solution to business texting.