"Interactivity" defined.

Providing interactivity, enhancing your content, delivering hybrid radio, giving listeners the full experience… Talking about NextRadio-readiness with broadcasters can sometimes sound like a grab bag of euphemisms, we know. So today we’d like to cut through the language and provide some clarity. What’s involved? How much time does this take? We talk all the time about Free and Full TagStation license, but did you know that even within a full license, you have the ability to choose your level of participation based on your own resources? These are conversations we have so often with broadcasters that it just makes sense we have one here on the old blog too, right?

But before we dive in, here’s a look at current NextRadio stats.

By the Numbers

  • Over 395,000 app downloads
  • Over 8,800 FM radio stations tuned to from the app
  • Over 385,000 hours of listening through NextRadio
  • A 4.1/5.0 Google Play Store user rating

So, what does it mean for a station to be “interactive”?

Being interactive in the NextRadio app means delivering hybrid content: over-the-air audio and enhancements through the smartphone’s internet backchannel. You’re in luck – the audio part is already done! Now all you need is a way to sync up the visuals and text that get displayed along side that audio. How does one achieve this? Though you can build your own solution, we’re going to focus today on TagStation data services – the only commercially available end-to-end solution for hybrid content delivery.


Get started by contacting Libby to get the set-up process underway – it’s pretty painless. We support a wide variety of automation systems and datacasting middleware, and we’ve even built our own middleware called Slingshot in case you need one.

Once you’re set up it’s easy to make your station stand out in NextRadio.

Music stations use TagStation Song Matching to review album art matches and make any desired customizations to title, artist and album information. TagStation’s auto-match feature does most of the work for you, so it takes less than an hour a week to ensure your music looks great. This video demonstration shows how easy it is.

Station Schedule is the bread and butter for Talk stations and equally valuable for Music stations.

Schedule is a simple way to deliver an image, text and configurable points of interaction during talk-based programming and talk breaks. What’s great about Schedule is you can set it, and forget it. Take one afternoon to define your segments or dayparts, upload an image for each and you’re done. Now, every time your morning team is on the air, or you’re delivering the news, your content is branded. Even better, listeners can call you, send a text or visit a web all with the tap of a button. The level of granularity with what’s displayed along with your audio is entirely up to you. See a video demonstration.

Song matching and Schedule are the two most important processes in TagStation, but if you want to take your creativity to the next level Create Campaigns to deliver an image, text and points-of-interaction for any spot or promo. Whatever the call to action, Campaigns enables you to enable the listener to take that action with the simple tap of a button. See a video demonstration about creating campaigns.

Campaign creation is where each radio station’s use of TagStation will vary the most. The level of participation is completely in your hands. We have to admit it’s been fun to see campaigns come to life in NextRadio. Stations are beginning to find truly inventive uses for the interactive options.


If you’re unable to license TagStation immediately, there is a fast and free way to get involved in NextRadio that we hope every station will take a few minutes to complete as soon as possible, and that’s the Free Logo Service. It allows you to brand your station within the NextRadio Channel Guide and Now Playing screens.

To get started, simply fill in the sign-up form to create an account. Again, it’s free and only takes a minute. Once you receive your username and password, log in and configure your station settings. This important last step sometimes gets overlooked, but is the most crucial part of Free Logo Service. Configuring your settings lets you define you station’s genre, enter your slogan and upload your logo.

THAT’S IT! Now your station looks great in the guide, and your brand is front and center when people tune in and listen… and remember, it’s more than likely that people are already tuning into your station on NextRadio.

In regards to the interactivity we talk about above, there is a bit present in this Free Logo Service. The actions you can take from the Now Playing screen include saving, sharing on social media, liking and disliking. At a bare minimum, we hope every FM station in the country will take this free and fast step. But for album art and other programming enhancements, full TagStation license is the way to go, and hopefully a little less intimidating now.


There’s no way we can overstate the importance of hybrid content to the future of NextRadio. It’s what makes the experience rich, it’s what keeps users coming back, and it’s just plain smart to think about your broadcast in all of its future incarnations. With this small step, you’re making a big jump into dashboards and other future visual devices that we’re not just anticipating, but that are already in the works.

“[The NextRadio app is has] evolved into this incredibly elegant, beautiful way for broadcasters to get into portable devices seamlessly without costing the consumer…” said Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, during his Canadian Music Week talk. He also noted that “the whole landscape of radio broadcasting has fundamentally changed” and broadcasters need to be ready and willing to adapt.

Moving Forward

Speaking of steps, add another two smartphones to the growing list of NextRadio-enabled devices! The HTC One® (M8) Harman/Kardon Edition is an audio powerhouse that bundles Spotify and the NextRadio app into Sprint’s Music Live experience. And the brand new Kyocera Hydro Vibe hit Sprint stores just this past Friday. It’s waterproof – have fun!

In case you’re wondering why we celebrate new phone releases like birthdays around here, it’s because each new FM-enabled device created and sold is a victory and an opportunity to give a local radio fan another listening option. An option we think you’ll agree is pretty darn great.
We hope our chat today provided a little more clarity. Now… what if we told you NextRadio was available on every major wireless carrier? Check back in a couple of weeks to find out more!