iHeartRadio promises not to drive parents mad with kids’ radio station

TRN has launched Kiwi Kids, a new iHeartRadio radio station that continuously plays songs and rhymes written for Kiwi Kids and performed by the nation’s top children’s musicians. And while, to some parents, this might sound like a scene borrowed from Dante’s Inferno, iHeartRadio’s artwork accompanying the launch carries the promise that the new station “won’t drive mum and dad crazy”.

Carolyn Luey, the head of iHeartRadio, says that this addition to the company’s online streaming portfolio serves to fill a gap that has existed in the market for some time. 

“There are no dedicated children’s radio stations in New Zealand, but there are lots of children-orientated TV stations – so apart from playing the nursery rhyme CDs there was really no music station offering specifically designed for children,” she says. “Our strategy for iHeartRadio is content driven and to fill market gaps and needs wherever possible – so we decided to align with the Children’s Music Awards and launch a station from the music celebrated by these awards.”

As part of this partnership, the station will play songs that were shortlisted at the awards show over the last two years in the hope of attracting an audience of two- to six-year-olds (as well as their reluctantly complying parents).

“Listeners can hear songs from the winners of the Children’s Music Awards such as Anika Moa and Hayley Westenra alongside a host of songs by super talented kiwi songwriters,” says Luey.

Interestingly, TRN has decided not to give Kiwi Kids an educational angle, presenting it as an entertainment option instead.

“The main focus of Kiwi Kids is the same as a music-orientated station for any target audience: fun music and great content that listeners enjoy and make them want to keep coming back for more,” says Luey.

Given the difficulty parents often face when it comes to ensuring that kids behave in the car, the station could also provide a means by which to keep the little ones occupied while the wheels on the car go round and round. And while Luey admits that the proliferation of in-car streaming technology might make the new station a great option “for parents when on long car trips,” she expects the station to be “used mostly at home as either background music or as entertainment.”

The station is streamed free of charge on the iHeartRadio website and there will be no presenters to interrupt the playlists that run for 24 hours a day. Luey says that presenters might be introduced at a later stage, but for now the focus will remain on playing music for children.

TRN’s AM/FM radio properties are monetised through ad-funded models that see programming punctuated by commercials throughout the day. But given that online audiences prefer not to have their listening interrupted, TRN has adopted a different model for its online stations.

“The bespoke stations we are creating on iHeartRadio like Kiwi Kids are sponsorship properties where we target clients who are a good brand fit for the station,” says Luey. “For example the NZ Top 40 station is currently sponsored by Paper Plus as it was a good fit with their ‘Favourites’ campaign.”

She says that this model is viable on iHeartRadio, because the costs introducing an online station “are significantly less than launching a terrestrial station” and this has given TRN the flexibility “to develop and test new station propositions very cost effectively”.

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