BAYSIDE, CALIFORNIA, September 29, 2021 – Non-commercial, listener-supported, contemporary Christian music radio station KSBJ strives to connect listeners more deeply to their faith. Looking for better customer service and cost savings as they planned future expansion of their digital offerings, KSBJ and sister station NGEN radio switched from their existing content delivery network (CDN) service provider to streaming solutions pioneer StreamGuys. The change has delivered benefits exceeding the broadcaster’s expectations while flexibly positioning them for growth.
The flagship radio station of Hope Media Group, KSBJ broadcasts on 89.3 FM in the greater Houston area from its headquarters in Humble, Texas. The KSBJ format can also be heard on five additional frequencies around the Texas Gulf Coast area plus an additional translator. Meanwhile, NGEN radio broadcasts a positive pop and hip-hop format to a younger demographic on 91.7 FM in Houston and can also be heard on KYBJ in Freeport and via three translators.
While KSBJ’s FM broadcasts are identical across all frequencies, the station saw streaming as offering the opportunity to tailor their reach into distinct communities. “Expanding our digital presence into a regionalized streaming network aligns with our vision of becoming more relevant in each of the areas we serve,” explained Lita Gregory, Director of Engineering at Hope Media Group. “As a non-commercial station, our streams must be 100% simulcasts of our on-air broadcasts, but we can still offer pre-roll spots to deliver community-specific messaging in partnership with local churches, schools, and businesses.”
KSBJ had used their existing CDN provider for six years but with their contract coming up for renewal, decided to evaluate alternative vendors. “The streaming marketplace had changed a lot since we signed the last contract,” said Gregory. “Competition had driven down per-gigabyte rates with other providers, making our existing vendor quite expensive compared to alternatives. Our overage charges were as high as $3000 per month. We also found our previous vendor’s customer service lacking when we had problems and they were slow to make requested changes, so it was time to take a fresh look.”
Most importantly, Gregory was concerned that the existing vendor could not provide the flexibility KSBJ needed for its digital expansion plans. “We had an idea of where we wanted to go, but we didn’t know whether it would work the way we were envisioning,” she said. “We may have needed to expand or shrink what we were trying based on our results. Our previous CDN didn’t provide that level of business flexibility, and we felt like their cost and customer service issues would have slowed down our efforts.”
KSBJ engaged in discussions and demonstrations with all the major CDN vendors in the market, and the ideal choice quickly became clear. “StreamGuys was head and shoulders above everyone else, and the difference between them and our existing vendor was night and day,” recalled Gregory. “StreamGuys understood our situation and were willing to adapt with us, even if that meant scaling back what we were doing with them. They have a solid infrastructure with multiple points of presence and all of the technical attributes we were looking for, but their attitude stood out the most.”
KSBJ began testing its desired geotargeting with StreamGuys privately in late 2019 and switched its live streams to StreamGuys’ CDN in July 2020. StreamGuys’ geotargeting capabilities combine with AdsWizz-enabled dynamic spot insertion and StreamGuys’ SGplayer multimedia player to deliver regionalized listening experiences to audience members based on their location. StreamGuys currently powers eight distinct KSBJ digital offerings – one for each FM frequency, plus a national stream and a dedicated TuneIn stream – differentiated by localized pre-roll messaging, plus one stream for all NGEN radio listeners.
As impressed as KSBJ was when they first spoke to StreamGuys, their admiration continues to grow. “I have never worked with another vendor who feels like they are so invested in our success,” said Gregory. “We know we’re not their biggest customer, but we don’t feel any less important because of it. StreamGuys feel like an extension of ourselves because they are just so willing to help.”
Switching to StreamGuys has also delivered tangible financial benefits for Hope Media Group even as its stations’ audiences have grown. “Our listener consumption is way up but compared to what we would have been spending with our previous vendor, we’re saving 30 to 40 percent – thousands of dollars -- each month on the CDN side alone. With StreamGuys we’re getting so much more for less.”
Overall, the move to StreamGuys has helped KSBJ achieve its near-term goals while setting the stage for further expansion. “Working with StreamGuys has enabled us to provide geofenced, localized listening experiences that would have been too costly or complex for us to do as part of our on-air FM broadcasts,” concluded Gregory. “And wherever we want to go next in the digital streaming landscape, we are confident that we can get there because we have StreamGuys as our provider and partner.”