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Radio Disney dropping airwaves for digital distribution


When Disney bought ABC/Capital Cities not only did they get ESPN, a bunch of local TV stations, future CEO Bob Iger, but the deal also included a bunch of radio stations. Over time that network morphed into the Radio Disney network.

At times Radio Disney was a big focus of Disney’s strategy to reach kids. The theme parks built studios for DJs to broadcast live from. Many of the promotions were focused on synergy between current Disney channel shows or upcoming Disney movies. There were ground teams in the major cities holding lots of events and a stream of music that entertained the kids, but could also be enjoyed by the adults.

Remember “The Hamster Dance?” That song wouldn’t have had near the popularity if it hadn’t been for Radio Disney.

Fun fact, the main theme of that song is just the theme from Disney’s Robin Hood sped up. If you think you can stand it. Here’s a ten-hour loop of “The Hamster Dance”

Well, all that is over. Disney is planning to sell off stations in all but one market – Los Angeles. From there it will generate a national programming feed for digital distribution.

According to a station from Radio Disney, “Radio Disney will increase its investment in both digital distribution platforms and music-centric programming to optimize the network for long-term growth and to better reflect the habits of its listeners, a national audience of kids and families.”

Sadly, about 200 employees are expected to be laid off as a result of the sale. All 23 stations are expected to be sold by the end of September 2014.

Currently, Radio Disney is available on satellite and digital channels such as Sirius/XM, Aha Radio and others. You can also download the WATCH Disney app on both Android and iOs devices.

The story broke yesterday on Broadcasting Cable. If you look at the numbers in that story, Radio Disney is still quite popular. Even the Radio Disney Music Awards was a great draw for The Disney Channel. However, the trend is a move toward digital and satellite.

How do you prefer to get your Radio Disney? Do you have kids in your house who are regular listeners?