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SiriusXM’s Suzi Watford on growing a subscriber base through community

New York radio station WFAN revolutionized the world in 1987 when it became the first station in America to broadcast sports talk 24 hours a day. Two pioneers came out of those early days, setting the course for how we consume sports media today: Mike Francesa and Chris Russo, otherwise known as Mike and the Mad Dog.

The two split after twenty years, but their impact lives on, even as sports radio has evolved. Russo went digital, just as the world largely has, signing on to host a new show on SiriusXM in 2008. Russo carries a strong fan base, bridging the gap of rabid listeners from the Mike and the Mad Dog days to newer fans.

As SiriusXM continues to grow its subscribers for its digital radio channels, SiriusXM Chief Growth Officer Suzi Watford shared on The Current Podcast that the “stickiness of sports in building engaged users” was one of the first things she learned after taking the job.

“People that come in and try sports during their trial are more likely to convert, and then those people that are listening to sports are more likely to stay,” Watford says. “So we know that this kind of habit-building that happens with sport and the sense of community and connection is really important when you’re looking at growing an overall membership and subscriber base.”

Elsewhere on the podcast, Watford shares how the company leverages data on searches to create channels like The Sleep Channel, which helps listeners relax and get to sleep, why partnerships with brands like Walmart are critical, and how she is leveraging her vast experience within publishing to grow subscribers for the audio giant.