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Listeners Don’t Really Listen

The names of some things imply the exact opposite of what they really are. Life is that way sometimes. Some examples are that we park on a driveway and we drive on a parkway? In the same context, the people that use your station are called “listeners” but “listeners” don’t actually listen very much. As much as we’d like to not believe this, radio can be very much like an appliance, a light bulb or a microwave oven. We can’t really expect them to listen intently to everything we do, like we in radio do. That’s why radio surveys can be very misleading, because listeners will say one thing, but mean another. It’s not because they aren’t telling the truth. Surveys ask them what they think, when in reality, they don’t think as much as they react. “Is music variety important to you?” This question is always answered yes. But it can and does mean several different things. Most believe it means, more variety of older, familiar songs. In actuality, it almost always means, to hear a variety of my favorite songs.

The job of all air talent is to provide what the listener cares about, and then attach your “brand name” to it. It is not about being interesting. Air talent can be interesting with every sentence, but if it’s not relatable to your to your target it’s simply unrelatable, material, no matter if it is interesting or not.

When you talk about something on the air, make sure it’s something the Listener CARES about hearing. Don’t do it just because you want to talk about it, or just because you thought of a funny line on the subject. It’s not about YOU. It’s about creating a connection in the listener’s mind between your station and what the listener already wants to hear. That’s why we do weather updates and engage with listeners on the air. People care about these things. Coach your air talent to work their hardest on discovering and talking about things that their listeners actually care about. If the listener doesn’t care, they won’t hear. You’ll be better to say nothing at all than talk about something that your audience doesn’t care about.

Now is the time to reconfigure your station so it accentuates the listener’s life instead of using the listener to accentuate your radio station. This will change the way you imagine your radio station, the way you promote it and all of your promotions as well.