There are many lessons that diary markets can learn from PPM markets that measure actual listening versus perceived (diary) listening. With that in mind, please consider these key points that if implemented properly, could be the key to higher ratings this spring.
Music in the morning counts. There are only a handful of personalities who can do content that is better than an extra song. For many years, we believed that “bits” in the morning were more important than music. PPM has quickly taught us that this is not the case. If you are a music station, make sure you are playing at least 8-10 songs an hour in the morning.
8am-4pm is the “sweet spot” for adult driven stations. In PPM markets if you do not get the major share of listening here, you will not get it. This means that your morning show should be winding down non-music elements by 8am as you get into a more music mode. Many AC’s (in PPM markets) have dropped the 8am information package.
TSL is all about adding “occasions of listening“. Sure, song to song is important, but not nearly as critical as increasing occasions of listening. This has always been the case (in diary markets) but we see it more so in PPM markets. How do you increase occasions? Read the next few points.
Tactical contesting is back and not surprising “Cash is king“! In most PPM markets, cash is proving to be a very strong tactic for increasing occasions. If it works with PPM, why wouldn’t it with diary-based markets? How much moves the meter? Call me and I’ll share the answer with you.
Commercial Free hours work. Again, it is a great way to increase the occasions of listening.
No surprise here. Too much DJ banter is a tune out. Yes, DJ’s are important. They need to be warm, friendly, and inviting, but on a music station, listeners are coming for the music, so keep the DJ’s tight & to the point. Your jocks need to be “companions” to your listeners.
When the music starts, keep it going with very little interruption. ID and image yes but do it quickly and always let the listener know the music is not stopping.
There is a substantial tune-out when spots come on. In addition, PPM is teaching us that listeners appear to have a “second sense” when we are about to stop for spots. I refer to it as the “Pavlov’s dog theory”. When they hear the jock doing a typical back-sell and station or sales promo, they know you are about to stop the music and tune out comes even quicker.
Get back to the music as soon as possible. Once the stop set is over, get back to the music quickly.
Listener availability is not always there 7-12 midnight. Many PPM market AC’s are struggling with this, as they were used to huge night numbers in diary. PPM is showing us that AC listeners do not listen 7-12. Take advantage of that in diary markets.
In conclusion: Yes, there are differences between PPM and diary measurement but there is a lot to be learned from a system that measures actual listening and behavior. PPM is clearly illustrating that listeners want a music heavy radio station that does not interrupt too much. When it comes to non-music elements, use moderation. Jocks, yes, but keep them tight and moving. Contesting, yes, but make sure you are offering something that interests them, information yes, but keep it short & to the point.
Consultant to AC Radio, Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting
For over 40 years, Gary Berkowitz has been involved in every aspect of the operation and management of high quality, financially successful radio stations. From on air personality to music and program director, Gary has done it all since graduating Emerson College in Boston.