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By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting
There are many lessons diary markets can learn from PPM markets, which 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 fall.
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 this is not the case. If you are a music station, make sure you are playing at least eight to 10 songs an hour in the morning.
8 a.m. – 4 p.m. 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 at all. This means your morning show should be winding down non-music elements by 8 a.m. as you get into a more music mode. Many ACs (in PPM markets) have dropped the 8 a.m. 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’s more so in PPM markets. How do you increase occasions? Read the next few points.
Tactical contesting is back, and not surprisingly, 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 in diary-based markets? How much moves the meter? Call me and I’ll share the answer with you.
Commercial-free hours work. Again, it’s a great way to increase the occasions of listening.
No surprise here: too much DJ banter is a tuneout. Yes, DJs are important. They need to be warm, friendly, and inviting, but on a music station, listeners are coming for the music, so keep the DJs tight and 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 substantial tuneout when spots come on. In addition, PPM is teaching us that listeners appear to have a “second sense” for 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 tuneout comes even quicker.
Get back to the music as soon as possible. Once the stopset is over, get back to the music quickly.
Listener availability is not always there 7 p.m. – midnight. Many PPM-market ACs are struggling with this, as they were used to huge night numbers in diary. PPM is showing us that AC listeners don’t listen from 7-12 in the evening. 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 listeners. Information, yes, but keep it short and to the point.
Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations. www.garyberk.com