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By: Tim Moore,
Audience Development Group
Tim Moore will be speaking at the Great Lakes Media Show, March 5-6, 2019 in Lansing. For more information and to register, click here.
Mega groups are struggling with capital debt which means less emphasis on performance underscored by fewer program directors who have the time or training to recruit much less coach their airstaff under the toxic presumption “listeners don’t really care about personalities.” The choice is simple; as a PD you can be an artist or a victim. “Artists” have the personal power to help make their people and products better. Victims float along with matchless strategic vacuity…and when that occurs, no matter the format, size or scope of a radio brand, it’s locked in neutral (which really means in decline).
In 2018, yours truly conducted twenty-three Focus Groups across multiple formats (something we offer our programming clients as value-added). We’ve done them from San Diego to New York and a lot of markets in between. Is there one universal, inarguable outcome regardless of format? Yes: listeners everywhere highly value personalities on the radio and each panel talks about their favorite personalities while offering anecdotal observations-even criticism-for some.
You would think with all the peripheral noise radio personalities just wouldn’t matter as much today. You would be dead-wrong. When a focus panel can talk in depth about a show’s content, its cast members and/or unusual nuances, you know they’re fully engaged. If your company doesn’t believe it or worse, doesn’t care, expressed through a favorite response: “Can’t we track it?,” you have a rugged road ahead. Here is what we know and stronger radio companies support: with the exception of Spoken Word formats, seventy-five percent of an audience will come to a radio station based on its music exclusivity, but it’s only twenty-five percent of why they leave!
This delivers us to a paradox: winning stations and their ownership know the value of “what’s between the songs.” Crossing all format boundaries to include News-Talk and Sports, Focus Group after Focus Group loudly proclaim, “talent matters a lot!” Often, we ask them to scale it: “One to ten, (ten meaning very important, ‘one’ meaning not at all important), where do you guys rank the Q-105 morning show?” Over the past year I can’t recall a ranking lower than 7.
Probing deeper with a simple question like, “What leads you guys to feel that way about Rock 95’s Morning Sickness?” We often hear very specific descriptions of why and how they’ve attached to a personality or show: “Well, they talk to us, not at us…”
As a Manager, as a Program Director, “passion” means caring enough about your art that you’ll do almost anything to share it, give it away, making it a gift to change people in your building. Whining and fear become self-fulfilling prophecies in stressed organizations, yet the greatest property in front of more than two hundred seventy-million American weekly listeners is the very basic opportunity to make a difference in someone’s day which simply can’t be done with songs alone. Focus panelists are universal in this proclamation.
When a programming person or a talent says, “I don’t have any good ideas,” I ask them, “Well do you have any bad ideas?” Eighty percent of the time they answer, “no.” They need and deserve your leadership and support.
It’s a new year; do you believe your company culture appreciates the proven critical importance of their air talent? Assuming they do, how can you collaborate to raise your talent staff’s awareness and performance? You don’t need more genius, you need more commitment. Just ask a Focus Group.
Tim Moore is Managing Partner of Audience Development Group, based in Grand Rapids, MI and Naples, FL. Moore thrives on innovating, and the road not taken. At 29, he became Vice President for the TM Companies (Dallas), and shortly thereafter, was awarded executive VP stripes, overseeing both TM Productions and TM Programming for Roy Disney’s parent ownership, Shamrock Broadcasting.
From there Moore began buying radio stations at age 33. Building formats from the ground-up, each station became ratings and revenue success stories. In the mid 90’s he formally established Audience Development Group with colleague Alan Mason, resurrecting a name he and Jon Coleman had intended for a research company, while colleagues at TM.
With consolidation, Audience Development Group’s business plan calling for a “Mayo Clinic” cluster-approach with expertise in multiple formats resulted in a highly successful national reputation, strategically positioned to provide cluster guidance for multiple formats in markets of all sizes.
In 2004, Moore’s book The Motivator, a collection of leadership essays was widely read and endorsed by the Radio Advertising Bureau. He also authors the firm’s weekly E-Column Midweek Motivator, distributed to thousands of media readers each week.
Tim lives in Naples, Florida, travels coast to coast, and has addressed the NAB, RAB, Canadian Broadcasters, Conclave and countless state associations. He holds a degree in Broadcast and Cinematic Arts from CMU, and is a U.S. Navy veteran.