Can You Define Your Unique Listening Proposition?


(By Gary Begin) Ask yourself: Why should a listener in your target audience listen to YOUR radio station at any given moment vs the competition? You can extend that by saying vs anything else? Including turning off the radio.

List everything done on your radio station on a daily basis (on the air). I mean everything!

  • We solicit phone calls
  • We talk to listeners
  • We sweep our quarter hours
  • We ask trivia questions

(Don’t just list features…Catalogue the things you do on your radio station that are performed repeatedly.)

  • We tease across all breaks
  • We tease upcoming newscasts
  • We provide weather checks
  • We pound our station name into listeners’ heads
  • We talk about the music
  • We perform dedications
  • We give showbiz news
  • We plug the radio station website often
  • We inform listeners how to contact the station
  • We provide contest details
  • We solicit listener criticism
  • We mention the names of contest winners
  • We inquire as to what listeners are doing
  • We try to stump the sports or newscaster with sports trivia
  • We provide artist information
  • We mention listener birthdays
  • We mention celebrity birthdays

When you “brainstorm” the answers come at the end of the session. It’s not the material on top but the substance you must push for. Now we’re going to examine the ways to take what you wrote down and proceed to make them larger than life for your audience.

If you start answering your on-air phone calls by saying, “Hi, who’s this?” this is NOT a unique listening proposition. It could be coming from any radio station in town. You must discover a way to answer your on-air phone calls that brands it as your radio station.

“Hi, what do your friends call you?” Sounds more like a private club. Brand it so it sounds original, real, and relatable. Doesn’t need to be brilliant if it’s original, real, and relatable.

How do you end your phone calls? Do you end them the same way as every other personality at the station, or did you create a unique and interesting method? NEVER DO “What’s your favorite radio station?”

Time Checks — When you give the time, can you create a way that listeners know they’re listening to YOUR radio station? Can you whisper the calls? Work with a child to record your call letters. With all the big-balls imaging out there, what do you think will stand out?

If you give showbiz news, call it “Tabloid Trash.”  Brand it on your own terms. Do custom jingles mentioning outskirt towns. Rotate them. Appears as if you’re including everybody. Obligate a staff member to compile a list of local pubs and bars. When someone calls, ask the caller “How’s everyone down at_______tonight/this afternoon?” Makes you sound “plugged-in.” This might be better used during an afternoon drive or evening show.

Have a list of area high school mascots in your listening area. This takes a lot more prep on the personalities’ part, but how powerful is it when someone calls and asks, “Hey, how are the Cougars doing?” Your response can be “The Cougars are playing the Wildcats tonight. Who are you rooting for?”

Remember, preparing is caring. You’ll sound as if you know everything about your listeners. Understand what your audience does. When you promote the radio station website, give your listeners a reason to go see it. “To sign up for our contest ‘Beat the Toaster,’ you must sign up on our website. When we call your name at 7:20 every weekday morning, you’ll have ten minutes to call us back. We put the toast in and you must come up with the answer to our trivia question, before the toast pops up. Answer correctly and receive a $500 dollar gas card.”

It’s very relatable, fun, different. Your listeners know what a toaster is. Extremely visual and completely ridiculous. If another station in your market plays “Beat the Toaster,” they’ll seem pretty foolish. To hear “Beat the Toaster” you can only be listening to ___________________.” It must seize the attention of your listeners. The more you can make a feature your own (Branding), the more you stand out from the crowd.

Gary Begin can be reached at [email protected] or 731-437-0536

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Gary Begin
Gary Begin is the founder and president of Sound Advantage Media, a radio programming consulting firm. He has over 30 years programming experience. His book Radio Programming and Branding—The Ultimate Podcasting and Radio Branding Guide is available on Contact Gary at [email protected];; 731-437-0536


  1. While accepting the writer’s intentions and sincerity, the points offered would, I believe, generate no particular impact on the majority of listeners.
    Plus, these are such easily-duplicated elements that any astute programmer of the station(s) down the street could monitor them and have them on the air by noon of the following day.
    Granted, an ongoing consideration of a station’s status quo would be of some value. But, I submit, these are not the differences that would make the difference.
    Why? Because these are all content-elements. They have little, if nothing, to do with the communicative process – a process that still goes disregarded by the industry.