Where Is My Time Spent Listening?

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(By Gary Begin) TSL continues to be one of the most important listening measurements. Some of the strategies used to improve TSL may seem almost palpable, but you would be surprised at how many stations don’t pay attention to the programming basics. Here are some ideas on how to increase the time your listeners stick around and, most importantly, how many times a day they return to your station.

  1. Spend extra time editing while you reexamine the music log. Guarantee each 15-minute segment is representative of the heart of the station. Specific areas include:
  • Keeping the music tempo on an “even keel.” Don’t increase the rhythm artificially. A smooth rhythm works well here. Not too slow and boring. Never too intense.
  • Place currents where they can be front- or back-sold by the DJ.
  • Avoid bunches of any one group. Example: Too many females, males, country artists etc.
  • Check clock rotations to insure that songs are progressing through the day-parts and hours properly.
  1. Forget about “forced listening”. The days of “Listen all day cause you never know when you can win” are gone forever. When you’re contesting, explain exactly when they can win. The goal: Get your audience to come back for another listening occurrence. Example:
  • “Listen to ‘Mary’ this morning at 10:20 and win $105.”
  • Tell them what they will win. Generate some interest. E-mail/text your database about it. Sell it on social media.
  1. Increasing “occurrences of listening” is the most effective way to increase time spent listening. The more times a day listeners come to you, the higher the ratings. Here’s an example: “Three chances to win today. Listen at 9:20, 1:20, and 3:30.” Tip: Avoid using the word “details.” It sounds too difficult. Better to say, “We’ll explain how easy it is to win.”
  2. Be outstanding with the basics.Whether it’s diary or PPM, your listeners should always “remember” who they are listening to. Calls always come first and last out of your mouth. Make sure calls are attached to all station elements.
  3. Diary markets are about top-of-mind recall, but this applies to PPM markets as well. Listeners ask for call letters, station name, or dial position. Make sure the talent says calls (name) slowly and deliberately. Often I hear station names delivered at 1000 MPH. PPM markets, this is still vital for you. The audience must know who you are to create another occurrence. You need to be the first radio station listeners remember to tune in.
  4. The morning show is always promoting forward.The greatest bit/content is wasted without effective pre-promotion. Example: “This morning at 7:20, we’ll tell you the five worst things you can say to a woman.”
  • Teases should be carefully worded so as not to give away the story. Saying “Traffic is next” is not as efficient as saying: “There’s a problem on I-75 south at Sunset Road by the Sears store, we’ll tell you why next.”
  • The morning show promo (for next day tune-in) should contain a specific time and reason for a new listening occurrence. Generic will not work.  Here’s an example: “Join Tom tomorrow at 7:10 when he’ll tell you the song to listen for to win $1000.” Promos that review what they did earlier in the day also do not work. Who wants to hear a rerun of that day’s show?
  1. No Promotion/Marketing budget?Try e-mail, texting, Facebook, Twitter. Any and all social media. Give your followers an edge in contesting. Use all of the tools you have to be where your audience hangs out to produce another occurrence of listening.

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 amazon.com. Contact Gary at [email protected]; www.soundadvantagemedia.com; 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 amazon.com. Contact Gary at [email protected]; www.soundadvantagemedia.com; 731-437-0536

1 COMMENT

  1. Gary (and many others) lay out their programs as if radio was a game of “mechanics”.
    But, I wonder – actually I don’t wonder at all – is it really?
    The mechanical approach, I submit, has made radio what it is today.
    Much of the (above) has been handed down like manna from above since the ’70’s.
    At least then, there were multiples of “personalities”.
    Even that didn’t make a station mix bulletproof.
    Some form of these mechanics is, of course necessary, but the ones that are worthwhile only make a platform on which to launch meaningful and influential radio.

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