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5 Programming Tips to Add More Listeners

by Kipper McGee

Recently, Radio Ink editor Ed Ryan asked me to review a few survey results he received from the Fort Myers Radio listening area. A survey was sent out to about 2,000 Fort Myers residents. We wanted to know if they believed there was too much clutter on the Radio. While, it would have been awesome if all the responses were positive and supportive about our radio stations, it seems as if many listeners not satisfied with what we are doing. After each listener comment I've posted some detailed information on how stations can correct the problem.


Here are 5 ways to keep your listeners happy AND add more interest, ratings and revenue in 2011.

1.)    Know your station’s position...and promote it clearly.  
One mom lamented “Too much trash talk! It is nearly impossible to listen to radio with kids. I have stopped (listening) to music stations pretty much altogether for this reason. It´s all boobs, sex, shallow subjects, and generally speaking, trash.”     Obviously the station(s) referred to cannot be intended to provide a ‘family friendly’ listening destination.   Yet, one must question, does anyone ‘own’ the ‘family friendly’ position in her market?   If so, how and where are they promoting it?    Know who you are targeting.    Create a product that will exceed their needs and wants.    Then tell them you are providing this product, through simple, clever positioning and creative marketing.   Stations who follow this plan will find it more difficult to fail.

2.)  Don’t waste your listener’s time.
If radio as an industry invested as much time, effort and energy on creating valuable, targeted CONTENT as cutting CLUTTER, we’d all be better off.    One listener noted “too much talking”, and significantly, “most of the time it is stupid things they are talking about”. Clearly, the content is not well positioned for this listener.   “There is too much redundancy,” another noted, “...announcing what they are GOING to do, what they are DOING, and then what they DID!”   Hitting a nerve noted by many who took the survey, another articulated this pet peeve, “Long ads with a lot of repeated phone numbers.”

3.)    Watch the spot load and content. 
By far, the number one complaint is “too many commercials”.    In this new media world, broadcasters are foolish to ask “where else are they (listeners) going to go?”   Savvy media consumers are only too happy to provide the answer, voting with their ears. As one respondent put it, “I realize the need for the provider to increase cash flow by the means of commercials, but as usual the greedy bastards have created an overkill atmosphere”.   This can refer both to length of stopsets and total hourly commercial load. A 12-minute spot load = 20% of that hour.    Are your commercials as well-conceived, written and produced as the rest of the hour?  If not, fix them now.  After all, effective commercial messages are the foundation of “commercial radio”.  

4.)    Embrace new distribution platforms.  
Consumers are acutely aware of the many alternatives to traditional radio. “You can always go to SiriusXM to get rid of commercials.” observed one respondent.  Ipods and streaming audio such as Pandora were also mentioned as increasingly popular options. Can it come as a surprise that smart advertisers are also finding alternative places to attract consumer attention as well? Smart broadcasters are finding that the evolving mediascape can work to their advantage when they embrace digital opportunities. From simple databasing, to secondary and tertiary streams, on-demand podcasting and vodcasting (video podcasting), text alerts and custom apps, stations are finding ways to provide targeted, tailored content  without creating unwanted or unneeded intrusion into the broadcast day.    Smarter broadcasters are learning how to sponsor these assets.  

5.)    Keep looking through the windshield, but be aware of the rear-view mirror.
To see where we’re going as an industry, it can be helpful to know where we’ve come from.    One person noted “Local radio has gone from the best form of personal entertainment to corporate sanitized notes on a ledger.’    Another commented “sometimes I can drive all the way to work without hearing one song”.  Revenue challenges are nothing new to the industry. However, the opportunities ahead can far outweigh the challenges – IF we’re smart enough to embrace them.

Kipper McGee is an RAB Certified Digital Marketing Consultant, recognized as a leading media strategist and brand manager.  He has lead successful station re-launches, format changes and/or web turnarounds in highly competitive markets, serving such legendary media brands as WLS/Chicago, WDBO/Orlando and KBEST 95 /San Diego.Now as Chief Media Brandwidth Specialist at Kipper McGee LLC his primary focus is helping define and monetize the next generation of branded media content.   He is a frequent speaker/panelist/presenter at national broadcast conventions including numerous state, group and corporate meetings.   He has been named one of Radio Ink’s Top Programmers, and has received the Conclave’s Rockwell Award for lifetime achievement.  Kipper can be reached at 312-402-4667 or

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