BLOG: Tips For Better Cume To TSL Conversion


(By Gary Berkowitz) Converting your cume into better TSL (time spent listening [diary] or ATE in PPM) continues to be one of the most talked about subjects among programmers. Some of these tactics may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many stations do not pay enough attention to the basics. 

Here are a few tips to help increase the time your listeners stay (or at least write down) that they stay with your station.

  1. Be Brilliant with the Basics. Your listeners must always “remember” who they are listening to. Calls or station name and frequency always first and last. Remember, over 85% of diary keepers record listening by exact frequency. Calls attached to all station events. Nielsen is a “top of mind recall” survey that asks for call letters, station name, or dial position. Make sure the talent says calls (name) slow and deliberate. Often I hear the calls/frequency delivered so fast that they are thrown away. 
  1. Forget about “forced listening.” People are too busy and have too many choices. The days of “Listen all day because you never know when you can win” are long gone. When it comes to contesting, today’s winning tactics are:
  • Tell them exactly when they can win. The goal here is to create another occurrence of listening. Example: “Listen for Shape of You by Ed Sheeran this morning at 10:20 and win $105.” 
  • Increase occurrences of listening by having multiple occurrences of winning. The more times a day they come back, the higher the ratings will be. Example: “Three chances to win today. Listen at 9:20, 1:20, and 3:30.”
  • Avoid using the word “details” when pre-promoting a promotion. It makes it sound too complicated. Better? “We’ll tell you how easy it is to win.”


  1. Be famous for one thing. Total focus works. If it is “more music” focus on it. Do not try to sell multiple positions (“The most music in the morning and all day at work, plus Delilah at night”). 
  1. Spend an extra half-hour a day editing and reviewing the music log. Obvious yes, but with increasing time demands on PDs this is not always happening. Make sure each segment of the hour is representative of the essence of the station. Specific areas to look at are: 
  • Keeping the music tempo on an “even wave.” Careful not to inflate the tempo artificially. A smooth tempo works best here. Not too slow and sleepy. Not too intense is still key, especially for AC stations.   
  • Making sure you are not getting clumps of any one group of sounds. Example: Too many females, males, dance-type sounds etc.  
  • Checking rotations to ensure that songs are moving through the day parts and hours properly.
  1. Backsell Music. Some radio people think they “know all the songs.” Wrong. Listeners like it and want it. Promote it as a benefit if you do it. “We always tell you the songs we play on Magic 106.7.”  
  1. Tie all giveaways into TSL-driven contests. Revolve them around your music. “When you hear Maroon 5’s “This Love” at 11:20, call in to win tickets.”
  1. Make sure the morning show is always promoting ahead! 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.” On many morning shows, I hear good content that was not promoted ahead. Same goes for traffic reports. Saying “Traffic is next” is not as good as saying “There’s a problem on 275 South at Ford Road near Best Buy.” 
  1. Morning Show Promo Tip: Each day’s morning show promo (for next-day occurrences) should contain a specific time and reason for tune in. If it is generic, it will not work as well. Example: “Join us tomorrow at 7:10 when we tell you the one song to listen for to win $1000.”
  1. Promotion/Marketing budget cut? Use your digital assets. Developing loyal listener databases still works. Communicate with listeners by giving them an “edge” in contesting as well as “Secret Contests” that only loyal listeners are eligible to play. 

The real takeaway from these tips? The most effective way to convert cume to better TSL is by increasing occurrences of listening. Do this and watch your TSL shoot up. Good luck and let me know which ones work best for you. 

Gary Berkowitz is president of Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations. Contact Gary at (248) 737.3727 or [email protected].



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