What Country Radio Means To Our Audience

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(By Joel Raab) A young mother was crying. I asked why, as I conducted a focus group for a Country station. She said that the radio station (my client) had given her family tickets to a famous amusement park. She never would have been able to afford to take her kids there, but the radio station made the experience possible. Her reaction to receiving this prize has stuck with me for 10 years. Sure, we play country music, sell advertising, and try to have some fun doing it amid the chaos that sometimes permeates our business — but what we do for listeners is indeed priceless.

A few years ago, a former listener from my on-air days found me on Facebook. He said as a child he had listened to my station with his dad, and he wondered if I had any unscoped airchecks of that station. It just so happened that I did. After I made copies for him, he messaged me to say that listening to them brought back wonderful memories. Think about it. It wasn’t a meet-and-greet. It wasn’t a prize, or even a charitable donation. It was simply a reminder of the father/son bond created by their listening together to the radio station. To be able to rekindle those memories made the time I spent sending the airchecks well worth the effort.

Another time, when I was a program director, I hosted a group of station superfans on a visit to the birthplace of their favorite star. To say that our radio station had made their dreams come true would be an understatement.

There are considerably more media choices today than there were when the former listener and his dad enjoyed my radio station together, or when the young mother got to take her kids to the amusement park courtesy of the station.

In order to stay relevant and meaningful, we must figure out how to touch today’s audiences. This is the key to success. Every day, ask yourself, “How did I make my listeners’ lives better today? What have they heard that is memorable? What did my radio station do for them that another media source could not or would not?”

With all the resources at our disposal, especially our ingenuity, we can make this happen.

For example, what unique, memorable experiences can you create? I think such an endeavor needs to involve providing something for a listener that she can’t get for herself. Today, fans can purchase their own meet-and-greets, so we must take that experience to the next level. A moment on the tour bus? A phone call from a star? Let your imagination run wild, and then figure out what’s possible. If you can visualize doing it, there’s a good chance that it can be done.

Country radio at its best means family, friends, faith (whatever yours happens to be), and fun. A mutual love of country music unites our listeners. Give them a once-in-a-lifetime experience that lifts them up and provides extraordinary memories — and you’ve got fans for life.

Joel Raab is a Country radio/media consultant and advisor. His website is www.joelraab.com. He can be contacted by email, joel@joelraab.com or Twitter @JoelRaab.

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