The Spring Books Are Out: How to Interpret It Safely


(By Gary Berkowitz) As the Spring books start to roll in, here are a few observations as well as advice on how to handle the data without doing damage to your station. 

Cume took a hit early on with Covid. March and April in most markets was affected the most with comebacks starting in May and continuing into June. Yes, listeners are coming back slowly. 

Formats that appeared to hold up best are Country, Urban and Rock (Rock-Classic Rock). Classic Hits also looks pretty good. AC was market to market as was CHR. All news numbers are scattered. Many CHR stations had a rough couple of months. 

Adult formats that depend on at work listening are getting varying results. Between high unemployment and close to 30% of the workforce working from home (or other non-traditional workplaces) there is nothing typical about these numbers and they reflect it in most markets. Lots of turbulence here. 

In car listening is down since so many people were no longer driving into work. Same applies to PM drive. At home listening is up in most places. 

Many workdays started later than usual. Habits were thrown out the window. Morning coffee now comes from the kitchen versus Starbucks! 

Yes, there are more “At home” listeners, and they now have a choice in what they listen to. For example: AC’s have always been rewarded with many quarter hours of listening because they are the “station of choice” in a workplace. Now that at home workers can listen to “their choice” you are seeing a shift. In many markets, non traditional “at work” stations are coming to the top of the ranker. Example: In a few markets, the classic rock station was #1 with women 25-54 in mid days, which is unusual. 

TSL is down. The reason may not be typical. At home listeners have many choices as well as distractions. In the heat of the pandemic, there was a lot of TV viewing going on. Radio was not alone in that space. There is a good chance your occasions of listening are down due to this, not a problematic on air product. 

Strategies to Consider

Stick to the plan. Listener expectations have not changed. Making programming changes based on spring data is not the best course of action (even the ratings folks are saying that). 

Carefully look at how your quarter hours trended thru the months. Hopefully they grew as you headed into the last month of the survey, but there is a chance they did not. 

Mornings: My advice; Your morning show should stay where it is. Start it early and be into workday early. 

If you haven’t already, “Get back to Normal”. Normal is what every listener wants. Nobody likes what is going on but let’s help listeners make the most of it by being their “happy place.” When they come to listen. 

More than ever: Companionship is more important than content. Many at home workers no longer have associates to interact with. Zoom meetings are as close as they come. Radio is their friend. 

Cash continues to be the most attractive prize a radio station can offer (and yes, I am aware of the revenue situation). 

As we hopefully get closer to the end (or a solution) to the Covid-19 era, radio continues to play a critical role as a companion to listeners and clients to help get the word out.

Gary Berkowitz specializes in ratings improvement for AC and Classic Hits radio stations: Gary can be reached at (248) 737-3727 or [email protected].



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