10 Common Traits of Winning AC Stations


(By Gary Berkowitz) Have you ever looked at the ratings and wonder; How do certain AC’s always come out on top? There is a reason. Do a “programming x-ray” on the most successful and consistently high rated AC stations, you quickly see the common elements that make them winners. 

After years of working with AC’s around the country, here is my top ten list of the common traits of winning AC stations updated to reflect “pandemic listening”. 

  1. They understand their listeners music taste. They know that if the music is not right, their ratings will not be right. To them, music research is like a utility bill. It always gets done. Successful AC’s do not want their “lights turned off”, so they do the research (you know what I mean!) 
  2. The pandemic has caused a “bump in the road” with work location, but the golden rule is still “Win at Work”. Everything rallies around 8a-4p. Sure the other dayparts are important, but 8-4 is where you will get the majority of your ¼ hours. When the book comes in, that is the first place they look to see how they did. 
  3. Speaking of at work. They understand that “Alexa” is big. Have an easy to remember Alexa skill. Promote it frequently. Most important.  Make it a “seamless experience.” Say the skill, audio starts. Amazon’s top seller this past Christmas was Alexa. Compare AM-FM radio sales to Alexa sales and that says it all. It’s a huge part of our future.
  4. They are “brilliant with the basics” and understand how to combine them with a fun, congenial atmosphere. They do not “read” liners. They deliver them in a warm, natural, friendly way so the listener feels good about listening to their station. They do an amazing job of making sure their listeners ALWAYS know who they are listening to whether it is a PPM or Diary market. 
  5. They have personalities who are more concerned with being likeable than funny. In sales, the line is “People BUY from people they like”. In programming “Listeners LISTEN to people they like.” Are your personalities “likeable”? 
  6. They follow a conservative musical road. “When in Doubt, Leave It Out” is their rule. Whether it’s a bad spot, or bad lyrics, they don’t overthink it. They just leave it out. They play the hits. As the great Rick Sklar once said, “You Only Get Hurt by What You Play”. 
  7. They position themselves with true listener benefits. They ask their listeners why they listen, and they mirror that. 
  8. They are not concerned with “content” as much as they are with “companionship”. Often, content causes talk, and that can be a negative. The big AC’s have personalities who understand what it is to be a listener’s friend. To a listener, having their favorite, comfortable AC station on is as important as anything in the work environment. 
  9. They make effective use of Facebook and Email marketing and do not abuse it. Successful AC’s know that Facebook is still the 500 lb. gorilla with their base and they post often with information that is useful to their base. Listener emails always contain a strong reason to open and read it (like secret contests and contests only for them). 
  10. Consistency is job #1. Day in and day out, they sound the same. Always smooth. Always warm and friendly. Everyone does formatics the same. Its smooth. Winning AC’s are like the restaurant that has mastered great service, fabulous food and a great environment. 

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


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