10 Common Traits of Winning AC Stations

Gary Berkowitz

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

Have you ever looked at the ratings and wondered: How do certain AC’s always come out on top? Do a “programming x-ray” on the most successful and consistently high rated AC stations and you’ll quickly see the common elements that make them winners.

After many years of working with AC’s around the country, here’s my top ten list of the common traits of winning AC stations.

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 paid. Successful AC’s don’t want their “lights turned off”, so they do the research (you know what I mean!)

2. The golden rule is “Win at Work.” Everything rallies around 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sure the other day parts are important, but 8-4 is where you will get the majority of your ¼ hours. When the book comes in, that’s the first place they look to see how they did.

3. They are “brilliant with the basics” and understand how to combine them with a fun, congenial atmosphere. They don’t “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’s a PPM or Diary market.

4. Winning AC’s have personalities who are more concerned with being likable than funny. In sales, the line is “People BUY from people they like.” In programming “Listeners LISTEN to people they like.” Are your personalities “likable”?

5. AC winners follow a conservative 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. Remember, “You only get hurt by what you play.”

6. They position themselves with true listener benefits. They ask their listeners why they listen and they mirror that. They forget the useless language (We Love You, You’re The Best”). They sweat the small stuff. Like not talking about listening at work at 5 p.m.

7. High performing AC PD’s are not concerned with “content” as much as they are with “companionship.” 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.

8. They have a phone app. It’s tough to buy an AM-FM radio these days. If you don’t believe me, go into a Best Buy and look for one. The world revolves around the phone. If you’re not there, well…. you know the rest! Get that app today!

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 giveaways 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 is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations. www.garyberk.com

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