All posts by Gary Berkowitz

Listeners Speak… Are We Listening?

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

As a radio professional, I’m sure you have often wondered what your listeners are really thinking about your station. Based on countless research studies and in-market focus groups, here are some of the most common points that come up with female AC listeners.

Title & Artist is a major benefit to the female listener. In focus group after group, when you bring up back-selling of music, all agree that it is very important and their favorite station does not always do it. We think they know all the songs. They disagree. In many cases, the listeners brought this up as a negative. They wonder why their favorite station does not tell them the songs played. Having this info on your website is a step in the right direction, but not what they really want, which is to hear it on the air. As always, this especially applies to newer and recurrent songs.

“Good chemistry” is #1 in AM Drive. When asked why they liked their favorite morning show a lot, the word “chemistry” came up time after time. The relationship of the players and the way they get along on the air is critical. Other important issues in the morning are “fun” shows (not to be confused with funny) as well as shows that they are “used to and comfortable with.”

Music is still important in the morning. As usual, listeners want it all. They want a show loaded with fun people having a good time, but they also want a lot of music. Please do not overlook the power and importance of music in the morning.

Local is more important than ever. It is amazing how aware people are of radio ownership. In some markets, they can name the commonly owned stations as well as where they are located. They are also more aware than ever of the use of voice tracking technology. In one market, they talked about the “former owners” who sold to a “conglomerate.” Stressing that you are live and local is a positive. Talking about local landmarks and knowing the area can have a positive effect. People see radio as a local, hometown media. One woman said how she liked it when the traffic reporter explained where the accident was by using business locations as reference points (“On the corner of Maple and Orchard Lake across from McDonald’s”).

Morning and night personalities are the best known. In most groups, listeners were very unsure of the midday and afternoon personalities. For stations that have their own love songs host, there is usually good familiarity.

With music: “More tempo and more contemporary” is what they want. Many ACs are finding out that they need more tempo and need to be more contemporary with their music. Please remember, more contemporary is not about playing more current, unfamiliar music. Think familiarity and recurrent here.

AC radio is a “safe haven” for women 35-54. Clean lyrics and G-rated content is still important to these women. No need to call the station “family friendly.” They say they know which stations follow this practice.

P1 Women like to play contests. The prize is not always as important as “the chance to win.” If they feel they have a chance to win, it is good. Prizes such as theater tickets, weekend getaways, dinners at restaurants and tickets to concerts are all good. “Entertaining contests” seem more important to many of these listeners versus the actual prize itself.

Stopping fewer times for spots is preferred. Most listeners like the two-stop clocks, but are aware that they will “pay for it” (their words) in the end. They do however feel it is better to stop less often even if it means more spots. The one common comment heard in market after market is they feel “all stations play too many commercials.”

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

The Programming Meeting: 6 Ideas to Make your Station Sound Better!

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

Here are 6 ideas that, if implemented will not only make you sound better but you’ll probably raise your numbers too! Your consultant will be checking back to make sure they’re all done by the end of the week (lol)!

BE LOCAL. Build in positions on the clock to mention people, places and events. Take advantage of traffic reports to sound local. Former KVIL, Dallas morning man/PD Ron Chapman did it best; “The accident is at Main and Second, right in front of McDonalds.” Dallas listeners could always picture exactly where the accident was. Being local is important, but being good is key. Always strive for the best product that reflects local tastes.

BE HUMAN. Remind your talent that they are like actors. Actors use scripts. Their “interpretation” brings the words to life. The same applies to station benefits. If jocks just read them they will not work. Adding the human touch and not losing the message brings them to life. But, be careful not to allow jocks too much room to “interpret” the liners. Many times, in their attempt to do this, the focus and point gets lost.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? PROMOTE YOUR BENEFITS. Every time a jock opens the mic they should promote a benefit of the station. It is hard enough to get listeners to hear our message. Frequency is key here. Music quantity and at work use are essential.

THE LOST ART OF AIR-CHECKING. It is so important that talent understand what you expect. It also strengthens your relationship with them. Doing an aircheck session will alert you to things you may not normally hear. This goes for live, in-building jocks as well as voice-trackers. Do one today and hear the difference tomorrow.

STAY CLOSE WITH PROMOTIONS. Seems like every advertiser wants a promotion to go with their schedule. That’s why the program director should be the final link in all promotions. Make sure they are right for the station, and executed properly to help improve ratings. Example: How does this promotion increase occurrences of listening or cume? Are we talking about it enough/too much? More and more we learn: Promotions are the icing on the cake. Music is still the #1 reason people listen.

ARE YOU OVERUSING YOUR VOICE PERSON? If your voice talent is on the air more than your jocks, you may want to review that. Use your jocks to sound live, local and vibrant. Trust me. Your listeners like your DJ’s.

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

Traffic and Weather Together: Quick tips to Make it Sound Great!

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

Doing traffic and weather may seem simple, but its easy for both of these services to become “wallpaper” or just be done the wrong way. Since most radio stations do both of these daily elements, check out these tips and instantly see how great they sound on your station. Your listeners will appreciate it too!

TRAFFIC

GIVE ME THE TRAFFIC REPORT, PLEASE. Nothing annoys listeners more than hearing the traffic intro and then the jock goes off on a tangent, talking about everything but the traffic. When the intro hits, get directly to the report. Save the “schmooze” for other places.

WHAT DID THEY SAY? Have your traffic reporters developed their own language? Make sure they speak with easy to understand words. At the news station here in Detroit, they always refer to I-75 as “The Chrysler.” Problem is, nobody calls it that. People call it 75. Traffic reporters are the only ones who use that name.

SLOW DOWN. Many traffic reporters speak so fast to include everything that you end up hearing nothing.

THEN WHY DID THEY DO THE REPORT? Avoid “Nothing is going on.” If that is the case, why are we doing a report? Avoid this traffic reporter crutch: “Things are winding down.” What does that mean?

BETTER TSL. Avoid using traffic reports as a tease unless you are going to site a specific problem. “There’s a problem on 95 South by Salty’s billboard at exit 56. We’ll tell you why next on 92 PRO-FM.”

RATINGS HINT: Get credit by attaching your call letters to traffic reports. Avoid “We’ll check traffic next.” Better: “We’ll check Lite 101.9 Traffic next”

WEATHER

ONE PUNCH JINGLES SOUND BETTER. Two-punch weather jingles never sound as good as one-punch versions. Have a longer emergency bed only for use on bad weather days when necessary.

ELIMINATE PARTLY TO MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH HI’S IN THE MID TO UPPER 60’S. Use fewer words. Eliminate use of words such as Hi’s, Low’s. Do the weather format the same, all the time. This is a great one from Don Kelley when he was PD at Magic 106.7 in Boston.

Sunny & Warm Today, 78

Clear Tonight, 66

C’MON, I NEED TO KNOW HOW TO DRESS. Like with traffic, once the jingle hits, get to the weather. This is not schmooze time. Now that we’re into Fall, how about “What to Wear Weather.” or “School Day Weather.”

RATINGS HINT WITH WEATHER: When doing weather back to music, make sure your format includes a strong station benefits.

“Sunny and 89 with another 30 minutes of Today’s Best Music starting now.”

TV PEOPLE ARE GOOD FOR YOU. Have a relationship with a TV station and its meteorologist in AM Drive. Use their name on weather reports throughout the day. Make sure they do not get too technical and involved. Keep it fun, simple and concise (TV weather people are notorious for going too long).

Once you get these on your station, let me know how it’s working for you.

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

The Power of Testimonials

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

Nothing is stronger than a testimonial from a listener. We can say anything we want about the station, but in the end, when it comes from a real sounding listener, it always has more credibility. There are a few tricks to gathering, producing and making these sound good. Use these powerful ideas and ramp it up today!

Live testimonials sound more effective than those recorded on the phone. They are warmer, and have a more credible sound.

Always have a digital recorder at station events/remotes. Assign one person to do nothing but gather testimonials. Preferably one who is not shy and has an outgoing personality. Make sure you use a good mic and recorder. An old fashioned cassette machine can handle this well if you do not have a digital recorder.

Stay away from “stroke” testimonials. By “strokes,” I refer to listeners saying generic statements such as:

  • We love you.
  • You’re the best.
  • Anything that has listeners “screaming.”

Go for authenticity. Whether they are locally done or from a production package, they must sound authentic and describe the experience the listener gets when listening to your station.

When gathering, ask specific questions (see below). Once the question is asked, make sure to:

  • Allow the listener to finish the thought. Do not interrupt.
  • Keep the mic close to them.

Good questions to ask:

  • What do you think of the music played on WXXX?
  • Where do you listen to WXXX?
  • What’s your favorite part of WXXX?
  • What do you like most about the WXXX morning show?

These types of questions will get you answers that will playback as good benefits.

The key here is get comments where listeners describe the “positive experience” they get from listening to your station.

Good places to run testimonials:

  • On the top hour ID. String a few together for a powerful top hour presence.
  • On jingle sweeps. Use a jingle bed with listeners over it, and tag with sung calls.
  • In a promo starting with a line something like: “There are many great reasons to listen to WXXX, but nobody says it better than our listeners!”

Listener testimonials are powerful. Keep them real and they will work for you today.

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

Are You Truly LIVE & LOCAL?

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

By now, everybody knows the pain and devastation that was caused by Hurricane Irma. Since the beginning, coverage of storms like this have been radio’s strength. Radio people love emergency coverage and, if I must say so myself, nobody does it better. Listeners depend on local radio, yet are we prepared to handle these situations? You’d be amazed at how many radio stations do not have a plan to execute emergency coverage.

The purpose of this is not to discuss staffing cutbacks in radio. It’s to give you guidelines of how to deal with the next weather (or any other type of) emergency that can hit at any time. With that in mind, here are the steps I recommend you take as soon as possible:

  • Get a generator at the studio and transmitter site. Obvious yes, but you’d be surprised how many stations do not have working generators. If you have generators, great. Just make sure they are tested on a regular basis. Yes, they are expensive, but in an emergency, it’s the most important tool you will have. Without power, well, you’re done.
  • If nothing else, do this today. Establish a working relationship with a local TV station. The fact is, local TV stations (with news staffs) have more people and are better prepared to handle emergency coverage. The arrangement needs to allow you to simulcast their audio at any time. Promote your new alliance. Let your listeners know that when an emergency occurs you’ve teamed up with (TV station name) to keep you updated.
  • If you are truly committed to “live and local” have your own personalities handle emergency coverage. No matter what your format, I’ll bet that your on-air people would do a great job with bad weather coverage. Plus, you can enlist other staff members to help. You’ll be amazed how they will do. Use all the staff power you have, no matter what their position. Interns, receptionist and sales assistants might surprise you.
  • Drop your format and let them go. Emergencies are not about most music. It’s about information.
  • Even though you will depend on TV for the bulk of the coverage, you still need one of your personalities on your air. If for no other reason to jump in every 10-15 minutes and let listeners know what they are listening to and to update from your end.
  • Set audio feeds up so all you need to do is hit a button on the board and their audio is on your air. This needs to be done today. You never know when you will need it. On September 11, many stations found themselves putting a microphone in front of a TV speaker to carry audio.
  • Have an emergency “play-book” simply written and in the control room. It should outline all procedures when initiating emergency coverage. Local emergency phone numbers should also be here.
  • Have imaging done and ready to go. What will you call your coverage? Have verbiage written. Have a plan for commercials. In many emergencies, you will need to suspend them.
  • Keep emergency food & water stocked up. Food delivery might not be available. Water and nonperishable food (that can be stored) is best.
  •  Last, but not least! Consider building showering facilities. If your people are stuck there for a few days, this will be a lifesaver!

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

Does Your Music Play As It Is Scheduled? 

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

Just this week, while talking with a PD we discovered that the log he was preparing was not actually playing as scheduled. Reason: The hard drive or jock was dropping music to meet time restrictions. The station ended up dropping important songs which caused both era and tempo problems. The hours he spent editing the log, all went down the drain. Is this happening to you? If so, check what is being scheduled vs what is actually playing.

Jocks and hard drives should not be making critical music decisions. Good fix: Schedule the amount of music you actually use. Make sure fill music (at the end of the hour) is always secondary. Also, make sure you reconcile music on a daily basis.

Log Editing

If set up properly, most music programs do a good job of rotating music. Minimal editing should be required. However, there are a few important areas to look for:

  • Use Artist Group Separation. This keeps Adam Levine away from Maroon 5. Check all artists that are in both a group as well as solo. Example: Eagles/Don Henley, Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks, Michael Jackson/Jackson 5, etc.
  • Keep an “Even Wave of Tempo.” Spread out your most up-tempo songs.
  • Separate sounds. Make sure all songs have the proper sound codes. Country, rock, urban, wimpy, MOR etc. Keep the sounds apart to avoid clumping.
  • Do not swap categories. Most stations have era-based systems. When you switch a category, there is a good chance you will introduce era clumping. Better, swap songs within the category within the hour first.
  • It’s all in the details. Would a cold open song sound better going from jingle to music? Are you running a :12 second sweeper intro and :03 intro song?

Too many unscheduled positions? Try this…

For those of you who get more unscheduled positions than you prefer, try scheduling the same day a few times over. Schedule the day. Then do it again, and even again. Each time you will see the number of unscheduled positions go down. This procedure only takes a few seconds and can make daily editing easier.

15-20 unscheduled positions a day is normal. If you think that is too high, think about this. Would you rather break a rule 20 times a day or 200 times a day? Unscheduled positions also force you to carefully look at the log on an hour to hour basis.

Worry about burn IN not burn OUT

Many programmers are worried that liners and sweepers burn out. I say forget burn out and worry about “burn in.” It takes a long time to burn our messages into listener’s heads. We get tired of them, but the listeners are just starting to get the message.

Messages take time to burn in, don’t give up or change too soon

This especially applies to TV spots. TV needs frequency to build in people’s minds. I just spent a night at focus groups where the listeners loved the station TV spot. They knew it, liked it and thought it was perfect for that station. Are the station folks somewhat tired of the spot? Maybe. Are the listeners? Not at all! Should they change? You tell me.

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

The Lost Art of Air Checking

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

If you are a regular reader of my newsletters and MAB columns, there’s one thing you know for sure, I believe in being “Brilliant with the Basics.” One of the most basic (and important) jobs a PD can do is critique talent. But with today’s busy PD schedules, this often gets ignored. So now that you’ve been reminded, set up an aircheck session today. To
help, here’s a rundown of important areas to review:

MORNING SHOWS

  1. Trying too hard to be funny. There is a difference between “fun” and “funny.” Being fun is important and much easier to do.
  2. Not enough time checks. Too much time in-between time checks.
  3. Not enough benefit driven re-cycle mentions to “listen at work.” Use the morning show to get them into listening during the most important daypart, at work.
  4. Being an “Island” from the rest of the station. Not promoting what will happen later in the day on the station.
  5. Laughing at everything said. Laughing when it is not funny.  Nervous laughter (especially with sidekicks).
  6. Bits that go too long. In focus groups, most listeners “zone out” after about 20 seconds (unless it is really good).
  7. If you’re still doing news. Stories that have no interest whatsoever to the target listener. Use of words like “officials” and “authorities.”
  8. No promotion of what is coming up next. No appointment setting.
  9. Weather teases that give away the forecast.
  10. Talk for talk sake. Music is still a very important reason that people listen in the morning.
  11. Failing to sound warm and friendly.
  12. Weak or old fashioned benchmarks. Drop the weakest one.
  13. Too much reliance on pop culture, show business, entertainment “blocks.” Most AC listeners rate this very low in importance.
  14. Companionship. Are you good companions for your listeners?

OTHER DAYPARTS

  1. Jocks who sound stiff/formal and un-natural.
  2. Not promoting the stations unique benefits enough.
  3. “SAYING” liners versus “SELLING” them.
  4. Not promoting tomorrow’s morning show.
  5. Sounding bored and un-interested.
  6. Failing to realize that you are their workday companion.
  7. Use of DJ Crutches such as:
    • Good Afternoon
    • Good Evening
    • With You
    • Thanks for listening “Everybody”
    • On a (day of week)
    • “Everybody”
    • Hump Day (if your jocks use this PLEASE eliminate)
    • Saying goodbye at the end of the shift

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

Fall Book Prep: 10 Areas to Review for a Strong Ratings Performance

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

(The Fall book starts September 14th)

Hard to believe, but in diary markets, the fall book starts in one month. Since I am a big believer in “being brilliant with the basics” here are 10 programming musts if you want a good outcome when the books are released.

1. Keep the music familiar and focused. Take no chances on unfamiliar music. Check the log carefully daily for balance and flow. Avoid clumping of any same sounds. Keep the tempo “even.”

2. Sell the music position and the benefits of listening to the station. Music is the #1 reason people listen to the radio. Sell your music quantity and quality benefits. Specific music quantity benefits work much better than generic. Example: “Continuous Half Hours” and “7-In-A-Row” is better than “Long Sets.”

3. Own AT WORK. Promote the benefits of listening at work. Especially in AM Drive.

4. Morning fun! Keep the morning show bright, up and most important, loaded with interesting, fun, compelling material. Remember, there is a difference between “fun” and “funny.” If your morning show is music based, make sure to keep the music as the star.

5. Branding. Make sure to attach your calls to all services and features. Make sure it’s not “traffic” versus “WXXX Traffic.” Sell your positioning statement & key benefits. Always when going back to music from spots. Always on the end of Weather when going back to music.

6. Use as much “Appointment” promotion as possible. Keep em coming back for more. Make sure each morning show promo has a specific reason and time for tune-in. Same applies to the morning show. Pre-promote ahead to take the most advantage of content breaks.

7. Keep listener testimonials fresh & real. Listener testimonials can be very strong weapons to credibly promote the key station benefits. Make sure all testimonials talk about a specific thing such as morning show, most music, Best Music etc. Avoid “stroke” testimonials such as “we love you.” Live testimonials versus those done on the phone sound and work better.

8. Watch the talk. Keep the personality but also keep a lid on extra, non-essential talk. It is amazing how much unnecessary talk happens on radio stations.

9. Sell “More Music Weekends.” Many stations have a much more music intense sound on the weekend. Take advantage of this and promote as a benefit. “Weekends always mean more music” or “It’s a more music weekend.”

10. Production elements. Make sure all liners and sweepers clearly promote the strategy. If it’s more music, focus on it and sell it hard. Work in some jingle cuts you have not used in a while. Look at prior packages that have not been used recently. If re-writing liners/sweepers be careful not to lose the basic point; listening benefits.

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

Are your ‘Personalities’ difference makers for your station?

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

Some new tips for programming and management:

There’s a lot of noise out there in radio-land these days. Digital. Internet advertising. Podcasting, Apps, Alexa and many others. Now don’t get me wrong, I think that’s all important. Very important. But, we may need to slow down for a second and look at an area that is a key reason listeners listen and that is the on air personality. Whether you have talk show hosts or DJs on a music station, listeners enjoy and more importantly want their local radio stations to have personalities.

The other day I was scanning through Rick Sklar’s “Rocking America.” It’s the story of what is arguably one of radio’s most successful radio stations ever, WABC in New York. In his book, Rick details what made WABC so successful. He devotes a full chapter to the on-air personalities and how important they were the the station’s success.

I would like to share just a few of his quotes from “Rocking America.” After you read them, ask yourself: How is my station with our on air people? Would my listeners think of our personalities like New York listeners thought of WABC’s? Could this be the missing link for greater success on my radio station?

From “Rocking America …”

  • The impact of WABC cannot be summed up in a corporation’s profit and loss statement. To the listener, radio is a personal medium.
  • During the dozen years of its heyday, WABC, its music and its air personalities became an intimate part of the lives of tens of millions of people who lived in the Northeast.
  • Mornings without Herb Oscar Anderson or Harry Harrison, afternoons without Ron Lundy or Big Dan Ingram, evenings without cousin Brucie were unthinkable to WABC listeners.
  • Those voices, each so unusually amiable and delivered with the warmer than life resonance of the WABC sound, were friend, family and counselor all in one.
  • The songs they played were so popular that they became the national hit music for America. Their appeal crossed every demographic barrier.

Think about it. Can you say these things about your on air personalities? I believe that on music driven stations we sometimes focus too much on content and not nearly enough on how our jocks sound and come across to the listener.

Let’s discuss this. I’d love to know what you think. Call me (248) 737-3727 or email gary@garyberk.com .

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

Station Information Packets, Old School Marketing Techniques That Still Work and Show Your PD Some Love!

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

Some new tips for programming and management:

Fill out your Nielsen SIP (Station Information Packet). They may say you don’t have to, but I say do it. Make sure your SIP is correct. You never know when an editor may need clarification. Why take a chance that your information is out of date? You need every quarter hour you can get!

Do you have a “relationship” with your P1’s? This the #1 and most important way to achieve strong ratings. You can play all the right songs; have all the right sweepers and the best jingles in the market, however, if you’re missing that hard-to-describe link that bonds the listener to your station, the ratings will most likely not be there. Remember the old saying “People Listen to People They Like.” Is your station likable? P1’s always fuel their favorite radio station with lots of 1/4 hours.

Listener databases still work.  A little “old school” can go a long way. Take advantage of technology that is sitting on your desk today and is free. A listener database is a great way to speak to listeners and thank them with special offers that mean something to them. Many stations are wasting this by dumping worthless promotions into these databases. “Here’s what’s happening at WAAA” does not mean anything. It sends out a message that communication from my favorite station is really spam.

Better: Send out an e-mail blast on Wednesday that says when you will play a secret song on Thursday. Give a “special number” to call to win $100. Make sure they understand that this contest is only for them. For $100 a week (less than some spend on lunch) you could set yourself up for a ratings spike.

“Change” is not AC’s friend.  About to make an adjustment? Think about them carefully. When changes in programming are made on a whim it could ultimately hurt or even worse, open up an opportunity for a competitor. By the way, listeners are more aware of on-air changes than we think, so yes, they do hear that “extra spot.”

The earlier the better with marketing. If you are marketing for the book, starting early in the book is preferred. Many believe that it takes 60-90 days for changes to affect a rating book. By starting early, you allow the cumulative effect of your marketing to affect the book.

GM’s & Owners: Programmers need love too! Have a weekly meeting or lunch out of the station to catch up and allow your PD quality time for important matters. Tell a jock you heard a good break. Send a note after a jock does a nice job at a remote. Walk by the studio and give thumbs up.

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

Gary can be reached at (248) 737-3727 or gary@garyberk.com.