All posts by Gary Berkowitz

Tactics that Increase Ratings. Yes, These do Work!

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 we approach the fall book, here are 10 “easy to implement” tips that will make a difference in the way you sound, and the outcome of the book.

You may read these and think “we already do these” but please take a closer look. Many “basics” often get overlooked or forgotten.

Keep the music familiar and focused. Be careful and choosy with new music. Check the log carefully daily for balance and flow. Avoid clumping of any same sounds. Keep the tempo “even.”

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” are better than “Long Sets.”

Own at work listening. Winning 8 a.m. -4 p.m. (real at work hours) is the key to 25-54 ratings success. Make sure you are using your morning show to promote the stations at work benefits. Stop talking about at work by 4 p.m. After all, who wants to be reminded of work late in the day?

Morning fun. Keep the morning show bright, up and most important, loaded with interesting, fun and compelling material. Remember, there is a difference between “fun” and “funny.” If your morning show is music based, play at least nine songs an hour in AMD.

Branding. Attach your calls to all services and features. Make sure it is not “Your traffic” versus “WXXX Traffic” Sell your positioning statement and key benefits. Always, when going back to music from spots. Always, on the end of weather when going back to music. Nielsen reports that over 85% of diary keepers record listening by exact frequency. Avoid “phantom cume.” Calls and frequency can never be said enough.

Use as much “Appointment” promotion as possible. Creating more occasions of listening is the #1 way to increase time spent listening. Make sure each morning show promo has a specific reason and time for tune-in. Same applies to contesting. Let them know when you will be playing your contest.

Keep listener testimonials fresh. Listener testimonials are 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. Stay away from “stroke” testimonials such as “we love you.” Live testimonials versus phone type’s sound and work best.

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.

Sell “More Music Weekends.” Many stations have a much more music intense sound on the weekend due to lower commercial loads and less services. Take advantage of this and promote as a benefit. “Weekends always mean more music” or “It’s a More Music Weekend.”

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 awhile. Look at prior packages that have not been used recently. If re-writing liners/sweepers be careful not to lose the basic point.

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

5 Things All Air Talent Can Learn from Dan Ingram

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 headline on June 25 was shocking: Dan Ingram was dead. Dan has been called the “World’s Greatest Top-40 DJ.”  I would have to agree since I got to listen to him daily growing up in New York City,  where WABC was our local station. For those of you who do not know who Dan Ingram was, please allow me a brief introduction.

He spent over 20 years doing afternoon drive at what was arguably the most successful and highest rated Top-40 station of all time, WABC in New York. While doing that, Dan was also one of the leading commercial voices in America. If you’ve never heard Dan, it would be worth your time to spend some time with the many airchecks that are all over the internet.

During his long tenure at WABC, Dan was easily one of the most imitated DJ’s in America and all over the world. After all, what jock wouldn’t want to sound like “Big Dan.” WDVD, Detroit PD Robby Bridges spoke to Dan once, who told him he always envisioned his show as “second person singular.” The intimacy of radio at its best is you are entertaining the listener one-on-one — so never “you guys” or “everybody,” always “you.” Once you listen to Dan’s airchecks, you’ll quickly hear that Dan Ingram was an artist. An entertainer. A master of his craft who understood how to use radio to its maximum.

Radio has changed a lot since “Big Dan” was on WABC, but there are many lessons that today’s personality can learn from Dan and his success. Here are my top 5.

1. Dan Ingram always sounded happy. How he felt “personally” did not often come across on the air. His larger than life personality and smile was part of every break, every time. Jon Wolfert, President of JAM Productions in Dallas who worked closely with Ingram said, “I think that he did let in some of his personal feelings about songs, events and situations, but he did it in such a humorous way that it never got in the way. Doing that made you feel like you were listening to a real person who was living in the same world you were. The beauty of Dan is that he did his show on several levels at once; the casual listener, the radio insider, the advertising world. But no matter which group you were in, there was always something there for you to smile at.”

2. Ingram was PPM friendly before PPM was even a thought! WABC had fairly strict guidelines about talk. That did not get in Dan’s way. He became the master of inserting huge personality into every break, even if it was :08 long. He seemed to “bask in the glow” of how good and effective he could be with these short but great “breaks.” Dan understood the “magic of brevity.”

3. Nobody was more creative with station imaging than Dan Ingram. He wrote the book on how to use jingles to add fun, excitement and forward motion to your show (while doing a killer job identifying the station for ratings). Dan Ingram clearly knew that “keepin it moving forward” was paramount to his and the station’s success. When you listen to an Ingram aircheck, listen for his meticulous use of the station jingles. From name sigs to quick shotgun cuts, he moved beautifully from song to song and sometimes commercial to commercial with WABC jingles.

4. Nobody prepped like Ingram. When he was on WABC they had board ops. I had the chance to visit him one day while I was in high school. For me, that day was so impactful, that I can still remember every minute of the visit. In between songs, Dan would call out all the cart (cartridge) numbers that he wanted to use next, as well as the jingles he wanted to insert. He would clearly tell the board op when and how he wanted the sequence to happen. This made the engineer as important as Dan, as they had to work as one to make the sound happen. Only the best board ops could work with Dan. He was quick, tough and fast and knew what he wanted. If the engineer could not keep up with him, they would not work that shift again! Jon Wolfert puts one more spin on his prep. “During the songs he’d set up the next break with the engineer as you described. But he never came into WABC with his adlibs pre-written. He’d show up 5 minutes before air time, having thought of an opening topic in the elevator on his way up to the 8th floor, and just sit down and do it. That was the gift. You can’t learn to be Dan. But it certainly is a worthy goal.”

5. Ingram knew that “Fun and Companionship” was what it was all about. That’s why his material was always about the music, artists, the station and, of course, as Joe McCoy, (Dan’s PD at WCBS-FM in the 90s) put it, “The king of the double entendre”. McCoy went on to say that Dan was “the thinking man’s DJ.” “He played with people.” If Dan was not happy with something at the station, he found a way to make a joke out of it with his quick, “smile in voice” way. No matter what was going on in the world, Dan knew that his listeners expected a fun, up-lifting experience. McCoy also added that “some of Dan’s best moments were on the jock-crossover breaks. They were often better (and more fun) than any of the music they played.” Ingram knew that “Fun and Companionship” was what it was all about.

Yes, radio has changed. But there’s a lot to be learned from the pioneers of contemporary radio. Dan Ingram was just that. A pioneer who paved the way for all of us.

Rest in peace Kemosabe and thanks for everything you gave and taught us.

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

How to Manage Talents Who Hate Each Other!

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

Good news! You have a successful, well-rated morning team on your station. Bad news: They do not get along off the air. With so much emphasis on post-show events (promotions, events, appearances, social media), what’s a PD or GM to do?

I think we could all agree that on-air staffs and drama are synonymous. But what happens when there is real-life conflict? Here are some suggestions from programmers and managers who either currently have or have had this kind of problem.

Let’s start with a guy who works with morning shows all the time: morning show coach/consultant Steve Reynolds. He says, “Of course they need a relationship off-air. That’s crazy to think they don’t. The respect they have for each other, the trust they build, their ability to communicate and resolve issues is felt in their on-air chemistry. That takes work and commitment.”

John Gehron, COO at AccuRadio and longtime PD and manager, also has some sage words of advice. “If they are successful, then they are getting the job done on the air. That’s what counts. I don’t think it’s necessary to hang out off the air on their own time.”

Don Kellogg of Lagniappe Broadcasting in Louisiana shares this: “I have actually had to step in between talent before to keep a fistfight from going down. As the operations manager, I explained to both employees that they are both creating a negative work environment for those around them and that is not conducive to creativity and will not be tolerated.”

Country consultant Joel Raab comments, “I think if you can manage the dislike, it can enhance creative spark. Worked with a morning team that literally hated each other off air but sounded like best buds on the air — and had great ratings.”

Music Master’s Marianne Burkett has a good angle on it. “Sounds like an ‘old married couple’ issue. They probably just need to spend some time hanging out together — alone.”

Former radio producer, now mid-morning talent on Providence’s WPRI-TV Will Gilbert has a different look at the subject. “I’ve worked with both — teams that really do like each other or at the very least, deal with each other, and then teams that can’t stand each other. It’s tough to fake it on the air that much. Listeners are more and more media-savvy, and many who listen every day can read between the lines. For me, I could not be happier with my partner. Granted it’s TV and not radio — I truly could not have asked for a better ‘TV wife.’”

Sports radio consultant Tom Bigby has spent decades dealing with talent as one of the founding fathers of the all-Sports format. “You must be talking about most Sports radio talent. I’ve always thought a little bit dysfunctional group gets better ratings. And makes the talent more memorable.”

Longtime Boston-New England personality Karen Blake feels conflict may have a good place. “Also, a manager can really turn things around if he/she is truly a great manager. I can tell you firsthand that having a bad manager at times in my career has been very stressful, when you go to them for help and they do nothing. I’ve lost sleep many nights over a manager that has no balls. I will say, though, some of the best teams are the ones with a little tension. So it’s not a bad thing, but a good manager needs to keep an eye on the quarterbacks of the station and step in when needed.”

Of course, radio is not the only business that needs to deal with personality conflict, as Jim McKeon points out. “Simon and Garfunkel couldn’t and can’t stand each other. They found ways to work together, get along onstage, and achieve greatness. Offstage, separate ways, as Journey says!”

Bob Zamboni (Bob DeCarlo) has a unique perspective as a PD and on-air talent. “While I had a partner for 14 years in Tampa, I was the PD for eight of those years and had a cordial but not friendly relationship off the air. I was a polar opposite to him in manner but was a fan of his wit and humor. At times, we were at each other’s throats, but realized as a team we were doing something special. My philosophy was to accent the positive and keep apart unless necessary.”

How about when you’re married to your partner? On-air talent Kelly Cozadd shares these thoughts. “If they are highly rated and successful, then they seem to be managing it. You don’t have to like everyone you work with, or like them all the time. I did a team morning show with my husband for 25 years. We didn’t always like each other.”

Programmer Tom Calococci says, “Sometimes people lose perspective. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. If they’ve got a good thing going on the air, they should keep that in mind. Hopefully you all get it worked it out.”

Tom’s comments really bring it home: “Don’t lose perspective” and “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” This is especially important when you look at what has been going on in morning television. NBC’s Today Show and CBS’s This Morning both lost main anchors (Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose) and have not only rebounded, but ratings are up substantially since the departures. Everyone is replaceable.

Over the years, I have known many personalities who found themselves in this type of conflict. In most cases, when it’s all over, they regret the behavior. Many times it leads to dismissal, and they always say, “It wasn’t worth losing my job over.” Don’t lose perspective. Don’t blow a good thing. If it’s working in the studio, it’s working. Either way, if you value your position, it’s up to you to make it work.

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

What I Learned From Buying a New Car…

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

My lease was up and after 10 or so years of driving a Honda (loved it), I decided it was time for a change. Cut to the chase, I wind up with a GM vehicle. Best part: it has an HD radio, which my Honda did not. I am now excited!

When the salesperson was explaining all of the bells and whistles of the new car, we finally got to the radio. Here’s how the conversation went:

Gary: Wow, it has HD radio.
Salesperson: Really?
Gary: Yes
Salesperson: I’m really not sure what that is.
Gary: Let me explain (and I do).

She looks at me and says: “I just thought it meant the radio sounded better.”

Needless to say, I love all the HD channels. New formats. New music choices. The audio is great and the signals are pretty solid. I just wonder how many people are out there and have HD in the car but are unaware of it. I guess you could say we have not done a stellar job promoting HD radio. There’s still time.

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

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

Are your personalities ‘Difference Makers’?

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

 

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 DJ’s on a music station, listeners enjoy and more importantly want their local radio stations to have personalities.

The other day I was scanning thru Rick Sklar’s “Rockin America”. It’s the story of what is arguably one of radios 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 air personalities and how important they were the station’s success.

I would like to share just a few of his quotes from Rockin 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 Rockin’ 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.

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

‘Content’ or ‘Companionship’

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

OK, I’m going to say it. “Companionship” is more important than “Content.” Sure content is the buzzword these days but it takes a special something to be considered a “companion.” Yes, its great to have both but nothing causes more occurrences of listening on a daily basis than being a “companion” that the listener enjoys spending time with day after day. Content may get em sometimes. Be their companion, and they will always be with you.

Why is so much radio content “low hanging fruit”? Radio seems to always go for the easy to find, not always compelling material. One of the PD’s I work with refers to bad content as “low hanging fruit.” If you’re going to do content it must not only be compelling, but of high interest to your demos and listeners. After all, can you imagine “The Today Show” doing “This Day in History”? Not gonna happen! Unless you have killer content, another song will serve you better.

Do you have a “relationship” with your P1 core? The #1 and most important element to getting consistently strong ratings. You can play all the right songs; have all the right sweepers and the best jingles in the market. If you’re missing that hard to describe link that bonds the listener to your station, the ratings will most likely not be there. This is where your personalities come into play. They are “The Secret Sauce” between the music.

In sales they say “People buy from people they like.” In programming its “People listen to people they like.” Is your station likable? Think about “content or companionship.”

New Music is weak right now with AC’s biggest “feeder format” CHR. Don’t fall prey to “we have to freshen up.” Playing proven, familiar music still wins out every time. Discipline is needed now, and yes, this can change at anytime.

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

Old-School Marketing That Still Works

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

I spent many years working with Bob Morgan at CBS Radio in Rochester, N.Y. He had one belief that really impacted me to the point that, all these years later, I still use this line once or more each day.

Bob always said, “Be brilliant with the basics.”

With that in mind, check out these six easy-to-implement ideas for a better-sounding radio station:

  1. 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, every book. You never know when an editor may need clarification. Why take chance that your information is out of date? You need every quarter hour you can get!
  2. Do you have a “relationship” with your P1s? This the number one way to achieve strong ratings. You can play all the right songs, have all the right sweepers, and the best jingles in the market. If you’re missing that hard-to-describe link that reflects the old saying “People Listen to People They Like,” you’ve got some work to do. Is your station likable? P1s always fuel their favorite radio station with lots of 1/4 hours.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Change is not adult radio’s friend. About to make an adjustment? Think about it carefully. When changes in programming are made on a whim they might 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.
  6. GMs & 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

10 Programming Predictions for the Next 25 Years

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

Are you ready to change our industry?

Are you a decision maker? Do you have the courage to take these predictions and make them happen? I’m looking to partner with “Lets make it happen” owners and managers who are ready to make 2018 the year that radio history is made!

1. Some of the big groups will start to breakup once they realize that radio is a local media that needs “local care and tenderness.” Investors will lose patience and station sales will be made to local operators.

2. Somebody will figure out radio’s next revenue model. The era of 8-10 commercials in a row will end and we will get into a whole new system of presenting advertisers messages. Long, hard to listen thru clusters will no longer exist.

3. Radio will figure out how to monetize demo’s other than 25-54. Preteen stations will pop up as well as 50+ formats.

4. Since it will be owned by local operators, radio will go back to a 24/7 operation. This will increase the need for talent and also give new talent a chance to get on the air in overnights and weekends.

5. More and more stations will drop Nielsen. Since radio will move to a local model, results will matter more over ratings. Programming pressure will be on sounding great, getting results and being out in the community.

6. Programmers will look back at the golden era of top-40 radio and adapt many of its practices. Great DJ’s and exciting imaging will once again be a part of every radio station.

7. DJ’s will matter more than “10 in a Row.” Good ones will be in demand. Salaries will once again rise.

8. Programmers will realize the power of strong jingles for branding their image. Memorable and fun jingles will once again appear all across the nation. Smart programmers will listen to PAMS cuts and ask, “How do we take the idea behind these and make it work today?”

9. Radio will go back to being more “full service.” Information will be a big part of that mix. Many stations will go back to “News” all day long.

10. Realizing that commercials can be a tune-out, radio will adapt programs that test and improve the quality of commercials. Jerry Lee of WBEB, Philadelphia is ahead of the curve, as he is doing this now.

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

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