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

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