The 5 Things Every Format Must Do For Better Ratings

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

Yes, this is a newsletter that is mostly focused on AC radio. But with the spring book just around the corner (March 28), I would like to review 5 things that EVERY station, regardless of format, needs to look at to give you the best shot at a good outcome when spring results are released. If you play music and have on-air personalities, this information is for you.

1. Identify your station properly and frequently. I sometimes get tired of hearing myself say this, but you cannot give your call letters and frequency enough. 85% of diary keepers report listening by entering (in the diary) the EXACT FREQUENCY. Say it slow. Say it often and sell it effectively. Have you noticed that when you ask a listener what station they listen to, they almost always say 100 POINT 3. They usually do not say “100-3…makes me wonder why some stations drop the point. Just sayin!

2. Focus your music. It’s easier than ever to find out the most important songs for your format. Discover them and play them often. Bigger is not better. It astounds me that some smaller market programmers feel that having a large playlist is important because they are in a smaller market. This makes no sense. Think about it this way. The McDonalds in Rapid City, South Dakota (market #251) is no different than the McDonalds in New York City (Market #1). Same menu. Same look. Listeners want the hits, not secondary or mediocre songs.

3. Promote your benefits. If you have a killer morning show, promote it. If you have a two hour at work kick off, focus on it. If you play the most music in your market, let the market know. Promoting the benefits of listening to your station far outweigh the benefit of promoting what is going on in the world of say pop culture.

4. “Companionship is more important than content”. If your personalities are not companions to your listeners, it won’t work. Its not what they say as much as it is “how they say it.” Radio is all about that friendly voice coming out of the speaker. Yes, people listen on many different types of devices, but the one thing that still wins out are personalities that are inviting, welcoming and friendly to the listener.

5. Use your contesting to create additional “occurrences of listening.” Look at it the way retail does. Just ahead of big weekends or holidays, supermarkets offer, for example, Coke products for .50 for a two-liter bottle. Why so cheap? Cause they want to get you into the store. They figure they can sell the product at cost, and hopefully, you will spend additional dollars while you are there. Your contesting should do the same thing. Use it to “get them to turn you on.” Then it’s up to you to get them to spend additional time. One more thing on contesting. Forget about “forced listening.” in today’s world. It does not work.

Please think about these 5 points as they apply to all formats that play music. Put them into practice and you’ll be happy this summer when spring results are released!

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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