Consultant Scott Huskey on stepping back and looking at the basics that drive the station.
Sometimes it takes just getting back to the basics. Take some time to look at the things that drive listeners. The 3 M’s still are key in the success of your station: Music, Mornings and Marketing. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the day-to-day we lose sight of the three parts of the “engine” that drives the success of our stations.
Generally, music makes up about 70%-75% of each hour. It's the main reason listeners choose a radio station unless, of course, they are looking for a talk station. But that's a story for another time. It has to be the right mix of songs in terms of era, gender, sound, etc.
Of course, locally researched music is the gold standard. It gives you your local listeners’ music preferences. Barring that, a well-researched, safe list can give a good base with which to start. The same goes for current music, although you might get some usage data from Spotify or Pandora to help.
Probably the biggest piece of the music puzzle, in my opinion, is making sure you have the target of the station nailed down. Know who you are programming the music for. Don't stop at the broad sales demographics. Dig down to get to the bull’s-eye of the age, gender and lifestyle of the listener.
Armed with that information, you can know why you play certain songs. You need to have a reason for the songs that make up your library.
It starts the day. It sets the table for the rest of the day. During the past 18 months, things have been weird and different and maybe you've gotten out of your "zone.”
We can't afford anything less than "A" material. Avoid any throwaway breaks. And just like knowing your listener is important when picking a music library, it's also vitally important for your morning show.
Engage them: Focus on the listener and not on yourself. In other words, less "I, Me, Mine" and more "We, You and Us.” Don't settle for content just because it's on the prep sheet. Make sure to localize and connect with your listener.
Remember that the morning show is like a party, and the listeners are invited guests. They want to have fun with you and not just watch/listen to you having fun.
Also, use the mornings to set up the rest of the day. Use your time in the mornings to tell the listener how to use the station after the morning show. More listening appointments mean more Time Spent Listening.
When we talk about marketing, we tend to think about the biggies like TV and outdoor. While those are nice, other ways of marketing are more targeted and less wasteful. Although I do like a good billboard, if for nothing else than for morale purposes.
The digital universe offers so many places to market the station. Facebook comes to mind; it's still a cost-effective way to target listeners. Also, over-the-top or OTT devices. With the increase in streaming, you can reach more listeners than you could with just cable or over the air.
Let's not forget the trusty old listener database. Whether email or text or both, your listener database can be most powerful. It's a list of folks who already want to engage with your station. You can have a better feel about who is getting your message, and since they have already engaged with the station, they are more likely to react to your message.
One last point about marketing: The listener universe has been hyped to death. Make sure your message has meaning and not just hype.
Music, Mornings and Marketing: It never hurts to step back and look at the basics. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the day-to-day that we lose sight of the "engine" that drives our stations. — Scott Huskey for Country Insider
Scott Huskey is President of RWPC, Inc (formerly Rusty Walker Programming), a country-focused consultancy specializing in talent coaching, music research, strategic planning and music scheduling. (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 662-423-5003 Ext 1)