What Was That?
January 8, 2013
One of the things I love is that technology allows us to tune in any terrestrial or Internet station anywhere in the world. Daily I will tune into my clients and listen live. It gives me a chance to experience each moment, as would the average listener. As I was listening to a client, he was backselling a song into a commercial break and to my horror, I heard him tell the listeners the exact time the entire commercial set would be over and he would be playing Adele's "Rumor Has It." I quickly shot him a text and asked if it was a programming directive to handle the pre-promote of the song. He texted back he was doing appointment listening. Immediately I called his PD, whom I knew, and had a conversation. He was pretty wise, halfway through our casual chat, he said "You are not fooling me, I know my jock is a client of yours. You heard the last talk break and that's why you're calling." Laughing, I responded "I'm busted, out of curiosity do you instruct your jocks to do appointment listening like that?" His answer, "Ha Ha, no, I will have a chat with him after his shift is over."
Dos and Don'ts of Appointment Listening
There are advantages to appointment listening in PPM or diary markets, but around a stop-set, you don't want to telegraph the exact times the commercials will be over. If you do so, with a meter or diary, you have just told folks how long they can tune out. Always pre-promote as if something is coming up sooner than later. By not telling listeners into the stopset the exact time music will be playing again, people are more apt to check back to see if you have finished playing spots. But, if you tell them, " back with your favorite song at 11:58", listeners might stay away even longer. Read on and I will suggest the best way to handle this situation under the heading "Right Way."
With instructions, we have to be anal when explaining things, be specific. Assuming common sense will come into play is not a good idea, your common sense may not match everyone else's on your air staff.
Reiterating the Point
In an airport, if it were announced boarding time would be in ten minutes, many folk might leave to run to the restroom or buy a snack. On the other hand, if it were announced boarding might happen at any minute, no one would leave the boarding area.
The Right and Wrong Way
Right Way: This can be announced at any point in the morning "Coming up at 11:50 this morning, the rumor report"
Wrong Way: When executed at the beginning of a stop-set " It's 11:50, coming up at 11:58, the rumor report." You then proceed to play 8 minutes of commercials. You just informed your audience they can leave for 8 minutes or it actually might be longer. By informing the audience of the commercial interruptions, it removes that they will tune back and forth checking on when the commercials are over. What I just said does not mean everyone will tune out and nor does it mean this will be the sole reason for potential ratings loss.
Radio is an inexact science, therefore you need to do as many things correctly as possible and reduce the number of things that could lead to less listening or exposure. Everything is important, so take the time to examine all the ways a programming directive could be interpreted and make sure your air staff is on the same page.