The Most Important Eight Seconds Of Your Day
January 19, 2016
In 2007, the first year of U.S. radio's transition from diary measurement to PPM, I attended an Arbitron seminar where they revealed findings on the initial listening data.
The presenter paused briefly as if about to deliver unfortunate news about a loved one, then said,"The point in any given hour when the most listeners leave a radio station is not during commercials. It is when the deejay starts talking."
I was taken aback. But as the presentation went on, I realized why that might be true.
Commercials are produced. They're often well written and entertaining. They often capture your attention with sound, a joke or a story in the first few seconds.
But radio personalities at that time were trained to augment diary recall by starting each segment hammering a mechanical recital for what listeners should write down for the ratings. "KZZP ONE OH FOUR POINT SEVEN FM...THE #1 HIT MUSIC STATION..."
Then, they'd back-sell the previous song with artist and title, give the time, temperature, "happy hump day everybody.." blah, blah, blah, and 20 or 30 seconds later, they would get to the point of what that segment was about.
By that time, all the listeners had punched out.
Even worse, many radio personalities were frankly not well prepared and too casual to keep listener attention.
You can still scan your local stations and hear a lack of preparation, and hear the conventional "start with call letters" tactic in both PPM and diary markets.
But we have learned that respondents using both diary and PPM will stick around to hear a segment that is setup quickly. The first point in Randy's "Execution Rule Of Four" is preparing your set-up. The best set-ups are clean and precise with no wasted words and with a hook headline that grabs listener attention before they hit the button on their car radio.
We've also seen studies that prove that the average North American has about an eight-second attention span. (In-car listeners with 10 pushbuttons at their fingertips might even be less!)
One key strategy of the top-performing shows that we work with is that they start into content segments immediately. No preamble, call letters, chit-chat or BS.
The very first words spoken are often a hook headline of what's coming in that segment, followed by necessary mechanics. "We suspected that Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani were fooling around, but now they've been caught red-handed. We'll tell you that story in a second; you're listening to PK, Sarah and Ivan at Hot 95.7..."
Once you get past those first eight seconds, your segment can be a more natural conversation. You just have to keep them interested through that initial danger zone so you can hook them into the segment.
This week, experiment with ways that you can shock listeners into paying attention to your content with a dramatic statement, compelling audio, sound effects, a listener voice or a question. The first few seconds of every content segment is the merciless battlefield where all shows inevitably live or die.