Does It Add Value?
September 27, 2013
By John Frost,
Goodratings Strategic Service
Programming a successful radio station is really a very simple process, but one with hundreds of moving parts and internal dynamics that can complicate the process. I said 'simple', not 'easy'.
Simple in that it is a fairly basic process to find a hole in the market, determine the target audience, and discover and then effectively play those songs that audience loves most.
The rest is complicated. Every station I've ever worked with has had a unique set of internal dynamics. One of my primary responsibilities as the outsider is to help the insiders navigate those dynamics and help them identify the real challenge before them; or as my friend Joe Battaglia likes to say, "help the obvious become obvious." Sometimes those dynamics drive the station's success—seasoned broadcasters that understand strategy, focus on execution, and equip the station with training and resources. Many times, however, those dynamics work against the station's success. I've heard of situations where decision makers didn't even like the format and inevitably made decisions that morph the format into something they might like better. This seems to be more common when non-broadcasters are involved in the decision making, such as a church or an educational institution. I know of an incident where a company big wig argued the findings of the research project by citing how the receptionist sitting outside the conference room door didn't like the station as much as she used to. I'm not making this up, as Dave Barry would say.
While those internal dynamics have broad impact on a station's effectiveness, so do the everyday programming decisions. I find it helpful to break down programming decisions to the most basic level.
As you evaluate every non-music element of the format simply ask yourself if it adds value to the station's brand.
Does it enhance the emotion connection to the listener? Does it provide a meaningful component that the music can't (such as a newscast or traffic report)? Does it help the station resonate more strongly with the listener's values? Or does it simply make the station more enjoyable?
If the answer to those questions is 'no', then the element is simply an interruption to the reasons people come to your station in the first place.