A station group I visited recently shared with me remarkable stories of changed lives, impact in their community, and their vision to reach people far beyond the boundaries of their current signals.
However, in listening to their stations I heard none of these things. I literally heard the trivial (in the form of ‘trivia’) more than I heard stories that demonstrated what the stations stand for.
Successful stations understand and embrace what makes them meaningful and preferable. They then efficiently demonstrate those values in ways that resonate emotionally with their listeners.
Efficiency and meaningfulness are two sides of the same coin. One does not exclude the other. Successful stations develop disciplines for each.
Legendary radio researcher and strategist Jon Coleman puts it this way,
“I think that PPM may have caused radio programmers to become slaves to the ‘in the moment’ and lose track of what really builds ratings… (It’s) is not (about) eliminating every possible tune out, but rather offering emotion-evoking reasons people can love the station. When people like or love a station they tune into it every day or even several times a day… People don’t come back to a station tomorrow because of a reduced tune out today.”
To paraphrase Francis Chan, our greatest fear should not be of failure in the ratings but of succeeding at having a radio station that doesn’t really matter.