“They’re only talking about nuts and bolts,” my friend Shawn (not-his-real-name) said to me. “Don’t they know there is more to programming than clocks and music rotations?”

“Perhaps not,” I reply. I know that all too well because I was once that kind of PD. Clocks. Rotations. Sweepers and liners. Games and gimmicks.

Then I learned a totally new way of thinking.

Over the years I’ve learned that there are basically three different levels of discussions about programming.

There are conversations about being competent. That’s a discussion about playing songs listeners actually like, talking about things the listener is interesting in, and not wasting the listener’s time. As you might guess, this is the main theme of discussion about programming at most radio stations.

“There are two numbers in the ratings share of every station. The number to the left of the decimal (as in the 4 in a 4.3 share) and the number to the right of the decimal (as in the 3 in a 4.3 share.) The number to the right is impacted by the things radio stations spend the vast majority of their time on. Tweaking the music. Adding or removing a talk break. Giving away concert tickets.”

Veteran programmer Michael O’Shea

There are conversations about incremental improvements. Getting better. Peddling faster.

Certainly our stations should be competent. We absolutely should strive for improvement.

But those two elements by themselves are not necessarily transformative.

“What moves the number to the left of the decimal point?”

In next week’s Frost Advisory I’ll delve into an area of thinking that transforms radio stations. Perhaps you’ll want to take notes.