15 Jul Wednesday, July 10, 2019
This Week in The Lund Letter:
> Options – Fine-tune or change format?
> Show prep ideas from Scott Shannon
> Planning your fall promotion
> Radio’s Share of Ear…plus other Trends
Lund Programming Clinic: Format Roulette
History repeats itself… in life and in radio. One can learn a lot about how a particular radio format or format niche will succeed in the future, based on track records of popular formats today and their format trends in the past. Formats often take ratings roller coaster rides for a variety of reasons. Country and CHR listenership has been affected by current music being released by core artists. Gold based formats like Classic Rock and Classic Hits are adding “newer” music and dropping older songs. Every format has had its hills and valleys. When listeners leave a format, stations consider jumping ship to try something different.
When evaluating your station’s format or considering a new course, analyze ratings, audience acceptance, advertiser campaign success or lack thereof, and review every aspect of your station – especially the music and talent presentation. Stations conduct market research or a thorough programming evaluation to find out why their station isn’t doing well before changing format or making a change.
Areas to consider when planning a format change:
> Your market is different. A format that is successful in one city may not work in your market.
> Don’t lose confidence in the station’s format too quickly. While some formats are instant successes, others grow slowly in popularity.
> Watch the herding instinct of doing the same thing musically and formatically as other stations. When every station does a thirty-minute music sweep, no one owns the image (except perhaps the first station that did it).
> Pay attention to advertiser successes and how well clients do. This may be one of the most important ways to gauge how well the station and format are doing.
> Program for the total cume, and make the station mass appeal. Niche formats are sometimes helpful in blocking or protecting a sister property, but they tend to suffer ratings spikes and declines because the cume is insufficient to allow adequate sampling in every sweep. A niche format can be very exclusive to too few listeners.
> Super-serve the core listeners but make sure the “house” is large enough for a big cumulative audience. Often what appeals to P1s will also convert P2s to stronger partisans. Continually invite new listeners into the format and station.
> Rely on the 3 M’s – Music, Mornings and Marketing – to garner home run ratings and revenue. While music dominates midday and afternoon listening, a good morning show is the cornerstone of a strong station. Talents must sound relatable in every break, garner listener talk, be fun or funny, and sell cross-daypart listening (recycling to workday, etc.).
> Focus on local listeners, not necessarily what’s hot or working in other markets. Local conditions, competition, ethnic makeup, heritage, and station perceptions dictate success.
When it comes to format roulette, look before you leap. Don’t change formats too quickly. Fine-tuning your present format may be a good option. The best format in radio tends to be longevity; consistency has its benefits. Seek strategic advice as to how to make your station better.