By Walter Sabo
NEW YORK – You’ve heard the horror stories about talk stations losing a third of their audience when measured by PPM. There are talk stations that have gone up in PPM and other formats have benefitted from the new measurement technique.
After tracking the stations that have done better and formats that have improved while being surveyed by PPM, here are simple techniques for you to use today that will boost PPM-measured cume.
1. STOP CELEBRATING COMMERCIAL BREAKS. Most talk stations bring in a marching band of music to announce that it’s time for A BREAK. The show will now stop. The commercials will now come on for a very long time!!! Let’s celebrate. Instead go into a break the way CHR stations do: End your sentence without saying, “We’re going to a break.” Just end the sentence. Start the spot.
2. IT’S A SHOW. Take a call. Do not announce what the caller is about to say. Let the caller say what they want to say. When a host says something like, “Joe wants to argue with me about my position on Aliens, thinks I’m wrong…” they have killed the reason to air the call. The drama, the SHOW, is the surprise of hearing what the caller is going to say.
3. THE MORE CALLS YOU TAKE THE HIGHER YOUR CUME WILL BE. Listenership spikes the moment a call starts and diminishes through the call. The shorter the calls, the higher and younger the cume will be.
To get more calls, make the telephone the only point of access. You won’t boost your cume by reading e-mails and tweets. You’re offering the public something Facebook can’t, a live, call-in talk show that can be accessed instantly by your entire city in all locations. Calling in must be presented as essential and urgent. Internet access points serve other, vital goals but they won’t help your cume.
4. WELCOME. You’ve had the experience of tuning to a talk station in another city and wondering who the host was and which station it was. Is your station guilty of this? I PROMISE you it is. Recently on vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina I could get four talk stations – three on AM, and one on FM. It typically took 20 minutes to hear the name of the station and much, much longer to hear the name of the host. When you engage in a conversation don’t you usually know the person’s name?
New cume CANNOT join your station unless they know the name of the host, the name of the station, the topic, and the number to call. (About the Outer Banks…it’s so disturbing to hear spots that say, “Northeastern North Carolina.” Just very disturbing!
1 out of 5 Americans will move this year; new cities, habits, driving patterns, schools, jobs. 20% of your potential audience was not available last year. Welcome them with CONSTANT reminders of the name of your station, hosts, topics and most importantly the phone number to call.
UNLISTED TALK STATIONS ARE A BAD IDEA. Make sure your caller line is LISTED with all 411 services. (Each carrier has their own directory and they don’t share. If you’re in Verizon, you’re not automatically in Sprint.) Make sure all the voice mails in your cluster, including the sales lines have the call-in number because for at least 12 hours a day nobody is manning any phone. Make sure the call-in number is on your website. If you are airing syndicated shows, their call-in numbers should be in listed at every phone in the station, on the website and in the promos. Go check, bet they’re not.
5. THE PAST NEVER HAPPENED. Ask listeners what happened last hour. They don’t know because they weren’t listening. All promos and conversation must be future-focused. CHR stations promote specific songs and artists coming up all day. They never back sell. Future-focused is a proven technique to build PPM audience that has been perfected by CHRs. You have to earn the future in PPM, which means show prep, planning, promotion and selling your show to your potential audience.
Walter Sabo is the Chairman of Sabo Media, a company that offers executive-on-demand services. He has worked on-site to build out new digital content platforms such as Sirius/XM. His team was the first to discover the marketing clout of web stars, Internet organic video producers. They founded OMMA award-winning HITVIEWS. The company placed brands such as CBS, TiVo and Mountain Dew inside UGC. In FM broadcasting he is the leader in the profitable sector of FM Talk and held executive positions at NBC and ABC Radio. He can be reached at Walter@sabomedia.com.