Audience Research: The Dunkin' Donuts Method | TALKERS magazine - talk media trade : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

Audience Research: The Dunkin’ Donuts Method

| July 9, 2013

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

ILLINOIS en route to DELAWARE, then TEXAS, PENNSYLVANIA, WISCONSIN and beyond — When I file a piece for TALKERS from home you see BLOCK ISLAND, RI as my dateline.  Not this time of year.

With Spring ratings in, and the Fall book looming – and my renters yukking-it-up at the beach – I’m everywhere BUT home, on another summer-long radio road trip.  On station visits, we’re planning Fall promotions, updating the station’s on-air imaging, reviewing airchecks, supporting sales, and burning up restaurant trades.  By Labor Day, I’ll have a pile of little soaps and shampoos.

This epic trek sure isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a radio talker, there’s something I’m witnessing out here that you can experience right there at home.

Yogi Berra deadpanned that, “you can observe a lot by just watching.”  And, in our case, by listening.

Recommendation: Eavesdrop…unobtrusively…at Dunkin’ Donuts.

Not Starbucks, where people lock onto internet-enabled devices.  Dunkin Donuts – or, if they’re not on every corner where you live – whichever other coffee-and-donuts place is.  Or a local workin’ class mom-N-pop coffee-and place.  Any place with stools.  People TALK there.

Your mission: LISTEN to what they’re talking about.

Prediction: You’ll note a disconnect between what-you-hear, and lots of what talk radio is trying to force-feed ‘em.

Example: While cable and radio pundits are shocked…SHOCKED…by revelations about beyond-Patriot Act NSA surveillance, coffee gulpers shrug that they’ve suspected it all-along.  I’ve overheard parents say they’re using the story as an opportunity to wag a finger in their kids’ faces about what they disclose online.

And it wasn’t James Gandolfini who died suddenly, it was Tony Soprano.  As I lurked, I heard conversations wander to related topics.  Basic cable shows like “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” are “better than what’s in the movies now,” donut munchers agreed, as they debated whether cable or satellite is a better value.  I’m not overhearing talk about cable news channels.

Go ahead, lurk and learn.  Save the receipt, and write this off as audience research.  Or send it to me if you hear the word “Benghazi.”


Read/see/hear more at, and follow @HollandCooke on Twitter.  And meet HC at Talkers Los Angeles 2013 on Thursday, October 10.

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Category: Advice