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Two Weekend Problems, Two Solutions

| October 20, 2014

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant


cookewriterBLOCK ISLAND, RI — Ask-the-expert shows CAN be a gold mine AND create appointment listening by talking about the buff stuff that’s more pertinent to listeners’ weekend lifestyle than re-runs of the syndicated weekday political blah-blah-blah stations naïvely call “Best of…”

Too bad too few stations accomplish both, or either.  Listen to what passes for Saturday/Sunday programming — on some otherwise-respectable stations, some in big markets – and you’ll hear why weekend ratings sag, and why subsidized hosts come and go, and stations lose credibility, familiarity, and (forgive me) “stationality.”  

You might not expect to hear this from the consultant, but “brokered” is not a four-letter word.  Listeners understand that programming is sponsored. It matters less whether it’s sponsored by the minute or by the hour than whether it’s interesting.

“There is no such thing as an attention span. This whole idea of an attention span is, I think, a misnomer. People have an infinite attention span if you are entertaining them.”

— Jerry Seinfeld

Good News/Bad News:

  • The Good News: How-to shows enable stations to:
  1. Sell the hour twice, since the attorney or real estate agent or veterinarian or financial adviser or other professional service provider is buying content segments, and the host takes a breather during stopsets when other station business airs.  The show itself is the marketing.  In-show spots are redundant.  But they DO need…
  2. Weekday out-of-program spots, which:

a)    expose the client to the station’s entire cume; and

b)    invite tune-in to the weekend show, so it’s not a well-kept secret.

  • More Good News: These shows can be a superb new business development vehicle, IF – repeat, IF – it’s good radio.
  • The Bad News: Often it’s not.  At too many stations, the audition seems to be the-check-didn’t-bounce.

So one of the things I do for client stations is aircheck reviews with weekend warriors.  Duh.

Heck, in some markets where I don’t even have a client station, I’m working directly with pay-for-play talent, delivering the coaching their short-sighted stations don’t.  I’m selling real estate agents a dang $299 E-book – soup-to-nuts on-air + online strategy + tactics — which, if implemented, can multiply leads they harvest from their radio investment.  It’s simply fundamental Radio 101 stuff, which stations ought to be doing on their own, and WOULD mitigate churn.

If you’re not also on-demand, you may as well be off-the-air.

No names, but when a big spender told a client station its cost-per-lead would no longer support the buy, this was our fix.

Just this past week, we were reminded that we live in an on-demand culture.

  • THE DAY AFTER HBO announced it will offer its fare to non-cable/non-satellite users, online on-demand, CBS-TV made the same announcement.  Others will follow.  They’re all emulating Netflix.
  • Radio should simply do the same.  Shortform ROS spots which promote the weekend show should also invite those-interested to hear the longform show on the station’s, or the advertiser’s, website, “ON YOUR COMPUTER, YOUR IPAD, OR YOUR SMARTPHONE, WHENEVER IT’S CONVENIENT.”
  • If we don’t do this, we’re playing long odds that the weekend show will ROI.  Why: Now more than ever, radio should think in-car.  So if the longform show only is only available on-air on the weekend, we’re asking busy on-the-go listeners to make an appointment days later, when their radio habit is different.  Mathematically, most who hear the ROS spots (cume) won’t be listening in real-time when the weekend show airs (AQH).


Holland Cooke is a media consultant working at the intersection of radio and the Internet; and he covers industry conferences for Talkers. @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice