My on-air and programming careers started in Top 40 radio, and that is where I learned the value of "playing the hits." Playing the hits in all music formats became the foundation for success, especially in PPM. Top 40 and other repetitive formats thrive in PPM.
Playing the hits works for morning shows too. The average time-spent-listening is only 10-12 minutes daily for successful morning shows. Most people have short windows of time to listen based on their schedule. So you can't afford to air filler content when you only have mere minutes to make an impact.
Several positive audience reactions happen when you do your best content more often and play the hits:
? Your show scores higher ratings numbers!
? You expose your best material to a greater percentage of your audience.
? You increase the probability of creating buzz.
? You increase the chances of your content going viral, such as a video or interview.
? Your show is more likely to attract the attention of new and cume listeners who haven't made your show their favorite yet.
? You have a better shot at hooking the attention of the ADD listeners. Studies show that the average person's attention span is down to eight seconds, so practically your whole audience is ADD!
An example of this strategy is on Sports talk shows. The most successful hosts address the hit stories over and over by finding various approaches to them. Before the Super Bowl the big story was "Deflategate." After the game the big story was Seattle's pass on the one-yard line. Sports radio programmed these stories in high rotation by executing them from multiple angles.
Content is not king...killer content is king! It's not about coming up with more content, it's about generating better, high-impact content. Does that mean you generate fewer ideas in your prep process? No! Approach planning as you do a brainstorming session -- by getting all your ideas out there and then paring it down to the best of show. You have to produce a lot of ideas to get to the gems.
Rotate your hits frequently. If an "audio vault"-type feature (the hottest sound bites of the day) is one of your strongest content segments, do it every hour. It's the same reason many female-targeted shows have entertainment reports hourly.
If your show is great at telling stories and at getting engaging stories from listeners, do that more often. Create storylines from your show players with multiple payoffs that give listeners a compelling reason to tune back in to hear the next "chapter."
Recycling and repurposing killer hit content has never been more important to scoring higher ratings. Why let priceless moments be enjoyed by less than 10 percent of your total audience by airing it only once? Recycle power content later in the same show or in different hours on different days to expose it to more of your audience.
Stick to programming mostly A's and a few strong B's in between. Leave the C's and the filler stuff on the editing room floor. Play the hits. Repetition is your friend.
Randy Lane is the president of the Randy Lane Company; phone 805.497.7177
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