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Monday, May 4, 2015

(FORMATS) Why So Down on The Older Demo?


In radio, formats come and formats go. The change usually comes as a result of less-than-stellar ratings coupled with a drop in advertising revenue. Research is done, consultants are consulted, and a new format is chosen. The usual stunting is done to "confuse" the listener. And shortly thereafter the new format is on the air. The ratings go up, the advertising revenue increases, and everyone is happy. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes it doesn't.

When it doesn't, the blame game comes out. "But the research said?" "But the consultant said?" "But the audience even said?" And finally, "But we're playing music that 'young' people want to hear." Ah, yes. There it is. The favorite word of every radio programmer in the universe: "young." It conjures up visions of big money, big revenue, and the use of that popular expression, "We're number one! We're number one!" 

But sometimes the young just aren't there. They've already been taken and divided up into a number of different formats. Some for the young young. Some for the middle young. And some for the older young. Or to put it another way, the young have been?.taken. So who's left? Hey! How about older people. You know, the ones who used to be young. The ones who grew up listening to Elvis, the Beach Boys, Dion, the Beatles, the Supremes, and James Brown. And all that other good stuff. The ones that are referred to in the radio biz as, dare we say it, older demos.

When last I looked, they are still out there. Eating in restaurants, buying cars, taking vacations. You know, things that younger people do when they can afford to. And how are older people able to do this? Because they have money! Studies have shown that older people not only have money but they spend it too. Why doesn't commercial radio go after it?

Here are the excuses. The ad agencies don't want them. Really? Did they actually say that? And if so, which ones actually said it? And if they did say it maybe it?s because your pitch, your presentation to them, wasn't any good. Sometimes sales people do make bad pitches. Another excuse: Older people take longer to respond to an ad. You have to run the spot more often to get and keep their attention. Hey, maybe if you wrote and produced spots that were geared directly to older people they would pay more attention. 

Here's my favorite excuse: "We tried an oldies format and it didn't work." Really? You mean that satellite format that you stuck on one of your AM signals? The one that plays the same 450 songs over and over and over again? The one that has no live, local air personalities who can talk about the music and give you interesting information about it? No live, local air personalities that can add excitement to the format and the listeners can relate to? Just a steady stream of music with an occasional drop-in? Is that the oldies format that you tried? Well, duh. No wonder you didn't make the book. 

So what do older people want in an oldies station? First, they want the bulk of it to be 50s and 60s. Second, they want a big variety of oldies, not that dreaded worn out, severely limited playlist that they have been force fed all these years. Older people, which yes includes myself, have great memories and we remember more tunes than you think. And even if we don?t recognize the song, if it's an oldie we will still listen. And we want live and local air personalities. People who can tell us things about the songs that maybe we didn?t know. People who can tell us what the local weather is going to be like. Someone who we can call and say hello to. You know. The human touch.

My desire to get this music back on the air is not just because I'm a big fan of it. There is money to be made here. Older demos are an untapped goldmine. Time to grab a shovel, put on a safety helmet, and go prospecting. The first person in gets the most gold.                                                                                                 

Curt Krafft has 35 years in radio under his belt, including WDRC-FM, Hartford, CT; WINX, Washington, DC; WXTR, Washington, DC; WEVD, New York; and WHVW, Poughkeepsie, NY.    

(5/1/2015 5:44:01 PM)
The common mistake stations which tried a standards or originals hits format made was measuring the format's success with ratings. If you are looking for big numbers, forget this music. It attracts a good audience that stays with the station day after day with excellent listenership into the evenings.
This format needs a sales staff who believes in the attractiveness of this demo. The group has lots of spendable dollars, leisure time and can buy big.

(5/1/2015 5:43:37 PM)
Corporate Radio fails to deliver a quality product for the listener, and a quality product for the advertiser. And thus, Corporate Radio fails to truly serve the communities that entrust broadcast licenses to them. It is reprehensible what the end-result of deregulation did to radio stations... radio station employees...and the communities that have been short-changed by corporate greed.

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