Published on Thursday, 15 July 2010 12:44
Randall Bloomquist writes a new newsletter/column for Radio-Info subscribers called "News Talk Edge." In his latest newsletter
, he thought it would be a nice touch to help out the Program Directors within the ten radio markets that just recently started using the Arbitron PPM system, so he asked six PDs from other markets who are more experienced with how to program for PPMs to provide some advice. Five of the six gave answers that ranged from a couple of sentences to a couple of quick paragraphs. There was one experienced PD who gave much, much more insight than that. That PD was Chicago's very own Kevin Metheny, the much-discussed Program Director of Tribune-owned WGN-AM.
Reprinted below is the advice given by Kevin Metheny in Bloomquist's new column. It is presented here without commentary, regardless of the ironic nature of many of the quotes in comparison with his own recent programming moves at WGN-AM.
Kevin Metheny, WGN/Chicago - "Many things we intuited through the diary years turn out to be correct. There's no time for any throw-away programming or less-than-fascinating content. It's important to understand the dynamic of cume churn, and why cume is so critical to success in PPM.
"The two simple tricks [for winning in PPM] that are not as easy as they sound are, first, provide a product of sufficient interest to a sufficiently large number of people so enough audience drifts in and out of your cume as part of the natural order of things; second, satisfy [the listeners] so they listen longer. It sounds like old school, diary-based Programming 101, but we can see the dynamic much more clearly in PPM data than diary data.
"Do more of whatever works for your station. If you do hard-hitting political talk, do more of that; if you do funny, do more of that.
"Don't spend your first 15 minutes on the air meandering through various possible topics you plan to cover in the following three-four hours. Pick one, and hit it.
"Teases can be a big part of the game, and most radio stations do lousy teases. We should spend as much time preparing teases as we do preparing topics and takes -- as part of the same process. Use 'A' material in a tease, use audio in a tease. Tease to a specific but reasonable time benchmark. If you can't create a tease that makes your listener need to hear the material being teased, forget the whole tease thing. A nebulous procedural tease that sounds like the wallpapery teases we get from all electronic media are a waste of time and an invitation to audience migration.
"'Comin' up on Inside Edition ... The Mel Gibson phone call.' Excuse me while I hurl! I can think of all kinds of fun teases using THAT audio, and none require me to say 'Comin' up!'
"We've got to do something about commercials. Most bad commercials don't ring client cash registers. And almost all bad commercials drive away listeners. Over the long haul, we simply need better commercials, produced and live. Until broadcasters, advertisers, and all our creatives vow to make commercials a compelling part of content, we have some awkward choices about how to schedule them. There is a math argument in support of fewer, longer commercial breaks."