Riding The Storm

How a Snowstorm Turned Into an Appointment Listening Highlight

Image precedes share. We all know this – but just how does it work? How much music or morning show image do you need to pull in 1% more mar- ket share? What does a great DJ image add the station in actual listeners? I’ve seen many attempts to quantify that sim- ple little premise and explain just how it works. Some of them more successful, some of them less so.

All of those explanations build upon the notion that the relationship between image and share is a relatively static and proportional one however. If you are known for having what listeners want, you become their station of choice – as theysaid in the movie Field of Dreams: “if you build it, they will come”. But are there images that will situationally draw listeners to your station?

In other words: how much is an image worth that has relevance for a sporadic real world occurrence, like a weather or traffic event, that can change a listener’s listening behavior? And how do I recognize that change and capitalize on it?

How Much “Bang” For Your Image “Buck”?

“You need good traffic and weather images on your station to succeed as an AC Radio. You need adequate traffic and weather as a niche or music-specific format to not give listeners a reason to go elsewhere for their information needs”. This has been the paradigm for radio as long as we can remember, but it always felt a little like this has been a tool to limit losses, rather than be an actual tune-in point for the station. In other words, having great traffic and weather images will keep listeners from running away, but does little to draw them to your station.

The truth is actually far from it, but most, if not all of the stations with great traffic and weather images don’t actually realize what they are getting for their efforts, and aren’t using that situational growth to its full potential.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow…

Flashback to winter this year – a European radio station got news via their weather ticker of an upcoming snow storm – a big one and the first in this year (this was an AC station with good images for local and regional weather and traffic reports). It was still up in the air as to whether local schools would be cancelling classes the next day, and how the snow would affect public trans- portation.

The program director decided to dedicate the following morning almost entirely to weather and traffic reporting, and ran promos and DJ breaks the day before telling listeners to tune in and get all the information they needed to get through the day safe and stress free.

Spoiler alert: it paid off! As the graph below shows, they saw a massive increase in listeners and listening on the following morning during the breakfast show. A jump in their peak ratings of around 35%!

Riding the Storm

Not only did they use the snowstorm to showcase local news and information competence and listener loyalty with content and listener talks, but they actually managed to draw a large amount of listeners into the program that don’t normally listen to the station every day. Obviously this goes beyond pure listener retention, and into the space of listener growth.

While the station was able to hold on to a goodportion of those listeners on that day, it didn’t translate into long term growth. Can it? We don’t know, but we do know that up until now they weren’t trying. So now it’s time to get creative and try to convert those extralisteners and that extra listening in regular listeners.