Tips on Promoting Podcasts

- Mike McVay

  • The greatest way to grow an audience for a podcast is by interviewing Podcast Hosts on like-minded podcasts. Example; Conservative talk host Ben Shapiro interviews a host of a similar rightwing talk podcast. Same with Dan Bongino and others. This grass roots way of promoting a podcast, guesting on each-others podcasts, is a great unobtrusive way to grow an audience.

  • Advertise (instead of an interview) inside similar like-minded podcasts with a pre-produced Gateway Advertisement that airs immediately after the podcasts opening tease, but before the podcast content begins. Promoting the podcast Mommies Tell All as a gateway advertisement on the Q99-7/Atlanta Bert Show podcast makes sense given that his program is pop culture and family oriented as is the podcast.

  • Promote your podcast everywhere and be seen everywhere. Promote the topic daily on the talents’ social media platform (Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc.), mention it wherever the talent appears (TV Guests, Digital Streaming, Radio Shows), everywhere.

  • Radio Interviews need to be for a specific topic and fit with the theme, content or talent whose show the interview is appearing on. Example; It’s Black History Month, so the podcast hosts of the podcast Mouthpeace could be interviewed by any one of the African-American targeted radio shows inside of company or network show. Leading up to the Super Bowl, having former player and sports reporter Pat McAfee on Sports formatted stations, makes sense. The important thing with offering hosts for radio interviews is that there be a timely and topical reason to have the guest on the air. Anything other than that is CLUTTER!

Tips For Interviewing Guests

- Mike McVay

  • Every guest has a purpose for being on the air. Usually it is to promote the guests project. Does the audience care about the guest’s project? If not, but the guest is amazing, then touch the project topic and get to the entertainment.
  • Get to the question. A set-up for a question should not be more than two-sentences. The reason for interviewing a guest isn’t for you to talk. It’s for the guest to talk.
  • The purpose of the guest is for you to ask them what the audience wants to know … and then let the guest answer … and listen to what they’re saying. What they’re saying sets-up the next question. That turns the interview into a conversation, which is always more enticing.
  • Reset the interview as you move through the interview by reidentifying the guest.
  • EXAMPLE: The Doobie Bros will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum; Will it be the Tom Johnston Doobie Bros or the Michael McDonald Doobie Bros? That’s the logical direction you go with the line of questioning.

Who Is The Competition?

-Mike McVay

If you are a movie buff, you’ll remember the scenes and dialogue from the classic flick “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”  Butch and Sundance (Paul Newman and Robert Redford) are two lovable desperadoes on the run from a powerful enemy who seems to be able to guess their every move.   They are outflanked, outmanned and overpowered.  Newman and Redford are clever and quick, but every time they feel like they’ve eluded their pursuers, guess who shows up and blocks their escape?  The famous line is delivered by both Robert Redford and Paul Newman. “Who are those guys?”  You may feel the same way if you’re in a market situation where the competition always seems to get the better of you.  We maintain that if you can answer that key question, “Who are those guys?” you’ll have a great start toward figuring out how to become a winner when the ratings are released.  You might even have your competitors asking the same question about you.

Before your next big rating period take the time to find out more about your competitors and what they are up to.  Enlist the help of your staff to make this a team project that will bring you knowledge and help your people understand what it takes to win the ratings sweepstakes.

Getting Started
Assign each member of your airstaff the job of listening and analyzing a competing station.  Since this exercise goes beyond formats, the assignments don’t have to be in exactly the same format area.  Make sure you include the top stations in your market and especially the stations you share audience with.   Assign a specific daypart and ask them to aircheck a key hour.  The hour should start at the top and include every element.  Encourage your staff to record this hour themselves, or you may simply want to hand them the hour (already recorded) to analyze.   This will allow your morning show to listen to another AM drive approach and so on with other dayparts.   The other critical part of this exercise is the comparison between you and “those guys.”   Make sure you compare this hour with the same hour on your station.

There are seven key areas to examine for each hour you explore. 

1. Call Letter Mentions & Positioning Statements
- How many times are call letters and positioning statements mentioned?
- How does your count stack up against the other station?
- Make sure it is noted how the call letters are placed.  Front and back sells, weather, traffic and news mentions all count.
- Are these identifiers really being sold?   Are they spit out with no enthusiasm or in inappropriate places?
2. How Many Songs Did Each Station Play?
- Music quantity is a big deal in most competitive situations.
If a direct format competitor plays three or four more songs each hour than you, you’ve got a problem!
- If you have the quantity issue under control, what about their song choices?  Are they playing established hits?  All gold?  Mostly current music?
- What’s the overall tempo of the music?  If the other guys are a 3 on a scale of 5, is your station at a slower or faster tempo on average?
- Who is the narrow target for the competition?  Does their music selection hit their target?
3. Local Mentions and Listener Interaction
- Whether or not a station can “localize” well is a key component of winning and truly being a part of your community.  Try to quantify how and how often your competitors (and you) connect with the community.
- Could the show you are listening to come off a satellite or does it get specific about your town and area?
- When listeners appear on the phone or in the studio do they bolster a local image, or could they be calling from anywhere?
- Does the personality have a handle on what’s going on in your town?
4. Produced Elements
- Production value is something we often mention in aircheck reviews.  Too many bells and whistles can have the effect of overproducing the sound of a station.  Under-producing can create a lifeless feeling station that rarely has energy or creates forward momentum.
- Produced liners, beds under talk segments, pre-produced intros to features, stagers and stingers to introduce information elements, even corny sound effects should be noted.
- What’s the biggest difference between the most produced and least produced station in your market?
5. Weather Mentions, Liners and Station Promos
- Weather mentions are extremely important in AM drive and not so important in other dayparts.  Focus groups on morning shows indicate a high level of interest in today’s weather and what time it is.
- Are the forecasts formalized or just quick one-liners?  Does the station tie its positioning and call letters into information elements?
- Liners and promos are a critical part of every daypart.  How often the liners appear and the content of promos should be noted.
- Does the air talent (or team) make the liner sound fresh or are they just reading it.
6. Stop Sets
- A stop set either contains commercial content or revolves around info elements.
- A liner between songs doesn’t count as a stop set.
- Note the number of stop-sets and where they occur in the hour.
- Note the number of national vs. local spots.  (Pass the local advertiser info. to your sales department.)
- What is the total number of commercial units on each station?
7. Contesting and Promotions
- With a rating period underway almost every station will have some kind of contest on-air.   Some minor promotions or smaller contesting will likely appear on each station too.
- How often is the contest mentioned in an hour?
- What is the prize?  How do you win the contest?
- What other media are being used to promote the contest?
- Enlist the help of your entire staff to bring in any direct mail pieces, recorded TV spots, clip print ads, note billboards, call-outs, and e-mails or web site mentions connected with the contest.  Do listeners have a real chance to win prizes?  Can a station create increased time-spent-listening if their marketing budget is devoted exclusively to contesting?  Is the station fielding too many smaller contests along with a major giveaway?  All of these comparisons will be helpful as you sift through his information.

We started with a simple question from a movie classic, “Who are those guys?”  When this project is completed you should have a terrific overview of what’s happening in your radio market.  The best benefit of this analysis is what it will do for your airstaff.  Most PDs listen to the competition, but it’s unlikely that your morning show, midday or afternoon personalities have spent much time listening to their counterparts on the other stations.  Deficiencies will jump out as you look at these reports and you may find that where you are right now puts you ahead of the curve for your market.  When you have a complete snapshot of the market, get your staff together and present the information.  Point out adjustments that have been made to counter what the other guys are up to.

Oh, and if you haven’t ever seen it, look for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” on Netflix. It’s a classic. Old … but still very entertaining.


The Past Is The Present and The Future

- Mike McVay

This article comes from 2006. Fourteen years later, these philosophies continue to hold true. The Philosophies that built McVay Media. 





































































































Inside Radio 2020 Interview

- Mike McVay (January 2020)

Q: What formats will grow and which ones are challenged in 2020?

A: Classic Hits and Adult Contemporary will continue to grow as the radio audience ages. Formats that are used for At-Work listening have the most upside. Classic Rock also has upside potential, but only where the station stays true to the format. News/Talk will do well. See next question.  – Those who will be challenged will be Sporting/Talk and CHR/Contemporary formats. Sports because the NFL, MLB and NBA compete with radio by providing their own APPS that deliver Play-by-Play audio and video. Sports Talk is no longer exclusive to radio.

Q: What impact will the election have on all news and news/talk?

A: We’ll see News/Talk show some nice spikes as we go through the Primary and the General elections.  The impending impeachment with also show rating growth. News/Talk stations on the FM will do better than AM News/Talk stations in PPM markets. That is if the FM signals are full market. Those local talent who relate to their market will do better than those that simply echo what Rush, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and Ben Shapiro have to say. They’re special and unique. Local talent should do that.

Q: As TSL among younger demos continues to decline, will upper demo formats become even more dominant?

A: The TSL of upper demo stations won’t increase, but the Cume will stabilize. Possibly even increase as the audience continues to age.

Q: How will the role of data continue to shape programming decisions?

A: Research has been an important part of the assessment of entertainment since before Shakespeare did performances in the round. If you don’t know what the audience wants, then how can you ensure success. Companies like Amazon, Apple, Proctor & Gamble spend millions on research. Research will remain critical to the success of radio. The level of competition will continue to increase as time marches on. Innovation driven by research will remain critical to the success of radio. Perhaps even the mediums survival.

Q: How will the availability of digital platforms spur more programming innovation and experimentation?

A: Entertainment delivery companies are going to further divide. The biggest difference between radio and audio streaming services isn’t whether one carries commercials or not. Radio has limited channels versus a streaming or satellite service that has almost limitless entertainment channels. Their only limit is technical, not limited by the government, and at best radio in North America has its primary channel and two HD channels. We should evolve as Norway has done and move to 100% DAB. Television doesn’t require the audience to have an over-the-air antenna. When radio gets there, and we fully transition to an Audio service, we’ll be better able to compete for a young audience. This is in the future for radio.

Q: How will podcasts continue to fit into the picture?

A: We’re living in an on-demand world. The development of large podcast platforms is important to enable the user to sift through the massive amount of “content” that is available. We need someone else to sift through the content for us. Imagine a Netflix of Podcasts. That’s where the world is moving.

Little Things That MATTER

 -Bruce Gilbert (SVP/Cumulus Media - Westwood One)

1.    Don’t promote a Sunday show on Monday. Promote it Thursday-Saturday.

2.    Never talk about anything visual without posting it on social first and then referencing it for the audience when you talk about it live on air so they can look it up and see it and not feel left out.

3.    One message per promo or liner.

4.    Follow the format clock. Stay on time.

5.    PLAN AHEAD - ALWAYS - don’t wait until the last minute.  Plan next month this month, plan next week, this week.  Plan tomorrow today.  PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.

6.    Your first idea is likely the same “first idea” your competitor came up with.

7.    When you open the mic you must be immediately interesting. Slow starts, ramping up, giggling about something that happened off-air or referencing things that already happened are ratings killers.  The Mic “On” button is the “GO NOW” button.

8.    Don’t discuss your shifts on-air; “Hour #1 in the books”.  “Halfway through the show”.  “With you until 10 O’clock”.  Nobody cares what your on-air hours are – they just want to be entertained.  The parameters of your show serve you, not them.

9.    Audio, Audio, Audio.  For every story you plan to do on the air, think about what audio you have - or can get - that enhances, highlights or amplifies the discussion/story/bit.   Ditto on social posts.

10.  Teases matter.  Every missed tease is a blown opportunity to hold your audience.

11.  Exact times matter.  Telling someone to tune in “Later today”, “this afternoon between 2 and 6” or “In the one o’clock hour” is not real language and does nothing to help your ratings.

12.  Don’t lie.  People aren’t dumb, they know when you’re not telling the truth.

13.  Be authentic.  Listeners want to listen to REAL people with real lives, real stories, real struggles, real families, real interesting information.  Announcers and people that talk DOWN to the audience never really develop a loyal audience.

14.  Use the word “YOU” every time you reference the audience/listeners.  Every time you say “A lot of you out there” and “hey everybody” or “folks” or anything similar you are missing a chance to connect with someone one on one and spoiling radio’s #1 attribute - the intimacy of the companionship for that ONE listener with headphones on, or alone in a car.  This is a VERY personable medium, take advantage of that - ALWAYS.

15.  Know who you are talking to.  Some things - no matter how much they interest you, personally - are not appropriate for the room.  Know the room, know who is in the room and be smart about your choices.

16.  Develop a thick skin.  If you do nothing, you’ll never get noticed.  When you do something, you will not only get noticed you might attract some haters.  Nasty people only know how to be nasty and you have NOTHING to gain by acknowledging them and engaging with them in any back and forth.  They have NOTHING to lose, you have EVERYTHING to lose.  Being able to IGNORE the noise is vital to your success.

17.  Understand what your station stands for and how can you best represent that.

18.  WRITE MORE, wing it less.  We all may have a real gift to gab and a super quick wit and that is fine, but when you have something that’s really important to convey to the audience, writing is preferred.  When you can choose and then proof and re-write your words it’s always going to “print” better when it goes live.

19.  Stop doing anything that you are doing simply because “we’ve always done it that way”.  History is helpful, but history can also hold you back.  If you are doing anything that no longer holds value today or moving forward, dump it.

20.  Evolution is your friend.  Change is inevitable and doesn’t always have to be negative.  Change can also be exciting and fun and imaginative.  Be a change agent in your building.  This will keep your show fresh and provide “oh wow” moments.  Remember, if something starts to feel “comfortable” it might actually be “boring”.

21.  Practice your storytelling.  Quick engaging beginning… interesting, detailed and juicy middle... payoff.  Practice it like you would practice a sales pitch.  Payoff could be a punch line, could be a statement, could be a reason why you do or don’t like something anymore etc.

22.  Be opportunistic.  Look for things happening in your town RIGHT NOW that YOU or someone on your team can get involved in, help with, support, denounce - whatever puts you in the storyline without making it about you.  Get IN the conversation.  if you’re doing/acting/living what your audience is talking about, it gives you a real advantage.

23.  Live tweet/FB/Gram events that matter to your audience.  Big sporting events, award shows, concerts.  Do live commentary during the event so your core audience will see you in the conversation they are having about the same #subjects on their favorite social channels.

24.  Support your brand 24/7 - not just the time you are in your building.  When something happens that is important to your audience – no matter when - they expect their favorite media brand to react in real time.  Fans expect instant gratification.

25.  Don’t read liner cards.  If that is part of your job, then read the card, make your own notes and then TELL me what the liner card said, don’t READ it.

26.  Never talk down to the audience.  if you want respect you have to treat them with respect.  Every listener/voter matters.  If you want votes, you have to earn them.

27.  Likeability matters.  It’s ok if listeners don’t always agree with you, or don’t love everything you say or every song you play.  If they LIKE you, they will stick around.  Be likeable, it matters.

28.  If you have guests on your radio station be sure you introduce and identify them before, during and after you have them on your show.  It’s really frustrating for listeners to hear unfamiliar voices and not know who is speaking.

29.  Don’t telegraph breaks.  “We have to pay bills” “We’ve got to keep the lights on” “On the other side” “When we come back” “We have to take a break” or music playing into breaks is like waving a flag and saying “here comes some commercials”.  Be entertaining, then shut up and play the commercials.

30.  Grab ‘em when you got ‘em.  EVERY moment matters.  Attention spans are short.  If you aren’t interesting in 8 seconds or less, people WILL tune out.


What Is Adult Contemporary

-Mike McVay

Adult Contemporary, in its truest form, is what its name says. It is contemporary music for adults. That generally means that the stations Recurrents are already gold on a Top-40/Pop Contemporary station and its Currents are the Recurrents from Top-40/Pop Contemporary. The cycle of success for AC is often dependent upon other formats. Meaning, when Top-40 is in an Urban leaning cycle, Hot AC and AC perform better in the ratings as there is a slice of the audience that does not like Urban leaning music. 


The greatest difference in the flavors of Mainstream AC can be found in the Gold library. How far back do you go? Meaning are you playing Top-40 hits from the 80s, 90s, early 2000s? The gold is generally from the Top-40 Gold category. That is all of the gold was once played on Top-40. Most of the successful AC’s in North America focus on music from 2000-2018 with a couple 90s. Some play a song or two per/hour from the 80s. Those would be the late 1980s songs that sound like they belong in the 90s. My ideal hourly clock on a Mainstream AC is to categorize the music with 1 song from the late 80s, 1 Power 90 and 1 Regular 90, 1 Power Early 00s, 1 Regularly Early 00s, 2 Power Late 00s, 2 Regular Late 00s.  Add to that 1 Recurrent, 1 Power Current and 1 Regular Current.  That gives you a 12-song hour.


Soft AC plays more older gold. A significant amount of the gold comes from the AC format when that format had exclusive artists, mixed with former Top-40 Hits. Meaning Seals & Crofts, Michael Bolton, John Denver, Olivia Newton-John, Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand. One will hear songs that were once big hits in a time when AM stations played music, that have been lost in recent years, which gives the format an image of variety. Simon & Garfunkel, Debbie Boone, Amy Grant, Pure Prairie League, Huey Lewis, Rod Stewart, James Taylor and Carly Simon. The strength of the song and the texture/tempo of the song have a lot to do with the rotation the song receives. Most of these stations play no currents, except for the occasional soft hit like Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s song from A Star is Born.


There have been several AC Programmers that have approached me about creating a Soft & Contemporary format. That would be akin to the burgeoning theory that Soft AC can be newer and softer. This format, as described to me, could be this generations “Relaxing” format. It takes the place of yesterday’s Smooth Jazz (NAC) or yesterday’s Easy Listening (Beautiful Music) format. The necessity would be that the music be familiar, tempo based, almost Triple A in delivery, and have as little clutter as possible. That means a low commercial load. No contests. Very few promotional messages. Air talent that sound like real people and avoid “Silly DJ Games.” I believe that there is an opportunity in this arena, but it will require significant marketing to break through the noise that exists today. Longtime AC and Country Programmer Sue Wilson, a former McVay Media consultant, has crafted such a format. It is worthy of consideration.

Better Story Telling: How to Make It Strong and Direct

-Mike McVay

Storytelling is the key to communication in media. Be it on-the-air, on a podcast, during a newscast, a sportscast, a You Tube Video, from the stage during your musical performance … whatever and where ever.

I am excited to share this link with you as it was shared with me. Mike Birbiglia shares how and why he tells stories and how to do it in a strong and direct fashion. Find the full article HERE. This comes from



The Commonalities of Great Morning Shows and Great Morning Talent

- Mike McVay

Coaching Talent; A message to Program Directors

  • Coaching talent properly can make a big and immediate difference. Focus on the forest and not the trees. When a PD is too far into basics and bits/features, the talent feels as if they’ve lost control of the shows content, and they stop being genuine and become contrived or manufactured.
  • The show has to be about more than the basics. The basics are important, but no one listens for the basics. They listen to be entertained and to be put into a good mood. They want to start their day feeling alive and energized. Audio adrenaline.
  • Focus on the content of the show. Is it fun, funny, interesting, emotion evoking and targeted properly to the station’s specific audience? What about the delivery?
  • Listen to the talent. Make them a priority when you meet with them. Don’t be checking texts and interrupting the meeting with calls. I repeat … Listen to them. I’ve sat in meetings, heard a morning talent tell me what type of show they feel they do best, and the PD then suggested something that was 180-degrees away from what the morning talent believes to be best. If a 180-degree change is needed, then you address the need for a change, but don’t offer a content suggestion that’s contrary to the talent’s personality.
  • When I start to coach a show, or specific talent, I begin by understanding who they are, who the audience is, what the objective is for the station and who is the competition. I never focus on the basics in the first few sessions. It’s like coaching a baseball pitcher. If they can throw fast, you work on that, then later you teach them control.
  • Most PD’s don’t coach the talent. They fail to have regular meetings whereby they offer constructive criticism and suggestions upon which to build the programs content.
  • Too many PD’s focus on the wrong thing and deliver criticism that focuses on basics or suggest bits/features that are not befitting the talent. If all you do is define the parameters of a show with negatives, it will be easier for the talent to do nothing, than risk getting into trouble for trying something new.
  • The best morning shows are fun, funny, connected to the community, have a strong link to the listeners lifestyle, thinks like the audience thinks, is continually doing show prep and is anchored by an intelligent person. I’ve never seen a successful morning show that wasn’t anchored by someone smart.
  • The best on-air personalities can be difficult to coach. They can be difficult to keep focused. Some have issues that go far beyond anything ion your scope of expertise. However, the very best air talent are intelligent, committed to excellence, have a strong work ethic, a keen sense of right versus wrong when it comes to their audience and they often hear a “party” in their head that no one else was invited to attend. Great and successful air-talent are involved in their community. They are everywhere and they are seen everywhere.
  • Always remember this; don’t fix what isn’t broken. Evolve and grow the product before decline, but don’t make dramatic changes without being prepared to run the risk of losing audience. I can put up with a lot of “stuff” to be number one.
  • Apply the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The Commonalities of Great Morning Shows and Great Morning Talent

By - Mike McVay

For the Talent: 
• The anchor or co-hosts are intelligent, topical, understanding of their audience’s lifestyle and connected to the community in which they broadcast.

• The best performing morning shows are fun, funny, positive and encouraging and overall entertaining. The shows are fast paced and provide audio adrenaline to the audience.

• Great talent stand for “something” and they’re true to that “something.” Think of the scene from Bull Durham when Kevin Costner’s character explains what he believes to Susan Sarandon’s character. What’s the purpose of your show.

• They are continually doing show prep. Everything that they see and/or hear comes back to an evaluation of “Does this fit with what we do on the air and should we do it?”

• They see the forest over the trees. Meaning that they aren’t so close to forest that all they see are the trees. They understand that the basics and formatic’s are important to getting rating credit, but they don’t focus on that at the expense of the shows content.

• The show is MAPPED. There are buckets which the talent drops into them the content of the show. These buckets contain Hot Topics and Cold Topics. Hot Topics are perishable. Cold Topics are non-perishable. Hot has to be used today or its old news. Cold can be used anytime today or in the future.

• They use various Camera views - change the view on regularly mentioned items. Example; anything that will be repeated throughout a show is presented differently each time.

• They use Topic Pulse for Topics (What’s Trending) or other social media tracking programs to be able to follow what your local community is talking about on this specific day.

• It’s OKAY to be political and be controversial WHEN it touches a high interest topic. The big shows never take a side, unless the show is on a Talk Station that has a particular bent or lean.

• FUN is the reason for the audience to tune-in daily.

When They Say "Winners Win!"

By - Mike McVay

Jimmy Fallon hosting The Tonight Show on a Sunday night. Following Sunday Night Football.


Do you think Fallon grumbled because he had to work on a Sunday night or if he thought “how do I take advantage of the huge audience that will be watching TV on Sunday Night Football?” 


This is what people mean when they say Winners Win!

How Do You Pysche Out the Competition?

By - Mike McVay

On a recent weekend, a friend and I went to an Atlanta Braves baseball game during their Braves Alumni weekend. We met several former players and spent some time talking to them.

One player that we spoke to was Ryan Klesko … a legendary Braves player who in his late-40s looks like he could still play. Ryan shared that his WALK-UP SONG (the song played as a player walks to the plate to bat) was “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood. He said that it psyched him up, but it also psyched up the pitcher.

He wanted the pitcher to be full of adrenalin so that the pitcher would shake off whatever pitch the catcher wanted him to throw. He knew that the song would make the pitcher want to throw a fast ball. Thus, he’d be prepared for a Fast Ball in the strike zone and look for that pitch to hit.

Think about it. He was “Counter Programming” the pitcher.

How do you counter program?

How do you psyche out your competition?

Are you focused more on your station than the competition?

It’s a lost art whereby we, as PD’s, pay attention to what the competition are doing and then work to outsmart them.

So many PD’s that I speak to feel that if they work to make their station as good as it can be, they’ll win. That’s not necessarily true. You need to be that focused on your station, but you also need to know what the competition is doing, and block or counter-program against the station.

Psyche them out.

Study: Stop-Set Conundrum Solved

By - Mike McVay

Programmers have debated where to place stop-sets and how to divvy commercials up in the hour for years. A recent study appears to have finally uncovered the magic formula for minimizing tune-out. The findings may convince some stations to cut spot-loads.

Easily the most-dense, highly nuanced of the half-dozen studies presented at regularly scheduled Nielsen Ratings annual Fly-Ins, “The Impact of Commercials on Station Performance” came to a simple yet pragmatic conclusion: two stop-sets an hour, each straddled across adjacent quarter hours, appear to maximize AQH performance. To reach that elusive answer, Nielsen Ratings VP of customer enhancements John Snyder correlated October PPM data from the top 15 stations in the top 10 markets with stop-set placement and commercial counts.

“Every time a station breaks, some part of the audience bolts,” Snyder said. “The more opportunities you give them to bolt, the more missed quarter hours you’re going to have.” (Five minutes of listening are required for Nielsen Ratings to credit a station with a quarter hour).

The study found a correlation between AQH Differential — or temporary listener bounce caused by
commercials — and missed quarter hours. Although evenly spreading out spots appears to reduce
bounce, more breaks turn listeners away, Snyder said. Placing commercial breaks at the top and bottom of the hour (or at the 15 and 45 minute marks) would minimize bounce and reduce missed quarter hours.

The average station could increase its AQH performance by 35% by getting credit for all the quarter hours in which listeners heard the station, Snyder said.

“Don’t assume that commercial time can be increased without impacting AQH,” Snyder said, adding that he hopes the study leads broadcasters to reduce spot-loads, making radio a more pleasurable medium, thus driving up ratings and demand for spot inventory. The average station in the study places just 9.5% of the hour’s spots in the first quarter, 31% in the second, 23% in the third and 36% in the fourth.

Country, regional Mexican and urban AC run the most commercial minutes per hour among music
formats. There doesn’t appear to be an AQH difference between stations that run higher levels of units vs. higher level of minutes, the study concludes.



The Steps to Winning Programming

By – Mike McVay

To program a great radio station, you must have many different components working together harmoniously. The following are the components that I most strongly believe in. I believe in this formula, given my 40 years of consulting and my most recent experiences working inside a major broadcast company


MUSIC: I feel as though music is the most important part of a music driven radio station. Music selected for the station should be a group decision among the program director, music director, and the VP/Format. Your market’s VPPO should be involved with you (the PD) in setting the stations music direction and essence. It should be a collaborative decision. Your music choices should be based upon local callout (if you have it), the National Research and chart from your VP/Formats, M-Score, Airplay Intel, tracking on-line exposure and trends as well as using BDS for the monitoring of stations similar to the dynamics of your station.  All of our stations have BDS accessible to them. Music should be on-point and should be scheduled so that each quarter hour is representative of the format.


ON-AIR PERSONALITIES: Developing an emotional connection between your on-air personalities and listeners (without increasing the amount of talk) is an effective way of ingraining the station’s brand into the listener’s memory.  On-air personalities need to be disciplined hosts who are providing relatable content to the target audience while keeping the music moving. The more real you are, the better connection you’ll have with your audience. You need to have personalities that the listener can identify with or be greatly entertained by when they listen.


PROMOTIONS: Promotions are one of the most important parts of station awareness. A station needs to be highly visible around town in order to be as successful as possible. When it is time for listeners to fill out their Nielsen diary, they won’t go to the radio and see what station is on, they will recall it from memory. If you’re a PPM market, then you want to develop contests and content that create repeat tune-in. This is why I feel it is so important to always be on the streets, being seen and talked about is what keeps a good radio station on peoples’ minds.  You will need more than on-air promotions, though, if you plan to grow your cume. You will want need marketing to do that. That means on-line marketing via website ads, social media, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well as the more traditional platform of transit and billboards. I’m not a big fan of TV for marketing as it isn’t cost effective. If you can advertise on Cable or Digital TV platforms, then maybe, but as far as local TV … news is the only thing worth investing in and that’s best for marketing spoken word stations


COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Getting a station with organizations like St. Jude Children’s Hospital or Children’s Miracle Network, Salvation Army, local food banks, and Toys for Tots are great ways to tug at the emotions of listeners, and it makes the on-air personalities “human” and clearly local. A station who takes every opportunity to celebrate the community in which they live in will accomplish much more than a station that is syndicated or voiced tracked.  If you are using syndicated programming, network programming or are voice-tracked, then work hard to be local sounding and really focus on what is important to your market. Do NOT “flip the switch and walk away.” These simple things don’t take up much airtime, they sound great on the air, and most of the time lead to free local press coverage. 


LISTENERS AND THE ADVERTISERS: If you keep harmony with both, then the reward is increased share and increased revenue. When your station is on the air, it should be the one that listeners and advertisers say is their radio station. This is because it not only satisfies their radio listening needs, but also properly reflects the community.


A program director needs to know the strengths and weaknesses of every one of their staff members and use them accordingly. The program director must see to it that the air staff has the coaching and direction it needs to be the best in town. By working with and knowing the goals, personalities and skills of each on-air personality, she/he will send the message that you not only care about the product but most importantly that you care about the individuals’ careers. 


Maybe the biggest most important thing for a Program Director is to keep it fun!  Without fun, morale slips and on-air personalities move on. If you’re having fun, it is reflected on the air. Never forget … a radio stations “personality” is that of the Program Director.