Doing Something About Radio’s Quarter Hour Problem

One of the big issues ahead is doing something about the quarter hour.

Of course, stations get rewarded for ushering around listeners who hold a People Meter so that the stations can get credit for as many quarter hours as possible.

But in doing so, stations are winning the ratings and losing the audience.

That may sound good to you but it is a formula for irrelevancy in a world loaded with digital content everywhere.

Jam 8-minute commercial stop sets into a quarter hour or between two of them and stations think they’re good to go.

But there is increasing evidence that listeners – especially younger, money demos – are walking out on radio because of these tactics.

This is why I’m putting this topic on my list to discuss with those who will be in Philly March 18th for my 6th media conference.

I’ve got a way to handle commercials, content and PPM in a different way.

For example, think about how listeners might want to listen to radio not the way we might want them to or PPM requires us to.

The way they are proving they want to enjoy entertainment.

Audiences are becoming addicted to getting content in chunks – they consume them as desired and – this is really important – they binge on that which they really like.

That explains Orange is the New Black and House of Cards as well as all those TV shows that are being enjoyed on Netflix delivered all at once so they can be consumed as fast as viewers want to watch them.

Yesterday I learned that 10% of all U.S. households with broadband bought a streaming box during the first three quarters of 2014 -- this according to Parks Associates.

Network TV audiences are down.

Content via streaming boxes up.

Stay with me here.

In radio, we need to deliver redesigned chunks of content that can be listened to in real-time in a way similar to binge watching favorite TV programs.

Two things get in the way of that.

Unremarkable programming on some stations and a quarter hour mentality.

Let’s disrupt it.

  1. Offer content in chunks that are complete and without interruption in various lengths – as I will show you, the programming must be complete and satisfying and this includes music formats.
  2. Throw away the hot clock. It’s killing radio. There is no reason in the world that a station needs a hot clock other than the notion they have that PPM forces them to.
  3. If you don’t want to – or can’t – reduce commercial loads, do not do them like stations are doing them now with 8 minutes of short commercials back to back every half hour.
  4. Commercial breaks should be rolling and never at the same time – I’ll show you a plan and see if it doesn’t interest you.
  5. Put each segment together as if it is House of Cards – do not – I repeat, do not – just program one song after another. Spotify and Pandora do that. No one needs computer-generated playlists on radio.
  6. For spoken word, news and talk stations – throw the clock away and build content in day tight containers.

Let’s brainstorm together.

Here are some of the other topics that we will cover in Philly.

  • What You Need To Know About Reimagining Radio
  • Mastering Digital – What Works, What’s in the Pipeline.     
  • Protect Your Station Against Competitors Who Drop Their Rates
  • Latest Breakthroughs For Attracting Money Demos
  • Changing the Way We Talk To Audiences
  • Key Strategies To Protect Your Radio Station
  • New Content Businesses Ripe For Radio
  • Salvation for AM Stations
  • FM Protection Against Streaming Music Services
  • The Trick To Real and Lasting Success For News/Talk/Spoken Word
  • Dire Warning About Podcasting
  • The Best New Radio Format No One Is Doing
  • Expanded Group Questions & Answers

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