Radio programmers are constantly looking for an advantage. They tweak tactics to gain an extra quarter hour hear or there. It’s a constant game of cat-and-mouse, trying to find a game-changing trick to tilt the ratings. But maybe we shouldn’t look for game-changing tactics. What if we instead focused on tactics to change the game? When tragedies like celebrity deaths happen, radio stations have opportunities capitalize.

Typical ratings manipulation includes adjusting clocks to beat direct radio competition out of stop sets. Or we stack commercials in breaks across quarter hours (bow tie) to increase the chance of gaining another five minutes of listening.

Commercial free music sweeps are scheduled and promoted hoping to lure listeners at key times.

And we launch contests and promotions designed to inflate tune-in occasions for a chance to win a prize. Contests may be the most effective tactic to change the game, at least for short periods of time, which is what most PD’s are most concerned with today.

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Those tactics can be effective, but they don’t replace relevant programming content when the audience is deeply affected.

For news and talk stations, local disasters are a cume driver. They often become the “one you turn to” in times of stress. Artist and celebrity deaths are a similar stimulus for music based stations.

Shouldn’t we invest time and resources to build sustainable advantages that can truly be a game-changer for radio brands?

And if so, what are the things that carry enough power to make a meaningful difference?

Celebrity Deaths: Programming Considerations

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