Long music sweeps sound like a great idea, and there’s evidence that the tactic works to manipulate ratings, at least based on detailed studies of meter carriers. The theory is to clear the off-ramps (primarily commercials) to keep the audience locked in for three quarter-hours, then cram commercials into as short a time frame as possible. The science of programming verifies that sacrificing a quarter-hour to earn three is a great trade. On the surface, long music sweeps work.

Another popular programming tactic is expanding a long music sweep to multiple hours. The workday launches with 90 minutes of commercial-free music, hoping to transition from a more talk-intensive time slot (the morning show) to a music-intensive at-work utility. This also works to some extent. What’s not to like about removing things that cause tune-out?

But wait. There’s more. Program Directors are pressured to grow ratings on the theory that higher ratings produce more revenue. Searching for an edge, savvy programmers move as many commercials as possible into quarter-hours that cause the least possible listening damage. In other words, they look for the times commercials will cause the least programming damage. For building AQH, this makes sense.

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But what are we doing here?

Do Long Music Sweeps Work?


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