I had an interesting email dialogue with an air personality in a major U.S. market about PPM methodology. Specifically, the question is whether it’s possible to connect with the audience in a radio ratings world judged by PPM (Portable People Meter).

At first I thought this was an odd topic with an obvious answer. If PPM methodology prevents personalities from connecting with listeners, and the radio world is ruled by ratings services, then personality radio has no future.

But I know that’s not the case. In fact, personality radio is the key to radio’s future.

In our discussion, the air personality claims programmers are “killing” the flavor of morning shows because of metered measurement. As a result, we’re left with a robotic style of presentation in short segments. And none of it is deep enough to connect with the audience.

He describes most of the morning shows in his market as having turned into a Twitter style presentation.

Well-meaning programmers often suppress personality on their radio station by over-analyzing details that seem technically true. But without applying art tot he science, personality is polished out off the air.

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They critique, scrutinize and criticize to the point that personalities feel stifled. Even if they’re told to “be fun”, they feel restricted, as if they have no room to create.

Watch this hilarious parody of the relationship between a PD and DJ.

Obviously this is an exaggeration. Kind of. A little. But the net result of coaching personalities to avoid making mistakes has a similar effect.

The point is that when stations are programmed specifically for what they perceive works in PPM, personality is pinned in a corner. There’s a better way to coach!

4 Programming Principles For PPM Methodology

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