While watching some old home videos (yeah, we have a life), I learned a valuable radio programming lesson from my two year old son. Specifically, it reminded me of the two switch theory of radio programming.

The video was of my kids playing with toys at Christmastime. Alex (then two years old) had an electric train with a simple on/off switch. He flipped the switch to make the train go, and then again to make it stop. Pretty simple, right?

Well, this train had a second power switch that provided the main power to the toy. His older brother Andrew (four) switched the main power off, and Alex immediately started crying and complained that the train was “broke.”

Alex is like many radio programmers that fail to grasp the two switch theory factors in programming radio stations.

In a world with more and more instant data (PPM, PD Advantage, M-Score analysis), we assume that programming decisions made today are reflected in the ratings tomorrow…or at least next week. In most cases, it’s a little more complex than that.

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Wait, I take that back. In all cases, it’s more complicated. That’s what makes programming tricky. It’s at least as much art as science.

Consider the notion that not only must the switch be on, the power must be on as well. Like life itself, programming issues are rarely as simple as we try to make them.

The Two Switch Theory

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