Managers commonly ask whether a show has the potential to become a top-tier performer, particularly when it is underperforming the rest of the time slots on the radio station. There are many factors, of course, but some shows have a much better chance to win than others. Rating results are an unreliable resource to judge a show’s potential, but there is one rating metric that is usually a good indicator.

Before explaining how to look at the metric, understand the variables:

  • How well-established is the show? Only use this for shows that have been on for at least a year.
  • The station format has some impact. Niche formats with a smaller cume tend to have a more loyal audience, affecting the percentages in favor of the personalities.
  • Market size and the number of competitors make a difference. Fewer competitors make it easier for shows to score higher.
  • Shows (and stations) in metered markets typically have a higher cume than those in markets using diary methodology. However, well-established shows in diary markets may score much higher than deserved.

Having said that, here’s how to determine if a show has a chance to win.

The Chance to Win Metric

This quick, simple test is particularly helpful to evaluate how difficult it will be for a show to succeed. In some cases, it sheds light on shows with little to no chance to win. For others, it reveals an exciting opportunity.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Compare the overall weekly cume (not Daily Cume) of the show for the past 12 months vs. the station’s weekly cume in the same period.  Use only the total 12-month figure to smooth normal rating fluctuations. That’s why this only works for shows that have been on for at least a year.
  • Note: Do not narrow the demographics because it will distort the percentages. It’s fine to look at various demographics to study specific vulnerabilities and opportunities, but for measuring potential, focus on the total sample.
  • Convert the cume to percentages to determine the percentage of the station’s audience that also listens to the show. The formula is: Show Cume/Station Cume. For example, the Peppy and Zippy Show has a cume of 30,000. The station reaches 100,000. Calculate 30,000/100,000 for a percentage of 30%.

Guide For Show Potential

With the resulting percentages, here’s a guide based on results in a metered market:

Below 20%: If the show reaches less than 20% of the station’s audience after being on for a year, there’s nothing going on here. This show is in trouble and shows little to no signs of being able to succeed. Drastic measures should be considered, including a new show.

20-30%: This is a broad range and there’s a big difference between 29% and 21%, but shows in this range at least have a chance to figure it out and become a valuable show. Shows in this range are not winning but may have potential.

30-40%: Reaching 30% is a show that can be successful. It usually means the personalities are well-liked. If AQH share does not support the potential, there’s most likely a product problem (the audience likes the personalities more than what comes out of the speaker), or it may need to create more appointments for listening (or both).

40-50%: Usually, this is a very strong show that should be marketed as a leading reason to listen. In some cases, it could indicate a station in serious decline with a strong show keeping it viable.

Above 50%:  This is a dominant show usually in Stage 5 (The Love Stage) of the Personality Success Path. Consider offering a long-term contract because chances are the station would suffer if they leave.

Few shows reach 60% or more. They’re usually legendary performers, though there are exceptions with legacy shows (they’ve been on a long time) in small-medium markets (fewer competitive choices) using diary methodology.


This metric is not foolproof but is one of the easiest and best ways to evaluate if a show has a chance to win. By the way, isn’t it interesting that even the most dominant shows fail to attract 40% of the station’s Weekly Cume? That’s why turning a station’s listeners into morning show listeners remains the fastest and easiest path to higher ratings.

Do the math. Better yet, start a spreadsheet and track the results over a long period of time to see how the percentages change.

Does your show measure have a chance to win?

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