by Tracy Johnson
Radio has a bright future. We need to make some adjustments, but it’s not going away. But personality radio has a tremendous future. More evidence proves that air talent sets stations apart. And that’s why you must develop personality now.
The value of personalities has always been high. But today, it’s higher than ever. And every day it becomes even more critical to build on-air superstars that command attention.
The project was among women age 15-54 who listen regularly to AC or CHR stations in North America. If the respondent pool were expanded to talk stations, it would have been even more pronounced.
Take a look at this:
That’s powerful information.
76% strongly or somewhat listen because the people are entertaining. But that’s not even the most convincing information.
Here’s another look at it, with a slightly different question: Why do they love their favorite station in the morning? Upbeat music is #1 for radio. Tied for #2 is weather and fun/funny personalities (37%).
Programmers and broadcasters depending on their music mix to win the battle should immediately reconsider. It’s clear that personalities are a primary driver of audience attention.
Here we see the percentage music station listeners in all demographics tune in specifically for entertaining personalities. And this is only those that strongly agree with the statement.
The future of radio depends on personalities, not music. And not information. Here’s how radio’s advantages stack up in the study. Radio has a 0% advantage over streaming for playing favorite songs. But, 24% for personalities and fun (13% + 11%).
Historically, radio programmers could focus on winning one of four categories:
Music: Be the outlet for delivering a music solution and you could carve out a strong niche.
Information: The station to turn to for news, traffic, weather and sports was a viable position.
Promotion: Over-the-top contests, promotions and stunts could generate attention and win affection.
Personality: The people that make an emotional connection with the audience have always been valuable.
Today? You can’t win music, information or promotion. Technology and changing consumer behavior has removed that advantage. Yes, you can win a position against other radio stations, but isn’t that a little short-sighted?
That leaves one category. Personality. It’s the one thing that cannot be taken away from you.
Still not convinced? Here’s one more graph that shows conclusively that listeners tune in because some of the people are entertaining:
If this survey is repeated in the future, the percentages will be even more pronounced. Personalities are becoming more important. Meanwhile, other reasons to listen have become commodities or crowded.
Alan Burns summarizes:
One of the biggest differences is that actual ratings cooperators are more strongly attracted to entertaining personalities (64%) and fun in the morning (67%) than the average listener.
Strategic’s EVP Hal Rood added:
High profile personalities are among radio’s best assets against online pure-play streamers.
Personality radio is the future. No, I take that back. Personality radio is the present.
What is your personality position? Are you investing in air talent? Are you supporting them with the tools to grow your talent?
If you need some help, I know a certain talent coach that would be happy to help.
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