This is another example of how radio is like baseball. Maybe it’s just the baseball fan in me that sees it this way. But it seems that winning teams are successful because they excel in big moments. Like hitting a three-run homer. But they also execute the small things.

Major events and memorable moments that put shows on the map are critical to success. They’re more important now than ever. That’s the three-run homer. For some shows, the three run homer is a signature feature. That’s how James Corden became famous through Carpool Karaoke.

But three-run homers can’t happen with the bases empty. A single and walk set the stage for a game-winning blow. They’re important, too.

Winning radio shows need to excel in both big moments and small things.

The Small Things

There are literally hundreds of small things that affect success. In fact, small things should be considered table stakes to play the Ratings Game. Without great execution, big things won’t have much impact.

Here are some small things that matter:

Balance: Listeners must know what to expect, then get it when they tune in. When one quarter-hour features four songs and the next just one, it’s unbalanced. The same is true with talk, features, information, and other elements. Imagine a listener hearing a four-minute song segueing into a 5 minute stop set, traffic, and another 3-minute song. That’s 12 minutes without personality! Then the next quarter-hour is loaded with talk and fewer songs! Build consistent clocks that put personalities in a position to succeed.

Execution: When personalities ignore routine content (music, news, traffic, etc.), it sends a subtle message that it’s not important. Guess what? The audience tunes in for those things. In many cases, it’s a primary reason they listen. Doesn’t it make sense to show them you like them as much as they do? That extends to promotion and teasing. Execute every talk opportunity with enthusiasm and excellence.

Listener Communication: Fans who call, email, text, and post are valuable. These active listeners are more likely than most to participate in a ratings survey. They’re also heavy users of radio. And fans of radio shows. So answer the phone. Return every phone call and email. Acknowledge mentions on social media. Respond to questions.

Manage Digital Media: When a consumer becomes interested in a product, they check it out on Google. So Google yourself. What do you find? Is it fresh, current, and relevant? Every personality should publish new content every day.

Events and Appearances: Don’t just attend events. Make an impact at appearances. Are listeners excited when they meet you? Do they enthusiastically tell their friends and post a photo on social media? Or is it “no big deal”? Every touchpoint can build equity or take away from a personality brand.


These small things are often ignored because they seem less important. But they’re valuable. Small things mean a lot. Do enough of the small things, and there’s a better chance of having runners on base for the big moments when you hit it out of the park.

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