The Two Switch Theory of Radio Programming

The Two Switch Theory of Radio Programming

by Tracy Johnson

Recently I was watching some old home videos (yeah, we have a life). But it taught me another lesson about radio. 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 flipped it 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.”

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Radio programming would be easier if there were a direct cause and effect. Usually it has more to do with the two-switch theory.

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Alex is like a lot of programmers that fail to grasp the two-switch factors in programming radio stations. Especially in a world with more and more instant data (PPM, PD Advantage, M-Score analysis), we often 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.

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

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Radio’s Two Switch Theory

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