Use the OAR Method to Know Your Audience Intimately

Use the OAR Method to Know Your Audience Intimately

by Tracy Johnson

A fundamental step in creating your show strategy is defining a target listener. The OAR method of compiling information can come in handy for you. It is a simple process of three steps to help you get to know your audience better.

The OAR method is one of the tools we use in the steps of building an audience persona. The persona is like an architect’s blueprint that guides content selection, messaging, promotion and virtually everything in the relationship with your audience.

In building a large, targeted audience, remember that you’re not developing a profile of a real person, but a composite that represents the audience. When you know exactly who you’re speaking to, your show can be much more intimate. Each listener will feel a deeper bond.

To apply the OAR method, you should have already compiled the basic demographic characteristics of your audience: age, geography, perhaps even socio-economic levels, etc. If you haven’t done so yet, check out how to Become An Audience Magnet: Build an Audience Persona.

Here’s a free template to organize the data.

Download Template Now

Download “Audience Persona Template” Audience-Persona-Template.ppt – Downloaded 256 times – 2 MB

The OAR method is used to learn more about the audience’s lifestyle, behaviors and attitudes so that you can create emotional connections and relate naturally and authentically.

The OAR Method Defined

Your composite listener profile should be broad enough to be mass appeal, yet specific enough that it could belong to one person. That can be tricky, and it takes time. But it’s not expensive.

There are three basic steps.


You know the demographics already, so pay attention to those folks. Observe their lives. Find out what they read and talk about. Go where they go. Watch what they watch. Be where they are. Do what they do. Eavesdrop on them. Check what they’re talking about on their social media pages. Listen to them. Pay attention to them. You can learn a lot just by being alert. Do they have school-age children? What is going on in the schools and on playgrounds that affect their lives? What are their challenges raising those kids?

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Why You Simply Must Get To Know Your Target Listener Intimately


Be curious. Start conversations on social media. Find a topic and let them talk about themselves and their lives. Start conversations at promotions, appearances and events. Don’t hide from them. Ask them. Indulge them. Find out what they care about. What motivates them? Ask open-ended questions about what their life is like each day.

A key is to dive deeper into questions by asking WHY? Get beyond their superficial answers to find out what is really motivating them.


You don’t need a large budget to gather information. You probably have a station database. Harvest that information. Invite them to participate in online polls. Conduct Listener Advisory Groups. Learn to host your own focus groups. Gather 8-14 in an informal setting, buy them pizza and soft drinks and find out about their lives.

You can also pass out a questionnaires at music tests or movie premieres. Insert questions in the entry forms for all promotions and contests.

Or, if you can find just $1,000 in your budget, you can launch your own research project with WP Hatch, an online marketing and research company that will set it all up for you.

What You’ll Learn From The OAR Method

What types of things should you know about your audience? Everything.

What magazines do they read? Do they read magazines anymore? What TV shows do they watch? Do they watch live, on DVR or streaming? Where do they shop? At the mall or online? Which stores are their favorites? What worries them? When with friends, what do they talk about? What do they do in their leisure time? Who do they admire? What three things do they value the most? And much more.

You might also like:
Be an Audience Magnet: Get an Audience Persona

As you gather data, identify common traits. Organize a team inside the station to curate the information and build a life story for your composite listener.

Organizing Data

As you dig deeper, be sure it’s specific enough that it could be one real person, but broad enough to represent a wider cross-section of your demographic target. For instance, if you’re programming a CHR station with a broad target 18-39 year old women, your composite may be a 23-year-old woman that

a) has a child,

b) is divorced, not currently married,

c) is dating, and

d) lives at home with her parents.

This profile allows the flexibility to deal with most relationship situations.

Now you have it on paper, but you’re not finished. You still need to bring your composite listener to life. Give him/her a name, and develop a detailed profile of what their life is like.

Finally, make your composite listener real with a simple quick reference poster that includes keys to reaching him/her emotionally.

Here’s an example of how a client’s CHR composite profile turned out:


composite target graphic


Once you understand attributes of the composite target, you can easily identify opportunities that fit their lifestyle and quickly reject things that don’t. It helps with content selection, but more than that, it helps you stay relatable!

Everything should pass through a filter that appeals to your composite.

Ready to build your own audience persona? You can do it with a little time and effort, but if you need some help just let me know. We’d be glad to help you set it up.



Author: Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.

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