For years many peoples first job in radio was in a research department. Back in the dark ages (1980’s) most music stations had folks randomly call homes, qualify the person as someone who listened to their station and then played 30 songs down a phone line (3-5 seconds of each song) and asked people their opinion.
Then we we really wanted a larger size sample we invited randomly picked samples to come to a hotel ball room and listen to about 700 hooks (the 3-5 second part of the song you would call the chorus) and take their scantron forms home to decide what songs we should play.
Today, most music research is done on-line. In my simple opinion this kind of research is way better than the previous mentioned methods, for one basic reason. A listener can do it at their leisure. It is hard to listen to 30 bits of songs in a row and not get fatigued to the point where you don’t care anymore. The negative, of course is the method is not scientific. In other words people are not randomly selected to take the tests. We actively promote on the air to tell us what you think about the music we play.
I think if you have read any of my previous blogs you would know that we do care what the listeners think. While this method may not be scientific, it does give us a good snapshot of what OUR most active listeners are thinking about the music we play. Many companies use national research or multi market samplers. No offense intended to anyone, but I really don’t care what is working in Cleveland any more than they should care what is working here. It is my market I am concerned about and we all think this is a fairly unique market, especially when it comes to country.
Our current songs move up and down in play rotation based on our feeling we get from our research. A song that jumps up early in testing has a very good shot at being a hit. We have had several of those songs over the years that started right here and become big smashes. Two very recent examples were James Otto’s “Just Got Started Loving You” which we played more than anyone in the country and it researched right away. Another one was Eric Church’s “Homeboy” and right now Eli Young Band (who are playing with Dierks Bentley at the San Jose Civic November 11) “Crazy Girl” has been top 5 for us for months and next week will go #1 in the country.
The other aspect of our testing is we don’t name the artist, it prevents just voting on a name. Obviously, if a listener is familiar with an artist they will know who it is, but we want them to listen, not just vote on the artist as a whole.
The most important thing any programmer can do is listen. Listen to the music, listen to the listeners, listen to the research, listen to the people you trust and then make your decisions. As we have discussed the last three weeks, these are the elements to what we decide to play on the air. If you like music and even if it is not country get involved with your favorite station. Check their web-sites I’ll bet somewhere on there you can have input to the songs you hear.
I am not really sure what I will write about next week, so I am open for suggestions. If you have a question or comment, email it to me and I will try to address it in upcoming weeks. firstname.lastname@example.org