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Brian Wright
Audience Development Group

What Research Reveals About Radio




Over the years ADG has conducted and analyzed stacks of research from perceptual studies to focus groups and music tests of all kinds.

Here is a summary of the universal truths that emerge from this data and the solutions to the problems we see.


1. Among listeners that are loyal to a radio brand, there's decreasing passion for radio.

2. The two major sources of discontent are the same two sources we've been hearing in focus groups for years: 1. Repetition and sameness in music. 2. Boring, unentertaining talent and delivery.

3. The difference today is found in the declining credit formerly afforded radio's positive Value Points: "fun, entertaining talent," content, innovation, and most of all, morning show passion. In other words, radio's balance sheet has less net worth within the columns than in years past.

4. Radio has significant systemic problems: over-commercialization combined with a lower creative threshold.

5. We can no longer view radio as a near exclusive player in a rank & file category in the minds of consumers. We have been re-cast into the full spectrum of entertainment mediums. There is an explosion of choice.

6. Internet and Satellite radio is not creating runaway momentum. The focus groups and other data suggest that we have underestimated the financial barrier of these forms of radio. Two mindsets surface: one of them perceptual, the other pragmatic:

"The idea of paying for my radio listening doesn't make sense. I mean...itís always
 been free

"I've had it with monthly fees and payments. By the time I spend over a hundred
dollars for a receiver, then pay a monthly fee, I can't justify the money



1. Talent coaching is abysmal coast-to-coast. Worse, radio is missing new nests from which to discover talent, based on an old paradigm. Until we change the way we value and collect talent, we're going to see the same results.

2. Talent coaching needs to change in both priority and form. This includes finding a way to expand and grow PDs.

3. There is no PD assessment center anywhere in radio with the possible exception of one or two groups. There is also no true PD training curriculum, in groups or within the industry. How can we reconcile sales training and ignore it with program directors, in the face of today's threats?

4. In the words of Jack Trout: Differentiate Or Die. Find your difference--even if itís just 15 percent, and exploit it. Audience Development Group has espoused that the short course to winning in radio, lies in owning a compelling body of music, and becoming known for it.

5. Right-brain imaging must replace boring left-brain imaging, without losing the brand name and address.

6. Content reigns supreme. We have to raise radio's profile in our markets, dealing with the issue of "variety-freshness" vs. repetition. Talent needs to be infused with an obsession-to-entertain, or get out of the way.

7. Good beats "local" every time. Good-local, always beats good-national. Shed the belief that says listeners intellectually weigh national vs. local.

8. Trying to make your audience understand your brand is a waste of time. Instead, try to become the brand that understands its audience.

9. The ADG Brand Depth Pyramid is real. While bad music architecture can't be overcome by station elements, once the music base is accurate (40 percent of your brand depth), your morning show is the next 20 percent, with the balance toward the top of the pyramid being total station personality, imaging, and marketing.

10. To win your audience under today's new rules, you may have to step back away from them. Most radio imaging has all the effect of daily flight announcements at a busy airport. We've made a creative, right-brain environment, a left-brain business.

11. Talent Development is the hardest tactical task in a radio cluster. It will only happen with commitment and a map. Many PDs have not been developed or coached to create a process within which this takes place.



Brian is a 30 year radio veteran who has successfully served many companies over the years as Program Director, Operations Manger and VP of programming. After many years of success working for individual radio stations and clusters, Brian Joined one of the most trusted consulting firms in the country, Audience Development Group. For the last 15 years Wright has enjoyed building alliances with scores of stations in the US & Canada helping them grow in ratings and revenue. Contact Brian at


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