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Brian Wright
Audience Development Group

Listener Are Not Created Equal




People who listen to your radio station more than 7 hours per week are classified “heavy users” and generate almost 90% of you market’s average quarter hours! In contrast “light” listeners who spend less than 7 hours a week represent about 12% of a market’s total TSL. Think of “Heavy Users” as the “Diamond Frequent Flyers” for an airline. Of the millions of passengers annually, this group only represents at most 20% of their tonnage; yet that same group accounts for 70% of their revenue!


P-1 (Preference 1) listeners, once thought to be created equal, are in fact divided into two groups in ratings syntax: Heavy Deeps and Shallow Lights , yet they are both classified as P-1’s. Even in PPM markets turning just one of those Shallow-Lights into a Heavy-Deep can and does have significant impact on your ratings. We have often told programmers and personalities, “If you can convince just 10% of your diary holders/PPM participants to listen on just 3 more occasions per week it is a guarantee that your ratings will soar exponentially.” 


It is also true that 30% of your P1s switch stations within 2 weeks. 45% switch within 4 weeks. 58% switch at least once sometime over 8 weeks. This does not suggest they don’t return. How and why do they come and go? First, listeners are inherently, but not maliciously disloyal. It’s really just the way people are in life. Focus groups over the years clearly tell us that often people come and go from a radio station and it has nothing to do with the product at all. Instead it seems to have everything to do with life and schedule and there is not much we can do about that with these listeners.


To hold your position with those who are paying some attention it is important to remember that listeners don’t turn dials anymore, instead they use presets, which makes it imperative to be on a first or second button. Much of that depends on top-of-mind awareness. The easiest targets to move are former listeners; they’re likely to have a button set.


The best we can hope for, within the measuring system we have, is for the diary base/ people meters to fairly represent the listening patterns of a market and they rarely if ever do. The sample size is simply too small. This is why it is extremely important for you to build an overwhelming top-of-mind awareness for your station using all available tools. This combined with a good product will create a radio station that has the biggest impact on your community. There are no shortcuts. For 95 years we have been looking for them but they do not exist. So let’s stop looking for them.


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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