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Morning Drive Radio – What the Cool Kids Are Doing Right

July 26, 2012

At last month’s Morning Show Boot Camp, Arbitron presented a benchmark study on the top 25 successful morning shows according to PPM. You can see the full presentation here but we thought there were a few points worthy of your attention.


There has been some debate in the PPM era about interruptions and negative listener reaction. Yet, the best performing morning shows spend most of their time NOT playing music. This certainly has something to do with ingrained listener habits and expectations and should not be interpreted as a license to spend less time playing music. However, given the success of these shows we have to assume that the non-music content they produce is at least as entertaining and compelling as a song. We think it’s a good exercise to examine the percentage of non-music content on your morning show. If it falls in line with these benchmarks and the show is seriously underperforming, perhaps it may have something to do with entertainment value. Conversely, if your morning talent is talking less than the benchmarks, there may be an opportunity for increased entertainment content. We won’t attempt to define what “good” content sounds like – we’ll leave that for your listeners to decide.


While the difference isn’t huge, it is worth noting that 18-34s seem to prefer less non-music elements in morning than their older counterparts. So, your cluster’s CHR will approach this differently from your Mainstream AC.


PPM shows us that listening levels are noticeably higher in PM Drive, making it the most listened-to daypart. While the benchmark study does not include the percentages of music vs. non-music content, it might be worth exploring in the future. We are not suggesting that afternoon performers should talk more. However, given that people in their cars are driven by (and tolerant of) some levels of non-music entertainment, it might be an area of opportunity for your station.


It seems the sweet spot is Men 35-54. They are (obviously) driving to work. However, they are also heavy users of both the Internet and (surprisingly) newspapers. Perhaps there are opportunities for you to use these other platforms to reach these prime morning consumers and convert them to more occasions to your product. The more touches the better.


The days-per-week habit of younger P1 listeners is 22% lower than the older demo even though their daily consumption is close to being equal. We see this as a huge opportunity for growth. ALL ratings – whether PPM or diary reported – will grow with increased occasions of listening. If you can find a reason for your P1s to come back one more day a week, imagine the impact on your ratings. What would you do for a 22% increase?


Of course, every market and every situation is different.  To really see how your morning show performs against those in other markets we would need to factor in format, competition, heritage, etc. Still, these benchmarks offer a good snapshot of best practices as they currently exist.

What do you think?

-Marc Greenspan, Partner