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The Secret to Driving Time Spent Listening

September 15, 2020

Your and your station’s success are based in part on your AQH performance. It does not matter whether you are talking about rating, share, or rank – the goal is to grow your AQH audience. There are only two ways to impact AQH:

  • Cume – How many people are tuning to the radio station?
  • TSL (or AWTE) – How long is the average listener tuning to the radio station?

The job of every program director and every marketing dollar is to grow the station’s cume. The reality is that every station loses cume every day. Listeners may:

  • Change their listening habits
  • Move to another market
  • Die – yes, this is morbid, but it’s the truth

Therefore, just to remain flat, you need to be constantly attracting new cume. No amount of on-air promotions can get non-listeners to become listeners. Outside forces are required to bring in new cume. Once they come to the station, the goal is to convert them into regular listeners. Again, first you need to get them to come to the station.

Unfortunately, with marketing dollars tighter than ever, bringing in new cume is challenging. Therefore, the most cost efficient way to grow your AQH is to get existing listeners to listen longer. Sounds easy, right? WRONG!

TSL is based on two factors:

  • Occasions – How often does the listener come to the radio station?
  • Durations – How long does the listener tune in for?

So how do you have a positive impact on these two important factors?


Driving occasions simply comes down to getting existing listeners to come back to the station one more time. Cross-promoting both vertically (throughout the day) and horizontally (across days) is key to driving occasions. Give your listeners a reason to come back. Make sure your shows are promoting something that is occurring later in the day or the following day.

Build a plan and a schedule to drive your cume to listen more often.

Do you know how well you are recycling your audience, or which hours are the best to push these listeners to? Knowing your existing benchmarks is essential to measuring how effective your efforts are.


Some believe that it is difficult to get people to listen longer – after all, when you pull into your driveway, you’re going to turn off the radio and go inside.

The secret to building durations is to avoid driving them away to another audio source. When you open the mic, is your content crisp, concise, and compelling? Are your personalities saying things that keep people interested as opposed to getting bored?

The trickiest part of building durations is your clock. Do your stopsets maximize durations or do they drive listeners away at the wrong time? How does your clock compare to the competition? Are you airing entertainment when they are running commercials? This part is science, not luck.

Simply put, is what’s coming out of the speakers (and earbuds) keeping them listening, or making them look for an alternative audio source?

We’ve got tons of tools and insight to help you tackle these issues. Please reach out to us here for a free consultation.

-Charlie Sislen, Partner