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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

April 21, 2022

Recycling is not only good for our planet, it is an essential tool in enhancing your ratings. Before we dive into some of the data, let’s take a step back to the basics.

Your audience share is based on Average Quarter Hours (AQH). AQH is a combination of cume and Time Spent Listening (TSL). Yes, we know the technical term in PPM markets is Average Weekly Time Exposed (AWTE), but us old schoolers want you to just get off our lawn.

TSL is composed of two data points…

  1. Occasions – How many times does a meter or diary keeper visit your station for at least five minutes in a given quarter hour?
  2. Duration – How long do they stick around?

NPR loves to run promos that talk about “driveway moments.” Sure, some of their content may be so compelling that a listener will sit in their car to hear the end of the feature. In reality, most do not. Think about it – someone has just slogged through an hour-long commute. The last thing they want to do is remain in their car. Despite our smarminess, we do have data to back this up. The average duration – at least in PPM world – does not vary by much. Generally, you’ll see it at around ten minutes. This means getting people to “listen longer” is a tough task.

You have a better chance of getting your listeners to visit you more frequently. You can do this in two ways:

  1. Horizontal recycling – Tuning in on different days. They listen during the week. How do you get them to sample you on the weekend?
  2. Vertical recycling – Listening to different dayparts. Someone listens on the way home from work. How can you get them to tune in during their morning commute?

You can also do a combination of these.

Now for the data part. One of the benchmarks we review for our clients is what percentage of their target cume tunes in to the five major dayparts (Morning, Midday, Afternoon, Nights, and Weekends). We can get a very clear picture of how healthy a station is by looking at these percentages.

For most music stations, a healthy tune-in percentage looks like this:

  • Morning – Assuming you do not have a huge morning drive audience/legendary morning show, a healthy tune-in is around 30-35%.
  • Midday and Afternoon – These dayparts almost always have more cume than Morning and we like to see tune-in at around 50%.
  • Nights – For most music stations, especially those focusing on older demos, you’re lucky to get 25%.
  • Weekends – This daypart is often overlooked but well-performing radio stations will hit the 50% mark.

These figures are averages and can be greatly affected by format and demo. For example, sports radio gets most of its listening Monday-Friday 6A-7P. Stations focused on the 18-34 demo generally see their best tune-in in the Afternoon and Weekend.

Getting new cume to listen to your station is very hard. However, once you have them, you have the power to nurture their listening through recycling.

The Ratings Experts at Research Director, Inc. have other tools – and expertise – that can help you with this and other ratings opportunities you are facing. Click here to find out more.

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant