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Why Do We Ignore the Weekends?

February 15, 2024

We know that a lot of radio listening occurs in the car. What is your audience doing on the weekend? Driving around in their car, running errands, shopping, transporting their kids to sporting events, or just having fun.

Here are some facts about weekends:

  • Saturday & Sunday represent 28.6% of your total week.
  • Successful music stations see about 50% of their weekly cume tune in on weekends. That is usually more than tune in to Morning Drive.
  • According to a recently released Westwood One study, advertisers should devote 21% of their campaign spend to weekends.

Yet, all too often weekends are an ignored daypart. Long gone are the days of having a live person in every shift. Stations air non-market-specific syndicated programming or plug in generic voice tracking. If you’re a spoken word station, you’re likely padding the bottom line with dreadful infomercial programming.

We are often on autopilot while our audience is in engagement mode. For listeners, weekday listening is often conducted in “work” mode. Weekends are “me” time.

The stories are legion about how stations are unable to react to momentous events. Whether it’s severe weather, or some other natural calamity that will affect your audience in real time, or the passing of a music icon, stations – at best – are scrambling to “be real.”

I have witnessed this firsthand. I live in a small college town. It’s a two-book market. After years of working in major markets, I have learned that the smaller the market, the more important local radio becomes. There is a shared sense of community in places like this.

There are actually three colleges in this town. In May they often hold their graduations on the same weekend. That literally doubles the local population. How does radio react? Not particularly well. One group locally voice tracks so they will acknowledge what everyone in town is dealing with. The other is piped in from afar and while we’re dealing with unusual congestion, they’re opining about the latest celebrity gossip.

Let me climb down from my soapbox and redirect this back to the numbers I opened this blog with.

Weekends represent more than a quarter of your total week. Look at it this way. Saturday and Sunday 6A-12M covers 36 hours of listening. Drive times cover 40 hours.

About half your audience listens on the weekend. If you’re doing well, that is about the same percentage that listens to Midday and Afternoon Drive.

Weekends represent a revenue opportunity for your sales team.

I know, times are lean and staff is short. That is a great excuse for coasting on the weekend. However, it is also a huge opportunity for you to build a stronger bond with your audience.

That is something that will improve your ratings.

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant