Delight the audience with surprises: Paul Amos and Ronnie Stanton #RadioAsia

During a format workshop at the Radio Asia conference in Kazakhstan, Paul Amos and Ronnie Stanton shared tips for tuning your format to best serve your audience.

Comparing music radio formats with music streaming services, Paul Amos from Xtra Insights addressed the question of whether services such as Spotify are now overtaking music radio formats.

“Every song is a winner on my spotify playlist… but it gets repetitive to listen to that playlist too often, no matter how much I like my favourite songs… Radio however, can delight the audience with new surprises.”

The best music radio formats appeal to the emotions and to the audience mood at the time of the day, according to Amos. “Monday morning is a different mood from Friday afternoon. Successful program directors find out about the mood of the audience and play them what they want at that time.”

The science of music includes these technical elements, which PDs and Music Directors can use to control how songs are delivered in the clock:

    •    Clocks, rotations, tempo, texture, Era control
    •    Male/female
    •    Research Scores
    •    Variety
    •    Balance
    •    Consistency
    •    Showcase ‘new’

“The clock is the backbone of the raido station’s format. We apply all these elements to scheduling,” he said.

Repetition and Variety are important. Sometimes listeners complain about repetition of songs, but it is the songs they dislike that cause the copmplaint. They are less likely to complain about repetition of songs they like, according to Ronnie Stanton from Ronnie Stanton Media. Therefore the trick is to make sure your playlist has lots of well liked songs and few that the audience does not like.

“Some stations think that you have to play more songs to get variety, while in fact the station that plays a small amount of the right songs will be better.

“Think of your favourite restaurant – you go there regularly but you mostly order the same things,.. choosing music is similar, choose a small number of favourite songs and then use tricks to change to order and rotation to create the illusion of variety,” said Stanton.

Tools to take control of the music rotation include: repetition, packeting, specialty shows and features and horizontal separation.

“A machine can’t do the perfect job, it needs a human being to add the connection at an emotional level to the playlist that is generated,” said Stanton

“If your listeners regular listening time is between 8am to 8.45am, make sure the same songs do not play in that 45 minutes day after day. We need to create the percetion that there is plenty of variety at the time they are listening, even if the same songs do turn up again at some other time in the day.”

After sharing tips on how to get the best from your music rotation system, the pair turned to discussion of the elements between the songs.

“What happens between the songs makes you unique. Anyone can copy your songs, but they can’t copy your talent and shows… this builds the relationship with the listeners that makes your station different from another statiosn that plays the same songs,“ they said.

Audience focus, flawless execution and memorability are the keys to connecting with your audience.

“At breakfast our job is to make the audience reconnect with the world and to inform them of what happened when they were asleep… Breakfast teams also entertain and set the mood fo the day,” said Ronnie Stanton.

Some of the habits of highly effective breakfast shows include:

Context – if you took your breakfast listeners out for lunch, what would be the topics of conversation? Relate to them via the topics that matter to them.

Planning – It requires lots of planning and thought to sound unplanned and to have great conversations.

Thinking differently – Put work into deciding how you will tell the story or make the comment. Don’t just choose the angle you first thought of, find many angles and chhose the best ones to make your comments comes to life.

Grabbing attention – Like a good James Bond film – start with the action, grab attention immediately then expand the story or comments.

Focus – one thought per break… if you work in a team, only one person can have their hands on the steering wheel, if not the break will lose focus.

Hooking – Give most of the story away except for one important piece, make me care and want to listen to the rest, which will be coming up next.

The Radio Asia conference continues all this week. Follow the conference in more detail on

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