PURE formats will win big in 2022 

by Dave Charles and Lee Abrams

I’d like to talk to those broadcasters in competitive situations.  You know that to compete and win requires a strategy, great plan and creative marketing.  Often big promotion dollars are spent on contesting like ‘the 100 K Song of the day’ ‘Beat the Bank’  ‘Concert trip of a lifetime’ and supported by TV, social media and in marketing campaigns costing thousands. 

Fact: Less than 2 % of your audience will actually play contests!  It’s the pure formats that will win big every time without contest incentives to listen.

Most stations are unable to convert concepts and ideas that ‘on paper’ appear solid, but, in reality, doesn’t connect with their target audience.  The art of radio marketing and contesting skills is acquired over time. Few of us are born knowing what really works and what has ultimate appeal.  This is where the science of research and a good gut meet to ‘find a better way’.  It’s so hard to find that combination of IQ and know-how as today’s radio CD’s are time stressed to the max. Most favour doing contests they did the year before.  

Yet the mission to entice your audience in 2022 with so many competitive choices on so many platforms is very difficult.  You might as well latch on the Tik Tok for what is grabbing your demos attention right now.  It’s full of crazy real life home videos and a place to get some new ideas.  I watch it when I’m looking to recapture my creative energy.  Sometimes it’s like ingesting too much sugar. The point is ‘new thinking’ is required to cut through a very cluttered media environment. 

Will your marketing and contesting have appeal and stick?

Let’s call it for what it is.  High IQ and low BS. Media and entertainment is also often blurred by the BS that looks good on paper and appears correct but, fails to connect with your target audience.  Today, you need to step back to get perspective on what ideas will convert and cut through to give your brand the buzz it requires. Here’s what you really need to pay attention to.

Passion..Character and Muscle are the big three primal movers that you must always strive for.

Passion:  It’s more than a feeling..it’s the mission. As we know, passion rules the heart over the head every time.  It’s one of those intangibles that your audience senses immediately.  Passion for creative energy which we are all attracted to.  You know it when you hear it. It jumps out at you. I don’t hear that much on radio anymore.  I hear sameness and old ideas repurposed.

Character: Always try to be unique and totally original.  Character means you’ve got the pulse, the humanity and are above all else, non-conforming to the norms around you.  By virtue of your character, you set up your stations identity as a leader now and in the future.

Muscle: Big, confident and bad ass.  Some companies are big but they aren’t bad ass!  It’s a sense of embraceable swagger.  Swagger is not ego!

Listeners, advertisers and everybody can sense these three things when listening… (Passion, Character, Muscle).  It’s this engaged image you project when those three elements are in sync.

Some great radio examples come to mind immediately for me:  Q107… Toronto’s Rock. It’s a PURE Classic rock experience,  97.3 BOOM fm with their (you never know what song you’re going to hear next format), 104.5 CHUM FM says… POP goes Toronto, HOT fm Ottawa sizzles with every element. These stations have all captured passion, character and muscle to maintain rating dominance. Check them out to hear what we’re talking about. 

Mood and Reliability (aka Users and Fans)  Some radio fans will listen to you when they’re in the mood while others will be addicted.  You rarely get either if your sound is predictable and vanilla! Lets go back a bit. In 1979, Burkhart Abrams did the first dance station at WKTU fm– New York.  It went to # 1 in 45 days.  There were other dance stations, but they weren’t PURE

WKTU was always 126 bpm (beats per minute).  By being this pure 24/7 the disco fans became addicted as they LIVED at 126 bpm’s. Others tuned in only when they wanted a fix…and they got it.  The results of this purity and focus were a heavy fan base with insane AQH and (average quarter hours) a massive cume from those ‘mood’ listeners who only listened when in the mood.  And when in the mood, WKTU fm New York always delivered at 126 BPM with amazing energy and fun!

WKTU fm is a great example of a PURE radio format that conquered New York City.

I was the one that took consultant Kent Burkhart (Lee’s business partner at Burkhart Abrams) to some of Montreal’s better Disco clubs to experience this cultural monster!  Kent was blown away by the music and the passion of the fans in the club.  It didn’t take him long as a master programmer to put a PURE Disco format together. Bottom line…if you focus on a simple PURE format mission, you’ll be very successful.  Like Kent Burkhart did, he experienced DISCO in the clubs before he created the WKTU fm Disco format.

Forget the demographics and get into the psychographics of how your listeners really feel about the music they crave. ‘Right now your stations playing someone’s very favourite song’.

Psychographics is how your demographics FEEL about the music you play and how you present it and package it with Passion, Character and Muscle!  The devil of PURE formats is in the execution of the music format and the imaging that surrounds it.


If you require help in this extremely important exercise…make contact now. 



Contact Dave Charles

[email protected] 






Tags: |