Shifting listener priorities | radioinfo

Shifting listener priorities

Sunday 02 May, 2021
Content from BPR
For years it was accepted that people listened to music stations primarily for music. Everything else was secondary. Now that may be changing. A recent study conducted by Jacobs Media suggests that music may not necessarily be the reason why listeners tune to their favourite station. The study shows that listeners are now more likely to choose a station because they like the presenters.

The above graph tracks the appeal of music versus personalities over a 7 year period. At the start of the study, radio listeners chose music over presenters by a 13% margin. However, in the 2021 survey, listeners chose presenters over music by a 6% margin. This is a remarkable shift. (***)

Let us examine the specific question/answer used in this survey. One answer option is “I like particular DJ’s/shows/hosts” and another is “I want to hear my favorite songs/artists”. The first answer option is clearly focused on presenters and their programs. The second is focused on a person’s favourite music.


What could have caused this shift in listener priorities? Look to the Internet.

In the past few years, people’s music listening options have expanded dramatically. Spotify, one of the earliest music streaming pioneers, initially gave listeners the option to hear playlists based on a particular music style or artist. However, music streaming services now give the user the option of hearing specific songs on demand.  Listeners can hear their favourite songs as often as they like. Not only are they available on demand but they can be downloaded as well. This makes listening to one’s favourite songs and artists easier than ever before.

Now we turn to presenters and their programs. If a listener wants to hear a specific presenter’s program, there is usually only one practical option: tune to the radio station where that program airs. Because the presenter’s program is proprietary to that station, it cannot be accessed any other way. Presenters and their programs give a station a unique selling proposition (USP) whereas music playlists do not offer this advantage.

A word of caution. The presenters who are most attractive to listeners are the presenters with a personality and who have something to say. In other words, they are real communicators and not just slogan readers. Talented presenters require enough format flexibility to allow them to express themselves in a way that is interesting and convincing.

It is ironic that in an era when station operators are increasingly reluctant to use live presenters, they are perhaps becoming an increasingly valuable and necessary asset to a station’s brand. Radio operators need to invest in the development of air personalities as if the station’s existence depended upon it.

First published by Jacobs Media. Read original here 

By Andy Beaubien, BPR



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Anthony The Koala
3 May 2021 - 5:55pm
The author of this article has "hit the nail on the head". There are two aspects, people's preferences for "a presenter" and musical tastes.

The "presenter" presents links and segues to music usually if the link and/or segue has some relation.

For example, " enjoyed Sammy Davis Jr in 'Candy Man'. The backup singers to 'Candy Man' had a hit in their own right in a 1970 war movie...that's coming up..."

Another example, "singer Bruno Mars has teemed up with Anderson Paak with this great R & B and soul track....that's coming up.."

Presenters have their own trademark signature sayings "a rick a poody and a fan doogally" (phonetic transcription), "howdy hoady every bodey", or from the movie "...gooooooooooooooooooood morning Vietnam..."

Presenters also told the time to a precision, "'s twenty five and three quarter minutes to eight and Captain Bristow from BOAC, I can see him waving his hands towards the camera, has just touched down in Sydney... Good morning to all the milkos, ambos and police..." (my artistic licence added.

Presenters had a particular denial or certitude to: "there's no such place called Gullarganbone" (John Pearce (RIP)), "there's no such thing as stress" (Stan Zemanek (RIP)), "...the pandemic is just a mild flu..." (various unnamed former presenters), "....climate change is a hoax." (various unnamed presenters), "....climate change is a crisis" (various unnamed presenters).

Choice of music options have expanded with various SOD providers providing customised music streams. The listener is not defined necessarily by the age demographic.

I posit that the listener has a wider music taste than what radio stations offer for a particular demographic. You cannot assume that a person in their thirties likes only the music presented on Nova or JJJ, even though that demographic has a higher proportion of people in their 30s than people in the 60s.

At the same time, one cannot assume that a particular age demographic listens to a particular genre of music. This has always been despite the recent introduction of customizable IP streaming services such as Spotify.

I've met people in their 20s and 30s who like the music of "The Beatles", "David Bowie", "The Kinks". They also have tastes for Mozart, Chopin and Beethoven.

Unfortunately the varieties of music people enjoy is not reflected with what's on air.

Participants in the ratings survey in recent years indicate that have 86%-87% of listeners. Last survey it was 84%. In the 1970s it was 98.5%.

I will never forget requesting Steve Murphy on "Lite 'n Easy 1269" (2SM) in 1988 for KC and the Sunshine's Band's "Give It Up". That was refused because it did not fit in their narrow repertoire of 1500 high rotation songs. But they played Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody", which had a fast tempo as KC's. Ironically 2SM enjoyed higher ratings during its automated days during 1992,

2SM's automated music period in 1992 was an example where there no presenters. It was what people wanted. When the automated period in 1992 concluded, it was replaced by a format which plummeted in ratings.

So we cannot definitely say that presenters even those with a personality such as those of the 1960s on 2SM, 2UE and 2UW are what attracts people to listening to a particular network.

It also says to me that radio stations are not listening to their listeners reverting to consultants who will supply them with a ready-made library.

Thank you,
Anthony of exciting and stirring Belfield
Anthony The Koala
4 May 2021 - 3:34pm
Further to the discussion on this page, like Facebook, streaming services such as Spotify are a 'goldmine' of what listeners want especially when it comes to customised streams.

The data could be broken down into demographics including age group, location and genre to name a few data fields on a database.

It would be more valuable than a representative sample of the population from a focus group.

Perhaps another income stream for these streaming services is marketing their database to radio stations. Radio stations can then research the database from the streaming service to find what the listener wants.

Thank you,
Anthony of exciting and creative Belfield
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