Where Listeners Really Listen

04 Jan

WTIC, WBZ and several other large AM stations cut air staff jobs during the past few weeks.

An article in the Hartford paper explained that WTIC is ‘hemorrhaging’ money.

Certainly AM stations are at a disadvantage simply because they are on the less popular medium wave band.

Talent costs are higher than for FM music stations.  The staff for an AM news talk station is generally larger,  often with several people in the newsroom, sports, producers etc.

It puzzles me though why these stations aren’t crushing the market when it comes to advertising revenue.

Work on any big AM station, and you’ll be amazed at how closely the audience listens to every word you speak.

News talk is a format used by ‘listeners’.  They pay attention, not only to the show content but to the advertising messages as well.

Several years ago I programmed WSYR in Syracuse New York.

Our home repair host left the station and we had an immediate need for a new one.  I called the guy who built my home and asked if he’d do the show at least until we found a replacement.

“Well, I don’t know much about radio and honestly never really listen much”.

“That’s ok” I said.  “You’ll just have to answer questions like you do all day at work.”

He came on and is still doing the show today.

Several weeks later he told me that he was completely stunned by the response.  He had no idea how many people listen and how closely they pay attention.

The little air work I did on the station attests to the same thing. People would mention hearing me on the air weeks after the show.  It was amazing.

FM listeners never mentioned hearing you on the air.   AM listeners listen and they respond.

Even years after working overnights on WWVA Wheeling people commented about listening to the station and remembered what we talked  about.

The point is AM radio stations are not like their FM sisters.  Sales people need to grasp the difference and understand how important a local personality can be to helping an advertiser.

Given the choice of advertising a product on AM or FM, I’d take the AM station with personality every time.

Perhaps  management should hire true AM specialists to manage, program and sell these powerhouses.

It would stop the hemorrahaging at the bottom line.

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Posted by on January 4, 2009 in Radio programming


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