For the last five years of the PPM measurement era, increasing TSL has been believed to be a measure of increasing listening occasions. With an average listening span of 10 minutes, broadcasters became existential about longer individual stretches, and began teasing like crazy, in hopes of making their TSL up in smaller chunks.
While I have larger issues with that type of programming, it raises a more immediate question. What would your listeners hear if they did give you that extra occasion? So I decided to listen to a market for 10 minutes at a time (or thereabouts), specifically market No. 37: Columbus, Ohio. In doing so, I was adding an extra dimension, not just the broadcast radio itself, but the streaming experience.
I started at 10 a.m., listened to 11 different stations, and went roughly until noon with a couple of do-overs (more about that later). My listening was timed to avoid morning shows and lunchtime specials.
Unlike a local listener, my listening required three different streaming platforms. Once I was able to listen, however, it was a largely positive experience. I did encounter some of the typical pitfalls of streaming and “today’s radio,” but overall I was favorably impressed with my “time in the market” as every station and its advertisers geared up for Mother’s Day.
Here’s my listening log:
9:58 – WLVQ (QFM96) – The classic rock outlet was running a “00 ID for its jockless “shut up and rock block,” then stagers for the listener-driven “Q on Demand” (one of which instructs the audience to “pick some good [bleeped].” The 12 minutes I heard were all hits: “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Killer Queen” and “Legs.”
10:10 – WNCI – The top 40 went into spots at :15, but before it did, I heard “Can’t Hold Us” and Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song,” set up with the “No. 1 for New Music” stager, followed by a Ryan Seacrest bit about curing a Cinco de Mayo hangover. When the spot break came, I heard a jock endorsement spot, then several mostly local spots, an ad for the iHeart Radio Summer Pool Party and then (apparently as a fill song) “Grenade.” This took me up until 10:21, overlapping slightly with the next station.
10:18 – WSNY (Sunny 95) – When I tuned in, the heritage AC’s middayer Trisha Moore was reading the weather; she’d come back before I left at 10:30 to tease an upcoming remote at a local supermarket and the giveaway that went with it. I also heard two stagers: one usage (“pick you up”) and one attitude (“just like free cookies in the breakroom”) in between “As I Lay Me Down,” Maroon 5’s “Sugar,” Scandal’s “The Warrior” and “Safe and Sound.”
10:30 – WCOL – The country powerhouse went from David Nail’s “Let It Rain” to Brett Eldridge’s new “Lose My Mind,” then went into spots at :36. But the station’s Andy Clark both front- and back-sold the Brett Eldridge enthusiastically, before teasing a chance to go on-tour with Kenny Chesney and win $1,000. When the spots did come, there were at least four different jock testimonials, followed by an iHeart Country Fest promo.
10:38 – WCKX (Power 107.5) – The big story here was the station’s upcoming Stone Soul Picnic, but DJ Dimepiece also took a minute for the “Celebrity News Buzz” (Chris Brown, celebrating his birthday, falls off stage; Jamie Foxx explains why his version of the National Anthem sounded off). I heard Kanye West’s “All Day” and Jidina’s “Classic Man” before the station went into spots. So far, by the way, I hadn’t come across any typical spot filler — bad PSAs, the same GEICO spot three times — and that continued here. Some of my Power 107.5 listening overlapped with my next station.
10:40 – WCVO (The River) – The longtime Christian AC had various stagers commiserating with listeners who experienced stress at work and on the drive home, and promising “songs and stories” that would be “uplifting and encouraging.” Middayer Mary O’Brien punctuated the Newsboys’ “We Believe,” Phillips, Craig & Dean’s “Revelation Song,” and David Crowder’s “Come as You Are” with a relatable about Tom’s Shoes’ upcoming “One Day Without Shoes” campaign.
11:00 – WVMX (Mix 107.9) – I hit AC WSNY at the exact right time. I tuned into hot AC sister Mix in one of those unusual hours in which it staggered its ad breaks–stopping at :03 (after Magic!’s “No Way No”) and came back to music at :10 with the legal ID and “Love Me Like You Do.” I came back a few hours later and heard music from 2:50 to 2:58, then a five-minute break. (I also heard “Thinking Out Loud,” “Shut Up And Dance” and “Fight Song” again.) Mix did have a good Mother’s Day promotion – the “Mommy & Me” photo contest. I also heard a number of good quality spots on behalf of local advertisers.