True/False: Payola is Alive & Well

Last week we put out the call for “truths” that may be held by listeners. We’re talking about the things we overhear non-radio people saying about our business – those misunderstandings that can exist in their minds that might tarnish feelings toward stations and the business overall. We’ll be including the most interesting ones in NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study Twelve when it goes into the field in June. We want to measure how deeply these ideas are accepted as “truths” – and among which listeners.

Here’s a handful of new “truths” we’ve received:

  • Payola is alive and well – music companies pay stations to play songs they’re promoting.
  • The songs people really like never get on the air.
  • Radio ruins songs by overplaying them.
  • Most stations are automated – there’s no one in the studio.

Our hope is that, if we know which of these pernicious perceptions is deeply held, radio will be able to to address them through marketing and positioning (and in some cases programming).

Some of the ideas that have come in are very station/market specific and fall into the category of things local managers should be looking at on a regular basis. In the hotel business they talk about “fresh eyes” – an outsider who notices the frayed doormat or stained awning that have become invisible to hotel staff. It’s worth budgeting time at least once a quarter to audit your station(s) as a new listener:

  • What’s the listening experience like on the air?
  • What’s the listening experience like on an app? A computer? A Smart Speaker?
  • Would a new listener be able to find what he or she might be looking for on your website?
  • Is it easy to find out how to contact the station? Phone number? Email address? Text?
  • Does anyone respond if you call/email/text?
  • If a listener commented on a station Social Media post, does anyone from the station reply?
  • With “fresh ears,” do the things you work on make the station special?

Our digital era forces us to think critically about the service we provide for listeners. What makes our station(s) and our business great for listeners? What value do we provide? What perceptions are in our way?

Maybe there are some new radio “truths” you overheard among non-radio types at a Memorial Day cookout. We’d love to find out if they’re just musings of a few folks – or widespread truths. If we include one of yours in our questionnaire, we’ll make sure you and your team get an early preview of the deck we’ll be sharing with clients later this summer. Send your overheard radio truths to