Politics and Music Station Positioning

Given the current news cycle, we wanted to replay this finding from our Ratings Prospects Study 13 in January, even as we’re starting work on the questionnaire we’ll field in January 2020. No matter which side of the political aisle you’re on, you’re aware of the political divide in the country. News and talk radio has to wade into the fray, but what’s the role of music radio?

Coming out of 2018 we’d wanted to see if there was broad interest in ideas we’d picked up in verbatim comments in client studies. Based on results from our sample of over 3,000 respondents, ages 14-54, across all 48 PPM markets, we still think there are opportunities for music radio to bring listeners together.

We’d asked respondents to agree or disagree with statements that they would listen more to stations that aligned with various ideas. The three shown here all generated wide support.

You’ll note that even stronger majorities supported the ideas among those we’ve identified as likely to accept an offer to carry a meter or keep a diary – and this was back in January. The greatest number agreed that music stations should offer an escape from politics and serve as an oasis from the current turmoil in Washington DC. Some morning shows wade into political humor, but these data suggest extreme care.

Music radio listeners need a break from the relentless attention media outlets are giving to politics – and that will only become more so in the months ahead. Nearly as many agreed that they’d listen more to a music station that promotes unity and inclusiveness. And while the overall numbers are a little smaller, there’s a sizable group that agreed they’d listen more to a music station that takes a stand against sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

We’re showing the data among the PPM likely portion of the sample and sorted into music station format P1 groups. The results are substantially the same among the subset who model through as likely to participate in Diary methodology. In order to have sufficient sample, we had to combine some format P1 groups – AC and Hot AC, Rock and Alt and “Library” (Classic Rock, Classic Hits and Jack-type 80’s-centered stations). You can see how strongly these ideas resonated for some format constituencies.

As you may have expected, unity/inclusiveness positioning played very well among PPM-likely Rock and Alt P1’s. And anti-gender-discrimination positioning was potent among the young, female constituency of CHR P1’s (and Rhythmic CHR’s as well). And while the anti-gender-discrimination messaging only stirred half the Country P1’s, the offer of an escape from politics connected with all but a few of them.

We’ll disclaim that these data were collected in early January of this year, but certainly the level of turmoil and division hasn’t calmed any since then. While these ideas won’t take the place of describing what it is your station does for listeners, they can be powerful add-ons that connect with listeners and bring them together while setting your station apart from your competition. And isn’t having positioning that sets your station apart from its competition (including Spotify, Pandora and others) an important goal?