Moneyball: The Most Potent Research Choice is …


The spring ratings period starts in about 11 weeks. We tell ourselves that’s plenty of time to get marketing and promotional plans set and programming tweaks laid in, but the reality is things go quickly at this time of year. Even if you already have your fall ratings results, you may still be working through analysis and discussion before you begin making choices in the next few weeks. Some markets are still waiting for fall ratings and won’t start the decision-making process for another month. So, it pays to get things rolling on the choices you can make NOW.

If you’re responsible for a music station, particularly one targeting 25+ demos, a fresh library test is the most potent research expenditure available. Once upon a time, music testing was a secret weapon for building ratings. Stations that used callout to determine which currents to play and employed auditorium tests to sort out their gold library had a massive advantage. These days, music testing is table stakes to stay in the game.

We’re preparing now for our next Ratings Prospects Study at NuVoodoo, but the study we fielded in the second half of 2023 showed that a few things cause more tuneout than commercials – chief among them, bad song choices. Among those who are regular broadcast radio listeners in our sample of 2,504 respondents ages 14-54 nationwide, 38% cited commercial breaks as a reason to tune out.

But the worst offender, at 45% of the radio listeners in our sample, was too many bad songs. Burned out songs caused tuneout for 36%. Horizontal repetition, songs repeated at the same time from one day to another, caused tuneout for 34%. The same vibe, songs that all sound the same, was a problem for 33%.

About a fifth of the research-friendly respondents in our sample are likely to empanel with Nielsen if offered into a meter or diary sample. They’re labeled “RPS Yes” in the table below and deserve our attention, since they’re the people who give stations their report cards. You might expect them to be less likely to find reasons to tune out, but they’re more likely to find reasons to tune out.

At 58%, it’s nearly 3 in 5 “RPS Yes” ratings likelies who cited too many bad songs as a reason they’ve tuned out – eight points worse than commercial breaks. For music radio, getting everything just right is so incredibly important. It’s hard enough to get a playlist right for one person, but radio does it for thousands of people.

With budgets pulled tight after a tough 2023, finding ways to spend less on research while still getting accurate information is like being able to toss in fifty cents at the start of the hand while the other players toss in a dollar at the poker table. If your library doesn’t require testing 600 titles, NuVoodoo offers a 400-title test with 100 precisely screened respondents, the OMT Lite, for less than $10K all in. Need 600 titles? We can likely deliver that for less than $15K (depending on market and sample specs).

Want more information? Reach out to Carolyn at or me, Leigh Jacobs, at