Moneyball: The Importance of Making Connections


Many years ago, in an introductory college course on broadcast radio the professor laid out that the goal of commercial radio isn’t to build a large audience, the goal is to sell advertising. As the advertising landscape shifts toward highly targeted digital solutions, stations are turning to other revenue streams like events. It’s a natural and highly synergistic marriage for stations that are well entrenched and well connected in their communities. And it underscores our belief at NuVoodoo that staying involved with your listeners is critical.

In terms of both the total amount of listening spent on your station across ALL people in your market – and the highly important listening reported by the small sliver of ratings respondents – it’s important to use every tool to stay connected and involved with your listeners. In NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study 23 conducted earlier this year across over 3,200 14-54s nationwide, we saw sharp differences between our wider sample of research-friendly respondents and the smaller subset of those who profile as most likely to participate in ratings methodologies, such as those conducted by Nielsen.

Just under half the total sample said they’d “smiled or laughed at something” on the radio in the past week. While we’re encouraged that nearly 30% said they listened on a station smartphone app in the past week, about a quarter or less were involved with a station in the past week. Those are low numbers for stations that are ultimately trying to serve local businesses with new customers.

When radio enjoyed (nearly) exclusive status as the source of audio entertainment outside of home, stations could better afford to aim for passive listeners who enjoyed pleasant music and a very background presentation. Stations with higher profile personalities and/or more foreground presentations often had an easier time getting listeners to show up at a client’s location, but the steady ratings and lower operating expenses enjoyed by well-managed background formats were profitable.

With broadcast radio’s primacy as the in-car entertainment system under attack and the infinite range and endlessly flexible audio offerings available now, radio must work to connect with listeners. The medium looks stronger among those most likely to give us our report cards, the likely ratings respondents, where two in three say they “smiled or laughed” in the past week and closer to half have connected in some way or another in that time.

And while ratings performance helps to substantiate what stations can charge for commercials, that performance alone among the more engaged, radio friendly folks likely to participate in the ratings may not bring enough business to station clients. We need to push to connect with listeners in all the channels available to us.

  • If they email, they need to get a timely reply.
  • If they connect on social media, we need to comment and thank them.
  • If they call on the phone, we need to answer and care about why they called.
  • If they show up at a station appearance, they need to be rewarded and leave with a positive impression

We’re showing off programming and marketing micro-tactics from NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study 23 in a second season of Moneyball for Radio. You can find new videos every Thursday at We’re focusing on the radio version of “the butterfly effect,” the incremental things you can do that can add up to the additional tenth of a rating point that is the goal for stations in rated markets.