Groundhog Day is February 2 and it has us thinking about the Bill Murray rom-com of the same name. In the movie, Bill Murray’s character is forced to relive the same day – Groundhog Day – over and over. According to those who are concerned with such trivia, Murray’s character relives the same day for close to nine years in the film. Breaking the cycle and getting out of the loop ultimately meant that he had to do things not only differently, but better.
Managers are under scrutiny to “do things differently” – but doing things better is the real goal. As radio adapts to its latest set of new competitors and embraces the possibilities of new technology, it’s important to both look for new opportunities and review all the “things we’ve always done” to make sure they make sense today. At the same time, we need to immerse ourselves in making sure that the new things we’re doing make sense for our listeners and our business.
Many stations are gradually sliding into the emerging podcast world – and many more need to do so. NPR has proven that convenient, frictionless, terrestrial radio is a great launchpad for podcasts. All you need is decent production, content that’s highly interesting to an audience and a reasonable way for potentially-interested audience members to connect with your content.
Of course, the bar is higher than uploading a day’s full-length morning show. You can easily imagine that there could be strong upside for a morning show to offer podcast(s) built around the best on-air moments. The resulting podcasts might include NSFW moments that couldn’t make it to the radio. The podcasts might include a behind-the-scenes narrative from the show’s host(s) describing what was going on in the studio. The possibilities go on and depend on the personalities on the show and their connection with listeners.
Public affairs programs could have a second life in podcast form. The highly-targeted groups in a market who are interested in the topics covered would form a passionate and deliverable audience. Yes, they’re narrow audiences, but podcasting potentially gives much greater life to these programs, widens their impact and could be highly valuable to the right advertisers.
Doing things differently might also involve using different vendors or different techniques to make music decisions. As Nielsen has moved past relying on residential telephones as a first point of contact for its samples, it’s wise to do the same for station music research. The panoply of new tools available to look at interest in new songs and how audiences react to airplay can be very informative.
Gauging consensus across a station’s potential reach requires a screened, passively-collected, statistically-valid, representative sample of a station’s audience. It used to require callout, but now online sample and data collection have turned that into what we at NuVoodoo call Online Music Research: full-sized, screened, passively-collected samples giving reactions to all the titles in consideration for a station’s playlist.
While it’s tempting to believe that there might be merit in giant opt-in samples scraped from the station’s website, we know that larger isn’t inherently more accurate. Nor are opt-in online popularity polls always helpful. We always fall back on the example of online voting in the UK that ended up trying to name a new government research ship “Boaty McBoatface.”
Samples need to be passively collected, so that no unintended participants wander in to distort the numbers. Respondents need to be appropriately and thoroughly screened to make they match the criteria you’ve set up to make music decisions. And, today, respondents need to be able to complete the interview on their own schedule in whatever setting suits them. The days of interrupting people by calling on the phone while they’re trying to eat dinner are gone. The days of begging people to come to an unfamiliar hotel meeting room in the evening to listen to 600 hooks are also over.
NuVoodoo has led the way in using properly-recruited online samples for media research. We’re working to find the next ways to make opinion-gathering more accurate and efficient, because some things never change.