I lost my job at KUPL in Portland on August 18th. Within a few weeks I was working for Jaye Albright part time while looking for my next full time gig. After four months I landed a new job as the Senior Director of Country Programming and Program Director at the Hot Country format at Dial Global based in Denver. The four months I spent as a “regular listener” changed my programming philosophy forever. In those four months I was given a great gift…to be able to listen to the radio as a real listener, not as a PD. I was able to “listen to the radio, not monitor the radio.” In that time I learned some things that I’d like to share:
Pandora is cool and it defiantly a big competitor to listening. I signed up for a Pandora account right after I was laid off and I love it. The downside, it’s not nearly as mobile as my Ipod (it will be soon), they play commercials and I missed the companionship and information of a personality.
It takes a long time for listeners to get familiar with new music. By the time I started to know and like a new song, it was being moved to a recurrent and I heard it less on the radio.
I listen to a lot of different stations. It would take PPM to tell me who I was a P1 to.
When I didn’t have to “monitor” my station or the market for my job, I listened to the radio less. It was on in the car every time I drove (but not working full time I was driving less). I listened in the bathroom and if I was working in the garage. No longer was I listening to the alarm clock or in the kitchen.
Most of the time I had no idea what stations were talking about since I wasn’t listening as much as they thought I was. There was a lot of “inside stuff” or no real explanation of contesting or bits. I felt like an outsider at a dinner party who was the only one who didn’t know anybody. You need to find a way to explain things all the time.
I don’t care about position statements. I only care about what’s on the radio. I’m smart enough to know what the format is by the song people are playing. I think most people are. Positioning statements can be just added clutter.
I only knew a few stations in Denver (KBPI, KYGO, The Wolf) so when I wanted to populate my pre-sets, I used the scan button until it landed on a song I like and I set the station. I bet that’s how most people find new stations when they move to a new city.
I finally became a real listener and can see how people really use the radio and what drives them to keep listening. It’s tough to do, but challenge yourself to listen like a listener, not like a radio person.