So Ryan Seacrest has reportedly been coached to talk less between the songs on KIIS FM.
In a competitive market, the PPM ratings decline when the mic opens, or so the general consensus (with plenty of exceptions) says.
Ryan is supposedly miffed, and who can blame him? There are, after all, lots of companies that pay him lots of bucks to say stuff in front of an open mic. Putting a lid on it is the last thing they want.
Here's my opinion: I think the radio industry is investing way too much power in PPM ratings and making the wrong decisions on the basis of the wrong data.
Keep in mind that music is, by definition, the lowest common denominator product a station offers. Any time a mic opens it is bound to please fewer people than the song which preceded that open mic. Because – unless you're an all-Talk station – nothing that host can say is likely to be more familiar and more appealing than the song he or she just followed to as many people at once.
Radio isn't a behavior that happens only now. It's a behavior that happens over and over again across time. And the biggest challenge isn't to keep people tuned IN to your station – it's to get people to tune BACK to your station.
We need to obsess less on reasons to tune-out and start obsessing on reasons to tune in.
While everyone may not agree that every pearl of wisdom from Ryan Seacrest is a slam-dunk classic, they will also agree that Ryan creates can't-miss moments – what the public radio folks (reluctantly) call "driveway moments" – and it is the anticipation of those moments that brings people back, again and again, to the station which is lucky enough to have him.
Ryan is a reason to come back to KIIS. Unless there's less and less Ryan to come back for.
So you can tell Ryan to "trim out the fat" from his breaks, but the real game is to add more muscle.
Not to add more songs.
Because anybody can play songs.
Only a talent can perform.