A recent review by radio consultant Alan Burns revealed that "listeners to a typical CHR or AC station in the U.S. are 15 times more likely to hear the station plug its web site, text programs, or on-air contests, than to hear a comment about the music on the station."
Alan's conclusion is that "the typical station isn't embracing its music." "Why should the audience be passionate about a station’s music if the station itself doesn’t reflect any excitement or interest?”
This conclusion assumes a premise: Namely, that an audience will be passionate about a station's music if the station is passionate about its own music. Further, this argument assumes that the station will be more popular if it's more enthusiastic about its own music.
Unfortunately, there's no proof provided that either of these premises is correct. Both are only assumptions.
Likewise, concludes Alan, "72% of all breaks contained station positioning messages, while less than 7% of breaks were non-station-based addresses to listeners or their interests." In other words, we're much more likely to talk about ourselves than our audiences.
Again, however, this assumes that the audience is listening to us to hear about themselves rather than about us and what we have to offer them that is of interest to them. We can consider this kind of stuff to be "self-promotion" or we can consider it to be exactly the kind of problem-solving that listeners come to us for.
What did you just play? We're going to tell you. What are you giving away? That info is coming right up. Where can I find more information about you? Here's how….
The role of a radio station is not simply to act as a mirror for its audience's lifestyle, but also to justify its own role in the array of entertainment distractions available to us all.
I can't remember the last time I heard a radio listener complain that "the station talks about itself too much, not about me."
This is not to say that "connecting" to an audience is unimportant – we know it matters. It's only to say that if we're going to conclude that a station would be more successful if it talks about its brand less, then we need to see some proof that this is true – and not just anecdotal proof.
Aren't folks listening exactly because they want a piece of us, not simply more of themselves?