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How your Radio Station can become a STAR

A No-Nonsense Marketing Smart Tip

November 17, 2004

Everybody loves a winner, the saying goes. But most stations aren’t. Yet what it takes for a radio station to win is surprisingly simple. At the base level, a winning station must have a broadly appealing format and little or no competition in that format. "Duh," right? But if you’re not a winner, how can you become one?

Everybody wants to be a STAR

STARS are those stations with broadly appealing formats and minimal competition in their format category. These are the big ratings winners – the envy of their competitors. A STAR is what every station wants to be.

How to become a STAR

STARS attract competition like sugar attracts flies. But since competitors cannot easily substitute for the STAR because the STAR owns all the positions which matter for its audience, they "flank" the STAR by offering hybrid programming for what is usually an audience without a lot in common. These stations are the ME-TOO’s.

ME-TOO’S become STARS by making their programming more distinctive and unique (i.e., by moving into a BIGGER HOLE) without reducing the breadth of their appeal. They must create a new format CATEGORY rather than simply hybridize the ones which already exist. Any market host to a plethora of AC’s knows what it means to be a ME-TOO.

CULTS are the niche players. Their audience is small but loyal and their format is unique but narrow in appeal. They can become STARS either by squeezing heavy TSL out of their thin audience or by increasing the appeal of their programming mix. Often Christian and Public Radio stations are in this category – and sometimes they evolve into STARS.

DOGS are every broadcaster’s worst nightmare. These are the stations in highly competitive situations with formats that can’t sustain competition because they lack mass appeal. They can become STARS only by changing format. In San Diego, for example, we once had dueling Oldies stations and dueling 80’s stations. The consequences were not pretty for anyone.

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