Monday, December 29, 2008

Number one with who counts -- LISTENERS!

Back on November 12, I posted a note about how radio listening is down for commercial stations but National Public Radio affiliates are actually growing nicely. Now comes word that the new Portable People Meter developed by my old company, Arbitron, shows something very interesting in Washington, DC, a major radio market.
The number one radio station between 7 PM and midnight in this big media center is not the local hit music station, not the news/talk or the urban/rap station. No, it is a listener-supported, non-commercial contemporary Christian music station, WGTS-FM.
How can that be? How can such a narrowly-targeted station beat all those other consulted, researched, promoted, fire-breathing monsters?
I'm not that familiar with WGTS, and it is definitely NOT the kind of station I would typically listen to, but after visiting their web site and listening just a few minutes to their stream, I think I have a good idea. Anyone listening or visiting the web site who falls into the group for whom the station is intended instantly feels like he or she belongs. They probably feel that this station "belongs" to them. Everything is inclusive, not excluding. The pieces fit together. Listeners are invited to be a part of what they are doing.
There is an open invitation for listeners and visitors to design a billboard for the station, using the theme "Why I believe in God." People are invited to send video of their kids' Christmas pageants to share with others. There's a chance to choose a gift from a catalog to send to a child in Asia for Christmas. Of course, there are blogs, a chance to follow station personalities on Twitter and other social sites, and a high-quality station stream that does not require some kind of exotic player--just Windows MediaPlayer--or demands that you register to listen (there's an optional opportunity to give your email address if you want to be on the station's distribution list).
Again, it's not my kind of station, but I can readily see why the PPM shows it to be doing so well. They are not trying to reach "listeners." They are trying to attract participants...members of a club that a large number of people would like to join. And they are not doing anything any other radio station couldn't do.

Don Keith

No comments: