Should You Lock in Features at Set Times or Rotate Them?

Traditional programming philosophy suggests a feature will be more likely to resonate and become a habit if it’s performed at exactly the same time every day.

The counter-argument is that only listeners who tune in at that time hear the segment, and those listeners may eventually consider your show redundant.

What’s right?

As with most things, it depends! It’s usually best to lock in great elements at the same time each day. Here’s why.

But there’s a counter-point that’s worth considering:

  • Listeners are creatures of habit. Most tune in at the same times each day. If you (and your features) can become a part of their routine, you stand a better chance of becoming part of their habit.
  • But if they tune in every morning from 7:15-7:25 and hear the same, boring bit, or a feature that just isn’t exciting, then to them, that’s all you are. That’s another reason to make sure you’re only performing great features.
  • However, if the feature is great, most of your audience is missing it! This is an argument to repeat it more frequently.
  • And, since they don’t listen as much as we’d like, moving the feature to different quarter hours increases the risk that it never establishes.

There is no absolute correct answer, but here’s some advice:

  1. Worry more about burn in than burn out. Don’t worry about being redundant. Worry bout being great. If the feature is strong, you shouldn’t be concerned about listeners getting bored with it.
  2. Solve the “what if they miss it” issue by airing it multiple times during the show. If it’s great, and you’re afraid some listeners miss out, recycle, re-perform or re-use. An effective technique is to air yesterday’s episode in a different hour today.
  3. Straddle the strategies. When Ron Chapman dominated mornings in Dallas at KVIL, he employed a strategy designed to lead listeners through more quarter hours by mapping an eight week content grid. He  moved features each day, advancing by one quarter hour per day. Though the feature didn’t play at exactly these same time each day, it was promotable the following day. If you air Impossible Trivia at 8:00am today, tomorrow you can promote it at 8, and lead listeners to the next quarter hour.

Tracy Johnson Media Group develops and execute strategies that engage audiences and increase ROI with world class solutions for radio stations of all sizes. They work with the world’s greatest stations and air talent, from stations in small, local communities to syndicated shows in hundreds of market. Their team of consultants, talent coaches and promotion specialists customize services to fit your needs, from one-time projects, ongoing consultations, in-market and online seminars, workshops and speaking engagements.

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