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The TSL Myth

Tomorrow Media

tim_biopicBy Tim Moore


Even in PPM markets reality remains the same: Lifestyle dictates the amount of time a person affords to radio listening and as opposed to radio trickeration.

How much time would you guess radio programmers spend trying to affect TSL? We’re willing to wage it’s a significant portion of their weekly programming time. So here’s a frightening proposition as radio people view it; affecting time-spent-listening is a myth.

This myth has long been enveloped by what Audience Development Group has described as “radio-think” or the inside-out view so many industry people seem to embrace. In that world, listeners are closely attuned to what radio stations are doing, listen even more closely to their favorite station and grasp all the small nuances we
constantly bombard them with.

Radio-Think would have us believe we can manipulate or stretch TSL through clock tricks or teasing contests alone, “forcing listening” just a little longer. Radio Reality offers
quite a different perspective and suggests that beyond intelligent PPM clocking, not much else is true.

Listener lifestyle dictates the actual amount of time a person dedicates to radio listening instead of plugs or teases on their own.

No matter how great a show or a song at 9:03 may seem, you’re not going to convince a listener to be late for work if they’re due at 9:00. Having a set category out of a spot-set
isn’t going to guarantee someone will listen through the spots if they can’t or choose not to. No matter how cute or clever you are, you can’t entice someone to listen to soft AC if they’re not a format P-1 candidate, or, if they simply seek a different music mood.

Listeners sample us when they’re in search of the format service we’re known for and will keep coming back for the mood service they know us for and the promise we keep. The challenge (PPM or Diary) is to avoid Radio-Think which has long convinced so
many they can “trick” their way into TSL gains. Instead, design everything around what you know about them. Reality has it that when you work from your listeners-back via focus groups or perceptual studies, you can begin to mirror-back their life and realities such as jobs, families, recreations, fears and challenges. In other words, look at your brand from the outside-in to see how listeners’ lives determine their radio habit. Build your programming architecture around their world instead of practicing hopelessly outdated paradigms.

You win through listener habituation built over time and promises-kept as opposed to a phrase or contest. The real trick is to stay on their mind when they’re not listening as much as when they are.