We Proudly Own No Cookie Cutter
Grand Rapids - (616) 633-3770 Indianapolis - (317) 769-0583

The Midweek Motivator – Content (Siriusly)

It’s ironic; in their early business plan Sirius and XM pitched everything on one toss: a zillion channels of music and talk show fulfillment. Circa 2000 their very early vision seemed to go something like this: “If we offer scores of channels, listeners will never leave!” Radio research mavens knew better; for no other reason than volumes of ratings and perceptual studies verified the Pareto Rule applied to Radio: 20% of a station’s weekly Cume (sampling) produces 65-70% of that station’s time-spent-listening. 

Along the way it occurred to someone that perhaps the reason so many millions of Americans continued to prefer and remain loyal to Radio is because real personalities accompany format listeners’ favorite stations-music or talk. Worth noting somewhere around 2001, on request our colleague Alan Mason actually flew to New York, asked to offer some views on their Satellite Service business model. At that time Sirius and XM were competitors under separate identity. On his return it was interesting to hear Alan’s take. 

Fast forward: while I’ve never “subscribed,” like you I’ve been handed a year’s free subscription every third year when leasing a new car. So recently while listening to a few Sirius XM music channels, especially “catalog” based offerings (80’s, 90’s, or 2K as examples) their emphasis on talent insertions, imaging and show packaging says a lot about their respect for radio. Ironically, while some radio companies are leaning far more on voice-tracking while placing less emphasis on personalities, Sirius XM appears to put more focus on hosts as “celebrity accents” tracked over a given day-part. 

Yesterday I was listening to Dave Hoeffel deliver some content. I know Dave and admire his work. Like many other radio alumni at Sirius XM, Dave practices “brevity-with-purpose.” So: why is their talent effective? (1) Small spaces, planned pay-offs. We coach our client talent that same content formula: Beginning-Middle-End (as in “payoff”). (2) Most of Sirius XM talent content is well planned and (3) Brevity is the key; it’s the crunch-and-roll doctrine brought forward. 

It isn’t cerebral science or Oscar winning magic. Instead, what appears to have occurred to Sirius XM is what winning radio stations have known for decades: personalities do matter, which explains why over 80% of Americans attach to a radio talent, many of whom add they would even move with that talent to another station, come to that. 

Along the way Sirius XM also discovered the importance of production; from their quippy right-brain imaging to jingles and stagers. And like good radio, they practice an “always forward” flow-line. If you misinterpret these thoughts as advocacy for Sirius XM that’s unfortunate, because it’s anything-but. Radio can maintain its winning margin by doing the basics masterfully through strong music management combined with retaining and developing talent.