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Ask Better Questions

"This is at the core of what drives me as I practice the art of radio programming every day, now and for the past 30 years" - Steve Casey


If, as is likely, you are involved with the programming of a commercial radio station, there is one thing I know about you already.

I know you are very busy. So I've tried to summarize as briefly as I can why you should hire me and allow me to help you.

We have really advanced tools and concepts. Some are probable 5 years or more ahead of the rest. I'll talk about those in this summary.

But mostly, you should hire me because even though research and programming involve a lot of numbers, those are not the most important things.

The most important things are passion and knowledge. For those things, I sincerely believe that I could be your best choice. We should at least discuss your concerns.

(my focus)

I think that it is a fundamentally important thing to think of the music test results not as a list of songs like the back page of R&R. I think about how they work together. Songs are tools. Some reinforce the central identity that the station has. Some expand that identity and add variety.

Most programmers don't monitor their central position, or what the demographic skew of the format is, or how well they are identified with it, or what types of music make up their programming palette, because they don't have the tools.

I think those things are really important, and I have created the tools that allow us to focus on them. If somebody doesn't agree that those things are important, than perhaps they wouldn't benefit from what I do. But first, let me talk to you about some of the real life challenges that were successfully handled, in part because of the additional distinctions that these tools allow you to make.

Even beyond the exact results of the test, things about the test itself (like shifting demos) can have unforeseen consequences, and noticing how things like format identity, optimum music position, opinion cohesiveness, importance and compatibility of the individual music clusters, demographic orientation, etc. are affected can help you avoid disaster.

The reason I do this and others don't is that I'm a lot more programmer than I am researcher. And I'm a lot more experienced. What I do every day, working with people in dozens of countries, and what I've done in the past 34 years in the programming end of radio, help me bring a different set of questions with me when I think about research.

Because of all that, I like to think that I ask better questions.


I like to think that I ask better questions.

Asking better questions includes thinking out of the box, and using leading edge technologies like these:

Variety Control is the tool that answers the question "How well does each song play with the other children". This industry standard for music positioning analysis reveals the natural center (or optimum) music position within the test.

We answer the question “What matters most?” And nobody else can do this nearly as well.

After a few years, I finally realized that a lot of people who might be working with an AMT or other music research were very short on time to dig deep into it. For me, it is fun. But for a group program director, a summary of the key metrics is a huge time saver. And many less experienced programmers and music directors might not know how important it is to look at some issues, and thus get far less out of the test.

One of the most powerful tools we have is our ability to create a sample that is very much like the client's P1 sample. Only this sample is P1 to the format , rather than the client station. We call this group the Pure Core Format Fans. These are the people who think most alike in regards to the songs that work together to define the format.

Everything we learn about how the Pure Core listeners think versus the Client Core listeners think is pure gold. We are able to detect and correct any drift that has taken place. If the station is not properly positioned, we'll see it.

No doubt you've seen a lot of music clustering. So have I. Clustering is the grouping of your songs into natural groups, according to how the listeners feel about music. And for years, I wasn't happy with the quality of clustering efforts and "studies".

So I spent a couple of years making it work better than every before. Only then did I offer it to clients of Steve Casey. Accurate, actionable clustering information is a powerful tool. We can now see how many music types there are, and what the key music types are like. We can see which music types really work against us; we can see what to lean toward to fix an imbalance or execute a change in our programming.

That information is now a part of every AMT we prepare for you.

Nobody should be forced to implement a large music project by hand! Or using nothing more than a spreadsheet.

MusicVUE and Variety Control were the first Windows-based "on-screen display" for radio station music research. Since 1992, they have improved continuously. As a radio research consultant, the time I have for software development is limited. As a result, the changes are those that clients around the world have made clear are really important. It has become a very powerful tool for displaying the AMT and getting it on-air. I have many clients who receive the analysis around noon and have the AMT on-air the next day, despite the greater number of steps required to think about music positioning as well as test scores.

One of the most important decisions I have implemented is to not charge for the data gathering .

If a station has ever successfully done an AMT, then data gathering is a commodity. Call up the field service, again. Call up the hotel, again. Done. And for heaven's sake, don't pay anybody to do that for you.

I assume that you may appreciate some help. I created a very high quality book Secrets of Conducting the Perfect Music Test . This goes to every client for free. With it, the receptionist can probably do an AMT. I also encourage every client to ask me unlimited questions and to check with me before they take action.