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Post-AMT Focus Groups

Does it cost a lot of money and take a lot of effort to put together a great auditorium music test? You know it does!

So let's always try to get maximum value from the effort. Think about it. These are exactly the people you want to talk to about radio. So here's an idea to squeeze a little more out of their heads.

This idea is one I've seen one major broadcaster use with great success. And I haven't seen anybody fail to learn from this idea.

People enjoy participating in a music test. In every one I've seen, many of them are sorry when the evening is over. They had a good time. So if you ask for volunteers to stay behind and join you in a 20-30 minute chat about radio, you should have no trouble getting 8-12 volunteers. That range is commonly thought to be the best size for a "focus" group.

You don't have to use a professional focus group moderator to lead your discussion. But you could. And you would benefit. Whoever leads the discussion should have some experience in just that - leading discussions. And usually, the program director is a bad choice. It is hard for the PD not to react and even argue when the inevitable negative statement about the station is made!





The most important thing in addition to choosing a good discussion leader is to be prepared with topics to discuss.

Discussions like this must be considered to be little explorations. And they are mostly about emotion and surprises, not hard facts. One discussion with teen males, back when I programmed MTV, led to finding out that a local TV station had a weekly video show that featured "heavy metal" bands. Guess what new show appeared shortly after on MTV (and had the second highest ratings of any hour of the day)?

You'll want to ask about the changes they've noticed when they have been listening to the radio. Do they hear anything new on the radio that everybody seems to be talking about? What station seems to be really falling apart? Why? Which personality do they absolutely hate? Do they listen every day anyway?

One good investment of time: Sit down with all your air talent and office staff a couple of days before the AMT. Find out which on-air elements on your station and even on other stations the people on your team are concerned about. Then, find out if the people at your AMT seem to be concerned too.

You're very likely to learn about something that you'll want to follow up on in a more formal way. You may have a new creative idea because of something you hear from these people who care enough to give you some extra help.