UpYourRatings.com home pageAbout Steve CaseyHow SCR gives you the best solutions for testing your music libraryHow to contact Steve Casey  
What makes Steve Casey the best choice as a consultant for your programming researchSteve Casey invented call-out music research. Here's how we can help youSharing ideas with you about radio programming and researchFree offers from Steve Casey ResearchThis month's issue of Up Your Ratings
Forum, French regional station  

Case Studies


How the Number One Station in New York City Wins with Research

There were many interesting things to learn from the London NAB radio programming conference.

Several speakers have been kind enough to provide me with extra material and permission to share it with you in upcoming issues. We start off with some insights into one of the most successful stations in the world

The panelists included Rona Landy, former GM of WLTW. WLTW is the number one station in New York City. Here are some of the interesting things she said:

  • They conduct 3 major library music tests per year.

  • They are very focused on discovering burn.

  • They use the AMT as an occasion to talk to listeners about other issues.

WLTW utilized my music research analysis for years, so I am familiar with their passion for excellence. Let's look a little deeper at these three elements: test frequency, burn and discussion of other issues.

WLTW is an AC, and many stations might think that it is completely unnecessary for an AC to do 3 AMTs per year.

But when I look at highly successful adult contemporary station around the world (and I think we can all agree that winning 12+ ratings in New York year after year qualifies as successful) I see a pattern. I see them paying close attention to their music library.



Many adult music stations are doing a music survey in every calendar quarter except for summer. It isn't just a question of whether there will be some big changes from quarter to quarter. It is also true that small changes to the music will often make big differences in ratings. Complacency isn't one of the traits shared by the most successful stations.

Some, particularly people who sell "dial" research, will say that burn doesn't matter. But it does. Experienced programmers deal differently with songs that are appropriate but which are simply overplayed. Packeting, resting, and changing the rotation speed of your categories are tools that deal well with burn but which are designed to be used on music that is simply unpopular.

Sometimes stations have this kind of research forced on them, but in my experience they escape it at the first opportunity and, like WLTW, get back to monitoring how their rotation speeds are affecting the quality of their listeners' experience with the station. With an understanding of which songs are burned, programmers can do a better job of responding to their listeners.

If an AMT is well designed, then the people in the room are the very people whose opinions you want most. Why not ask them about issues? Why not play them videos and sound? Why not maximize the rather high cost of research? That is one of the lessons from New York's number one station.

It is true that you must be a little bit careful about how you construct the questions. You don't want to focus to closely on your station that you give away the real sponsors of the test (though that doesn't look to be the biggest sin in the world - a topic for another time). You probably have a 100% cume and perhaps 50% core audience. When you can, phrase questions in the form "considering the station you listen to most..." or "Among the stations you indicated that you listened to...". You can also ask questions specifically about your station. You should, however, include your other main competitors as well. In most cases, this is also information you want to know.