The new Slacker charts are the most valuable new song selection/rotation tool we’ve had since the introduction of monitored airplay in the 90’s. Monitored airplay revealed what many of us already knew: a lot of radio guys were flat-out lying to the trade charts, reporting they were playing songs they weren’t and in a few cases not reporting songs they were playing and very often reporting way more spins than they were actually scheduling. Monitored airplay made honest men out of a lot of guys. But, the stats we got from it were always iffy because, frankly, too many Country programmers don’t know diddle-squat about their listeners. Their song selections and rotations were/are based on what they saw/see other programmers doing via the charts. They play only what they see, then report what they play. It’s much like a closed loop. The smart guys always keep that in mind as they read the charts and, I think, it’s what has made for such ‘conservative’ programming decisions, even as we all know the Country audience is very active and engaged. In several articles I’ve written over the years, I’ve said: If you want to learn how to please and best serve your listeners, don’t ask them what they want. Instead, observe them and watch what they do. That meant tabulating requests and tracking music sales. While some “said” they didn’t like that old-timey song “Blue”, the stores couldn’t keep it in stock. Now, for the first time ever we’ve got a way to really observe what they do with a big scope. Slacker calls it an EQ (Engagement Quotient) They tabulate song “starts”, if the listener listened all the way through or skipped it; if they “liked” it, shared it or banned it from their future listens. What have we learned these first two weeks? “Country is powerful” (their words) with four songs of our songs in the overall Top 10 nationally. I’ve learned that the Easton Corbin song isn’t the lightweight ditty I was thinking it might be but is a flat-out smash, #4 on the Slacker EQ, which is why I’m adding straight to Heavy. See this chart st: blog.slacker.com/EQ/ This is the most valuable new programming tool music radio has been presented with since Bill Gavin introduced his newsletter, the original airplay chart, in 1958.