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.
I am one of the pioneers of the Hot Country format that swept across radio in the late 80's. In the early 80’s, I began advising his clients to make two significant formatting moves: 1) Increase the tempo. 2) Play more Currents. What seemed radical at the time, immediately producing ratings winners. My report about the formatting tactics I was using "Repositioning Country Radio" was published in ‘91. It was purchased by more than 200 radio programmers and served as a basic game plan for the Hot Country movement. Today, most radio markets have at least one station positioning itself as “Hot” Country. However, I no longer advise using the slogan anymore. As the format continues to evolve rapidly, new strategies are needed to maintain market share. First announcing job in '64; first PD position at age 18. I served as PD, air talent and station manager in twelve diverse markets prior to starting my consulting business in 1981. At the end of the 90's, I began transitioning from consulting to full-time business development of my music scheduling software company. Conceived and developed the first for the Macintosh computer, introduced in 1987; and Music1™, the first scheduler for Windows, introduced in 1994. The Mac-based scheduler was retired in the early 90s. The innovative Music 1 scheduler is now installed in broadcast and webcast stations around the world. Author of The Programming Operations Manual, radio's only step by step "how to" programming and formatting guide. The $99 book has been purchased by over 3000 broadcasters in the U. S. and around the world. I've often written about the technical, strategic and philosophical aspects of radio programing. My articles have appeared in all major trade publications. Experienced in all standard radio research methodologies; focus group, one-on-one interviews, questionnaires, call-out, etc. From jingles to TV production, billboard and bumper sticker design, telemarketing to direct mail, I've been involved in every aspect of radio programming and marketing. View all posts by SteveO