Rob Wagman “Do New Year Challenges Help Your Radio Station?”

It is commonplace in CCM to switch gears after Thanksgiving to Christmas music, and during that period of an altered playlist, attempt to keep some of that audience that came just for the holidays by pre-promoting a challenge to try our station out after Christmas for 20, 21 days or 30.  But is it effective?

The hard and fast answer to this, is no.  However, this doesn’t mean that these challenges are a waste.  The true answer lies in the depths of what your station does all year long, and also what you’re expecting from the audience during this challenge time.

If the expectation is that we would hold a portion of the audience that curiously checked us out during the holidays; year after year cume and ratings results already give us this answer as we see dramatic decreases in measured audience when stations head back from Christmas into normal programming.

So if your station’s challenge is simply the hopes that a new listener will listen to your plea to try you out for 21 days to see how they feel after that period of time, that will NEVER happen.  EVER.  However, if your challenge is less about you and more about your audience and how you can benefit THEM over that period of time, then yes, I believe you will be increasing your audience, but not with new listeners, but instead from ones who have been around, not yet P1s, the ones hanging out on the peripheral edges.

Why McDonald’s Doesn’t Promote to Vegans

The good news here, is that when we increase the time that audience spends with our stations, we’re strengthening a reasonable, rational and real area of our station that will make great impact for immediate and future gains.  It is reasonable to believe someone who already tries us out, but hasn’t committed to making us their favorite yet, could.  However, it is a pipe dream to believe that someone who NEVER listens to us during the year but finds us because they like a Christmas song from Trans-Siberian Orchestra decides to make us their everything, simply because we asked.

Now that we’ve addressed the reality of expectation, let’s answer adamantly the question asked in the title of this article.  Yes, yes resoundingly yes.  At the very bare bones of what we’re doing here, we’re striking the chord of familiarity, since everybody thinks about resolutions for the new year, and ultimately what we’re doing here is mirroring that thought process.

New Year’s Resolutions, list of items

These new year challenges can help your radio station in huge ways, but it all depends on how you’ve been engaging with your audience throughout the year, but at this time, specifically how you’ve been engaging with them since about September.

Consistency is key.  Audiences don’t pick up on our attempts to engage with them until we’re doing it with such consistency that they experience a personal benefit almost every time they are tuned in.  This level of engagement is obtainable when your music, talent, imaging and social media continually points your audience toward growth, stronger faith beyond simple hope and encouragement in their walk at every turn.

The Goal is Always Excellence

This level of engagement is obtainable and many stations in our format achieve this level of excellence on a daily basis, however, most of the stations in our format miss this level by a long shot.

In conclusion, I don’t want to get into which stations are which, but instead, as if all stations were serving their audiences at the highest levels of engagement, I want to finish by highlighting some effective new year challenges.

Columbus Ohio’s 104.9 The River knocks it outta da’ park on the name alone.  21 Days of Change.  That says everything.  Without reading anything further, I know that this is about commitment, about getting serious about a heart change.  As I begin to read what their 21 days offers, I see something so important, and that is that the 104.9 The River team doesn’t let the audience do this on their own, but instead, they do it with them.

K-Love offers their audience a Challenge Planner for their 30-Day event, with benefits of strength, including an amazing variety of ways to grow in your faith each day, including getting into a Bible plan, specific prayer for breaking the habit that has held you captive, and that only gets us to day 2.  These aren’t wimpy areas of growth they’re offering.  They too, are going for the heart.  Day 3: Start pursuing something that God’s been calling you to.

Character Growth = Audience Growth

Before the month is through this radio station has you thinking of your faith, your spending, your health, your relationships and your generosity as they brilliantly weave into those days specific ways to engage deeper with their on-air product.  While they go there, and you should go there, they do not overload this calendar by making it about them; but most-definitely about their listener.

South-Central Michigan’s Home.fm enters the new year with ‘A Month of Kindness Challenge,’ taking selfishness out of the equation entirely as listeners who take part, focus instead on impacting the lives of others with acts of kindness, random and otherwise.

When we aid our audience in a stronger personal walk, we become a lot more than ‘just a radio station.’  We become a necessity.


Since 1991, Rob Wagman has been known first by his faith, and then by his skills in the secular side of this Industry, and now is known by his versatility, having succeeded in both radio and records in multiple formats from Christian Contemporary, Rock, Alternative, Top 40, Rhythm, Urban and Hot AC, in various roles from On Air to Programming to Marketing and Promotions.

Wagman has worked in all of the Top 3 markets, LA, NYC and Chicago, and returned to LA in 2012 as his entry way into CCM, in PM Drive at KFSH, 95.9 The Fish before becoming the Network PD for WAY-FM.

In 2013, Wagman launched Straight Path Media + Entertainment, a consulting firm which hyper focuses on talent and each station’s greatest need for growth, supplying a la cart programming services for branding, from music strategies, promotional and marketing think tank brain storming, promo and imaging creative, talent coaching and airchecking. Wagman presently coaches 27 air talents, consults 13 stations plus 4 clusters.

Contact Rob Wagman at [email protected]

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