WPOZ Open Letter to Industry

Last week HisAir.Net published a Moneyball Market Spotlight Chart and Summary on Orlando. The following is a response from WPOZ/Orlando (Z88.3) GM Dean O’Neal.

To Our Friends in Ministry,

A conversation was started last week concerning Rob Wagman’s Moneyball chart.  He has been using different cities as examples to show the potential value of his system/chart.  For the record, I have no issues with the product he assembles.  It can certainly shed some light onto the greater music consumption landscape of a market and identify potential opportunities to increase listener satisfaction.  For some stations this could be a useful product.

 The secret of Z88.3 Orlando’s success is our unwavering attention to the listener.  We have a simple, two-fold agenda… Represent Jesus in everything we do, and live out our faith by super-serving Central Florida.  We believe that radio can do this better than any other media/Internet option.  The music is the foundation from which all other brand values can be supported.  Our foundation is built from the highest quality materials.        

First, we only play blu-ray quality masters of songs, i.e., 24 bit @ 48 kHz high resolution, un-finalized, uncompressed digital audio files instead of the 16 bit @ 44.1 kHz cuts that are commonly released via Play MPE.  Many of the songs being sent to radio are overly processed and the heavily compressed square-wave files cumulatively are very fatiguing to listen to for long periods of time creating tune-out.  Thank you to the labels who are making the effort to help us keep the technical quality bar high.  The higher quality, less processed audio allows the listener to turn up the volume and sing along, rather than turn it down or off because it hurts her ears.  I believe that this is quite possibly the single most important thing that will allow your station to compete and thrive in a marketplace of ever-increasing choices.

If we as an industry don’t address the quality issue, everybody loses… radio stations, labels, artists, listeners, and most importantly, the cause of Christ.  We’ve got to come together and collectively strive for and demand excellence in the quality of what comes out of the recording studios of Nashville and through the audio chains and Internet streams of our radio stations.  The end result of this effort will ultimately impact what flows out of the speakers, earbuds, headphones and into the hearts of our listeners.

Second, you have got to know with a high degree of certainty what your listener truly wants and expects from your station.  At the Z we conduct auditorium music tests three (3) times a year with over 150 participants in each test.  That high level of participants gets our margin of error (MOE) to within 5%.  We also have worked hard to achieve a high level of participation in our monthly online testing of currents to be within that same or even lower margin of error.  Getting the MOE to 5% or less takes work, but it is key.  It allows us to have confidence that the data collected is both accurate and actionable.  We work hard to know exactly what Orlando wants to hear.  We also conduct regular perceptual studies and focus groups to get an inside view of how listeners feel about all attributes of the Z, warts and all.  The secret of our success (or any successful music station for that matter) boils down to playing the songs she loves and to have relevant, compelling content in between.   

Finally, if one sees a song on the national Christian AC chart that isn’t currently a part of the Z’s playlist, it’s most likely that either we haven’t been serviced with a high resolution, uncompressed digital master from the label yet, or that we have ascertained from ongoing research and/or a review of the track record of songs or artists from the past with similar styles or textures, that it is potentially less likely to become one her favorites vs. other songs in contention.  When a station finds themselves at the point where science and art collide, having sound research and performance history specific to your station and marketplace can help you make the tough judgement calls.

It is an honor to co-labor with you for the cause of Christ!

Deano