Good TSL has nothing to do with your listener…listening.
Ok, so it does. But there is a different kind of TSL that exists we should be aware of that often seems to be on the bottom of our list of concerns. Time Spent Listening to our listeners.
Don’t get me wrong, we are good at asking our audience questions. We love music tests, auditorium tests, and just about every other kind of survey we can send out. But what happens when it doesn’t work? You asked what they wanted your station to be, you made changes based on their answers, and it all flops. All that money spent asking questions and “listening” to the data is completely wasted and the only winner is the service providing the survey.
Better do a new survey, just in case.
Now, I am not intentionally throwing shade on music testing, listener panels, or auditorium testing. Each one is incredibly valuable…or absolutely worthless if you get bad information that influences bad decisions.
Better do a new test, just in case.
We can tell so much more about what the listener actually wants by listening to what the listener never actually says. And it is learned by what they do, or do not do when you aren’t asking them anything at all.
…Ok, I’m going to need a minute to map that back out in my brain to make sure that actually made sense…
***7 minutes later***
It definitely makes sense, probably.
So what does that actually look like in real life? What kind of question can be answered without a question being asked? Fair question. Here is an example: if you ask any red-blooded American if they want to buy American made, the majority of the time the answer would be such a proud YES and said in such a patriotic tone that you could actually see ol’ glory flying in the breeze during a glowing sunset over their head. But, if you ask to see their recent Amazon purchases… aaaaannnd their actions tell a completely different story. What they said they wanted was American-made. But what they actually bought was affordable and Made in China™ and delivered via that glorious Amazon One Day Delivery #Blessed.
Does that mean that they didn’t really want what they said they wanted??? Not at all. They still want it. Just not enough to pay for it.
So how do you listen to what your listener is saying without asking them a single question? Again, great question…I might put that one in a survey.
Here is a real radio example. Let us examine something we put a lot of emphasis on, THE LIVE, in-studio, on-air talent doing a really super live show. Please know I’m not suggesting we do away with that. Not in the least. But if an air-talent is spinning their wheels living in the studio wishing and waiting and hoping for a call that never comes, you can actually hear many things being said if you are listening. A few of those things are:
- They don’t care that you are “live and in the studio.”
- they aren’t interested in what you are saying (or at least not enough to call)
- And that the time you are spending in the studio could be better-spent voice tracking that shift and working on preparing better survey questions (jk 😉 but not really).
Not one of those points is specifically a bad thing by itself. But if the end goal is to get a call or interaction, and nothing is happening, something is being said loud and clear. That you need to do something different. Or ask better survey questions.
I’m still waiting on the test results.
Are we spending time listening to what is being said that isn’t being asked?
Chad Bradley is Midday Host, Podcast Director and Content Creator for The River in Columbus, OH. He is also one part of the 3-piece syndicated, Fairly Local Show. He’s sat in the PD chair for several medium and large market stations and loves to dream where radio can go next.