92% Do What!

There's a Coleman Research study being touted to the radio industry currently that "on average, radio holds onto more that 92% of its lead-in audience during commercial breaks." Arbitron took out a full page ad in my favorite radio publication, Inside Radio and other trades "on behalf of the radio industry." Jon Coleman is an excellent researcher who has been studying radio for a long time. I mention this because if radio executives really believe this stat, they are indeed misguided and incapable of making sound decisions about the tough competition that has already stopped this growth industry dead in its tracks. Anyone alive and honest knows that 92% of listeners who start hearing a commercial break don't sit there and hang around until the end. You don't need research to know that. Even if they did which seems implausible, they don't listen. Isn't that the point? Remember those huge Howard Stern stop-sets? 92% of Howard's fans stayed tuned, right? Wrong. This whole concept is dangerous to radio. Just who do they think they are kidding? Radio has bigger problems than whether 92% of the audience perseveres during a commercial break -- like how to get the next generation to spend less time with YouTube, social networks, downloading music on their iPods -- you get the idea. Next they're going to tell us that High Definition Radio is going to save the industry. Or that consolidation isn't that bad. Or that less is more -- oops, sorry. Seriously, sometimes it appears that this industry that many of us truly love is in deep denial. In an industry that calls "Jack" its best example of a new format, I fear for radio people who don't understand that the 92% claim is as unbelievable as the promise of HD broadcasting. One way to get back to business and become a better competitor is to spend more time and effort remembering that radio is the best provider of content bar none and any time the consolidators want to invest in programming, research and innovation they can do work that matters. Fix the programming. Get into the mobile content business. And get your head out of your -- well, needless research. Shorter commercial breaks -- at least 50% of your audience will go for it. Better commercials. Talk to WBEB owner Jerry Lee, he's doing it with inexpensive Internet-based research. Knowledgeable djs. More new music. Here's a better statistic -- how about 92% of radio decision makers getting back to basics.