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An Angry Listener writes...
Why complaints are good
“Hi I have to ask why do you keep playing the same music everyday? All the brilliant music that’s out there and you keep playing the same songs over and over and you keep playing that parachute song, I hate that song and you keep playing it. Do you know how boring it is to listen to the same songs everyday?”
One of the joys of being a Programme Director, that I had forgotten about, is listener correspondence. Sometimes it’s compliments, sometimes it’s notes in green ink and most often nowadays it’s an email through the station app.
Obviously 90% or more of the listener correspondence is positive, listener requests, prize queries, random questions, but there are always a few who complain.
Embrace the Complaints
Complaints are actually really useful, and you should pay close attention to any that you get. Remember, whatever it is that you’ve done, someone had to get angry enough to figure out how to contact you, or in this case the station and give you a piece of their mind.
Clearly our listener isn’t aware of the frightening grip that Tom Dunne and the Something Happens cabal have on radio programmers across the nation, but he actually had a point about the “Parachute” song.
I went back and looked at the history on that song and it had been coming up too often. That can happen when you only play a single song from an artist and when it’s an Irish category which might be working too hard, it is possible that it’s irritating to hear it again.
So, we’ll rest that song for a little while and we’ll do some research on it and some of the other songs in that category and see if there’s too high a burn on them.
Research your Songs
Music Research is a critical tool with some formats, in particular those that depend on libraries of older music. For a chart driven station, you don’t really need music research and the pace at which music moves these days with the input of social media platforms like TikTok makes it difficult for research to keep up.
With older music formats, music research can be absolutely critical in finding the songs that people love, the ones that they used to love and the songs they hate… Ideally, stop playing the songs they hate.
His other point about “playing the same music everyday” is more difficult.
A well run station with proper research playing music that is a little bit older and not driven by chart hits, probably has somewhere between 500 and 600 songs in its main daytime library. So, we’re definitely not playing the same songs every day, but we might play a song a couple of times a week.
The art is not to play it in the same place or the same sequence and that’s where the dark arts of music programming and clock design come into play.
Different Rules, Different Formats
Back when I was programming SPIN 1038, the active library was probably only about 150 – 170 songs and we played the biggest songs every 150 minutes or so… But, that’s the thing with newer music, you have to take songs that people don’t know they like yet, play them enough that they love them and then stop playing them before they hate them…
This has been the 12th official edition of the RAudio Newsletter
Just to recap, each week I’ll be taking a look at big stories in radio, podcasting and audio.
Any feedback, questions or potential topics are welcome – you can get me on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/liamthompsonconsulting/ or on Twitter @Maxliam