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HOW TO WIN THE RADIO RATINGS GAME: Provide The Most Compelling Context

The following is excerpted from CONTEXTUAL PROGRAMMING: The Only Way To Win In A Competitive Market.

Unhappy vs. Not Unhappy

Whenever your Internet experience is problem-free — your computer doesn’t crash, your phone line or DSL or cable or wireless connection is working, and your software works properly — are you conscious of feeling really, really happy about the fact that you’re able to go online?


How do you feel when your Internet connection doesn’t work? When your computer keeps freezing up? When — the ultimate modern crisis — you can’t access your e-mail??

Upset? Frustrated? Depressed?

In our normal state, we’re not happy; we’re just not unhappy.

For much of our daily lives, we find ourselves in one of two states: Unhappy….or Not Unhappy.

What pushes us from “Not Unhappy” to “Unhappy” most often is chaos.

The dictionary definition of “chaos” is:

“The confused unorganized state of primordial matter before the creation of distinct forms.”

Humans attempt to overcome chaos by imposing some semblance of order upon it. And Radio helps by providing listeners with a context to the events in their lives.

What Does It Actually Mean, Anyway?

“Context” comes from the Latin word, “contexere”: “To weave together.”

Do you ever sing along with the radio or with a music CD or mp3 player? If so, do ever you find yourself singing in falsetto to match the vocals of the song?

Yes? Why? You could sing it in your own register, in the correct key…Just an octave or two lower.

You sing in falsetto to maximize the synchronicity of context: to weave the sound of your voice with the sounds coming out of your radio or CD player or mp3 player.

Radio weaves together the strands of listeners’ daily lives into a context that helps fend off the chaos.

Listeners don’t ask Radio to put them in a state of Happiness. They turn to Radio in the hopes that it will help take them out or perhaps keep them out of a state of Unhappiness.

How’s this for a corny (yet, for a successful radio station, honest) slogan?

“Radio helps people feel they’re tuned in to life.”

Our jobs as radio people: To provide meaningful contexts for our listeners’ lives.

“Even for a pop music station, Dan?”

Do you know what you call a radio station that provides music with no context?

An iPod.

Here is where you can read the entire CONTEXTUAL PROGRAMMING.

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