Open Letter to Radio: The Next 100 Years Starts with Winning Now

September 2, 2020

September 2, 2020

An Open Letter to Radio on Labor Day (5th edition),

If radio ever wanted to field a nationwide research project to test the relationship between listening and employment, COVID-19 has provided that opportunity.

The results validate what we’ve known to be true, listening is driven by employed consumers who commute to work and have daily listening habits to give.

This year has tested the mettle of AM/FM radio in a myriad of ways during this run up to the 100th anniversary of commercial broadcasting, which began on Election Night in Pittsburgh with KDKA-AM delivering election results (Harding won in a landslide).

As we prepare for another election and the next 100 years, radio continues to answer the call for our advertisers and the communities we serve.

At the onset of the pandemic in March, workers experienced a decade‘s worth of disruption and innovation overnight.

While companies across industries evaluate what trends will continue long after a vaccine has been administered, the resilience and evolution of AM/FM radio is on full display.

Despite listening being impacted due to shelter in place orders, as local economies have reopened and more workers have resumed their commute, radio is bouncing back.

Consumption trends that began before COVID-19 have also continued in earnest this year.

Take wireless ear buds. As more people are seeking out their favorite stations on a mobile device, Nielsen is working to ensure that listening on headphones is being fully captured in their audience estimates, including new initiatives set to become currency in OCT PPM.

In addition, as radio continues to unlock the potential of digital streaming, lower overall listening levels brought on by COVID-19 have helped spotlight stations that are seeing meaningful AQH contributions from their streams.

Leveraging these insights and opportunities will continue to be valuable in the months and years ahead, especially as segments of the workforce continue to find themselves without a daily commute.

Meanwhile as mid-days and afternoon drive lead the recovery, it’s consumption on actual AM/FM radios that is leading the way.

When people are at-work and on the go, they seek out radio. That’s why AM/FM’s audience is younger, more employed and has a higher household income than heavy TV viewers who are 55+.

Another key insight from this year is the importance of habit formation. As the school year begins and new routines are once again being formed, the importance of re-establishing listening habits is essential to winning now.

One of the best ways to create habits and drive cume is through Word of Mouth.

We began the year with our 20/20 Vision post talking about the impact of organic influencers. Bypassing social media celebrities for real listeners who are passionate about your station and willing to share it with their friends and co-workers. These Super-Fans and Amplifiers play an essential role in your ongoing recovery, but you can’t afford to leave it up to chance. DMR/Interactive helps you facilitate the share and identify your High Value Listeners by name and reward them with Surprise and Delight touch-points.

Since habits don’t form overnight, a proven strategy that we leverage to help stations generate P1 listening habits is implementation-intention and it has been shown to increase habit formation by 160%. In short, it’s the process of asking listeners, old and new alike, to think about where your station currently fits into their week.

In this increasingly fragmented audio landscape, we have to earn their listening and keep them coming back for more.

Radio remains the 800-pound gorilla of audio. However, it’s harder to stay on top than it is to get there in the first place.

Keeping them coming back for more sounds intuitive and straightforward. However it requires a renewed focus and ongoing commitment to “Be Better“ from everyone in radio to ensure we win now – both during and after this pandemic.

Your advertisers and listeners expect that of you and you can expect it of us.

Building relationships with the employed heavy listeners who matter most to your ratings and revenue isn’t a box to be checked or a process to be completed, it’s a relentless pursuit.

On behalf of Catherine JungTony BannonJen Clayborn and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thank you for reading and working to drive radio forward.

This letter is the 5th installment in an annual series that started in 2016, written to coincide with Labor Day, radio’s unofficial holiday. Earlier editions of the letter are available here: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.

Happy Labor Day,

Andrew Curran
President and COO

Familiar Done Differently: OTT Provides Radio with Powerful Touchpoint

August 20, 2020

One BILLION hours. That’s the year over year increase in time spent per week with streaming video according to Nielsen’s latest Total Audience Report: Working From Home Special Edition.

This tremendous growth creates an invaluable opportunity for radio when combined with insights from Nielsen’s latest PPM Panel Additional Characteristics Report that shows 95-97% of panelists 18-34 and 93-95% of panelists 35-54 have access to at least one streaming platform at-home.

With the increased consumption, near ubiquitous penetration and high level of targeting that DMR’s True OTT delivers across premium inventory, it’s a powerful, yet efficient combination.

In fact, OTT (connected TV) has quickly become the fastest growing touchpoint in our 360° Listener Engagement Strategy.

According to Tony Bannon, our VP of Marketing Strategy, “the most common response we hear is stations wanting to redirect their outdoor or TV buy as listening rebounds and budgets need to deliver results. OTT combines the strengths of digital and direct mail with the best parts of a TV schedule, minus the waste.

And while heavy radio listeners are light TV viewers, the ability for your employed target audience to watch time shifted TV via OTT fits their busy lifestyle and provides another powerful way for your brand to generate cume growth.

Leveraging OTT to include your TV spot in our 360° Listener Engagement Strategy is a great example of “Familiar Done Differently.”

In a similar way during this pandemic, Kraft has been doing “Familiar Done Differently” with its iconic Macaroni & Cheese.

How do you increase occasions when you already own snack time, lunch time and dinner? Promote yourself as a kid-friendly breakfast option to stressed out parents.

As it turns out, during COVID-19, kids and their parents are no longer waiting for lunch or dinner to have Mac & Cheese. It’s becoming a breakfast food with 56% of families eating it for breakfast more often during the pandemic.

“As a brand loved by the entire family, we’ve learned Kraft Mac & Cheese isn’t just for dinner,” says Kelsey Cooperstein, brand manager at Kraft Heinz, “A Kraft Mac & Cheese breakfast is a win-win for families at a time when they need all the wins they can get.”

Another product category that helps stressed out parents get through their day is radio.

With the start of another school year and the change in weekday routines, it’s a great opportunity to help listeners plan their listening occasions throughout the week. It’s a process known as “implementation-intention” and it has been shown to increase habit formation by 160%.

Let’s accelerate habit formation and drive daily cume, which is the lifeblood of your ratings.

Connect with Catherine Jung or Tony Bannon today and let’s discuss including OTT in your next marketing campaign.

In the meantime, on behalf of everyone at DMR/Interactive, thank you for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO

National Contests: Budget Friendly or Habit Forming?

August 3, 2020

2,500 years ago Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

In the context of national contesting, he might have said, “the unexamined contest is not worth funding.”

The relentless competition for ratings and revenue requires that programmers step up their game each and every quarter, whether you’re executing national contests or competing against them.

When it comes to “text-to-win” national contests, despite overall contest entries holding steady quarter to quarter, it’s an insight that can cultivate a false sense of security.

More than 50% of players disappear from one contest to the next including the most valuable.

Your ability to engage and retain the Heavy Players who text-in weekly and the Super-Heavy Players who participate daily is critical to your overall ratings growth.

At its core, radio listening is built on daily habit formation, which makes daily cume such an important metric.

As a result, stations aren’t just driving tune-in, you’re in the habit formation and cultivation business.

When it comes to habitual listening, there are three essential ingredients.


Back in March, radio had a front row seat to witness what happens to listening when a primary trigger is removed – the daily commute.

According to research recently featured in Marketing Week, “Habits normally need a cue: that is a time, place or mood that triggers the behaviour.”

Between in-car and at-work consumption, there’s ample evidence that validates the importance of time and place as it relates to habitual consumption.

What’s not as well-known is the impact that can be generated by getting someone to think through their schedule and commit in advance to their listening behavior.

It’s been identified as implementation-intention and it has been shown to increase habit formation by 160%.

Even with the best-quarter hour by quarter-hour ratings analysis, it doesn’t mean your target listener won’t be away from the radio, sitting in a weekly staff meeting at the moment of truth.

That is why it’s so valuable to get your current and future listeners thinking about where radio in general and your station in particular fits into their day.

When you identify your anonymous contest players by name/address and invite them to declare their intent to listen, you are utilizing a proven strategy to leverage your marketing and accelerate habit formation by generating more listening occasions.

Variable Rewards

Every time a DJ says, “Caller 10 Wins” – the phone lines light up. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $25 gift card to a chain restaurant or front row tickets to a sold out show. That’s the power of variable rewards and it increases habit formation by 63%.

It’s also why our Surprise & Delight touch points generate such a powerful response from listeners on social media.


If you’ve ever heard that it takes 21 days to create a habit, especially popular on self-improvement blogs and in fitness circles, that would be incorrect.

Research indicates it takes 66 days on average (8-10 weeks) for people to form a new, lasting habit. It’s not about short bursts of activity, it’s about sustained repetition hence the phrase, “Lather, Rinse, Repeat.”

The ability to develop a repeatable process that creates habit formation paired with a relentless focus on building relationships with those High Impact Listeners who have the most listening to give is a powerful combination that allows our clients to create and maximize a competitive advantage with ratings and revenue.

As listening continues to recover and parents adjust to the start of a new school year, let’s examine the strategic role of habit formation in your on-air messaging, contesting and station marketing.

Cultivation of listening habits by those with the most listening to give is not a task to be completed, but rather a relentless pursuit.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Tony Bannon, Jen Clayborn and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thank you for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO