COVID-19: “It Wasn’t Supposed to Last This Long”

February 22, 2021

“It wasn’t supposed to last this long.”

These are the words of working moms. As we rapidly approach the first anniversary of COVID-19, many of them still aren’t able to send their kids back to school five days per week, which impacts everything else.

One of the many tangible results, W25-54 PUMM levels remain down 30% Year Over Year.

After the world was told to mask up and stay home last March, radio rallied and the ratings rebounded, but audiences still haven’t fully recovered.

The decades-long investment promoting multi-platform consumption on smart devices remains a work in progress, while the resilience of listening in the car and on transistor radios at-work has been on full display.

It’s a reality we should stop actively undermining as an industry and instead use it to our benefit as it provides a competitive and economic advantage against streaming platforms.

In the words of my friend and radio mentor Pat Barry who passed away from COVID-19 this weekend, “We can increase our audience and revenue – without operating costs going up.”

In addition, we know how disruptive the holidays can be to listening habits. Now, we’re facing a widespread disruption lasting 365 days and counting.

Continuing to offer “a no repeat workday” as a way to win back listening and loyalty is not enough.

According to MIT’s Sloan Management Review, “humans are cognitive misers, meaning that we use mental shortcuts to guide our judgments and decisions … once a routine in a certain store or preference for particular brand is established, it becomes habitual and is difficult to change.”

What mental shortcuts and new habits have been formed over the last 12 months away from the radio? 

For those working from home, the convenience is giving way to stress related to a lack of separation between home and work. #FakeCommute and Virtual Commutes are common topics online including solutions being baked into Microsoft Teams, all designed to help re-establish those boundaries.

Radio needs to be part of these conversations with Fake Commuters, reminding them of the fun and companionship their P1 station provides. In fact, it’s great content for station emails and allows listeners to share their own experiences. 

In order for radio to fully recover and grow, stations need to have better relationships with their employed heavy listeners. This endeavor is not a box to be checked or a task to be completed, it’s an ongoing and relentless pursuit just like great programming and sales.

For decades, positioning statements such as “the most music every hour” or “the no repeat workday” have helped stations define their appeal based on how they are differentiated from competitors.

As the recovery continues and radio gets started on its next 100 years, the opportunity exists for stations to be differentiated for consumers.

Consumer differentiation is about understanding their needs and communicating your value proposition.

This involves communicating the function you serve, how your brand aligns with their lifestyle and values, while also delivering an unrivaled experience for their commute and workday that’s not found anywhere else.

This strategic approach is the cornerstone of our 360° Listener Engagement Strategy.

As the recovery accelerates, we’re committed to helping you outperform the market by super serving those who matter most to your ratings and revenue.

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

Andrew Curran
President and COO

Amanda Gorman: The Power of Standing Out

January 25, 2021

Radio makes its living filling the airwaves with poetry. Dylan, Springsteen, Gaga, Swift, James Brown and James Taylor.

Even Garth Brooks, with his stirring rendition of Amazing Grace, served as an opening act for Amanda Gorman, who burst onto the national scene at President Biden’s Inauguration week; at least for those of us who had not been paying attention to her ascent in recent years as our country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
It can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith, we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future,
History has its eyes on us.

The Hill We Climb

A performance so powerful, no music was necessary.

Like any overnight success, hers was years in the making and back in December she penned a reflection on 2020 for Harper’s Bazaar.

“But if we’re going to grow from 2020, we have to stop seeing it as a singular island, completely unconnected to the very real precedents that came before.”

“When we narrow-mindedly frame our time as abnormal and removed from the past, we fail to realise how these trials have been met and matched in the past. What’s more, we don’t get to see the ways in which we’ve grown.”

“I’ve come to realise that hope isn’t something you ask of others. It’s something you must first give to yourself.”

What we’re witnessing with Amanda Gorman’s brand is the power of relevant differentiation.

According to The Power of Being Different, “The trick is to be different in a way that is highly relevant to your audience. Different in a way that creates competitive advantage. Advantage that is, over time, as sustainable as possible. All of which is to say–it’s not easy.”

Difference + Advantage = Differentiated Advantage.

What’s the differentiated advantage of your local brands that drives top of mind awareness and generates daily listening occasions among the employed, heavy listeners who matter most to your ratings and revenue?

As the radio dial becomes increasingly infinite and playlists capture the more music position, it’s incumbent that we’re curating and highlighting your differentiated advantage.

As Ben Franklin said, “if you want something done, ask a busy person.” With that in mind, here are 5 ideas from Fast Company to help approach your most pressing challenges and opportunities. 

Let’s set up a time to discuss marketing that differentiates you from your competition in the position you occupy in the mind of your target audience as well as in the ratings. 

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

Andrew Curran
President and COO

Collective Trauma and Resilience

December 18, 2020

For years, we’ve used words like “crazy,” “unreal,” and “disaster” to describe ordinary problems. Little did we know what 2020 would have in store for us.

By April, we had already worn out “unprecedented.”

What words are left to accurately describe 2020?

As David Suissa in the Jewish Journal recently observed, “maybe the truest way to describe the collective trauma of 2020 is simply to admit that there are no words and be at peace with it.”

It’s quite a striking and candid statement from someone in the business of the written word, but it’s certainly been that kind of year.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there.

This year, we have witnessed amazing tenacity, resilience and loyalty amongst ourselves, our clients and the listeners we collectively serve.

Speaking of resilience, radio has truly demonstrated exactly that in 2020, which is a testament to you.


Psychology Today recently published an insightful article on the Habits of Highly Resilient People.

It starts with a growth mindset, a phrase coined by Carol Dweck of Stanford. It’s “the belief that defeat happens for you, not to you. If you have a growth mindset, you consider success and failure a package deal – like a hand and glove, milk and cookies, flip sides of the same coin – twins, not enemies.”

Other habits of highly resilient people include postponing immediate gratification and cultivating spring-back sustainability.

Ultimately, “you give yourself permission to make the mistakes necessary … and bounce back higher than you fall.”

The tenacity and resilience of radio is made possible by those working in the business and those who tune-in each day, especially as they mask up and go to work.

As listening continues to recover in 2021, our 360° Listener Engagement strategy is designed to maximize your ratings, rank and revenue by recruiting and engaging the employed listeners who matter most. 

Thank you for your resilience in the face of so much collective trauma this year.

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

Happy Holidays,

Andrew Curran
President and COO