How To Build Morning Show TSL

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Pushing for more tune-ins is the key to getting higher ratings, especially in PPM. There are two ways to build Time Spent Listening (TSL), which are vertical and horizontal teasing. While more listening in the same day (vertical) will certainly increase TSL, the horizontal listening (more occasions during the week) can have a significant impact on TSL in PPM.

We can be confident that people who listen at 7:10am can listen at 7:20 and 7:30, because in most markets commute times are 20-minutes or more. Listeners are creatures of habit, especially listeners with full-time jobs who do a lot listening. If they can listen Monday at 7:10am, they likely can listen Tuesday-Friday at the same time. Building horizontal TSL listening occasions helps move listeners to maximize listening through the week, especially important in PPM markets.

AC stations that feed at work listening set-up content in the 7am hour that pays off when listeners get to work. Be clear in the verbiage you use: “When you get to work at (time), turn on the radio and we’ll have the (payoff).” “When you get to work at (time)” is a key phrase to use. Strong teases with specific appointments get more listening occasions.

Building one or two horizontal homeruns a week is a good goal. You can’t do it as frequently as a vertical tease. Horizontal teases are not liners; they are best as continuing bits. Use an entire content segment to set up a horizontal tease since it is more challenging to get listeners to remember to come back to your show the next day. “At this same time, 8:10 tomorrow morning” or “At this same time, 8:10 Thursday” is a key type of phrasing to have listeners tune-in for more horizontal listening occasions. Be clear with listeners: “We want to make sure you can hear this so we’ll do it at this same time, 8:10 tomorrow morning…”

Cliffhangers — TV has always used cliffhangers effectively with their presentation of same time, same place next week. In radio it’s more like: Somebody on the show might be pregnant, somebody was arrested, the stunt boy is missing, etc., and it ends with, “Tomorrow at this same time we find out what the doctor says,” “Tomorrow right after 7am, we hope to have the story of what happened to stunt boy.”

Serial Content — The idea of a serial or running piece is another good example. It has to be something big enough that will drive listeners back to you. The best example is a big artist interview, such as Lady Gaga. On day one, you announce, “At 7:50 tomorrow morning we are so excited to talk with Lady Gaga,” play clips of her music, have listeners call you with questions to ask her, talk about her upcoming concert, etc. Then the next day you play the interview on the air.

If you can go the extra mile to create a longer series, another example is a soap opera-ette or a quest in which the show has a mission or a quest that progresses daily for two or three days, such as “Dead Beat Dads.” On day one you read an email from a single mom who is struggling financially, her ex is not paying child support, and you talk about all the problems she is having. Your tease at the end is, “Tomorrow at 7:20 we get this single mom on the air.” On day two, you put her on the air and you hear her voice quiver, she talks about working two jobs, that she got an eviction notice, she’s lost track of where her ex is living, and at the end your tease is, “Tomorrow at 7:20, we’re going to have our producer track down this deadbeat dad and find out why he’s not paying child support.” And so forth.

It’s important to know that horizontal content demands prep that’s done well in advance.  Increasing horizontal occasions requires a lot of behind the scenes producing to keep things set up and rolling. Have a dedicated brainstorming meeting regularly that is in addition to the “What are we going to do on tomorrow’s show” meeting. Recycling listeners day to day requires mapping out content for future shows. To effectively work your audience horizontally, you must know at least some of what’s happening on upcoming shows.

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