Have You Been Whacked in the Head with the PPM Stick?

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We want it and we want it now! By measuring listening behavior, PPM reflects the nature of today’s culture- we want instant gratification. It has proven what we already knew- that you have to capture listeners’ attention quickly or they move onto something else. It’s no wonder that air personalities feel the pressure of PPM.

Start every break with a hook headline to grab their attention, and then you won’t have to rush through the segment at the expense of communication.

Have you come down with a case of PPM? Here are cures for the common symptoms:

Symptom: You rush through breaks as soon as possible in fear of losing meters.

Cure: You want to be efficient yet thorough. When you rush, you don’t communicate or connect. When you talk too fast, listeners have to work too hard to follow you and it creates a perception of distrust. Being efficient is getting to the point quickly with a natural and conversational delivery.

Symptom: Over editing (cutting out pauses, breaths, the natural flow of conversation and responses to emotional comments in interviews).

Cure: You do want to edit extraneous content that doesn’t move a call or interview forward toward a conclusion. Be sure it still sounds like a natural conversation. Leave in pauses, breaths and verbalisms that can add emotion and vocal punctuation to a conversation. You will sound insensitive if you ask someone a touching question and edit out your response in favor of cutting to the next question in interviews.

Symptom: You set up a phone topic, ask listeners to chime in, and then play fifteen minutes of music before paying it off with a caller.

Cure: Have a caller ready to go out of the setup so the segment finishes with a payoff. Or air a brief call over the next song intro, or after two songs.

Symptom: A short tease serves as a content break.

Cure: It better be  one helluva’ tease if there is no content payoff. The exception would be a horizontal tease (teasing content that pays off on tomorrow’s show). A Horizontal tease could occupy an entire content segment anywhere from 30 seconds to three minutes. You have to make a big deal out of horizontal teases to get listeners to remember to tune-in tomorrow to your show.

Symptom: All of your content has to start and end in one segment.

Cure: Avoid being a surface show by creating sticky content that runs over multiple segments. Be sure to include a payoff in each segment ending with an enticing tease for the next segment. Break interviews into 90 second or two minute chunks and then tease the next question that will be answered in the next content segment.

Know the rules of the PPM without over reacting to them. You can win the PPM game without sucking the life out of your show. Famed UCLA basketball coach John Wooden had the perfect PPM antidote, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”


– written by Randy Lane


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