Combating Morning Cume Loss

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It’s the End of the World as We Know It – R.E.M.

Covid continues to inflict instability on all of us, including morning radio. Cume is down as much as 50%, tune-in has shifted forward 75 minutes and the 8 and 9 AM hours now have the most listeners.

More Challenges

  • Many radio shows and staffs are still working from home. Not only are giant tech companies like Google continuing remote work for employees deep into 2021, but conventional corporations like Bain are doing the same.
  • Schools are opening virtual-only in areas as diverse as Los Angeles, Houston and Greenville County, SC. Many school systems are delaying opening and In-person teaching will largely be done on staggered days.
  • There are still over 17 million people unemployed and not commuting.

All these factors will continue to limit morning cume well into 2021.

KPLZ Seattle Program Director and TCCP Radio Research President, Kent Phillips shares fresh research on this issue:

“Our internal TCCP Radio research is confirming that in many PPM markets listeners are turning on the radio an hour later during the pandemic. You can also look at cume between 6a-8a in larger markets and see the same thing.

So, we asked the question of 1000 25-54 Adult radio listeners in multiple markets: Do you want the morning show on your favorite music station to stay on later?

The answer was overwhelmingly no, regardless of format. Just because people are getting up later doesn’t mean they have changed their mid-day listening habits. Many still start work at 9am from home and want their favorite mid-day music or talk station as a companion, not their morning show. Just because they love cereal in the morning, doesn’t mean they want it at 11am!

Years ago, during the writers’ strike NBC moved Jay Leno, then a huge hit at 11:30p, to prime time. It bombed. Turns out they loved Jay Leno, but late night, not at 9:00pm. There may be isolated cases where keeping a heritage morning show on makes sense, especially if a station does poorly mid-days, but our data seems to confirm that is not the norm.”

TCCP consults and does research 150 stations in multiple formats across the US and Canada.

Action Steps

  • Don’t time-shift your morning show unless…you have one of those elite shows with huge ratings (out-performing the station by 20+%) over many years in formats like Rock and CHR that typically have weak at-work listening. Shows like The Bert Show syndicated from Q99.7 Atlanta and Two Guys Named Chris WKRR Greensboro, NC can stay on-air until 11 to boost midday ratings.
  • For maximum exposure, run or rerun your best benchmark(s) in the 8 and/or 9 AM hour, unless you go all music at 9. 
  • Run promos informing listeners how to find your station on mobile devices, computers, and smart speakers. Radio listening on digital recently went over 50% of total listening according to Edison Research.
  • In addition to Nielsen, check out your station’s streaming numbers hour-by-hour to help determine hours with the most listening to effectively schedule content.
  • Highlight your podcast for people who prefer to listen on-demand.

Photo by Ekaterina Kasimova on Unsplash

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