On Vacation: Who’s Minding the Station?

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One morning years ago, I woke up early in San Diego and began listening to Tony and Kris on KSON in preparation for our in-person coaching session.

An hour into listening, I noticed an overlooked email. Tony and Kris were both sick and had to run a “best of” show. It was so well produced that I could not tell it was prerecorded, and I listen to shows for a living!

The holiday season brings the joy of vacation time for your show. But for the audience, that often means a major disruption in their listening routine. So how do you minimize the disruption and maintain the best listener experience

Can you guess which of these four choices provides the best listener experience and ratings?

The choices are:

  1. Run “best of”
  2. Have a guest host (another station talent, a prominent local person)
  3. Stay live with one or two players from your ensemble show
  4. Play all music

Several PPM market clients have ratings-tested all these options during vacations and the winner is…

A! Best of!

Run best-of. No question about it, established shows meet audience expectations and score higher ratings by running best-of. Even if it’s the second time hearing content, fans love hearing highlight moments of the show. The majority of the cume and new listeners will be hearing your best content for the first time.

Best-of typically performs as well as the regular show until Thursday when the ratings typically fall off. It’s still the best option (other than never taking a vacation!).

  • Management support for vacation time. Best-of is a ton of work to produce and execute well. Station management needs to provide as much production help and support as possible.
  • Plan for vacation 365 days a year: If you’re not doing so already, begin marking highlights and cataloging audio of your best segments daily throughout the year to save time in production.

Consistency: Produce the show so it sounds as much like the regular show as possible. Eliminate “best of” imaging and most listeners will not notice.

  • Time and date references: Review each segment carefully for any news, weather, time checks, or pop culture mentions that will be outdated. Conversely, look for segments that are calendar-relevant and rebroadcast them around that time.
  • Celebrate heritage: Mature brands can have fun replaying classic segments from the show’s early days.

Ensemble shows with one host off:

When only one of the primary hosts is missing, replay A-level content including familiar benchmarks and games interspersed with fresh content. It can work to have someone fill in who adds a fun dynamic to existing chemistry.

While still relying heavily on best-of segments, vacations can also be a time to try a future show player.

Talk Shows:

Guest hosts are the only option for talk shows with one main host. It’s effective to replay excellent evergreen segments and make the show sound as familiar as possible.

Photo by yang wewe on Unsplash

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