By Holland Cooke
Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? YES.
— Myth: Call letters are less important in PPM markets than in diary markets, where that diary is a memory test.
— Fact: Call letters and timechecks are MORE important in metered markets, because there aren’t enough meters. Every…single…one…matters a LOT. And awareness drives use.
Sure, listeners wear watches, and tote smartphones, and there’s a clock in the dashboard. We’re not timechecking because they don’t know.
— Timechecks help make the station habit-forming. They teach listeners what-we-do-when.
— Timechecks imply that busy people (the ones advertisers want as customers) will be on-time if they listen. “WINS News Time…” on New York’s iconic All-News station sets a tempo.
— And timechecks are local information. Syndicated hosts forced to say “[minutes] before the hour” remind us that they’re somewhere else.
In its 1960s Top 40 heyday, WABC’s promos boasted that more people listened every week “than any other station in North America!” And shortly before his untimely death, retired PD Rick Sklar told me the simple secret of his success.
— He compared the Arbitron ratings diary to “that little blue book you got in school when there was a quiz. There are two questions on the quiz: What did you listen to? And when did you listen?”
— Back then, most stations used turntables, but WABC already played music on carts. And right there, at the end of the song, there was a WABC jingle, and an ear-splitting “DING!” because timechecks were “WABC Chime-Time.”
— So “we gave them the answers to the quiz,” by DJ-proofing the station. Even if the jock was going song-to-song, he had to jump-in and timecheck.
And you are…?
Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of the E-book and FREE on-air radio features “Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins;” and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books. Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke