Industry Views

Stop Throwing Away Weekends

By Walter Sabo
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host

Face - GlassesEvery radio sales presentation should start with one powerful number. This number – often found under the Sphinx – will dazzle any buyer, but is rarely revealed. The number is Homes Using Radio (HUR). Once upon a time it was part of the conversation. HUR shows how many people are using radio at any given time, a total number.

Studying hour-by-hour HUR reveals the most surprising fact: Saturday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm is the second-most, listening-to-radio daypart after Monday – Friday morning drive. If a station suffers in total weekly audience, the first culprit is often squandering Saturday 10-3!

John Catisimatidis, owner of WABC, New York has taken the station from the depths of despair and turned it into a strong contender. His first act as owner was to dump the paid-for weekend programming and replace it with live, local shows. You could trace the ratings jump on WABC to the moment he placed live shows on Saturday midday.

Bart Walsh, a very successful Washington, DC general manager taught me the secret of Saturday midday. He explained that if Saturday midday’s share is higher than the station’s overall total week share, the next book will go up. If it is lower than the total share, the next book will go down. Amazingly this phenomenon has always proven to be true. I always paid attention to Bart because when he ran WKYS it had a higher percentage of profit than anything else owned by RCA and when he and Donnie Simpson ran it, the station was always #1, 12+.  Bart never expensed lunch – or anything else.

The puzzler is that weekends on radio are a built-in win. Americans love weekends. Weekends conjure good feelings and offer discretionary time. Smart stations tap the positive imagery of weekends. Imagine how easy and cheap it would be for a talk station to talk up weekends!

Become the go-to source of weekend activity information. Give away fun prizes that are all weekend related. Go shopping. Share information about local sales and retailer events. The result will be – guaranteed – a significant jump in Monday AM drive cume.

Walter Sabo is a long-time radio industry consultant and thought leader.  He hosts and produces a network radio show titled “Sterling on Sunday” 10:00 pm-1:00 am ET.

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