A nice article on "Jack" on the front page of the March 18 Wall Street Journal with lots of thought-provoking quotes.
The best, I thought, came from Paragon Media Strategies' Mike Henry: "...listeners want to hear familiar music, but a larger selection and variety of it. So Jack plays only songs people will recognize, albeit from a variety of styles and timeframes. (regarding the train wreck segues of the Jack format)`You're only challenging them on a stylistic level,'' says Mr. Henry. ``You're not challenging them on a familiar/unfamiliar level.''
This hit me right where I live because country has always been 'the train wreck segue' format - and our listeners love that variety from "Baby Likes To Rock It" to "Love Me."
No doubt that's why Jack can hurt a country station who's not prepared for the new approach from pop/rock, normally focused on 'fit' and 'core' sounds.
Suggestion: continue to sort your research (first) on like a lot, (and then) good balance of crosstabs across men, women, young, older, core and secondary users, but, start also taking a close look at familiarity too. Are highly familiar songs with no negatives slipping out of your library, hurting your perceived variety image just because they miss the cut off of pop scores by a few percentage points?
I've seen stations increase their cume and TSL by doing nothing but increasing the average familiarity score threshold of their music, as long as it doesn't require cutting the size of the playlist unreasonabily or compromise 'common threading' across all target segments of the audience.
Even better if it increases it. The same 250 songs played over and over simply don't work anymore!
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4 months ago