It's amazing how many industry observers and so-called "mavens" continue to look at "shuffle weekends" as just another gimmick or trick. (Then again, that's how many perceived Classic Rock originally, and we know how that story ended.)
Since we helped get the "shuffle" programming going on Q101 18 months ago, the phenomenon has caught on in a big way. "Shuffle" activities and initiatives aren't just clever ways to position special weekends - they go to the heart of the audience's need for randomness and surprise. In our efforts to hyper-define formats over the years, we systematically beat the fun and life out of radio. "Shuffle" can be an antidote to that, and it allows radio to speak a more contemporary language.
I won't bore you with the same slides we're fond of showing from our two Technology studies. Simply put, thousands and thousands of listeners tell us that "shuffle" is the preferred mode for listening to their mp3 players. Why not take advantage of the phenomenon, and give it right back to them on your station?
And if you need a little more validation, consider one of NPR's more recent initiatives - "NPR: Shuffle." That's right. It's a cool podcast that provides the user with a mix of featured programming from some of NPR's most popular shows. Like that "surprise toy" in the Cracker Jack box, you never know what you're going to get - and therein lies the charm.
NPR doesn't overreact to anything. They are considered a group of brilliant broadcasters who know a bona fide trend when they see one. So do we.