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Fred Jacobs is President of Jacobs Media, a media research and consulting firm. Jacobs Media clients have included CBS Radio, Premiere Radio Networks, Citadel, Greater Media, MTV Networks, Playboy, Amazon, Electronic Arts, NPR, Sylvan Learning Centers, and Taubman Malls. Learn more about the company here.


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August 2011

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Amen. An excellent article that deserve's a second and even third read.

Shame on me for ignoring the email from a listener asking why I didn't include a local basketball teams winning score. We only do the majors was what I was told - he knows those scores already and so does everyone else. It's those local scores that not everyone know. Would those extra 3 seconds of air-time hurt anyone?

Thanks for writing this...

JJ Duling

Well said. I've long wondered why so many in radio have acted so 'superior' and above their listeners. Consumers, in general, have expressed great dissatisfaction at the lack of responsiveness but radio is such a highly personal medium. I was always amazed at some of the responses I got to answering emails, including those critical of something we did. If I just took 30-60 seconds to respond, I'd almost always get a response that read something like, "oh, My God- somebody actually READS our emails?" and thanks us for the response. Same with complaint calls- if we can get over the fact they're complaining and just listen for a minute or two and respond with respect and treat them as valued customers, they DO appreciate it and (speaking for myself and my stations) I could almost always turn them into a fan by the end of the phone call. All it takes is a little time and effort and the goodwill we generate will pay us back big-time.


Scott & J.J., thanks for the thoughtful comments. There are many program directors who truly care and take the time to respond to listener emails, calls, etc. We see it in focus groups all the time - a returned email from a jock, a courteous explanation of why we do what we do goes a long way toward making the feel respected and connected.

We appreciate you reading the blog.

K.M. Richards

Maybe I'm the exception to the rule, but I've never "looked down my nose" at the listeners who turn up on the winners list over and over. Those have always been the ones I would come out of my office to thank when they turned up at the reception desk to pick up their prize, because I see them as the most loyal of my listeners.

I've given many a station tour to so-called "prize pigs" over the years and they would be the ones who I'd make a special point to mail new bumper stickers (remember those?) to, because I could pretty much count on them being displayed. Usually, I'd send a couple ... one for the bumper, the other for their collection (you just KNOW they would have a collection of station "stuff").

Great article. Same concept, but updated for the modern age. If we don't remember that our stations are there for -- and because of -- listeners, and appreciate them, they will be tempted by the next format flip by a competitor. Let them know they are important to us, and they will be much more resistant to switching. I'd even go so far as to say they are the listeners who are likely to sit through songs they don't particularly like rather than tune away.


K.M., thanks for joining the conversation. You are right - these are the listeners who tell their friends about the station, sit through some of our less-than-great moments, and are even patient when the station errs by hiring or firing the wrong person.

Appreciate you reading the blog & taking the time to comment.

Mike Anthony

Thanks Fred for the focus. PPM draws people into the "reach" game when the billion dollar companies of the past decade are focused on the individual customer experience that is so good they want to share it with their family and friends.

Study the Internet success stories of today. They have one thing in common that radio has lost. Customer obsession. Study Amazon, Zappos or Groupon. If Zappos did radio how would they do it? Tony Hsieh says by creating WOW for the customer(our listener), ridiculous customer service! If Amazon did radio how would they do it? Jeff Bezos says by creating the most customer centric service in the world. At Amazon it’s not a business, it’s a mission. If Groupon did radio how would they do it? Andrew Mason says by providing ridiculous experiences at unheard of prices that you can share with friends.

For radio its about "listener obsession". If I continually do something for the listener that touches them and really matters then I will get the same action in return. The key is how many listeners I can activate to do something that matters. This action is measurable and valuable. If you are in the reach game you are not touching people in a way that will cause them to act.


Mike, extremely well put. Those Internet icons understand that it's about the customer experience. And if we can establish real relationships with these listeners, some of them will recommend us to others. If radio can marry its content with that Internet service attitude, well who knows what the business could morph into.

Thanks for taking the time to comment & read the blog. Truly appreciate your response.

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