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Leave it to the RAB in the UK to come up with something a little different that supports radio listening – as a mood lifter.
In a study conducted by Sparkler Research (which sounds pretty happy, too), a sample of 1,000 people affirmed that radio listeners report higher levels of happiness and energy – especially compared to television. So maybe you've already read this study, nodded at the results, and moved on. But there is a lot to think about when considering the emotional state of your audience - not just the way they rate songs in music tests.
If you think about it, TV is a lean-back medium – you’re often sedentary, on the couch, and maybe eating while you watch. Radio tends to be more lean-forward – you’re active, doing something else while listening and being entertained in the background. That accompaniment of activity – cleaning out the garage, jogging, doing homework, or driving – probably has a great deal to do with radio complementing something else. Radio is at its best when it allows you to get on with your life, while enhancing it at the same time.
As Mark Barber, head of the UK's RAB noted, "People are the happiest and most energetic when listening to radio. It plays an important emotional role in people's lives." We frequently don't consider attitude, vibe, and emotion when we conduct research. And when that's the case, we may be missing the whole point of the consumer experience.
Here's why: I recently conducted a Listener Advisory Group among women for an AC station. While trying to work around the margins to get respondents to articulate what it was they liked about the station, I probed music - all the eras, new stuff, oldies, dancey music, and softer songs - all the basic food groups.
Then one of the women blurted out, “It's not about those things really. I like them because they're the happiest station in town.” And when I asked her to elaborate, she explained that the station’s upbeat, positive attitude rubbed off on her daily activities and routines. It made her feel better, it was uplifting, and it helped get her through her day.
Not every station exudes this vibe, and in fact, PDs would do well to think about strategies and tactics that bring out the upbeat and happy characteristics of their target audiences. The “5 O’Clock Funnies” and even humorous commercials are often additive to the overall mood setting that radio has the ability to pull off.
We’ve all heard radio that is simply too dark – rock stations that are too heavy or talk stations that are too serious or even angry. Part of this goes with the territory. News/talk outlets have to deliver bad news. Classic Rock stations, in particular, are going to increasingly have more “Clarence Clemons” moments in the next few years.
But that doesn’t change the need to entertain, to uplift, to energize, and to keep listeners company. Radio, at its best, reflects the emotions of its audience. Even in death, there is reason to celebrate good times, great music, and the collective experience of sharing meaningful pop culture moments.
Understanding how consumers use the medium is a key to delivering programming that resonates and that's why this UK study has value. Radio has the ability to change and impact lives, but it also is charged with helping consumers get through the tough and challenging times. And there is no shortage of those.
So, keep that smile on your audience’s face – and perhaps fulfill radio’s greatest potential.