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Does Live & Local Really Matter?

Experienced broadcasters know it intuitively – that music radio sounds better with a live human introducing the music and relating to the listener. As many times as talented producers are able to whip up cinematic audio magic in the studio, the simple act of a live human voice, communicating one-to-one with a listener often has the edge for creating that emotional connection that inspires loyalty and generates daily listening occasions.

In our most recent NuVoodoo Ratings Prospect Study of over 3000 respondents 14-54 across all PPM markets, we asked listeners to agree (or disagree) with statements about what they like and don’t like on the stations they listen to. We weren’t surprised when we saw that a strong majority of P1’s across the major music formats agreed that they like it when there’s a live human talking about the music on a station. While only a relative handful of on-air radio talent have the kind of popularity that swings ratings on its own, thousands of on-air voices forge strong relationships with the regular listeners of nearly all stations.

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We were slightly surprised that a majority of P1’s across the major music formats agreed that they don’t like it when there are mostly pre-recorded announcements on a station. In focus groups we’ve heard listeners talk about how stations without the regular presence of a live (or apparently live) host feel “lonely” or “sterile,” but didn’t suspect it was such a pervasive opinion.

The differences by format P1’s are subtle, with Classic Rock P1’s, for example, less likely to complain about mostly pre-recorded announcements, and Country more likely to appreciate a live human. But, the need for music radio’s human connection is unmistakable.

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The local, community connections that station sales departments talk about to clients and prospects are real and appreciated by majorities of all music format P1’s. And majorities also appreciate that the DJ’s are (or at sound like they are) in their cities, underscoring the need to ensure that imported personalities sound indigenous wherever they’re on the air.

Proof that live and local does matter to many listeners (especially when it’s done well).

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