Talk in a PPM World

How much and what kind?

PPM has had a significant, and not always rational, effect on air talent, especially “big name” morning shows.

Minute-by-minute measurement shows that the longer some of these talents drone on, the more tune-out there is. Ownership and management often feel their ratings will actually improve if they just shut up and play the hits. Not coincidentally, that is also a lot cheaper on the expense side of the ledger.

Interestingly, there’s been quite a bit of recent research (here, here, and here)* that shows happiness is linked to deeper conversation, as opposed to small talk — that the more shallow the chat, the more likely participants were to feel depressed and anxious.


Long before the People Meter, I made my living by coaching talent about content, and I didn’t need Arbitron to give me an excuse to ask for a deeper connection.

There are simply too many easy choices for listeners to make, especially when they’re in their cars, to put up with what I call “happy talk” — that sort of pointless back and forth between talent that only signals to me, and evidently to most listeners, that you have no idea how to get into, or out of, whatever it is you’re rambling on about.

The lesson from all these scientific studies — and from PPM — on the type of conversation that we find satisfying, is that you need to get into the meat of your content quickly, that set up is very important, and that you need to connect on as deep a level as you can.

The more superficial your talk content, the less likely you are to win ratings and loyalty.

Make me feel.

Engage me in a topic that is relevant and significant, and I’ll not only listen and like you, I’ll feel better about myself throughout the day.




*Thanks to my friend, Bob Wood, for finding some of this research for me.