The PPM Game

Here’s how you win it.


Like it or not, your job depends on playing — and winning — the PPM game.

What do you think is the best way to do that?

Well, first I hope you’re using Voltair, because we know that will improve your PPM score.

Second, as you’ve been hearing ad nauseum, the key to your future lies in listening occasions. You need to get listeners listening several times a day, and then every day of the week.

How do you do that?

You think that happens with better liners and less talk? I don’t.

I also don’t think it happens automatically with more talk, especially if it’s the wrong kind of talk.

I think you get people to listen more often — as opposed to longer in any given listening occasion — by providing something they need, something they want, something other stations don’t provide.

The only way that happens comes with content from your talent.

You need talent that knows how to make emotional connections with each individual listener every time they are listening.

That’s hard. That’s really hard. And it’s impossible if you’re not coaching to help it happen.

Humor works if you’ve got air talent that can really make listeners laugh, but in my experience, that’s a big IF.

Do they make you laugh? When you listen live or in air check sessions, do you find yourself actually laughing?

I love John Oliver. I think he’s really, really funny, but it’s partly because I only see him once a week and his content is topical and presented with an acerbic wit that’s rare on TV.

And it’s worth noting that he’s not on a “broadcast network.” He’s on HBO, which doesn’t restrict his language and targets. (This is NSFW, and if profanity bothers you, don’t watch!)

Funny people can make us laugh, but most of them are professional comedians, not radio djs.

If you’ve got one on your staff, congratulations! I hope they’re building ratings by regularly performing at your local comedy club.

How about the other emotions though?

I don’t think air talent can make listeners cry, even if they wanted to. But I do think they can create the atmosphere where a listener feels safe crying, feels safe feeling: hurt, loss, joy, love, gratitude…

I think air talent can bring content that connects with listeners hearts.

It starts with relating to what’s important to listeners’ lives: family, jobs, money, health, pets, desires and aspirations, loss and grief.

This kind of content surrounds you every day in every city around the world, but you have to be looking for it to see it.

If you think listeners need to hear Battle of the Sexes or their day is ruined, you’re not talking very often to listeners, and you’re probably asking the ones you do talk to the wrong question.

If you think they re-order their lives to have a chance to win $1000, I think you’re self-medicating.

Don’t play this one safe.

Don’t mandate liners because you don’t trust your talent with unscripted, un-timed content.

Hire good talent and help them understand what listeners want to hear.

Empower them to move me, to connect with me.

The only way your station will win the PPM Game — consistently produce more listening occasions — is by offering something no one else can, and doing it every single day.

It’s by making each listener feel you are there only for them, that the two of you have a relationship, a bond based on vulnerability, on shared life experiences, on living through things together.

Let me help you prove that can happen.

Let me show you the power of connection.

Both of our futures depend on it.