The Unmeasurable

What we’ve forgotten…

Consolidated radio has become one giant spreadsheet.

We only value what we can measure, and we’ve been thinking of our employees as numbers in the expense column.

The biggest problem with this is that it offers no chance of even trying to focus on one listener.

We pay companies (like Arbitron) huge amounts of money to analyze past listening behavior second-by-second, staring at mountains of fresh data delivered every month, when what we really need, the whole purpose behind all the numbers, is insight.

Why she listens and what we can do to get her to listen even longer tomorrow.

It won’t matter how much money you save now if listening goes down a year from now.

Arbitron does not measure what people feel when they hear your station.

Your perceptual research isn’t actually designed to measure what people feel when they hear your station. It’s a snapshot of things very close to the lens, when what you need is to see way out, close to the horizon.

The insight you need is all about people and their emotional lives.

What, you don’t believe that?

People connect with people, not ideas, and certainly not marketing slogans. Putting a personal face on important issues is what winning politics is all about. It’s the brilliance of the term, “pro-life,” because who hates helpless babies? It personalizes the abstract.

Until you find ways to connect personally — emotionally — with individual listeners, and do it day after day, hour after hour, you will be that faceless point on a data graph, a number on the expense side of the spreadsheet that looks unnecessary.

Radio doesn’t need more listening data. Radio needs to think about how to add meaning to listeners’ lives every day.

And that will never come from cutting people to reduce expense.