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Burns Study: Music Radio Talks About Music Radio


In a study that conducted content analysis of AC and CHR outlets, consultants Alan Burns & Associates tries to answer the question, "When a music radio station talks, does it talk about things the audience wants to hear, or about things the station wants the audience to hear?" The firm found that music radio dominantly talks to the audience about radio, rather than about the audience or music.

On music radio, Burns contends, you would think perhaps the number one or number two most common topics would be music. The answer in both cases is a resounding "No." Instead, stations dominantly talk to their audiences about the radio station.

The study found that the typical U.S. music radio station has about 14 breaks an hour (think of it as 12 songs, 2 stop-sets, and a transition into each as a "break"). The results of Burns' analysis indicate that:

  • 10 of those will contain station positioning language, either live or recorded.
  • 7 of them will contain contest, promotional, sales merchandising, website and/or text program information.
  • One of them, on average, will contain something said/designed solely because a listener might be interested in it, having nothing to do with the station.
  • On 8 of the 20 stations monitored, there were no statements targeted solely to the listener's interests or needs.

And on a typical music station, a song (or multiple songs) are identified roughly four times an hour. Other than that, on average there are no comments about music. Even when combined, listener-focused and music-based comments (total 9.5%) are so far down the priority ranks that web/text liners (21%) or contest liners (20%) are much more common topics.

Additionally, stations in larger markets send more positioning messages... but they also talk to the listener, and about music, slightly more than smaller markets.

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