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10 Strategies of Winning AC Stations

March 31, 2023

Gary Berkowitz

Gary Berkowitz

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

Do a “programming x-ray” on the most successful and consistently high rated AC stations, you quickly see the common elements that make them winners.

After years of working with AC’s around the country, here’s my top ten list of the common strategies of winning AC stations.

They understand their listeners’ music taste. They know that if the music is not right, their ratings will not be right. To them, music research is like a utility bill. It always gets paid. Successful AC’s don’t want their “lights turned off”, so they do the research (you know what I mean!)

The golden rule is “Win at Work.” Everything rallies around 8a-4p. Sure the other dayparts are important, but 8-4 is where you will get the majority of your quarter hours. When the book comes in, that’s the first place they look to see how they did.

They are “brilliant with the basics” and understand how to combine them with a fun, congenial atmosphere. They don’t “read” liners. They deliver them in a warm, natural, friendly way so the listener feels good about listening to their station. They do an amazing job of making sure their listeners always know who they are listening to whether it’s a PPM or Diary market.

They have personalities who are more concerned with being likeable than funny. In sales, the line is “People BUY from people they like”. In programming “Listeners LISTEN to people they like.” Are your personalities “likeable”?

They follow a conservative road. “When in Doubt, Leave It Out” is their rule. Whether it’s a bad spot, or bad lyrics, they don’t overthink it. They just leave it out. As the great Rick Sklar once said, “You Only Get Hurt by What You Play”.

They position themselves with true listener benefits. They ask their listeners why they listen, and they mirror that. They forget useless language. They sweat the small stuff. Like not talking about listening at work at 5pm.

They are not concerned with “content” as much as they are with “companionship.” The big AC’s have personalities who understand what it is to be a listener’s friend. To a listener, having their favorite, comfortable AC station on is as important as anything in the work environment.

They have a phone app. It’s tough to buy an AM-FM radio these days. If you don’t believe me, go to a Best Buy and try. The world (especially women) revolves around the phone. If you’re not there, well…. You know the rest! Get that app today.

They make effective use of Facebook, Instagram and yes, Email marketing and do not abuse it. Successful AC’s know that Facebook/Instagram is still the 500 lb. gorilla with their base and they post often with information that is useful to their base. Listener emails always contain a strong reason to open and read it (like secret contests and giveaways only for them).

Consistency is job #1. Day in and day out, they sound the same. Always smooth. Always warm and friendly. Everyone does formatics the same. It’s smooth. Winning AC’s are like the restaurant that has mastered great service, fabulous food and a great environment.

Gary Berkowitz specializes in ratings improvement for AC and Classic Hits radio stations. He can be reached at (248) 737-3727 or Always confidential. Never an obligation.

Editor's Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB's official editorial policy.

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