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Tactics Diary Markets Can Learn from PPM Markets

February 16, 2024

Gary Berkowitz

Gary Berkowitz

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

There are many great lessons that diary markets can learn from PPM markets. With that in mind, please consider these points that could be key to higher ratings this spring.

Music in the morning counts. There are only a handful of personalities who can do content that is better than an extra song. For many years, we believed that "bits" in the morning were more important than music. PPM has quickly taught us that this is not the case. If you are a music station, make sure you are playing at least 10 songs an hour in the morning.

8am-4pm is the "sweet spot" for adult driven stations. In PPM, if you do not get the major share of listening here, you will not get it. This means your morning show should be winding down non-music elements at 8am as you get into a more music mode as well as doing a lot of at work pre-promotion.

TSL is all about adding "occasions of listening". Sure, song to song is important, but not nearly as critical as increasing occasions of listening. This has always been the case (in diary markets) but we see it more so in PPM markets. How do you increase occasions? Read the next few points.

Tactical contesting: "Cash is King" In most PPM markets, cash is proving to be a very strong tactic for increasing occasions. If it works with PPM, why wouldn't it with diary-based markets? Craft your contesting to be a fun experience for the listener. As for cash amounts: $100 not a lot of interest. $500 good. $1000 best. Big difference between $100 and $500. Not so much between $500 and $1000.

Companionship. Main reason for listening. No surprise here. This is where your talent comes in. You don't need comedians. Just "companions" who are pleasant and enjoyable to listen to. In sales, they say “people buy from people they like” in programming “People listen to people they like”. Be likeable. But....

Too much DJ banter is a tune out. Yes, DJs are important, need to be warm, friendly and fun sounding, but on a music station, listeners are coming for the music, so keep the DJ's tight, to the point, and fun. As a focus group panelist once told me. “We like DJs, but not when they talk too much.”

Get back to the music as soon as possible. Once the stop set is over, get back to the music quickly and always make sure it's one of your more important songs/categories of music.

Listener availability is not always there 7-12 midnight. Many PPM market AC's are struggling with this, as they were used to huge night numbers in diary. PPM is showing us that AC listeners just don't listen 7-12. Take advantage of that in diary markets.

In conclusion: Yes, there are some differences between PPM and diary measurement but there is a lot to be learned from a system that measures actual listening and behavior. PPM illustrates that listeners want a music heavy radio station that does not interrupt too much.

When it comes to non-music elements, use moderation. Jocks, yes, but not too much talk. Jocks need to provide “companionship”. Contesting, yes, but make sure you are offering something that creates a fun and worthwhile experience. Information yes but keep it relevant and to the point.

Gary Berkowitz specializes in ratings improvement for AC and Classic Hits radio stations in all size markets. Need help with your radio station? Let's talk. Call me today. Always confidential and no obligation. (248) 737-3727 or

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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