Thursday, January 03, 2008

Relationships Are In

New Year's In/Out lists are "In" this year. The RadioSutton list has just one item on it.

Relationships are In.

Of course, relationships have always been in, public radio hasn't given them enough attention.

So let this be the year that hardware and software become less important than the people they serve. And let this be the year to stop congratulating each other on what we make and start focusing on the impact it has in our communities.

I started thinking about this while working with Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) data. The technology is impressive. It shows listeners' real time response to programming down to the minute. It even shows listener tune out during pledge drives.

More impressive is what PPM can reveal about the relationship between a station and its listeners. PPM shows listeners returning after pitch breaks and after pledge drives. It shows listeners to commercial stations returning after long commercial breaks. Why do they do they come back when they do? Why do they come back at all? Their behaviors not only give us insights about the value received, they also show that the listeners have developed a relationship with the station.

After the last few years of trying to figure out what web streaming, podcasting, HD Radio, social networking, and other technology tools mean to radio, it's time to ask the question, "what's meaningful to the people we serve?"

This is the year to better understand and cultivate those relationships.

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