Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Many Flavors of Radio

I tend to explain things in metaphors. Radio formats are like Ice cream. AC is like vanilla. Lots of people love vanilla. And most people think it's ok. Almost nobody hates vanilla. Whereas a format like Americana is more like Chocolate marshmallow which is #15 off the list at only 1.3%.

There are over 2000 country music radio stations in America, that's a whopping 14%. Not quite as popular as vanilla but more popular than chocolate. That's a freakish notion, country music radio is more popular than chocolate icecream. It seems counter intuitive actually.

The problem being, most common does not mean most popular. In some cities the #1 station is a talker. In others its a tropical station in others AC. The demographics of each city vary as do the successful branding and marketing of each set of stations. While New york can support two tropical spanish stations Des Moines cannot. So when people throw these numbers at you, stick it in the circular file. Know your market, ignore the rest.

So does most common radio format = most popular music? No. In fact country music has relatively low ratings in many markets. For example New York City number uno in radio the bull cow, the bull god, the Mattatuck... the biggest market in America has no country radio station. It's been tried before and it failed before. Actually Clear Channel just snuck one in 2 days ago via HD multicast but that's currently almost the same as not existing. Did you know that counting illegal immigrants NYC is a bigger market than LA and chicago (markets 2&3) combined?

So anyway back to the food = radio thing.
The top 10 most popular Ice Cream Flavors are as follows:
1. Vanilla - 29%
2. Chocolate - 8.9%
3. Butter pecan - 5.3%
4. Strawberry - 5.3%
5. Neapolitan, 4.2%
6. Chocolate chip, 3.9%
7. French vanilla, 3.8%
8. Cookies and cream, 3.6%
9. Vanilla fudge ripple, 2.6%
10. Praline pecan, 1.7%
Source: International Ice Cream Assoc.

I had to ask my girlfriend what Neapolitain ice cream even was. But I have to ask professionals what Hurban is all about too.

Top 10 Most common radio formats
1. Country, 14%
2. News/Talk, 9.2%
3. AC, 7.1%
4. Oldies, 6%
5. Latin, 5.2% (yeah I know this is multiple formats)
6. Christian Con., 3.7%
7. Hot AC, 3.6%
8. Classic Rock, 3.4%
9. CHR. 3.3%
10. Gospel, 3.1%

Adult Standards comes in at #11 for the record... So think about who you know listens to these stations. Are they Vanilla kind of people or are they Strawberry Cheesecake kind of people?