Rewriting Radio’s Playbook
There’s an unusual thing happening at the very bottom of Chicago’s FM dial. An obscure station called MeTV-FM (on the 87.7 frequency) has risen to become a Top 10 ratings performer in the Chicago Metro. The TV reference in the station’s moniker and the unusually low dial position are there because it’s not a true FM station. Instead it’s a low-powered TV signal, which can be picked up by most radio receivers. Despite this obscure pedigree MeTV-FM is winning listeners by doing the exact opposite of what every other FM station does.
For starters MeTV-FM has no DJs. Let’s face it, most music listeners would rather hear songs than DJ blabber. So removing the DJs makes time for more music. Speaking of music MeTV-FM boasts a music library that’s several times larger than a typical FM station. Most FMs play 300-500 songs in some sort of PD-designed rotation, but these guys play about 3,500 songs in more of a shuffle format. And finally, they don’t interrupt the music very often. Twice an hour MeTV-FM breaks for commercials and a quick headline update, and then gets right back to their mountain of songs. This formula seems to be working as MeTV-FM now ranks #8 amongst Chicago stations, beating out dozens of other stations with significantly higher operating budgets and much better dial positions.
Am I the only one who sees the similarity in MeTV-FM’s programming strategy to streaming? No DJs, endless music variety, and limited breaks feels like a page right out of Pandora’s (and every other streamers’) playbook. So maybe the best strategy for FM stations moving forward is to act more like a streamer?!?