Author: Jeff Warshaw

Innovative Approach Reels In the Big Fish

Our guest blogger is Jeff Warshaw, CEO of Westport, CT-based Connoisseur Media, which owns 31 stations in several markets around the United States.

In line with one of my founding principles for Connoisseur Media, I’ve always believed in building stations and offering content tailored to the needs and tastes of listeners in each of our local markets. One of the biggest challenges we have is precisely determining what those needs and tastes are.  That is why we have always invested heavily in sophisticated, comprehensive research to make sure our stations are in sync with their markets.

A great example of doing this successfully is when we collaborated with Coleman Insights for the launch of The Shark on Long Island. We had already decided on changing 94.3 to a Rock-based format; the question then was what type of Rock station we should offer. How should it be positioned? What types of Rock music should it play? Who specifically was in our target audience?

In most cases when it comes to format search research, you want to talk to people who use radio stations offering similar formats. However, going into the project, we believed that many Rock fans—especially younger listeners—were not using the Rock stations available on Long Island, given that they featured playlists heavily focused on Classic Rock.  If you were a fan of Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, etc., you were likely consuming this music from sources outside of commercial FM radio. And that’s exactly what our research told us was happening.

In fact, what Coleman Insights’ FLIP (Format Launch Implementation Plan) study revealed was that 52% of our potential audience consisted of people who weren’t listening to Rock radio on Long Island. Coleman Insights helped discover a large, unmet demand for contemporary Rock in the marketplace and afforded us the opportunity to successfully meet that demand. They also helped us determine the music mix and positioning approach that gave us the best chance at attracting those listeners back to Rock radio. If we hadn’t broadened our perspective by including many fans of contemporary Rock who were not listening to the existing Rock stations in our research, we would have missed a big opportunity.

The Shark is not succeeding because it’s taking away a lot of listeners from the previously existing Rock stations; it’s succeeding because we picked up listeners who weren’t even listening to Rock radio to begin with. They were listening to radio stations that offered other formats and were likely getting their fill of contemporary Rock from other sources, such as streaming and their personal collections.  We built a station that met an untapped need in the local market. By investing in smart, innovative research and using it to seek out opportunities that may be missed otherwise, we are successfully fulfilling our mission to meet the needs of the communities in which we own stations.