On the one hand, the version of this meme that popped up on my Facebook feed over the weekend is easily my favorite:
Unsurprisingly, many of my radio friends liked the post because, like me, they’ve lived the post.
I can’t possibly tell you how many times I’ve had this exchange with a listener on the request line over the years. The exact verbiage, of course, may differ. I might have said:
“I’ll try and get that on for you.”
“It might be coming up in the next hour.”
“I’ll give it my best shot.”
Little did the listener know I had a music log in front of me and I was well aware of whether or not it was coming up. And, if I used one of those responses, you can be assured it was not coming up.
While everyone who’s ever cracked a mic at a radio station can relate, I feel some guilt about it now. In addition, it’s not a practice today’s radio stations can continue.
When you wanted to hear your favorite song pre-streaming, you had to own the recording. If you didn’t, the radio station could provide that service, hence the request line.
Today if a listener calls the request line and is told, “I’ll see what I can do” or “It’s coming up” and it doesn’t come up, there is no leverage for the station. That angry and disappointed listener that waited and waited for their song can easily stream it on-demand.
We know the percentage of listeners that will ever call a radio station’s request line is very low. So is the percentage of listeners that will agree to carry a meter or fill out a ratings diary.
If someone takes the time to call a request line, they should be treated like royalty.
If you can’t play the song that’s requested, instead of saying “I’ll see what I can do,” maybe find out what other songs and artists she likes.
Ask what she likes most about your station. Or, ask what she thinks the station could do better.
Ask how long she’s been listening. Ask where she works. Find out who her favorite artists are. Learn if she plays your contests.
It’s not about trying to gather actionable data. You’ll want a research study with a representative sample to achieve that.
But if the goal is to provide outstanding engagement and customer service when the consumer has countless other options to choose from, dropping “I’ll see what I can do” from the vocabulary is probably a good place to start.