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Three Reasons You Don’t Win the Variety Image by How Many Songs You Play

On the surface, the premise makes sense. To give listeners the most variety, you need to play more songs, right?


To understand why, let’s explore three factors to consider in image building. If all three are not executed properly, winning the image will be that much more challenging. For this example, we’ll use variety as the image.

  1. The Type

Listeners won’t notice how many songs you play; they’ll notice how you deliver it. Era variety is generally the most obvious, but there are other ways to achieve the variety image through the product you deliver. A AAA station may offer more depth within certain strategic sounds. An Adult Hits station may offer more style/texture variety, with genres that listeners don’t generally expect to go together.

  1. The Recipe

An Adult Hits station may claim to “play everything,” but of course it doesn’t. And the most successful ones have a method to their madness. For example, stations in this format often play mostly 80s and have a Pop Rock lean. Research may dictate a different strategy based on the market and competitive landscape. The crucial element is that the songs need to be cohesive enough to hold an audience. Understanding the strategic lane for the format allows the station to go deeper on strategically important sounds while staying shallower in sounds that live on the strategic periphery.

  1. The Marketing

Radio station listeners are not paying close enough attention to recognize that your station plays the best variety. That’s why the right strategic messaging must accompany the product strategy. Doing it is not enough, you must tell them about it. Use clear, distinct, and memorable language to help build the image. When you think you’ve said it too much, keep doing it. You haven’t. Moreover, look for opportunities to spread your message externally, to people who aren’t already listening to your station.

While this example focuses on variety, the process is the same for any image you want to win.

Utilize research to determine the optimal strategy, execute the strategy according to the plan, and deliver consistent messaging on-air and off-air to drive the image perception forward.