The new listener
Written by: Bob Mabena
His name is Karabo Tabane and at face value he is a radio presenter’s favourite listener. There are quite a few of them and they are unique and easy to identify too. Radio research misses or ignores this listener for various reasons and this is at their peril. Radio at best, is supposed to keep you engaged and entertained for a reasonably protracted time so that they can count you as a loyal listener. This is also what the advertiser wants. The spray and pray mentality cannot yield desired positive responses and feet in the store. Many other forms of entertainment stand in the way of radio getting this done and, consistently at that; they include “new” media and social networks. Since the advent of Radio’s nemesis – Television – the latter has managed to not only survive, but thrive by attaching itself to all other “new” media types in a very smart and creative way. Safe to say that radio’s very physically portable nature is no longer a USP, the fact that you can still consume radio anywhere, cheaply and seamlessly is still great, but it doesn’t create loyal listeners. One has to do so much more.
The death of on-air and radio management talent is a serious challenge, but even more dangerous and intriguing is the listener I am writing about.
Karabo Tabane is on Twitter and he is quite busy. How do I know this? I follow Tim Modise and John Robbie on Twitter and so does Karabo. What sets this guy apart form a “normal’ listener is that on any given day, he will communicate with or send tweets to all three Gauteng Breakfast Shows – Tim, John and me. This is a listener who actually enjoys band hopping to the extreme. I am not talking about your typical “RT” guy who throws platitudes and sound bites. I am referring here to a listener who interacts with all three different breakfast show hosts at the same time, as if he is a P1. Never missing a beat, he pivots as if being a listener was a profession one gets paid millions for.
What then, does a programmer do to selfishly capture this listener as an exclusive P1 to their station or at least Breakfast Show? What tricks and tactics can be employed to keep Karabo on one dial only, because clearly he is a valuable listener? This is a kind of intelligent and engaging listener that any sensible programmer wants to own and sell to advertisers.
This listener is coveted by advertisers and would complete the cycle that runs through the station, the listener and the advertiser.
The naked truth to face in the first place is that there will be more Karabo’s in the near future and this will force radio to look at ways to accommodate this listener in RAMS. The naked truth is that Karabo is not likely to change his listening habits because hopping around and taking bits and pieces of the best three is what he actually enjoys. You might argue that this is not in fact a new listener, but my counter argument is simply that only now does a Karabo Tabane have a face. He might be part of a statistic, but unlike conventional research; not only can we identify him, we can actually see his moves from one station to the other, in the same time channel and in real time. Of comfort is the fact that we know he loves radio for certain. This is evidenced by the fact that he stays with Breakfast radio (not any particular radio station), for the three hours.
Advertisers know that reach, impact and frequency will give them a better chance of their message being heard and radio knows that they need more lucrative listeners tuning in longer and being stable per quarter hour. My advice is consistency. At this stage, Karabo is in the minority and not much can be done to alter his listening habits. Consistency will get this coveted listener to keep you in his cycle. Do not bore Karabo trying to chase him; he is a decisive itchy-feet listener with a mind of his own. A sensible programmer will dig deeper into RAMS, find and identify this listener and classify him a P1. Yes, that’s right; I own Karabo and so does John and Tim; he knows it and they know it too. Karabo is loyal to all three breakfast shows and he, at best participates at 33 and a third rate per station.
So here is to you then Karabo; you and the likes of Ditshego are leading the way in challenging and reshaping old Radio norms and standards and I love it.