Do you Program for Tune-Out or Tune-In?


For decades radio programmers have been obsessed with removing any programming element deemed to cause tune-out, whether a song, an irritating ad, or an obnoxious DJ. We’re also guilty of significantly reducing talk and music variety believing these changes would lead to increases in time spent listening.  Regardless at our attempts to minimize tune-out, PPM tells us the average listening occasion remains only 10 to 11 minutes. Therefore, the only way to increase you share is to get more listening occasions from your cume.


Imagine what could happen to your ratings if you were to shift your attention from eliminating tune-out to creating tune-in? Watching the recent Summer Olympics coverage, I was beat over the head with reasons to watch more and more coverage today, tomorrow, and beyond. It’s a simple mind shift from focusing on what we’ve already done to what we’re going to do.


Here’s a few Tune-In tactics you can implement at your station:


  • Show Promos – instead of always focusing on what you missed, concentrate on promoting reasons to listen again
  • Give Specific Times – listeners are busy, make it easy it to listen. If you have something big and worthwhile going on. Tell them exactly when they should listen.
  • Tease Me – effective teasing creates intrigue and listeners may stick around a little longer or come back to hear more. This involves an emotional hook or story pay-off rather than just a song tease.
  • Story Arcing – craft storylines in your show or station that gradually unfold over multiple shows or dayparts
  • Cross-Promotion – you station should sound like one interconnected family by talking about other talent and shows
  • FOMO – concentrate on creating Fear of Missing Out moments every day


Programmers are stunned when we share research showing how few of their Morning P1s listen to their favorite morning show 5 days a week. We’re not saying to forego the tune-out tactics but placing a greater emphasis on tune-in may be a better bet for increasing TSL.


Ken Benson is a multi-award-winning contemporary radio and music television programmer. Today, Ken is a co-founder and partner of P1 Media Group, providing insights and strategies to leading media companies around the world. He can be reached at