Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Radio, The Box Office and Algebra

Which best describes your last visit to a movie theater: “Good bang for my buck” or “Disappointing?” “Worth every penny” or “overpriced and under-delivered?”

These reactions, according to the just released study “The Modern Movie Experience” conducted jointly by Nielsen Analytics and the Movie Advisory Board, could be paraphrases of the evaluative criteria would-be movie-goers use when deciding whether to part with their money and time to go or not go to a movie theater.

Even more than alternative platforms, the report determined the top reasons for declining movie theater attendances related to a disconnect between the would-be movie-goer’s perceived quality of the entertainment and how much they pay for a ticket both in terms of their money and time (more at

To me, frustrated movie-goers’ disappointment in quality coupled with high costs sounded an awful lot like some of the reasons we’ve heard from people who are spending less time with radio.

Several years ago for fun I invented five math formulae to illustrate the relationship between programming and listening. One formula was: EV>CL – “The Entertainment Value must always exceed the Cost of Listening.”

The greater the positive distance EV is from CL, the greater the potential for listenership, satisfaction, and ratings. Conversely, a minimal or even a negative distance has the potential to significantly reduce listening and open doors to declining ratings.

Some components of high EV radio include strong talent with compelling content, great imaging, the best music (if you play music), services, Values Based Programming, passion, and other elements that “surprise and delight” listeners.

Radio’s CL is increased by clutter, over-commercialization, poor production, imaging that is repetitive or that promotes non-important “attributes,” violating listener expectations, irrelevance, hype, and rarely straying from “the same old thing.”

And just like at the box office, your station’s real and perceived EV or CL has the potential to grow or shrink your audience. A daily EV that greatly exceeds the CL can make your station a “must listen” and your “ticket price” a great value.

You can download a PDF of the Five Formulae at And for more articles, click

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