Spring Cleaning for Your Music

Dear Christian Radio,

It’s been proven that successful stations pay close attention to their playlist. No doubt, your station has done the research. You’ve got a strong roster of currents in the rotation and you’re playing all the right recurrent and gold songs—the ones that reach your target audience. Knowing you have the right balance, you plug the roster into your music scheduling software. Everything is great, right? Well, that depends on who you ask.  Despite your best efforts, you get the same complaint from one or more P1 listener(s) who admonish you for “playing the same songs over and over.” While it might be easiest to dismiss the opinions of these super fans, there is a greater opportunity here. This can be a perfect time to ensure you’re exposing those carefully selected songs properly.

When was the last time you took a look at your scheduling software to be sure it’s doing what you think it’s doing?  If it’s been awhile since you’ve personally gotten involved, or if this sensitive music task has passed through several different people over the years, there may be rules set up in the software that are no longer beneficial. Now is the time to take a hard look at those rules which have been deemed “Unbreakable.”  If there are too many, you may be doing your music logs more harm than good.

Too Many Rules
When it comes to scheduling rules, it is important to make sure that each rule is serving its intended purpose. One of the most common rules to cause rotation issues is Artist Separation. The default setting is often an hour and ten minutes.  In our format, artists such as Chris Tomlin, MercyMe, Casting Crowns and Jeremy Camp have many high-testing songs. When set too high, the artist separation rule may be preventing certain songs from getting the exposure they deserve.

By the Numbers
We know that listening to radio often happens at the same time each day. This includes when listeners are heading to work, taking kids to school, or after-school trips to various youth-centric practices. Because of this, it is vital to cycle the music you play throughout the day. Some of this starts with simple math—there are 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week. For small categories, like currents, be sure the number of songs in the category as well as the number played per hour do not evenly calculate into 24 or 168.

Fortunately, for those who didn’t expect there would be math required, your software does this calculation for you and puts it into a handy graph. Powergold calls it Rotation Patterns. If your station uses MusicMaster, it’s called Turnover Analysis.  What you want to see is a diagonal stair-step pattern that indicates that each song in the category is moving throughout the day parts. If you see any vertical lines that means your songs are in danger of playing at the same time each day.

You can also adjust the number of songs or slot counts to see how increasing or decreasing the size of the category will affect your rotations. Once you find the perfect number of songs per category—the figure that gives you the best rotations—stick with it!

These examples are just two of the ways you can tighten your software and ensure that it’s working for you, rather than against you. If you notice something in your software that doesn’t seem quite right, help is available. Hopefully, your contract includes tech support—if it doesn’t, you may want to consider adding it. I’ve found most tech support to be very helpful, especially when it comes to fine tuning their products to meet the station’s needs.

Dear Christian Radio…

1) Be willing to listen. Not all complaints are without merit. Your listeners may know something you don’t.
2) Break the rules. Know what rules are driving your rotation. Fix what’s not working.
3) Do the math. Proper scheduling is a numbers game. Allow your software to help get you to the right number.
4) Ask for help. There is no one size fits all system. Talk to tech support and let them fine tune your efforts.


Dwayne Harrison
Music & Operations Director, Your PER
Positive Alternative Radio

Dwayne invites you to share your questions and comments at [email protected].

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