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Starting the Conversation with a New Launch

August 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Lost in all the buzz surrounding Merlin Media’s new FM News stations in New York and Chicago have been the listener polls they have placed on their (still rudimentary) websites.

There’s a web page on each station site where their morning news anchor asks listeners to respond to a handful of questions to get their input on the station. Interestingly, the questions are presented in a poll format where you can “vote” and view results to date. (Sidenote: despite what appears to be a female-based format, at I write this, 79.2% of those responding to the FM News 101.9 poll were men.)

I suspect that the main purpose of this “research” is marketing. Both web pages boldly announce that “We’re building FM News 101.1/101.9 just for YOU!” And, with all the brains and resources behind these launches, you would think they could do a bit better job if research was their job one. (And maybe they are, somewhere behind the curtain.)

The idea is intriguing. New stations like these that venture into uncharted terrain could clearly benefit from listener feedback to help them refine their programming. There a number of ways they could do this: online bulletin boards conducted over a period of several days, a larger panel selected from the target to give a quantitative assessment, etc.  With all the “Format Finder” studies that have conducted over the past 30 years or so, how come you don’t hear much about “Format Fixer” studies before or immediately after a station launches?

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