Growing Cume, TSL & AQH Between Songs By Andy Meadows

There are only so many songs you can play within any given format if you want to win the ratings game. That’s why the old adage, ‘Its what you do between the records that makes the difference’, still holds true. With that in mind, here are the key non-music areas to focus on to raise cume, TSL and AQH. 

Value every second we air: Nobody responsible for creating any audio that runs on air should ever fill time. Whether that’s making a promo that could be fifteen to thirty seconds a sixty, including excessive and unnecessary details in a talk break or doing multi-question live on air interviews with artists, local celebrities or sponsors. Across the board we should all be strategic with our words. 

Prioritize show prep: Whether an on-air personality is live or voice-tracked should play no role in how much they prepare for that show. Every on-air talent should do a minimum of thirty minutes of show prep for every hour they are on the air. Some of which, of course, can be done the day prior. How each personality preps is unique to them and improves with experience, but typically the talent that preps the best comes out on top. 

Regular content segments: Regardless of their airshift, all on-air talent should be doing a minimum of one content segment an hour. Outside of mornings a lot of air talent have gotten away from doing regular content breaks because they have been coached to stay tight and bright and feel like they can’t deliver a content break within those restrictions. That’s simply not the case. A single-thought content break can easily be executed in twenty to thirty seconds once all the facts/details that don’t matter to the listener have been trimmed out. 

Increase listener engagement: If a station’s phones aren’t ringing, it’s because their listeners have been trained not to call. Injecting a healthy does of daily on-air contests, features, benchmarks and phone topics will cure that problem very quickly. Especially since today’s on-air talent have a whole host of digital platforms at their disposal to engage with listeners and drive them to those segments. 

Tease often: All content segments, phone topics, features and benchmarks should be teased at the end of the prior break. If a segment isn’t good enough to tease, then it’s not good enough to air. A great tease with a specific time frame, ie ‘7 minutes away’ instead of a vague ‘coming up’, will intrigue the listener and convince a good portion of them to stick around, boosting that TSL. 

Regular airchecks: Everybody needs a coach, even Tom Brady has one and he’s basically perfected football. Aircheck sessions are still the fastest way to improve on-air talent and nobody, no matter how long they’ve been on-air, outgrows airchecking. Granted there’s an art to conducting aircheck sessions so they are more like constructive brainstorming sessions where everyone shares ideas and gets on the same page about goals and objectives, and less like disciplinary meetings. 

Book promotions: Even with recent budget cuts making everything more challenging, we absolutely cannot get away from doing major book promotions. There’s still no better way to drive Cume, AQH, and TSL than by finding big sounding prizes and creating on-air promotions that are strategically built to set listening appointments at key times throughout the day. Then promoting that contest well on all the stations platforms and as heavily as the budget will allow outside of the station. 

Outside marketing: Regardless of what we do on-air, we can only hope for slow incremental growth if we don’t’ budget for outside marketing. Luckily now we can pair new school technology like SEO, online ads, boosted/sponsored social posts with old school standards like on-site remotes and events, billboards, tv and print. 

If you’d like a free assessment of your entire operation and a strategic plan to grow your Cume, AQH and TSL, email me at

1 comment

  • Jerry Baker
    Jerry Baker Centre,Al
    Thank you for the information. I have been on the air for 35 years and still look for ways to improve my Morning Show and to grow our Audience. Thanks again

    Thank you for the information. I have been on the air for 35 years and still look for ways to improve my Morning Show and to grow our Audience.
    Thanks again

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