Talk Show Host

How do you get listeners to confirm a stationís feeling that a particular host may be getting rude on the air without making the respondent feel like they are being asked to "beat" up somebody, which they may be reluctant to do? - Amy

Amy: This is a sensitive problem that, as you suggest, must be handled very carefully. It would be easy to lead respondents to the answer youíre hoping to get. For example, assume that youíre conducting a focus group about the host. You may lead the respondents even by asking a question such as, "Do you think Mr. Host is rude to his callers?"

The best way to handle this situation, whether in focus groups or a perceptual study, is to ask open-ended questions such as what the respondents like most and like least about the host. (The approach here requires a very specific setup so the respondents will not be affected by the research situation.) If there is a problem, it should emerge in these approaches.

With these types of questions, you should test your hypothesis with a few different methods (e.g., both focus groups and perceptual study). After these investigations, you should be able to support or refute your hypothesis. If you find that the listeners do not perceive that the host is rude, then drop it. Some people have a tendency to research something to death until they get the answer they want. ("I have it! Letís do some focus groups with listeners who donít like Mr. Host!")

So hereís a little "warning" . . . sometimes when people think a problem exists, they will manipulate the interpretation of the research to "prove" their point. For example, letís say that a few focus group respondents say something like, "Mr. Host is sometimes very short with his listeners." The comment from the people who think there is a problem usually is, "See! I told you there is a problem! We need to fire Mr. Host." My warning is that you must allow the data to fall where they may. In addition, you must allow an independent source (such as the researcher) to summarize what the respondents say. Take yourself out of the process because itís difficult to suppress your bias.

Talking TV on Radio

It has always been my theory that I should never talk about whatís happening on TV during my night show because I donít want to spark interest in that program and lose my listeners.  I only talk about things like ďSurvivorĒ or a baseball game after the show is over so the listeners donít have the option of turning me off to watch it.  Someone suggested to me though that if I give TV updates on air, then people will listen to me cause they donít have to watch TV.  I completely disagree.  What do you think? - Scott


Scott:  I donít have any research information on this specific question, so Iíll have to answer based on what seems to be logical.  However, I have heard others talk about this situation, so donít feel youíre alone here.


My feeling is that if we conducted a research study on this question, we would probably find mixed results.  By that I mean, I think some respondents would say that they enjoy it when a radio DJ talks about TV shows currently on the air (and some would say the DJ reminded them about the show and did go to TV), some would say they like it when a DJ talks about shows that were already on, and some people would say they donít care either way.


Logic suggests that your goal is to keep your listeners tuned to you.  Logic doesnít suggest that you offer them another media alternative.  This leads to the conclusion that talking about TV shows after they are over makes the most sense.  Iím not suggesting that a radio DJ should bury his/her head in the sand and ignore that fact that TV exists, but I donít think itís necessary to provide TV with free advertising.  I donít hear/see TV stations offering free advertising to radio stations.


One situation I can see that would depart from this approach is when there is a news or weather emergency that you cannot cover.  When this happens, you might suggest to listeners that they can get information from another radio station or maybe even a TV station.  In this case, youíre providing a service to them and I doubt whether your suggestion would lead them to turn you off forever.


Overall, logic suggests that your approach is the best, but I would be very interested to pursue this in a research study to find out what the listeners think about this topic.  In the meantime, I donít think your philosophy/theory is wrong.  Concentrate on keeping your listeners tuned to you.  Donít give your listeners a reason to tune away.

Talking Up Intros

In response to a question you had on the column, you commented that listeners wanted their stations to respect the music, i.e. not talk over intros.


1.  I was surprised to hear such a broad-sweeping statement, especially if it is true.  Certainly no die-hard classic rock fan is going to want you to disturb the intro to ďStairway To HeavenĒ by Led Zeppelin (even if the station is playing it for the trillionth time), and over classical music it would be absurd.  Thereís also no reason to yak about nothing just to fill up a 43 second (or worse) intro.


2.  However, isnít it true that in at least CHR and related formats, an informative, fun, and energetic talk break over the intro of a song can not only add to the excitement of the hit you are playing, but also give the listener the impression of less talk and less interruptions between songs (if you donít stop, and wait to start talking until the downbeat of the song youíre going in to)?  Isnít this something that listeners have indicated they wanted, and donít everybody from club DJs to television commercial producers use it to pump up the energy and excitement levels?


3.  Certainly it would be hard to get many people to say, ďI greatly prefer the on-air personality to talk over intros of my favorite song, especially when he finishes just as the lyrics start,Ē but isnít there circumstantial evidence to indicate this is, in fact, true?


4.  Isnít it that people donít want BAD announcer content, not that they donít want ANY announcer content?  And donít they prefer the DJ to get on with the music and say what he has to say over the intro of a song rather than stop down and talk between songs (even with a music bed behind him)?  Sorry this is such a long question.  This is what happens when you leave! - Gene


Gene:  I numbered your paragraphs to make it easier to address your points (which are very good by the way).


1.  You said, ďI was surprised to hear such a broad-sweeping statement, especially if it is true.Ē  If you know me, or have been reading this column for some time, you should know that I donít make ďbroad-sweeping statementsĒ about anything unless I have scientific information to backup the statement.  (Scientific information as opposed to urban legends, wivesí tales, etc.)  In more than 20 years of research in radio, I have never seen (or heard) one listener say that itís OK to talk over music.  And thatís the basis for my broad-sweeping statement.


2.  As I just stated, I have never seen or heard a radio listener say that talking over music is something they want.  This is a perception held by radio people, not the ďaverageĒ person who listens to the radio.  In addition, you say that, ďÖeverybody from club DJs to television commercial producers use it to pump up the energy and excitement levels.Ē  Once again, just because DJs and TV producers use it to pump up energy and excitement levels doesnít mean that itís correct approach.  I would bet my entire $10.00 savings account that there isnít one DJ or TV producer who has scientific evidence documenting that this ďenergy and excitement levelĒ approach is what the listeners want to hear or see.  This is a presumed affect, not a documented affect.  And thatís the problem with many things in radioÖthings are done because it seems like itís correct.


I donít buy ďit seems likeĒ to decide anything.  I need proof.


3.  Yes, it would be difficult to get listeners to says that, ďI greatly prefer the on-air personality to talk over intros of my favorite song, especially when he finishes just as the lyrics start.Ē  (I donít know what circumstantial evidence exists to indicate this is true.)  But I do know that there is concrete evidence to document that listeners universally object to DJs who talk over their favorite songs.


4.  I never said that listeners donít want any content from DJs.  On the contrary, most radio listeners enjoy DJs (good ones) because they add to their enjoyment of the radio station.  What I did say, and will continue to say until I die, is that there is a time and place for comments by DJs, and one of them is not talking over music.


I have seen this same complaint by listeners for decades and I cannot understand why many radio people donít get it.  Listeners complain about talking over music and many radio people simply dismiss the complaints and continue talking over the music.  This is not a complex situation here.  Itís black and white.

Talking Up Intros - Part 2

Roger, thanks for your direct answer.  Radio people do often risk living in their radio bubble and losing touch with the public!


1.  I fully believe your research.  However, I just canít let this go!  I know growing up, before I became a radio person, I loved listening to high energy DJs who would become part of the song as it started underneath them.  They had to be saying something worthwhile, they had to not trample the lyrics, and the volume of the song had to be loud enough behind them that I could enjoy it.  But I grew up liking that on the radio and at the skating rinks.  When I heard somebody who didnít do this, it didnít sound as professional, it didnít sound as energetic, and because the DJ wasnít adding something to the song it sounded like a jukebox.  And if I hear a song a million times the same way I get burned out on it!  The DJs announcement over the intro kept it fresh for me.


2.  Certainly having gotten into radio indicates I am NOT normal, but I didnít think I was the only one who felt this way.


3.  If one were to test how talking over intro affects an audienceís perception, rather than just getting an ďI donít like it when the DJs talk over intros,Ē would it be reasonable to play the identical break between two songs twice, first not over the intro and then over the intro?  Maybe even add a third not-over-the-intro break with a music bed?  Then ask:  Which talk-break would you rather hear on the radio?  Which break sounds more exciting (or has more energy) to you?  (As I know the answers may not be the same to both.)


4.  Besides remembering what I liked on the radio growing up, I also know that people say what they donít really mean.  For example, I do mobile DJ work on the weekends.  I have lost track of how many times people have said ďNo Country!Ē and then listed Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, and the Dixie Chicks, or said ďNo Rap!Ē and then listed Tone Loc, MC Hammer, and Young MC as artists they want to make sure we play.


5.  Iím not saying I know better than the general public what they want.  Iím just saying I am incredulous that I am in the minority in liking DJ patter over pop record intros, and I would like your opinion as to whether or not the above described method should determine once and for all what people (or at the least the audience I test) want their jocks to do with patter and intros.


6.  Would it also be a fair question to ask listeners:  ďDo you find yourself thinking, ĎI wish if the DJ was going to talk that he would just stop the music and say what he has to say instead of going on and playing the next song while he talks!í?Ē - Gene


Gene:  I numbered your paragraphs to make things easier to address.


Paragraph 1:  I learned a long time ago to exclude my personal preferences in radio when investigating any radio topic.  What I think is good, bad, interesting, or anything else, is irrelevant because only the listenersí perceptions are what counts.  You may find it exciting for a DJ to talk over the music, but I have to tell you that in all the years of doing research, I have never heard one listener agree with your opinion.  Sorry.


Paragraph 2:  I agree that youíre not normal because you got into radio, and for that reason, you need to pay close attention to what the listeners say.  That doesnít mean you should not consider your own opinions as valid.  What it means is that you cannot in any case assume that your perceptions, likes, dislikes, or anything else, match the listeners.  You need verification.


Paragraph 3:  Your description of the way to test talking over intros is exactly what I started doing in the early 1980s.  You are correct in saying that asking listeners to respond to the question ďI donít like it when the DJs talk over introsĒ is an invalid approach.  Thatís why testing of the question involved testing three to five variations of exactly the same material (as you describe).  Listeners are then asked to rate which approach, if any, they like best.  In every case since 1982 (dozens of studies), the winner always is the approach where the music ends and the DJ talks.  Talking over the intro or outro has never ďwon.Ē


Paragraph 4:  I understand what youíre saying here, but your examples are a bit ďtainted.Ē  People may say, ďDonít play Country or Rap,Ē but the examples you gives are not ďtypicalĒ Country and Rap songsóthey are crossovers.  For example, most people do not consider Tone Loc as a ďrapĒ artist.


Paragraph 5:  Donít be surprised that your opinions donít match the public.  I stopped being surprised at that about 25 years ago.


Paragraph 6.  Your suggested approach contradicts the correct approach you suggest in Paragraph 3.  It is better to have listeners rate prototypes (taped examples) of the approaches you wish to test, not explanations of the approaches.


In summary, I donít have a personal opinion about DJs talking over the music.  My opinion doesnít matter because I donít keep an Arbitron diary.  The key to all this stuff is to find out what average listeners think.  You may think talking over the music adds excitement, but I can tell you from dozens of studies that you are in a minority.  Listeners love music.  Listeners love DJs.  But listeners donít love DJs talking over the music.


You may have difficulty accepting all this stuff, but the only thing I can say is that I call things the way the data fall.  I donít inject my opinion into the research I conduct.  I also donít ask thousands of listeners questions and when, upon hearing their answers, say, ďThey donít be right.Ē


Good questions.  Youíre very perceptive.

Tallest Mountain

What is the world's tallest mountain from base to peak? And donít say "Mt. Everest," because thatís not it. - Anonymous


Anon: Have you ever been asked a question when you know that the person who is asking already knows the answer? Me thinks itís the case here. So, the answer to your question, which you already know is . . .


Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii is the tallest mountain in the world from base to peak. The base is at the ocean floor and is a total of 33,480 feet high (some reports show 32,000 feet total), of which 13,796 feet are above sea level.

Tallest Radio Tower

What is the tallest radio tower in the United States? - Anonymous


Anon:  From what I can find, the tallest stand alone tower is WSM-AM in Nashville, TN at 878 feet.


By the way, while searching for your answer, I also found a site that shows the tallest structures in each state.  Check it out: Tallest.

Tanning Beds (Tanning Salons)

Are tanning salons/beds safe? - Anonymous


Anon:  I showed your question to my wife, Darnell, who is a dermatologist, and received an emphatic, ďNo.Ē  In addition to other things, she said that tanning beds have a high concentration of Ultraviolet A rays (UVA), which are more harmful to the skin than Ultraviolet B (UVB).


She also pointed out something that many people may not know.  READ THIS SLOWLY...  In addition to the skin problems created by the ultraviolet light, it is possible to ďpick upĒ a variety of ďinterestingĒ things from tanning beds.  Darnell said she has seen many patients who have contracted such things as genital warts and other infections from tanning beds.


Why?  Because people usually sprawl out buck-naked on tanning beds  to get an "even" tan.  When one buck-naked person leaves, the next buck-naked person mounts the tanning bed.  Hey, letís role around in another personís body fluids!  Bring on the genital warts, etcÖ  IckÖGag me with a beaker!


So, in addition to harming your skin with the light, you can also pick up some real nasty stuff from the tanning bed surfaceóa double dose of problems.


This doesnít mean that you can pick up these things from all tanning beds/salons, but the potential is there if they are used by the public and/or the proprietor is careless.


If you want a tan, Darnellís advice is to use one of the new ďsunlessĒ tanners.  For more information, go here: Sunless Tanners, and here for a review of Sunless Tanner Products.


Because skin cancer is such a big deal, I found several sources for you for further information.  From the American Academy of Dermatology:


AAD - Dangers of Indoor Tanning

AAD - Dangers of Tanning

AAD - Sun Protection

AAD - Radiation

AAD - UV Index Explanation

AAD - Tanning Salon Exposure


Here is more stuff:  No Safe Tan  Federal Trade Commission


The American Cancer Society has a bunch of articles about tanning beds.  Just click here: Tanning Beds.


That should be enough evidence to support the fact that tanning salons/beds are not safe.

Tapi by Dreamfarm

Doc:  I saw a cool invention called "Tapi" by Dremfarm, located in Australia.  It shows that the product is only good for straight faucets, but I was wondering if there is a way to use a "Tapi" on a kitchen or bathroom faucet that isn't straight?  Thanks. - Marc


Marc:  First, for those who don't know what Marc is referring to, click here.  Next, sorry it took a while to answer your question, but I bought a Tapi from Dreamfarm so I could conduct a few experiments.  I figured out a way to use the Tapi on other faucets and sent the information to the company so they could determine if they want to offer some type of adaptor for non-straight faucets.


Here is a summary of what I sent to the company. . .


I bought a replacement faucet insert, unscrewed the aerator in the original faucet handle, and screwed in the new faucet insert.  The faucet insert does come with a chrome shield, but it isn't necessary, so  I removed it as shown in this photo (click on the thumbnails for larger photos) . . .



The Tapi simply slides over the faucet insert and it works perfectly to create a drinking fountain.


I bought a different type of faucet insert for a bathroom faucet.  This photo shows the insert without the chrome shield removed (it isn't necessary).


As with the kitchen faucet, the Tapi easily slides over the insert and works perfectly.


In my note to Dreamfarm, I mentioned that they could easily make an adaptor that is simply an extended aerator with a ridge or knob to keep the Tapi in place.  Future customers wouldn't have to mess around with faucet inserts such as I used.  I'm not sure if they will make an adaptor, but it would make it easier than what I had to do to adapt the Tapi to a non-straight faucet.  The Tapi is a unique product and fun to use, and now you can use it on any faucet with just a few minutes work.

Target Audience

Roger, I am the PD of a mainstream A/C radio station. We sample very well in the 24-44 female demo, which is our target. Studying Arbitron, our largest sampling comes from women 35-37 years of age. I tell my announcers to visualize their listener as a 36 year-old female. If everything we say and do relates to her, we will fare well with the entire demo. My un-researched notion is that her lifestyle crosses over into the wider spectrum, and I think by having a tangible focus we will are able to relate better in a one-on-one sense. It also solidifies our relationship with our core audience.

Personally, just thinking about an age group two generations apart and servicing them lends to confusion and "feet dragging." That is, does a 24 year-old woman understand the elements directed to a 44 year-old woman, and vice versa? By focusing on the concerns of the 36 year-old and her lifestyle (children, family, work, husbands, love, school, divorce, money) we touch them allóor it would appear. Is it mallet time? - Tom

Tom: I donít think you need to whack your head with a rubber mallet. You bring up some good points, and I donít believe itís necessarily wrong to tell your announcers to focus on a 36 year-old "ideal" listener. However, I have a suggestion.

The data in many research studies support your comment about the difficulty of simultaneously focusing on a woman who is 24 years old and one who is 44 years old. However, I think itís equally as difficult to figure out what an "average" 36 year-old woman (or any other age) does, thinks, and perceives.

You face a dilemma: Itís difficult to focus on a broad range, and itís also difficult to focus on one age. So what do you do? An alternative is to do both and tell your announcers something like this:

"The majority of your audience is women between the ages of 24 and 44. While there may be some similarities among these women, each of your listeners is a unique person who is different from all the rest. When youíre on the air, you may have a picture of an "average" listener in your brain, but remember that this is only a generalization. For example, if you talk about children, remember that many of your listeners donít have children. If you talk about husbands, many donít have one. There is nothing wrong with talking about a specific topic or idea, but remember that not all of your listeners will identify with the topic or idea in the same way . . . so itís your job to include all of them in your discussion. (ĎHereís a great story for those of you who have a husband . . . if you donít have one, this is something you may look forward to if you plan to get married. . .í Or something like that.)"

Successful teachers, lecturers, motivational speakers, or others who address a group of people use this approach. Your announcers have to learn how to talk to most of your listeners at one time, but come across as though they are talking to only one person. It is a skill that can be learnedóitís not something we are born with.

Target Audience - 2

Doc, if your target audience is females, would you totally ignore male listeners in programming the station?  Thanks for the wisdom. - Anonymous


Anon:  I rarely answer a question with a question, but I will in this situation.


My question to you is:  If you have a female-targeted radio station, what value is there in considering malesí opinions about anything?  For example, if you conduct a music test with both men and women and find that women love a specific song, but men hate it, would you play the song or not?  I would think you would play it.


If thatís the case, then why ask the men?  Their opinions are useless to you and asking their opinions is a waste of time.  (The reverse is true for a male-targeted radio station.)

Target Demo - Important Things

We have heard the mantra, "Cash is King," but coming up with a good, demo-targeted book promotion is always difficult...uh, fun.  What's the best way to identify what's important to our demo ó Men 35-44? - Anonymous


Anon: If you have been reading this column for a while, I think you might be able to guess my answer, which is: Ask them.


Sorry for the brevity of the answer, but there isn't another valid and reliable way to get the information.

Tarot cards

I have a research question, but it doesnít relate to radio. I hope thatís OK. I have seen a commercial about a million times on cable TV where a Jamaican-sounding woman talks about Tarot cards and how she can predict things and gives several "real examples." My question is: Has any research been done on Tarot cards? Also, why would anyone call this woman? Ė Anonymous

Anon: In order to answer your question, Iím going to rely on some information from my book (Mass Media Research: An Introduction) I wrote with Joe Dominick. The part Iím using comes from Chapter 1 where we talk about how people learn things.

As we explain, there are four approaches to finding answers to questions, also known as the "Methods of Knowing" . . . tenacity, intuition, authority, and science.

A person who uses the Method of Tenacity follows the logic that something is true because it has always been true. An example is the PD who says, "I play 10 songs in a row because our radio station has always played 10 in a row." The idea is that nothing changesówhat was good, bad, or successful before will continue to be so in the future.

In the Method of Intuition, a person assumes that something is true because it is "self-evident" or "stands to reason." Some creative people in advertising agencies resist efforts to test their advertising because they believe they know what will attract customers.

In the Method of Authority, a person learns something because a trusted source, such as a parent, teacher, or boss says it is true. The emphasis is on the source, not on the methods the source uses to gain the information.

The Scientific Method approaches learning as a series of small stepsóone study or one source provides only an indication of what may or may not be true. The "truth" is found through a series of objective analyses. Unlike the other methods of knowing, the Scientific Method is public, objective, empirical (things can be tested), systematic and cumulative (one study builds on previous studies), and predictive.

Now . . . depending on each personís viewpoint, Tarot card reading belongs either to the Method of Intuition or Method of Authority. Regardless, it falls under the under what is known as "pseudoscience" since the procedure cannot be perceived, classified, or measured. There is simply no way to verify the validity and reliability of Tarot card reading and thatís why the ads you see always say that the information you get when you make a call is for "Entertainment Purposes Only."

I donít know of any legitimate scientific studies on Tarot card reading. There may be a few floating around and probably stored with the studies on astrology, palm reading, fortune cookies, spider webs, peanut shells, and other similar methods of "knowing."

I donít know why people would call an 800 number and pay for a Tarot card reading. Most people like to have answers to questions and most people have an interest in the future. My guess is that the people who call the Tarot card telephone number also call "psychic hotlines" and read the daily horoscopes. Itís all pseudoscience, but if people get some type of relief from this stuff, more power to them.

I have to go now. The sun is coming up and I rely on the shadows from the elm tree in my back yard to tell me what kind of a day Iím going to have.


Iím thinking about getting a tattoo. Would you explain what a tattoo is and how much it hurts? Ė Paul


Paul: A tattoo is ink that is impregnated into your dermis layer of your skin--the layer under the epidermis. The cells of the dermis are very stable, which means that a tattoo will show through the epidermis layer for many years.


A tattoo machine is an electrically powered, vibrating instrument that looks a lot like a dentistís drillóthe needle punctures the skin at 50 to 3,000 times a minute. The amount of pain associated with the tattoo depends on your tolerance for pain and where you get the tattoo.


While some people enjoy pain (??) and the pain of tattoos mean nothing, other people do a lot of squeaking no matter where the tattoo is placed. However, there is more pain if your tattoo is in an area over bone where you donít have much padding (ankles, shoulder blade, elbows, etc.), and sensitive areas of the body (back of legs and private areas). However, regardless of the amount of pain, it doesnít last long. It hurts while the tattoo is being applied and maybe for a few minutes afterward, but thatís it.


There are two things you need to consider before you get a tattoo: (1) What do you want?; and (2) Where do you want it? A bleeding eyeball tattooed on your cheek may be cool when youíre young and rebellious, but may not look very mature when youíre older. "Grandpa/grandma, why do you have that bleeding eyeball tattooed on your cheek?"


Tattoos can be removed, but I have heard that itís very expensive and more painful than the tattoo itself. So before you go to the local tattoo shop to have DILLIGAF tattooed on your nose, think about the future (I keep this column G-ratedÖso I will allow you do fill in the last word. DILLIGAF means "Does It Look Like I Give A ****.)


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