“Stationality” — a station’s overall style, feel and attitude — is becoming an crucial issue for in radio. Just as people gravitate to other individuals whose personalities they find appealing, listeners gravitate to stations with Stationalities that satisfy their personal and emotional needs.

A classic example was the brilliant launch of WHTZ in New York 20+ years ago. CHR music made Z-100 successful, but Z-100’s “renegade” attitude made it a super-success.

A current example is the “Jack” stations. Their irreverent, challenge-the-rules attitude is a huge aspect of what success they’ve had.

Stationality is more important now than ever because subtle differences in music mix or presentation are not competitive advantages! When format competitors play basically the same researched music, and other sources (like satellite radio and iPods) delivers a lot of it with little (if any) personality, the right Stationality can give radio stations a crucial edge

This might not sound like a “research guy” talking. After all, we’re the ones who pinpoint subtle programming differences and research the music! But like those “nuts and bolts,” Stationality is researchable too…

IN FOCUS GROUPS: We literally ask panelists how they perceive a station as a person. For example, would WXXX be a man or a woman? How old would “Mr. WXXX” be? Is he married, single, divorced? Any children? What would he be dressed like? Where would he live? What kind of car would he drive? What of person is Mr. WXXX? How would he act at a party? What is Mr. WXXX’s relationship to you — Father? Brother? Neighbor? Acquaintance? Total Stranger? And so on.

IN SURVEY RESEARCH: We most often focus on “big picture” strategic issues — formats, music mixes, morning shows, etc. — leaving little or no room for Stationality. But sometimes we dig deeper — probing listeners’ “ideal station” style, feel and attitude versus their perceptions of client stations on key image dimensions.
Most recently, we’ve used online research to focus on stations’ core listeners….not only the Stationality they seek, but also their psychographics — self-image, lifestyle and motivations. The results of these PSi(tm) studies help clients bond with their P1’s on both programming and emotional levels.

All of this information begs the question: What can you do with it? When research reveals the Stationality you have and the Stationality you need to have, how do you get there? We’ve found a number of controllable factors can impact Stationality…

Production Elements. The substance and style of promos, sweepers and jingles all affect Stationality. Is a station big and bold? Easygoing? Whimsical? Zany? Production can be the difference between the Stationalities of competitors playing exactly the same music.

Personalities. Is a station’s talent upbeat? Funny? Dull? Their on-air style can affect their station’s Stationality, even define it.

Community Involvement. Station activities can reinforce the right Stationality (or the wrong one). That’s why it is important to be selective…involving in causes and events that fit the ideal style, feel and attitude of your station.

Advertising. It can communicate more than music positioning and dial position. Even the design of a billboard or logo can impact Station Personality. TV commercials can have the greatest impact. A truly funny TV campaign can make Stationality funnier, a provocative campaign can make Stationality hipper, a warm campaign can make Stationality friendlier, etc.

Do you know your Stationality? Do you know what it should be?