Charlie Cook On Air: Bon Appetit

CCook-onair-sm111We are starting a new program on three of our stations this week here at West Virginia Radio Corporation. The program is called Hotline and is primarily directed at men. It is going to lean towards sports, but not be exclusively testosterone laden. When I met with the host I told him that he should think Buffalo Wild Wings. Guys go there for sports broadcasts, the waitresses and good food. The experience includes companionship, and they even play trivia games on their TV network. Sounds like an afternoon show on the radio to me.

The CMA took that restaurant theme to their latest CMA Insiders research project. If you’re a radio station programmer/manager and are already a CMA member, you can visit cmaworld.com to review this material. Knowing what your listeners are up to will make appealing to them that much easier. The CMA talked to 1,222 country music fans about their likes and dislikes concerning restaurants. The restaurant experience is one of the most familiar we all have each week. We share it with friends and family. Just like we share radio.

The study found that 75 percent of the respondents dine out once a week or more across all kinds of restaurants, from fast food to fancy dancy. (This is where I tell you about a woman I spent years with who would eat only at dining establishments that had tablecloths. I used to carry a tablecloth with me when I wanted a Big Mac.) Anyway back to radio, 83 percent of the diners stated they had tried a new restaurant in the past six months because of recommendations. Radio works this way, too. Encouraging your listeners to positively speak of your radio station to their friends can move people to sample you.

Sandwiching listeners between music, talking about your station and providing them a menu of what the station offers is sure to gobble up all the listening they do each day. Okay…I promise, you can continue to read this. I will NOT do any more puns. I was kind of surprised that nearly half of the diners reported spending more than $50 per week. A family of four will spend $50 at places like Outback, but McDonald’s should come in about $30.

What does this tell those of us in radio? Prizes should be in the $50 range. Listeners winning smallish prizes don’t think much of what you have to offer. Oh yeah, there are contest pigs out there who want to win a package of chewing gum but the discriminating listener will not play for just anything. Why do people dine out? Overwhelmingly, these folks choose to have a meal out of the house with their family. Secondly, time with friends is important. Think about these reasons when designing your giveaways. Use their language. Put your radio station between your listeners and their daily activities.

Just for fun I will report The Country Music Consumers choices for favorite restaurants:
American 84%. (Would you think anything different with Country Music Fans? USA! USA! USA! )
Mexican 62%. (This is all about Lon Helton)
Italian 53%. (Not like my mama’s food. Fortunately. She was a great Italian mother but a terrible cook.)
Steakhouse 48%. (This is all about expense accounts.)
Chinese 44%. (Grits and Gravy with MSG.)

If you do want to get with a restaurant partner for a give away, here are the top choices;

Fast Food and Casual
McDonald’s
Subway

Casual and Fine Dining
Applebee’s
Cracker Barrel

That gives new meaning to “fine dining.”

Dining out is an experience shared with family and friends and we know that this is where our listeners get information about restaurants, movies, TV shows and (maybe) radio stations. We need to get in there. We need to become part of the conversation during this experience.

This was a little light-hearted, but I want you to know that the CMA does great work with their research projects and that this information is valuable to radio stations, listeners and even artists, who may be looking for tour sponsors. Radio stations’ sales departments should be using this information in their sales pitches and programmers should be aware of their listeners’ preferences.

And who doesn’t like thinking about food?

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MusicRow.)

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