Can Radio Capture Country Music’s Emotional Connection with Listeners? Study at CRS Searches for Answers

Above: Edison Research' Larry Rosin and Prosperity Productions’ Lori Hamilton

Country music listeners connect deeply and emotionally with the songs they hear on country radio. But these listeners don’t always connect as deeply and emotionally with the radio stations that play them.

This disconnect is one of the highlights of a new study that used video and lengthy, in-depth interviews to capture country music listeners’ feelings about music and radio. The study, presented Wednesday at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, also found that country listeners still depend on radio for their music in the car. At work and home, however, they get their music from phones, computers TV and other devices.

“Most people follow the path of least resistance to media,” said Larry Rosin, co-founder/president of Edison Research. “Only we can screw that up; we have to make sure we work on devices people already own.”

Prosperity Productions, a firm that specializes in ethnographic research, the study of emotions that drive consumer decision-making, conducted the study.

When interviewed on camera, several respondents cried when talking about country music, recalling what certain songs mean to them. Country programmers should “think about deepening their relationships with listeners,” much like the songs they play, Rosin said. While songs strike listeners emotionally, many times the disc jockeys do not.

Rosin also noted that disc jockeys often don’t listen to the lyrics of the songs they’re talking out or or into, and aren’t providing enough connection between the station, the listeners and the songs.

It’s time to reconsider listeners as “customers,” Rosin said, noting that disc jockeys should “think about them as friends.” He added, “How do you talk to your friends? Are you always trying to sell them something?”

“Consider the gift you’re giving your listener,” Prosperity Productions’ Lori Hamilton said. “What would you do differently if you wanted your listener to be your lifelong friend? How would you make new friends?”