Country Radio Seminar: Can Radio Capture Country Music's Unique, Emotional Connection with Listeners?

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 in-home interviews to capture country music listeners’ feelings about music and radio.

The study also found that country listeners still depend on radio for their music in the car, but at work and at home, they get their music from the devices at hand; phones, computers, and at times, through the TV.

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

The study was conducted by Prosperity Productions, a firm that specializes in ethnographic research; the study of emotions that drive consumer decision making. 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, said Rosin.

Larry Rosin

While songs strike listeners emotionally, many times the DJ’s do not. Rosin also noted that DJs often don’t listen to the lyrics of the songs they’re talking out of, or talking into, at all. They aren’t providing enough connection between the station, the listeners, and the songs.  It’s time to stop thinking of listeners as “customers,” said Rosin, and instead, “think about them as friends.”

Rosin added, “How do you talk to your friends? Are you always trying to sell them something?”

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

Country listeners develop deep connections to the music, but not all of that is happening through the radio anymore.