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Randy Lane

How To Judge Your Benchmarks


By Randy Lane and Angela Perelli

Kramer, from That Guy Kramer, asked us a great question after a benchmark mapping article we wrote. He asked, "What kind of TEST to put features through to actually determine whether they are A, B or C?" Good one Kramer!

Here's your answer, divided up into two categories, Listener Feedback and Internal Feedback.

Listener Feedback:

1. Ratings: Check the ratings or hour-by-hours to look for spikes or drops for fixed-time features. It is extremely important to review several weeks or months of data to get an accurate reading. Looking at just one or two weeks could be deceiving.

2. Callout/"Perceptuals": Some callout or online music research allows you to get verbatim comments from listeners about why they think the station or morning show is improving or declining. Look for unaided comments from people about aspects of the show. "I love Bad Boyfriend Poker!" is an indication that it's cutting through.

3. Unaided Listener Feedback: What kind of response do the show's features receive on your social media platforms and at appearances? (Facebook can be tricky though. Treat feedback on Facebook like requests. Facebook show fans, like regular callers, are mainly P1s and may direct you toward content that is P1-, rather than cume-friendly.) Too much "inside" content and you're not inclusive anymore, so be careful.

4. Listener Panels: In-house listener panels can give you a sense of what specific elements of the show are connecting with your P1s and P2s. Here are tips on how to conduct your own listener panel.

Internal Feedback:

 Once you've gathered whatever external feedback you can, conduct a meeting with all the show players, program/brand director and anyone else directly related to the morning show. Put each benchmark through the following filter.

-- What is the listener feedback (from all the above places) on the feature? You will know the "keeper" benchmarks right away. For all other benchmarks, ask yourself these questions:

-- Is it still RELEVANT? (For instance, "Are you smarter than a 5th grader" might have run its course.) 

-- Is it consistently ENTERTAINING and fresh?

-- Does it contain a built-in element of TOPICALITY that keeps it fresh? 

-- WHAT DOES YOUR GUT TELL YOU? Typically in meetings where we conduct this exercise, when show players start focusing on their show one benchmark at a time, they just know. Trust your instincts most of the time. Occasionally a show will tire of a feature LONG before the audience does.

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Angela Perelli is a SVP at the The Randy Lane Company ( She can be reached at

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