Dave Charles & Lee Abrams Weigh In On Pure Radio Format Successes

Dave Charles & Lee Abrams Weigh In On Pure Radio Format Successes

By External Source

PURE Formats WillWwin Big in 2022 

by Dave Charles and Lee Abrams

I’d like to talk to those broadcasters in competitive situations.  You know that to compete and win requires a strategy, great plan and creative marketing.  Often big promotion dollars are spent on contests such as the 100K Song of the Day, the Beat the Bank concert trip of a lifetime that come supported with TV, social media and other types of marketing campaigns that can cost thousands of dollars.

Fact: Less than 2 % of your audience will actually play these contests!  It’s the pure formats that will win big every time.

Most stations are unable to convert concepts and ideas that, on paper look solid, but in reality don’t connect with the target audience.  The art of radio marketing and contesting skills are acquired over time. Few of us are born knowing what really works and what has ultimate appeal. 


This is where the science of research and a good gut meet to ‘find a better way’

It’s so hard to find that combination of IQ and know-how when today’s radio PDs are time-stressed to the max and juggling responsibilities that in an earlier time were executed by maybe two, three or four salaried people  The end result is today's PDs end up re-doing contests they did the year before because it's the expedient thing to do.  Yet the mission to entice an audience in 2022 that has so many competitive choices, on so many platforms, is very very difficult. 

You might as well latch on the Tick Tok for what is grabbing your demo's attention right now.  It’s full of crazy real-life home videos and a place to get some new ideas.  I watch when I am looking to recapture my creative energy.  Sometimes it’s like ingesting too much sugar. The point is ‘new thinking’ is required to cut through a very cluttered media environment.


Will your marketing and contesting have appeal and stick?

Let’s call it for what it is.  High IQ and low BS.

Media and entertainment are also often blurred by the BS that looks good on paper and even appears correct, but, fails to connect with your target audience.  Today, you need to step back to get perspective on what ideas will convert and cut through the clutter of messages that bombard us every minute of every day we are outdoors, online, listening and consuming media. You need a strategy to give your brand the buzz it requires to cut through the tsunami of messages competing for a modicum of attention. You need a bunker-buster of an idea. A message that captures people's imagination and attention.

To do this, here’s what you really need to pay attention to:

Passion, CharacterandMuscleare the big three primal movers that you must always strive for.

Passion It’s more than a feeling. It’s the mission. As we know, passion rules the heart over the head every time.  It’s one of those intangibles that your audience senses immediately.  Passion for creative energy which we are all attracted to.  You know it when you hear it. It jumps out at you. I don’t hear it that much on the radio anymore.  I hear sameness and old ideas repurposed.


Character: Always try to be unique and totally original.  Character means you’ve got the pulse, the humanity and are, above all else, an outlier that is bucking the norms with a message that cuts to the chase and is instantly recognizable to the listener. It means being a non-conformist in a sea of sameness. By virtue of your character, you set up your station's identity as a leader now and in the future.


Muscle:Be big, confident and badass.  Some companies are big but they aren’t badass!  It’s a sense of embraceable swagger.  However, swagger is not ego!

Listeners, advertisers and everybody can sense these three essential ingredients when listening to your station's messaging. The passion, character and muscle shine through.  It’s this engaging image you project when these three elements are in sync. Some great radio examples come to mind immediately:  Q107… Toronto’s Rock Station 97.3 boom fm Toronto with its patented 'you never know what song you’re going to hear' format; CHUM 104.5 says.. POP goes Toronto; The HOT 89.9 fm Ottawa sizzles with every element in place. These stations have all captured passion, character and muscle to maintain rating dominance. Check them out to hear what we’re talking about.

Mood and Reliability (aka Users and Fans)  Some radio fans will listen to you when they’re in the mood while others will be addicted.  You rarely get either if your sound is predictable and vanilla!

Let's go back a bit, to 1979 when Kent Burkhart and Lee Abrams did the first dance station at WKTU in New York.  It went to # 1 in 45 days.  There were other dance stations, but they weren’t PURE.  WKTU was always 126 beats per minute.  By being this pure, 24/7, the disco fans became addicted as they LIVED at 126 bpm. Others tuned in only when they wanted a fix…and they got it.  The results of this purity and focus were a heavy fan base with insane AQH (average quarter hours) and a massive cume built on with those ‘mood’ listeners who only listened when in the mood.  And when in the mood, WKTU fm New York always delivered at 126 BPM with amazing energy and fun!

WKTU fm is a great example of a PURE radio format that conquered New York City.


I was the one that took consultant Kent Burkhart (Lee’s business partner at Burkhart Abrams) to some of Montreal’s better disco clubs to experience this hot trending cultural monster!  Kent was blown away by the music and the passion of the fans in the club.  It didn’t take him long as a master programmer to put a PURE Disco format together. Bottom line…if you focus on a simple PURE format mission, you’ll be very successful.  As Kent Burkhart did, he experienced DISCO in the clubs before he created the WKTU fm disco format.

Forget the demographics and get into the psychographics of how your listeners really feel about the music they crave. ‘Right now your stations playing someone’s very favourite song’. Psychographics capture how your demographics feel about the music you play, and how you present it and package it with Passion, Character and Muscle!  The devil of PURE formats is in the execution of the music format and the imaging that surrounds it.

If you require help in this extremely important exercise…make contact now.

(  or call me at 289 242 8313.

'La nuit s’achève' album cover


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