Why Does No One Listen to My Radio Show?

Those that are a part of the radio life at Lawrence, which broadcasts through the station WLFM, probably know that on the monitor that keeps track of the vocal reception of the microphones and the volume of the music being played there is a little section in the top right corner of the page that tells you how many listeners you currently have. I have a radio show with two fellow Lawrentians and our listener count has never gone above eight listeners during a single show. Why is this? My two friends and I are pretty good at getting the word out about our show, called “Funambulism,” via social media and word of mouth. Our friends promise to tune in most weeks and we go live at the prime time of 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Are there not many casual radio listeners amongst the denizens of the Fox Valley area? Why are our numbers so low?                   Obviously, we’re not interested mainly in listener-ship, in fact we didn’t even know about the viewer bar until this term, and we’ve been doing the show since fall term. In recent weeks, our listener count hasn’t gone much above three listeners, according to the computer screen. Now, this is probably due to lax loyalty by our fans (friends, whatever), who already make up a majority of our viewership. But when digging deeper, and by that I mean actually listening to WLFM when my friends and I aren’t broadcasting, the reason for a lower listener count is becoming more and more clear.                   So there’s this handy thing called Auto-DJ that just plays a default playlist when no one is broadcasting. Now it might not seem all that necessary to turn Auto-DJ on when you’re leaving and another show is about to begin, but those few moments while the next show is getting prepped after the last one is over and the DJs are packing up add up to a lot of dead air. While I’ve been writing this, I’ve been tuning into the station and between several songs there is a lot of silence, about a few minutes’ worth when a song ends. This isn’t consistent, but it’s still harmful if we want to actually have people continue to listen to the radio while they’re driving home. I know most folks at Lawrence who have radio shows will tell they do it because it’s fun for them and to have their friends listen in, and WLFM doesn’t claim to be a professional radio broadcasting collective, but I still think if DJs just took a little extra time to hit the Auto-DJ button at the end of their broadcast it could go a long way to increasing the amount of consistent listeners. I’m not saying we should aspire to be NPR, but if I was driving and needed the radio to keep me company, I wouldn’t much appreciate if the station I’m listening to (because you can hear a lot of dope tunes and discover new music from a hip college radio) suddenly went dead for several minutes.      I hope, dear reader, that you don’t think I’m trashing Lawrence’s amazing radio station (and I truly do think WLFM is something special, what with the amount of freedom DJs are given to create whatever show they want), but I do think we need to be more intentional in tightening up the transitions between shows, and leave as little silence on air as possible. I can’t speak for the residents of Appleton, or even the students of Lawrence, but I know I would tune in more regularly if more DJs, myself included, made an effort to cancel out the dead air that is so frequent in between broadcasts.