Throughout the evolution of radio research, spanning nearly 40 years, the industry has mostly concentrated on the hard facts of research, and the easily-quantifiable – answering questions like, “What portion of the audience likes this song?” or, “What portion of the audience works in an office?” For that sort of study we call people on the phone, or now contact them on the Internet, or bring them to hotel ballrooms for auditorium music tests or to focus group facilities. However there is one place that our research mostly hasn’t gone to – straight into the homes of the listeners. There’s also an entire line of inquiry we largely haven’t attempted – understanding the emotions underneath the behaviors and the real connections that people have to country music and country radio.
In an average ethnographic study, you might talk with eight to ten people – a smaller sample with a much deeper amount of inquiry. We actually doubled that for this study, talking with people in four time zones and using a variety of methods. We first created a connection with our respondents through telephone interviews. Then, some went on to do what’s called a video diary, where they film themselves and their families in key moments throughout their everyday lives. For others, our team actually traveled to their homes and visited with them for several hours. We also followed up by telephone with additional questions based on what we had observed. Overall, we spent over 60 hours with these Country Radio P1s, in 13 states, across four time zones. That’s a substantial amount of time, and more than enough to see major patterns across our audiences.