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Subject: AEJ 95 GrubbM MME Managers' attitudes on station format changes
From: Elliott Parker <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:AEJMC Conference Papers <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 3 Feb 1996 10:20:32 EST

text/plain (1903 lines)

A paper submitted to the
Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
Media Management and Economics Division
Max V. Grubb
B.S.C. Ohio University 1979
M.A. Kent State University 1994
Doctoral Student Ohio University
10309A Porter Lane
Athens, OH 45701
(614) 797-3700
Email: [log in to unmask]
        The radio industry currently operates in a different environment from the
          pre-1980s period.  The drive for deregulation led to changes in the
          of management and in the competitive environment.  This study examines
          dynamics of change management and radio station format changes.  Force
        field theory was used as the theoretical underpinning for exploring the
         dynamics of radio station format changes.  Personal interviews and a
 questionnaire were the methodologies used for this study.
        The radio industry has been operating under a regulatory atmosphere since
          its inception over 70 years ago.  Broadcast regulation originated with
          Wireless Act of 1910 and the Radio Act of 1912 (Head, Sterling, and
     Schofield, 1994, 156).  The Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of
 1934 were enacted to establish that the airwaves resource be used as a
         public trust and not as private property.  Licenses were issued to
          who made a commitment to operate and use this scarce resource in the
 interest. The trusteeship approach to broadcast regulation was established
 with this legislation.  This trusteeship model would last until the
      deregulation of the early 1980s (Simmons, 1978, 27).
        Today, the radio industry operates in a different environment from the
         pre-1980s period.  The deregulation of the 1980s brought about
          change for station managers.  Deregulation included changes in the
          of stations owned, the length of time of ownership, and the addition
of new
 radio stations.  The drive for deregulation led to changes in the types of
 ownership, the type of management, the number of radio stations, and the
          competitive environment (Anderton and Sanders, 1992, 6).
        One result of these changes is that radio station managers operated in
         increasingly competitive conditions.  To survive, radio managers needed
          incorporate change as an integral part of the operations of their
   organizations.  Fierce competition for listeners and advertising revenue
          resulted in the need for radio managers to adapt and change as their
      environments changed.
        Change certainly is not limited to the broadcasting industry.  Many
      companies have experienced change in today's business world.  Buzzwords
         such as reinventing, restructuring, and reengineering have been used to
         describe businesses' response to change.  Academicians and
          have observed not only that businesses need to change and adapt to new
        environments, but also that these businesses need to incorporate change
          a fundamental part of their organizations.  Radio station managers'
     attitudes toward programming change is the focus of this study (Byrne,
        1992, 62). LITERATURE REVIEW
        Radio station format changes and change management were the main topics of
 this research.  This section contains a review of the literature
   pertaining to these topics.  It begins with an overview of the development
          and changes in radio programming and formats.  A review of the
          and types of change are then presented.  Concluding this section is a
       discussion of change management.
Radio Station Programming
        The terms programming and formats are often used interchangeably in
      describing a radio station's over-the-air product.  O'Donnell, Hausman,
 Benoit define programming as "the placement of elements within the
     broadcast day" of a radio station.  They define format as that which
      "pertains to the entire overall strategy of the station" (O'Donnell,
      Hausman, and Benoit, 1989, 73).
        Radio's programming 50 years ago was similar to television programming
         today.  No one in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s or early 1950s had a favorite
         radio station (N. Anthony, personal communication, March 20, 1993).
          people did have were favorite programs.  People would choose to listen
          comedies, dramas, mysteries, quiz shows, and musical programs on
          radio stations.  In this type of radio programming, commonly called
          programming, the radio station used, for example, a comedy show for
one t
          wo-hour block, then would air either dramas, variety shows or musical
 for the next hour or two.  For their programming, most of the stations
         relied on radio networks for delivery of these shows.  Some independent
         stations would program using local talent and have studio orchestras
          local shows (Keith, 1987, 1-2).  In the 1950s radio faced an
         reality as television emerged and began offering the same type of
   programming.  In fact, many of the shows previously on radio had moved to
          television, and so had the audience and advertisers.   Radio networks'
 to television of national advertising caused them to cut back programming
          offered to affiliate stations.  With their listenership declining,
          radio stations started to play more and more records as an inexpensive
        alternative to producing their own shows (Vivian, 1991, 185).  As a
 block programming, which depended on the radio networks, was abandoned as
          a strategy for radio (Keith, 1987, 2).
        At the time of the emergence of television, rock`n'roll also established
          itself in the field of music.  Hit playlists of record stores were
          dominated by the new music (Keith, 1987, 2-3).  Some radio stations
 airing this new form of pop music.   Anthony reported that during this
         period the "all format" made its appearance in radio.  Radio would play
 type of music, for example, top 40 or country, all day instead of using
          block programming.  In his book, Keith observed that a new period had
 for radio:
                It was the dawning of a new era, of program specialization and
  selectivity. Radio            broadcasters began to narrow their programming to gain
 a share of the listening               audience that would generate advertiser
     interest.  The day when radio stations could               successfully broadcast in a
          random fashion was coming to a close for all but a few                stations
          1987, 2).
        The first format to appear was a form of hit rock 'n' roll music called
          top 40.  The term was created in reference to the airing of the top 40
        favorite songs as determined by record sales.  Keith identified
 broadcasters Todd Storz and Gordon McLendon as the young program innovators
 of this format.  This format had a pre-determined recipe for what music
          was aired and mixed together.  "No other format at the time adhered so
        closely to a formula," Keith noted.  Eventually Country, Beautiful Music
          and Middle-of-the-Road formats would create niches for themselves
         listeners.  Block programming stations were becoming extinct.  The
          of radio was emerging from the 1950s with even greater strength
         1987, 2-3).
        Competition grew as more licenses were issued by the FCC.  While the
       number of AM station licenses continued to increase during the 1960s, FM
          lagged behind.  Up to this point, FM had been considered the
          band.  According to Keith, AM owners treated their FM stations as weak
 sisters.  Despite its superior stereo quality, FM was largely ignored
        during this time.  One reason was that very few people had FM receivers.
          Also, FM was associated with the highbrow culture.  It was described
         some as the egghead band, radio for the cultured.  Hence, most
 and listeners focused on AM and left FM in limbo (Keith, 1987, 3-4).
        In 1965, the FCC ruled that AM/FM stations could no longer simultaneously
          broadcast the same programming.  Prior to this, a number of AM
stations had
 broadcast the same programming on their FM stations.  The FCC considered
          this an inefficient use of broadcast frequencies.  This ruling
          applied to cities with populations of 100,000 or more.  Thereafter, FM
        started to attract a listenership with its own programming (Keith, 1987,
        However, AM enjoyed tremendous success during the 1960s and early 1970s.
          It was not unusual for an AM station to air 18 to 20 minutes of
          time per hour.  In fact, to squeeze more commercials into a hour, AM
      operators were playing 45 rpm records at 47 or 48 rpm to shorten the
  Having few listeners, FM could not sell its commercial inventory and thus
 had few commercials.  By the mid-1960s, people began to listen to FM
       because of its limited number of commercials, no-talk policy, and stereo
          quality (N. Anthony, personal communication, March 20, 1993).  By the
          1960s and early 1970s, FM started to achieve listenership ratings that
        attracted the attention of station managers and advertisers (Keith,
        FM listenership continued to grow in the 1970s.  FM ceased to be the weak
          step sister.  In 1978, for the first time, it attracted 51 percent of
          radio listening audience.  By the mid-1980s, FM would leave AM far
          with 70 to 75 percent of the listeners.  Today FM radio garners 90
          of the radio listeners (N. Anthony, personal communication, March 20,
        In the 1970s, undeveloped FM stations were bought and moved closer to
        major markets to capitalize on growing revenue possibilities.  A 1961
          ruling had provided operators considerable flexibility in moving
  transmitter sites.  However, the strict administration of FCC rules kept
          the pace of station development slow.  Then, in 1984, the FCC
          Docket 80-90, which allocated new FM channels and issued new rules
 "greater flexibility to alter existing FM technical facilities to
    penetrate larger nearby markets" (Anderton and Sanders, 1992, 5).  Docket
          80-90 also included a use-it-or-lose-it provision.  FM stations not
     operating at full power for their class were given three years to build up
          to minimum levels or be permanently downgraded.  This provision, along
 the rest of Docket 80-90, changed the FM environment.  FM's growing
      audience and revenue potential, coupled with the use-it-or-lose-it
    directive, further fueled FM station expansion (Anderton and Sanders, 1992,
        Radio programming in the late 1970s and early 1980s focused on creating
          smaller niches in the audience market.  This occurred in markets where
        radio stations encountered competition from other stations.  Stations
       started to narrow the focus of the music to reach a specific listener
       target.  For example, now there were three different Adult Contemporary
         (AC) formats.  One station would have Soft AC, another a Hot AC,  and
       another a Middle-of-the-Road AC, splitting three ways what had been the
         broad Adult Contemporary listenership (N. Anthony, personal
          March 20, 1993).
        It was during the 1980s that the demise of the trusteeship approach to
         broadcasting occurred.  The deregulation environment of broadcasting
      started this process.  Docket 80-90, which added new FM frequencies, was
          just one part of it.  The early 1980s brought about a different
concept of
          the public interest.  Government regulators now viewed licensees as
     marketplace participants rather than holders of a public trust.  The
      marketplace approach is based upon the view that, in order to profit,
       entrepreneurs must provide to consumers goods of value and utility.  This
          entrusts the entrepreneur to maximize fulfillment of societal needs.
          Zaragoza states, the  entrepreneur is:
                led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his
       intention but            which, in the course of pursuing this own
          interest[.]...frequently promotes that of the                 society more
          than when he really intends to promote it (Zaragoza, Bodorff and
          1988, 30).
Those who advocate the marketplace approach stated that the trusteeship
         model prevents the broadcast spectrum from reaching its best and
          use, which can be only achieved through competition (Zaragoza et al.
        J. T. Anderton noted in his book, LMA Handbook, that operators in the
        early 1980s developed stations in markets with few or no stations and
       showed huge profit margins quickly.  The financial community was
  The buying and selling of stations accelerated during the 1980s as more
          money was invested.
        Station prices were based on very high multiples of cash flow and the
        assumption that advertising revenues would continue to grow as they
          had.  Thus stations were bought and sold on their business potential.
 stations were heavily leveraged to fund and capitalize acquisition and
         development creating heavy debt burdens (Anderton and Sanders, 1992,
 Thus, in the late 1980s, as new station owners had to pay this debt and
          interest, they faced more competition with much greater financial
 than heretofore experienced.
        For example, where a $4 million radio advertising market once had four
         stations receiving $1 million each, there now might be eight stations
       obtaining $500,000 of the radio pie.  According to Anthony, 55 percent of
          the radio stations lost money in 1992.  Many markets were saturated by
        radio signals and formats, and numerous stations were heavily in debt.
         Advertising revenues remained static and actually decreased slightly in
 early 1990s (N. Anthony, personal communication, September 14, 1993).
        An option that radio station managers are choosing to make their stations
          more competitive and profitable is to change format.  According to
          Unmacht, editor of the M Street Journal, 40 to 45 format changes by
          stations nationwide are tracked in his newsletter each week (R.
          personal communication, December 14, 1993).  This means that between
          to 2,340 radio stations, approximately 23 percent of the 10,022
          radio stations in 1995, switch formats annually (Broadcasting & Cable,
        1995, 46).
        Rooster Rhodes, Operations Manager and Program Director of KCAQ-FM,
      Oxnard, California, indicated in a interview that a format change by a
        competitor might lead another station to switch its format (R. Rhodes,
        personal communication, April 1, 1994).  Long-time broadcaster Kim
    Colebrook said "movement by someone else," in other words, a format change
          by a competitor, might lead a station to change its format (K.
          personal communication, April 5, 1994).  However, broadcast consultant
        Jerry King stated that in his 25 years of experience he has seen this
       response to format changes happen only twice in two markets (J. King,
       personal communication, April 4, 1994).
        Radio stations operate in a dynamic environment.  To remain competitive
          and profitable, radio station managers have had to change and adapt to
        shifting conditions.  Programming niches have divided the listener base
         resulting in advertisers having numerous groups of listeners from which
          choose.  Stations fiercely compete in an over-crowded market for the
          programming niche and advertising dollar.  Anderton stated that "the
 of these conditions is a far higher-than-normal station failure rate in
          the industry"(Anderton and Sanders, 1992, 6).  To survive, radio
          managers had to change and adapt to this new environment.  The most
          change is to the station's format.
        Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Barry A. Stein,
          and Todd D. Jick stated that change is hard to define.  They adopted
          contemporary idea of change as being movement between distinct states,
        which they characterized as discrete and fixed.  Discrete and fixed
          are identifiable and separate from each other and are stationary.
          is described as motion between "state 1 at time 1 and state 2 at time
          This movement is seen as ubiquitous and multidirectional.  Kanter,
          and Jick described planned organizational change:
                Deliberate change is a matter of grabbing hold of some aspect of the
        motion and              steering it in a particular direction that will be
          by key players as a new               method of operating or as a reason to
          one's relationship and responsibility                 to the organization itself,
          creating conditions that facilitate and assist that           reorientation
     (Kanter, Stein and Jick, 1992, 9).
        Howard Carlisle stated that to understand the complexity of corporations
          and change, it is important to have a systems view of organizations.
       Systems theory assumes that nothing exists in nature that is unattached.
          To truly understand an organization, one needs to know the
          that contribute to its existence.  Carlisle observed that "a system is
          entity consisting of a composite whole formed of interdependent parts
          elements involving relationships that contribute to the unique
          tics of the whole" (Carlisle, 1982, 62).
        The emphasis is on the organization as a whole and the relationship among
          its constituent parts.  Relationships that exist among the elements
can be
          studied and understood by the unique characteristics they give the
          and by their cause-and-effect interdependencies.  Corporations are
          composed of such constituents as owners, managers, employees, vendors,
        competitors and customers.  Changes in any one component will affect the
          relationships among all the other elements in the organization's
         (Carlisle, 1982, 59).
        Leon Martel identified two basic kinds of change: structural and cyclical.
  He defined structural change as a "fundamental transformation of some
         activity or institution from a previous state" (Martel, 1986, 32).
      Structural changes are almost always permanent and prompt other changes in
          the environment.  The transformation of the government's approach to
      broadcast regulation from the trusteeship approach to the marketplace
 would fit Martel's structural change definition (Martel, 1986, 39).
        Martel described cyclical change as having a temporary nature.  Cyclical
          change does not cause any transformation in the structure of
          or activities.  The duration of cyclical change is limited, which
         that adjustments to it is temporary.  Martel used economic growth rates
          an example of cyclical change.  He noted that a country will enjoy
         annual rates of growth and then later realize a downturn in growth
 1986, 39).
        Radio stations provide good examples of cyclical change.  Stations often
          have periods where their format was popular and the economy strong.
          listener's tastes change, a new competitor emerges with a better
format, or
 the economy becomes weak, often causing the station to lose money.
        Organizations operate in an atmosphere of change.  Whether the change is
          structural or cyclical, businesses need to change and adjust to their
       environments.  To accomplish this, companies need to analyze the current
          environment, identify a need for change, and follow a process that
    implements planned change.  The following section presents and discusses
          the process of change management.
Change Management
        According to Edgar Schein, Kurt Lewin is the father of planned change.
          Schein felt that it was most useful to start understanding planned
          by going back to the model first proposed by Lewin (Schein, 1980,
          Lewin developed a way of examining change called force-field analysis.
         According to Lewin, change is not an event, but a "dynamic balance of
       forces working in opposite directions" (Hellriegel, Slocum, and Woodman,
          1986, 590).  Lewin observed:
                In discussing the means of bringing about a desired state of affairs one
          should not            think in terms of the "goal to be reached" but rather in
 of a change "from the          present level to the desired one.  The discussion
          thus far implies that a planned               change consists of supplanting the
      force-field corresponding to an equilibrium at the                beginning level L1 by
          a force-field having its equilibrium at the desired level L2.  It
          be emphasized that the total force-field has to be changed at least in
          area          between L1 and L2 (Lewin, 1951, 224).
        His theory originally was derived from a physics concept.  For example,
          Einstein theorized space as a system of distributed gravitational and
       electromagnetic forces.  The distribution of such forces in an
          "determines what an object with certain properties will do in that
    environment" (Riordan and Riordan, 1993, 86).
        Lewin's force-field theory asserts that the "properties of any given event
 are determined by its relation to the system of events of which it is a
          component" (Riordan and Riordan, 1993, 86).  That is, a change
          involves moving from a current condition to a desired condition.  This
        situation is thought of as a field in which "forces are facilitating
 and forces are hindering change."  This theory assumes that most
   situations are held in equilibrium by these two opposing forces (Conner and
 Lake, 1988, 90).
        For example, Corbett and Norman used force-field analysis to identify
        individuals' positive and negative perceptions when a company introduced
          change in the form of new computer technology (Corbett and Norman,
          11).  Stokes also stated that force-field analysis is a good
         tool for information systems professionals to use to identify
          and restraining forces when trying to attract users to their systems
      (Stokes Jr., 1989, 31).  Nicholas further identified force-field analysis
          as a "technique that can be used to investigate which forces act on a
       current project or which might influence an upcoming project, and to
      determine where emphasis is needed to increase a project's likelihood for
          success" (Nicholas, 1989, 38).
        Hellriegel, Slocum and Woodman assert that using Lewin's model has two
         major benefits.  First, it requires managers to analyze the current
     situation, and second, to identify factors that can and cannot be changed.
 "Managers often waste a great deal of time considering actions related to
          forces over which they have little, if any control" (Hellriegel et
         1986, 591).  For example, a radio station manager desiring to improve
       profitability must analyze the current situation.  Forces for and against
          the changes needed to improve profitability would have to be
identified and
 understood.  The radio manager may need to change the station's format.
          However, there may be many forces opposing this change such as owner's
        dislike of proposed format, advertisers desires, and competitive
  Instead, the manager chooses to reduce station expenses which has fewer
          and weaker opposing forces.
        As Lewin observed:  "To decide how best to bring about such an actual
        change, it does not suffice to consider one property.  The total
  circumstances have to be examined" (Lewin, 1951, 224).  The concept is
        useful in that it identifies and describes these forces, thereby
  facilitating management strategies to best manage change.
         To initiate change, management must change the equilibrium of the forces.
  Hellriegel, Slocum and Woodman observed that a manager might attempt
        change by:
                a)  Increasing the strength of the pressure for change.
                b)  Reducing the strength of the resisting forces or removing them
                c)  Changing the direction of a force --- that is, change a resistance
          into a pressure                                   for change (Hellriegel et al., 1986, 591).
Lewin's Force-field Theory:  A Three-Step Model For Change
        Kanter, Stein and Jick noted that most change theories are typically
       modeled after Lewin's three-part process of change whereby an
          is moved from a flawed current condition to a desired condition
(Kanter et
          al., 1992, 375).  Lewin's theory is composed of a three-stage model of
        change with the steps being: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing
          1951, 228-229).  Kanter, Stein and Jick explained that the three-part
       process of change embodied:
                1) The company must be awakened to a new reality and must disengage from
          the                              past, recognizing that the old way of doing things is no
       longer acceptable.
                2) Next, the organization creates and embraces a new vision of the
      future, uniting                              behind the steps necessary to achieve that
                3) Finally, as new attitudes, practices and policies are put in place to
          change the                               corporation, these must be "refrozen" or
         (Kanter et al., 1992, 375).
        The unfreezing step is the first stage of change and usually involves
        reducing the forces that seek to maintain the status quo.  Hersey
 it as a "thawing-out process in which the forces acting on individuals are
 rearranged so that now they see the need for change" (Hersey and
   Blanchard, 1988, 387).  The goal is to motivate and prepare individuals or
          groups for change.
        Hellriegel, Slocum, and Woodman described the moving, or change, step as
          the development of new behaviors, values, and attitudes through
changes in
          organizational structures and processes (Hellriegel et al., 1986,
          Hersey asserts that the change process occurs by one of two
         identification and internalization.  Identification occurs when role
 are provided from whom individuals can learn new behaviors.
          Internalization occurs when individuals are placed in an environment
          demands new behaviors of them if they are to operate successfully in
          setting (Hersey and Blanchard, 1988, 382).
        The third stage of the change process, refreezing, is described as the
         step that "stabilizes the organization at a new state of equilibrium"
       (Hellriegel et al., 1986, 591).  This is often done through supporting
        mechanisms such as organizational culture, norms, policies, and
  The concern with this step is that the new behaviors of the individual or
 group do not disappear over time.  (Hersey and Blanchard, 1988, 382-383).
        Lewin's force field theory explains how forces initiate the process of
         change.  Change is described as movement from a current condition to a
        desired condition.  This environment is characterized as a field where
        there are forces facilitating change, and forces opposing change.  Most
         situations are held in equilibrium by these two sets of forces.  As
          earlier, some broadcasters suggested that a competitor's format change
        might lead a station to change its format.  According to the framework
          Lewin's theory, this would imply that a competitor's format change is
         facilitating force.  This study examined a competitor's format change
as a
          possible force that motivates radio station managers to change a
        An examination of the materials on broadcast regulation, radio programming
 and formats, change, and change management resulted in the development of
          a research hypothesis and related questions.  Earlier it was observed
          when one station in a market changed formats it led another station in
          market to change its format.  This observation suggests that one of
         forces acting on the equilibrium of a station operation is the
          competition's current format.
        A review of the literature suggests that the hypothesis for this study is:
        Radio station managers will cite the format change of a competing station
          as a primary force for considering a change of their station's format.
 researcher's definition of primary force was that the factor is observed
          as the first or second reason to consider a station format change;
          that it be evaluated as a strong force and likely to influence a
          manager to consider a station format change.
Related Questions
        Lewin's force-field theory suggests that there are many forces, pro and
          con, that maintain an organization's equilibrium.  While not directly
       related to the study, two related questions were investigated on a
    preliminary basis for future research.  They were:
        How will managers evaluate a set of possible forces, in terms of their
         importance, for changing a station's format?
        How will managers evaluate a set of possible forces, in terms of their
         importance, for opposing a station's format?
        Lewin's theory observed that the change of the strength of a force would
          alter the forces maintaining the equilibrium and thus cause change to
       occur.  The researcher hypothesized that a format change of a competitor
 one of the forces that influence a station manager to consider a station's
 format change.
The concept was operationalized through depth interviews and a survey
       questionnaire.  The depth interviews were conducted with individuals from
          different parts of the country, with various market size backgrounds,
          who had radio format change experience.  The survey questionnaire was
       conducted by telephone with a census of radio station general managers in
          Akron, Canton, Cleveland, and Youngstown.
        The researcher used methodological triangulation for this study.  This
         strategy permitted the researcher to explore, gather information, and
       construct a questionnaire on the topic with depth interviews.  The survey
          was conducted to measure the factors discovered in the interviews.
          strategy was not intended to show corroboration, but rather to better
 and understand the attitudes of radio station managers and the dynamics of
 radio format changes.
         A purposeful sampling method was used for the depth interviews in
     selecting information-rich cases for study.  For the qualitative part of
          the study a snowball sampling method was used to recruit subjects for
       interview (Patton, 1987, 56).  The survey questionnaire used a census of
          four Northeastern Ohio markets for study.  A census of a small
          was used since the survey questionnaire did not utilize established
     measures and was untested (True, 1983, 83).  Thus, one outcome of this
        study would be a questionnaire that has been tested and is capable of
 used to conduct future research with a larger sample.
        The population surveyed in this study included radio station managers in
          the Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Youngstown metropolitan markets.
          managers were selected from radio stations reported in the Arbitron
 rating surveys.  Radio station managers from stations reported in the Fall
 1993 Arbitron, from the markets listed, formed the census .  The total
         size of this census was 31.  A total of 23 individuals participated in
          research, 7 from Akron/ Canton, 9 from Cleveland, and 7 from
         (Arbitron, 1993, III).
The Qualitative Research: Depth Interviews
        The researcher used depth interviews, a qualitative approach, as the pilot
 component of the study.  Wimmer and Dominick observed that depth
   interviews give investigators the opportunity to use broad questions to
         gain information on a subject (Wimmer and Dominick, 1994, 154-155).
          depth interviews also were used to assist in constructing a
          for the survey.  The researcher interviewed eight individuals for this
        study.  These information-rich cases included persons with the following
          backgrounds: 1) a vice president and executive sales director of a
    medium-market broadcast company, 2) operations manager and program director
 for a small-market radio station, 3) a vice president and general manager
          of a radio station, 4) a radio broadcast consultant of a major
         consulting firm, 5) a vice president and general manager of a major
          advertising agency, 6) a president of a national radio broadcast
 firm, 7) a vice president of a national group of 13 radio stations, and 8)
 a president of a multi-media corporation owning 15 radio stations.
The Quantitative Research: Survey Questionnaire
        The researcher constructed the questionnaire for this study so that each
          radio station manager's attitudes were measured using two Likert
         (Singletary, 1994, 84-85).  In this study, respondents evaluated
          that were identified in the depth interviews as motivating and
         forces for a radio station's format change.  On one scale, respondents
 asked to evaluate factors on a scale from 0 to 10 with 0 as `not a reason
          at all' and 10 `as the strongest possible reason' to make a format
 Since the survey was conducted over the telephone, it was easier for
       respondents to remember and use this scale in their evaluations.
        The researcher then used another Likert scale to examine the same
    variables.  Participants could respond to factors with either highly
      likely, likely, neutral, unlikely, or highly unlikely.  The results of
 approach assisted the researcher in gaining an understanding of the
      factors under examination and provided information for more extensive
        Babbie notes that the ultimate validity of a measure cannot be proven.  It
 is difficult to say that a measure truly reflects a concepts meaning.  As
          for this study's measure to test if a competitor's format change is a
 that influences other station managers to consider a station format
      change, it has face validity.
Since this study did not use any established measures and the survey
      questionnaire was untested, there is no way to assess the reliability of
          this research (Babbie, 1992, 130-131).
Data Analysis
Depth Interviews
          Inductive analysis was used to analyze the qualitative data.  Patton
         identifies inductive analysis as one method of organizing themes and
      patterns in the data.  Once data is collected, the formal analysis begins.
 He identifies inductive analysis as a method whereby "patterns, themes,
          and categories of analysis come from the data; they emerge out of the
          rather than being decided upon prior to data collection and analysis"
       (Patton, 1987, 150).  There are two kinds of patterns that materialize
 the analysis of the data: (1) the categories developed and articulated by
          the participants in the study, and (2) the patterns which people did
          label "and the analyst developed terms to described these inductively
       generated categories" (Patton, 1987, 150).
Survey Questionnaire
        Univariate analysis was used by the researcher to study and interpret the
          meaning of the data collected through the survey questionnaires.  The
       analysis of the data involved descriptive statistics that examined
    frequency distributions, measures of central tendency, and measures of
        dispersion of the data (Babbie, 1992, G3).
        Data analysis was accomplished using the Statistical Package for the
       Social Sciences (SPSS release 4.1) through the Kent State University
      mainframe computer.  The following section details the results of the
       analysis of the data collected from the depth interviews and survey
     questionnaire (Norusis, 1983).
Depth Interviews
Motivating Forces for Changing a Radio Station's Format
        The researcher conducted the depth interviews during the first two weeks
          of April 1994.  The researcher questioned participants and probed for
       reasons or forces that move radio managers to change the formats of their
          radio stations.  Out of this path of inquiry, the researcher
         nine factors that possibly act on radio managers to make a station
          change.  The factors include slippage in station ratings, lack of
         revenues, competitive moves such as format changes, the development of
          hot new format, ownership change of a competitor, ownership change of
       station, station research, marginal profits, and anticipated format
          of a competing station.  None of the participants cited every item
          above.  Each of the respondents noted three or four factors.  When
    combined, a list of nine potential factors was developed to determine what
          leads radio station managers to consider a radio station format
          These factors were slippage in ratings, lack of sales revenues,
 moves, the development of a hot new format, ownership change of
  competitor, own station ownership change, station research, marginal
      profits, and anticipated format change of competing station.
        One of the most cited factors for changing a radio station's format was
          the lack of sales revenues.  Six of eight people noted the lack of
          revenues in the current format as a very strong reason to change
          Another most cited factor for changing a station's format was slippage
          station audience ratings.  There were five respondents who cited
          audience ratings of a radio station's current format as a strong
reason to
        The most cited factor for changing a radio station's format was
  competitive pressures.  All eight participants described competitive
      pressures as a force in deciding to change a radio station's format.
       Respondents noted that competitive moves such as format changes, changes
 a hot new format, or attacks by a competitor in a similar format would
         lead them to consider a station format change.  It is important to
          however, that only one of the individuals cited this as a very strong
       reason to change formats.  Two participants noted it as their secondary
         factor, and the remaining five people stated this as a third or fourth
        lesser factor in contemplating a station format change.
Opposing Forces To Changing a Radio Station's Format
        Upon completing the discussion on forces that might lead the participants
          to change a radio station's format, the focus switched to factors that
          lead them to reconsider their decision.  The question was framed:
         that the individual was contemplating a format change, what then would
          factors or reasons to reconsider changing a station's format?
        The following factors were identified by the participants as reasons to
          not change a format:  ownership dislike of the proposed new format,
 station advertisers, current loyal listeners, being unique in current
        format, the cost of changing a station's format, weak sales force to
          new format, station research, consultant's advice, and deep pockets of
        competitor.  Unlike the forces for changing a radio station's format,
 was no factor that was identified by a majority of the participants.  Some
 factors received mention by three respondents; all the other factors were
          observed only once.
        The forces against change identified by three participants included the
          station's current advertisers, current listeners, and station
          The loss of current advertisers was noted by both the small-market
          manager and the president of the company owning several stations.  The
        president of the broadcasting company observed that anytime a radio
 changes format, it starts from ground zero and will need to build another
          listener and advertiser base.  His comment was that too many radio
 underestimate the loss of business that occurs when changing a radio
       station's format.
        Another factor identified by three individuals was current listener
      loyalty.  Participants observed that current listenership might lead the
          manager not to change a station's format, particularly if the
         audience for the proposed format is questionable.  One respondent
 that often it is a matter of studying the current listeners and
  determining if the station can encourage them to listen longer, and during
          other days and dayparts.  Improvements are then made to the current
          which then leads to an increase in the station's ratings.
          the station avoids changing its format.
        Station research was another factor identified by three respondents as a
          reason to not to change a radio station's format.  They noted that
 may reveal that potential listeners, advertising revenues, or both for a
          proposed format may not be as great as first thought.  In addition,
 research may reveal that improvements in the current format would build
          more listeners and advertising dollars than making the costly move of
       changing the station's format.  The remaining force identified by three
         participants was the cost of changing a station's format.  All three
      individuals noted that this is not a strong or primary force, but it is a
          consideration that might make them not change the format.
        One comment worth noting is that it all comes down to what can be
    described as the risk vs. benefit ratio.  All the risks and all the
     benefits have to be weighed and examined before changing a radio station's
          format.  His thoughts were that the factors mentioned to changing a
 pro and con, need to be weighed against the potential benefit of making
          that change.  Are the prospective revenue benefits worth the risk of
 a change?
Changing A Radio Station's Format
        In exploring radio format changes and change management, the researcher
          asked the eight participants to describe the process of changing a
          station's format.  All the respondents observed that format changes
         dependent on the condition of the station and its market.  No two
   situations are alike.  In their observations, planning, timing, and staff
          changes would be different for each station's format change.
        Six of the eight people stated that once a decision is made to change a
          station's format, it is usually executed quickly.  The six respondents
        indicated the timing of a format change from when a decision is made to
         implementation is between one and four weeks.  They felt the timing was
         important because they feared the decision would leak out and give the
        competition time to gear up a combative marketing campaign.  Two
  individuals noted that they had changed a station's format in three to four
 days, although it is something they would not recommend.  In one case, the
 respondent observed that a station was offered a large amount of money by
          a competitor, with a similar format, to drop and change its current
          in two hours.  The station agreed to do it, and in two hours dropped
          current format.  For three days the station played the songs of one
          from the new format until a new music library arrived.
        One participant said that when the station changed its format, he had
        hired telemarketers to handle calls from listeners.  Telephone calls
          screened so that positive calls of praise were passed on to the
  Negative calls were taken by telemarketers who listened, probed for
       reasons of dissatisfaction, and offered information to the
          on how the format change improved the station's ability to serve its
      listeners.  The unhappy listener was then offered a dinner for two at a
         nice restaurant if he or she would listen, try out the station's new
      format, and then call with feedback.  The respondent noted that this
      approach was extremely successful in handling and converting irate
    listeners from the old to the new format.
Survey Questionnaire
        The census was comprised of 20 males and 3 females.  Twelve of the 23 had
          greater than 15 years of radio management experience, 7 had between 10
          15 years,  1 had between 5 and 10 years, and 3 respondents had less
          five years of radio management experience.  Seven of the 23
         were general managers of group owned stations.  The other 16 were
          managers of radio stations that owned no other stations outside their
       market.  The ages of the respondents ranged from 22 to 74.  The median
          was 49 with a mean age of 48.7.  Four respondents refused to provide
        Seventeen of the 23 participants had changed a radio station's format.
          The other six people had no format-change experience.  Of the 17 who
          five individuals had experience changing a radio station's format
once, six
 people had changed formats two times, three people had changed formats
         three times, two participants had changed formats four times, and one
       respondent had changed a radio station's format seven times.
        The following sections provide results of the attitude measurements of
         factors for and against changing a radio station's format.  Data
          involved descriptive statistics that included frequency distribution,
 mode, and standard deviation.
Possible Forces That Influence a Format Change
        The researcher had the respondents evaluate potential factors that may
         influence a radio manager to change a station's format using a 0 to 10
        scale.  A score of 0 meant the factor is not at all a reason and a score
 10 was the highest possible reason to change a radio station's format.
        The results of the survey questionnaire appear to support the results of
          the depth interviews.  The factor, a competitor's format change,
received a
 mean score of 3.565.  At first glance this would indicate that radio
       general managers in the census rated a competitor's format change as a
 low reason to consider changing their station's format.  However, the
        standard deviation is large, 2.761, which indicates the scores were
          distributed from the mean.  The range of reported scores was a minimum
of 0
 with a maximum of 8.  The mode value was 0 with a frequency of 5.  The
         values 2, 3, 5 and 8 had a frequency of 3.
        While the results indicate that radio station managers in Akron, Canton,
          Cleveland, and Youngstown cite a competitor's format change as a weak
       motivating force for a station format change, the range and frequency
       distribution of the scores may indicate that the strength of this factor
          varies.  Five of the radio station general managers evaluated this
          with a 0, but the other 18 respondents measured the factor between 1
and 8.
  While the mean score indicates this is a weak factor, the range and
       frequency distribution of each of the scores exhibit strength that varies
          between 0, not at all a force, to 8, strong.
        Radio station general managers in the census were asked to evaluate nine
          potential forces in the survey questionnaire.  Evaluations were
 accomplished using the same 11-point Likert scale.  Slippage in station
         ratings, lack of sales revenues, marginal profits, and station research
         received mean scores of 7 or higher in measurement.   But the standard
        deviation for each of the factors mean scores was large.  This indicates
          that the scores were widely dispersed.  However, the frequency
 of each score showed that the majority of the respondents evaluated these
          factors as 6 or higher.
        The next segment of the survey used a another Likert scale to measure the
          attitudes of radio general managers toward possible factors
influencing a
          station format change.  The scale used was 1 `highly unlikely,' 2
   `unlikely,' 3 `neutral,' 4 `likely,' and 5 `highly unlikely.'  An
   examination of the results of the second Likert scale measurements indicate
 that a competitor's format change is unlikely to lead a station manager to
 change a station's format.  The mean score was 2.304 with a standard
       deviation of 1.063.  In this census, radio station managers observed that
          it is unlikely a competitor's format change would lead them to
consider a
          station format change.  However, the standard deviation is somewhat
          exhibiting a wide dispersion of scores.  The mode was 2 (unlikely)
with a
          frequency of 8.  The range and frequency distribution of each score
          from a score of 1 (Highly Unlikely) with a frequency of 6 to a score
of 4
          (likely) with a frequency of 4.  There were 5 respondents who cited
         value of 3 (neutral) for this factor.  Overall, 14 respondents rated
          factor at least unlikely, but 5 cited neutral and 4 responded with
        Evaluations were made for the other motivating factors that might
    influence a radio general manager to change a station's format.  The
      measurements exhibit the clearest results for lack of sales revenues with
 mean score of 4.652 and standard deviation of .714, marginal profits had a
 mean score of 4.130 and a standard deviation of .968, and station research
 had a mean score of 3.783 and a standard deviation of .736.  The results
          indicate that the radio station managers in the census evaluated these
        factors as likely to motivate them to consider making a station format
        change.  Slippage in ratings also received a mean score of 4.087, but
          standard deviation was 1.240.  The frequency distribution though
         that 18 of the 23 respondents rated this factor likely or higher as a
       motivating force.
        The other factors of competitor's format change, hot new formats,
    anticipated format change of competitor, ownership change of competitor,
          and own station ownership change received mean scores that rated the
      factors unlikely to lead the radio station general managers in the census
          to consider a station format change.  However, the factors' mean
scores had
 standard deviations that were large indicating a wide dispersion of
Possible Factors Opposing A Format Change
        In the final segment of the survey, respondents, using a Likert scale,
         measured possible factors that might influence radio sales managers to
        reconsider a station format change.  The same Likert scale was used
          1`highly unlikely,' 2 `unlikely,' 3 `neutral,' 4 `likely,' and 5
          likely.'  The score reflected a radio station manager's attitude
          potential factors that may cause a decision to change a station's
format to
 be reconsidered.  The results of these measurements were inconclusive.  M
          ost of the mean scores for these factors had large standard deviations
        indicating a wide distribution of scores.
        The intention of this study was to examine one specific force that may
         influence radio station managers to change formats.  As it was, the
          size of the census limited the ability of the research to examine the
       hypothesis.  What this study does find is that there are a number of
 that influence change, as noted by Lewin.  However, due to the study's
         limitations, the exact nature and strength of those forces are unknown.
        The results of this study do not support the research hypothesis.  The
         data collected from the depth interviews identified a competitor's
          change as a potential force in influencing a radio station's manager
         consider a station format change.  But most of the eight individuals
      interviewed noted the force as a third or fourth reason.  Analysis of the
          data gathered through the survey questionnaire showed that radio
          general managers in the census do not cite this factor as a primary
 A competitor's format change was evaluated by the census as a weak
     influence in the consideration of a station format change.  However, the
          dispersion of the scores indicate that the presence and/or strength of
 force varies among the participants in the census.
        The pursuit of this research produced two related questions:  what are the
 motivating forces that influence a station manager to consider a station
          format change?, and what are the opposing forces that influence a
          manager to reconsider a format change?  The depth interviews
         nine potential motivating forces.  These forces were slippage in
          ratings, lack of sales revenues, competitive moves, the development of
          hot new format, ownership change of competitor, own station ownership
        hange, station research, marginal profits, and anticipated format change
 competing station.
        The evaluations of radio general managers from the census exhibited the
          clearest results for lack of sales revenues, marginal profits, and
          research.  These factors were identified as forces that would likely
      influence the managers to consider a station format change.  Slippage in
          station ratings was evaluated as a likely force, but the dispersion
     measurements for this factor showed the evaluations varied widely.
        The other factors of competitive moves, hot new format, anticipated format
 change of competitor, ownership change of competitor, and own station
        ownership change were rated as unlikely to lead the census to consider a
          station format change.  However, the evaluations were widely dispersed
          all these factors.  This means that the strength and/or presence of
          forces varied among radio managers in the census.
        The depth interviews identified ten possible forces opposing a radio
       station format change.  The forces identified were: ownership dislike of
          prospective new format, current station advertisers, current loyal
    listeners, being unique in current format, cost of changing a station's
         format, a weak sales force, station research, cost of operating new
 consultant's advice, and deep pockets of competitor.   Measurement of
        these factors in the survey questionnaire were inconclusive.  The
   dispersion of the scores made the results unclear. Conclusion and
        Although the initial results of this study failed to confirm the research
          hypothesis, this conclusion would be premature.  The distribution of
          scores from the survey questionnaire showed that the strength of a
    competitor's format change varies in its ability to influence radio station
 general managers in the census to consider a station format change.  One
          possible explanation for these results is that the size of the census
       surveyed was small.  This could affect the ability of the descriptive
       statistics to provide clear results.
        Comments offered by some of the respondents offer another interpretation.
 In evaluating the forces of change, one respondent stated that "it depends
 on the corporate strategy" of what would lead a station manager to
     consider a station format change.  Another individual from Cleveland said
          that the only way his station would change formats "is if it got
          because the station is focused on serving the ethnic community with
     ethnic-centered programming.
        The comments suggest that one possible element influencing the
 distribution of survey scores in the evaluation of forces is the mission or
 goals of each station.  Lewin stated that change is movement from a
      current condition to a desired condition.  The researcher suggests that
 component not considered in the study is the radio station's current point
 of equilibrium and what, if any, is the desired point of equilibrium.  The
 desired equilibrium in the example of a radio station may be defined as
          its mission or goals.
        The goals may range from a level of profitability to serving the needs of
          a specific listening audience with specific information and
 The respondent with the ethnic-centered programming served the ethnic
        community.  This station's mission was to serve this specific audience.
 factor, according to the participant, would lead the station to change its
 format except if it is sold.  Another radio station general manager may be
 influenced to change a station's format if its level of profitability
        dropped below a certain point.
        An additional explanation for the results of the survey questionnaire was
          that participants were asked to evaluate and rate potential motivating
          opposing factors individually.  One respondent commented that "it's a
       combination of things that lead a radio general manager to make a station
          format change.  A participant from the depth interviews stated that
         dynamics of radio station format change are complex.  Lewin observed
          forces have various strengths and that the sum of these forces
maintain the
 equilibrium.  Thus evaluating and rating each factor separately may be
         unrealistic and out of context.
        While this study did establish that a competitor's format change as a
        possible motivating force among the participants in the research, the
       strength of this factor is still unknown.  A better question would be:
 is a competitor's format change a significant force in influencing a radio
 station manager to consider changing a station's format?, and what is its
          strength in relation to other factors?
        The implications of this study: the presence and strength of forces that
          act on radio station managers are dynamic and complex.  The findings
      suggest that station managers do not have identical forces with identical
          strengths acting on them.  There appears to be other variables that
     determine the forces which create equilibrium for a station.
        There are limitations to this study that need to be noted.  First, the
         results of the depth interviews cannot be generalized.  The nature of
       qualitative methods makes it difficult to generalize results.
 inquiry is excellent for observing and gathering information on the
      experiences of participants.  Patton observed that the term generalization
          in qualitative research gives way to extrapolation.  Extrapolations
         mild speculations on the likely applicability of results to other
          situations.  They are thoughtful,logical, and useful when based on
         collected from information-rich sources (Patton, 1987, 168).
        Data collected by the survey questionnaire is limited in its ability to be
 generalized.  A census of radio station general managers in Akron, Canton,
 Cleveland, and Youngstown was surveyed.  Their input provided a better
         understanding of the topic.  It is unknown how this census reflects the
         attitudes of radio station general managers in the U.S.  Thus, the
          can be generalized to the population of the census, but nowhere else.
        The final limitation concerns the questionnaire used for the survey.  The
          questionnaire did not use established measures and was untested.
          it had face validity, there is no way of evaluating the reliability of
        This research serves as a pilot study for gaining familiarity with the
         subject of radio station format changes.  The results indicated that
          dynamics of radio station format changes are complex.  The researcher
       recommends that future studies investigate how the  station mission or
        goals determine which motivating and opposing forces influence a station
          format change.  In addition, other variables such as market size, type
          ownership, and the general manager's experience should be examined to
       determine if there are any significant relationships that decide the
 influencing or opposing radio station general managers to consider a
       station format change.
        Future research needs to be conducted concerning the second part of
      Lewin's force-field theory of change in relation to station format
  The first part of Lewin's force-field theory requires managers to analyze
 the current situation and identify which forces can and cannot be changed.
   The second component, which involves Lewin's three stage process of
        change, was not within the scope of this study.  However, during the
          interviews the researcher did query participants on how station format
         hanges were implemented.  Information collected did indicate support
          Lewin's three stage process of change, but further research is needed.
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