Radio hosts often ask if they are ready for syndication, ready for a bigger market, or ready to cut back on music to allow for more content. The answer is in whether or not the show outperforms the station. When a show consistently attracts a larger Nielsen audience share than the station, it is a sign that listeners are coming to the station to hear the show.
When a show consistently scores a smaller audience share than the station, it is a sign that the show needs coaching on content choices, execution, and character definition. In some cases, listeners are tuning in just for the music. When evaluating a radio show’s performance, it's risky to make programming decisions based on Nielsen numbers alone. Look at Nielsen data averaged over months, and push your company to invest in market research.
With that disclaimer, look at the 6+ January 2018 ratings from Robert Feder’s newspaper column in Chicago as a rough example. We would not assess a show on 6+ numbers, or on one month’s ratings in real life, but we will use it here to demonstrate the point.
Chicago is a strong morning show market, and January was a great month for Eric Ferguson, who out-performs his station, Mix by 57%. WCSR’s Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley attract 56% greater share than their station.
Chicago news listeners give Felicia Middlebrooks and Pat Cassidy 36% more share than they listen to WBBM Newsradio overall, and Sherman and Tingle are around 20% stronger than The Drive. The most effective measure of a show's success is to compare overall station numbers and show numbers. Consistently outperforming your station demonstrates your worth to management at contract negotiation time.