If you've ever listened to a radio station, you might have wondered how they choose which songs to put on air. The answer is both simple and complex.You may be surprised to learn that music choice in any show is very rarely down to the Air Personality. Today the scheduling of songs also involves sophisticated computer programs. Here's how it worksMost radio stations, or sometimes groups of stations employ a Music Director. It's his or her job to listen to all of the new releases that are sent weekly by record companies. These are known as Promo Copies and are distributed free of charge. Stations get them long before we ever hear them on air. There may be 20 or 30 of these delivered by post or even online as sound files each week. Record companies do this because playing the song on radio stimulates sales. When you hear a song you like, you will try to buy or order it at a music store. At the listening session the Music Director often joined by the Program Director, and a group of the Presenters (DJs) who make up a small committee. They listen and rate the suitability each particular song for the station sound and its' potential to become a hit. Most offerings are rejected and only a tiny proportion will make it on air. This active group of songs is called the Current Playlist.In smaller stations the Program Director may make all of the decisions. Sometimes record companies employ representatives to bring songs to the attention of radio station staff. They are called Pluggers. In most parts of the world it is illegal for them to offer any kind of financial incentive to get airplay. This is called Payola and there have been several scandals regarding this type of activity. However, the wheels are very often oiled with the supply of concert tickets for listener contest prizes or even artist interviews.Once a song makes it onto the Playlist many radio stations use sophisticated Market Research techniques to ensure that they are playing them with the optimum Rotation. This is the frequency of repetition that satisfies the listener desire to hear their favourite song. The basic objective is to play songs not too often and not too infrequently. Radio stations use a Sample of their audience to get a general opinion of this popularity. Usually, this involves playing short sections called Hooks (the bits you remember) of the songs and asking if the respondents wish to hear them more or less often. The results are then fed back into the scheduling computer, either elevating or lowering airplay. Because this type of testing is carried out by telephone, the phrase given to this is Call-Out Tracking. This method is usually applied to the Current song category. These are perhaps 20 fashionable hits of the moment. When a song loses its appeal it is said to be Burnt. The very newest debut songs are called Breakers.Radio stations will often evaluate larger groups of songs by using a different system, called Auditorium Music Testing.To do this they once again use a Sample group who represent a robust cross section of the target market. Read more about Grove city oh. Perhaps a hundred or so people are invited to a theatre, where the radio station will play a large number of Hooks. As the clips are played, the people taking part have to score the songs on a scale of one to five. This represents the level of appeal from love to hate. When these votes are tabulated, along with information on social class and age, it gives an accurate snapshot of which songs the station should play. In order to make sure that this information is valid, station with repeat this procedure a couple of times each year.The central group of songs is called the Core. They are the most important songs that define the Station Sound. This creates a particular musical footprint that identifies the product and distinguishes one radio station from another.Radio is a highly competitive business, and more importantly advertisers will only spend with the top ranking stations. Using and applying Music Research allows radio stations to compete for both audience and revenue. About the author: Gavin McCoy is a UK based Award Winning radio and marketing consultant.For more info visit Grove city oh.