ARG-083

The following appeared in a memorandum from the manager of KNOW radio station.

"Several factors indicate that KNOW radio can no longer succeed as a rock-and-roll music station. Consider, for example, that the number of people in our listening area over fifty years of age has increased dramatically, while our total number of listeners has declined. Also, music stores in our area report decreased sales of rock-and-roll music. Finally, continuous news stations in neighboring cities have been very successful. We predict that switching KNOW radio from rock-and-roll music to 24-hour news will allow the station to attract older listeners and make KNOW radio more profitable than ever."


Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the prediction and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the prediction.


In this text, in order to attract more audience attention so as to ensure the future development of the radio station, the author proposes that the rock music radio station KNOW become a 24-hour continuous news broadcast, and provides three reasons for doing so: listeners in the 50-year-old age group have increased in quantity, there has been a reduction in music album sales at music stores, and continuous broadcast news programs in neighboring cities have achieved success. However, there are assumptions made by the author behind these reasons, and if said assumptions are invalid, the feasibility of these recommendations will diminish.


First, the text mentions that the total number of listeners has decreased, however the number of listeners over the age of 50 has increased significantly. Therefore, the author suggests that radio stations turn their music programs into 24-hour continuous news broadcasts. There is an underlying conjecture here: music programs are the main reason for the decline of listeners, and, compared to rock music, listeners over the age of 50 prefer news programs; but the two hypotheses are not necessarily true. First of all, there are many factors that affect the total number of listeners, such as the time and duration of the program, the number of advertisements, the content of the program, and the broadcast level of the host. There isn’t any additional information provided to explain why music programs are the main reason for the decrease in listeners, so suggestions for revising the music show will be less persuasive.


Even if the music program is the main reason for the decline in listeners, we can't be certain whether or not listeners over the age of 50 will prefer news programs to rock music. If an increasing amount of elderly people listen to the radio, the reason is precisely due to the fact that the music programs are suitable to their tastes. Therefore, changing the music program will consequentially lead to a loss in elderly listeners, and the author's suggestions will not achieve their desired results. Additionally, due to the increase in the number of elderly listeners, the author pays significant attention to this audience group and believes that they are crucial to ensuring the future development of the radio station. However, we are unsure whether or not there's a big enough market for older people. Even if all the local elderly people become KNOW listeners, if the proportion of elderly people in the community is minute, they may not be able to ensure that the number of listeners will be equivalent to that of the past. If this happens, the author’s views would be abated.


Another reason proposed in the text is that sales of CDs in local music stores have declined, therefore music programs should be reduced. The assumption here is that the decline in CD sales is a harbinger for future unpopularity of music programs, which will manifest itself in the decline of the number of radio listeners. However, there is doubt surrounding this assumption, because there are myriad reasons for a decline in record sales, for example, (1) online music purchases, (2)purchasing directly from online suppliers, (3)product shortage in stores and inability to meet music lovers’ needs of music lovers (such as shops that don’t carry rock music) Even if the music is still popular, the above-mentioned factors will lead to a decrease in sales, but this does not indicate a decline in music interest, thus it does not support the author's suggestion.


Secondly, by providing examples of the success of news program in neighboring cities, the author further suggests that the program be changed into a 24-hour continuous news program. The assumption here is that the local city is comparable to its neighboring cities; however, there is a problem with this assumption, because we are not sure whether or not the different cities are comparable. For example, whether or not the local news reports are as intriguing as those of the neighboring cities, whether or not the news reporters in the two cities are at the same level, and whether or not the program production level of the local radio news station is equivalent to those of the neighboring cities. If the answers to the above questions are negative, even if they imitate the practice of the other radio stations, they still will not be able to achieve the same results, and the author's suggestion will lose force.


Even if the said assumptions are established, it is not necessarily a guarantee that the radio station will have a successful future, because adding news programs may filter out listeners who don't like news programs. Without knowing what proportion of people do not like news programs, the author cannot be certain that the increase in the number of new listeners will make up for the loss of other listeners. Even if the number of listeners truly increases, it will not ensure future success for the radio station.


Therefore, it is suggested that the radio station first seek out the real reasons leading to the decrease in the total number of radio listeners and the increase in elderly listeners, then carry out adjustments according to these findings. In the meantime, they should study the key factors leading to the success of radio stations in neighboring cities. If they do so, the radio station the radio station will be able to win over the elderly audience and attract listeners from other age groups as well, which would ensure the future development of KNOW radio station.

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