Sunday, August 30, 2009

Reality Killed the Radio Star

The days of writing down what you listened to, or hoped to listen to, or want to promote as a formate, are done. The methods of identifying and measuring its data has changed, for the better. The old method was an asparational log/booklet that listeners would write down what the wanted the ratings to be. Now, those that take a survey wear a sensor that detect the actual radio frequency you are around.

This new method is not perfect, I would argue that the measurement taken is the maximum potential listening time. If you have ever turned down the sound because of a telephone call, or a knock at your door, then you prove my point.
Have you ever left your radio on and then vaccuumed your carpet, or mowed your lawn, or left the room where the radio is to go to a different room to do housework for 15, or 20 minutes?
I know I have.

What I think is interesting is the reality of what people really are listening to, and that is not talk radio, not to the same degree once believed.
For nearly two decades the flawed diary method indicated that talk radio was a much more popular format than it might not have been. We do not really know what the real ratings were, and to some degree we can forgive the media hyping the importance of a format because they thought the popularity of the format was something more, something worth reporting on and paying more attention to by other media.

I hope you click the link at the bottom of the quote and read the full story.

The change might not be in people's listening habits at all. Arbitron switched from its old-fashioned diary method to an electronic way of finding out who was listening to what, and when.

It used to be that survey participants had to remember their listening habits. This led to obvious inaccuracies, as people guessed and fudged. They sometimes wrote down that they listened to a station all morning when they actually were switching around. Maybe they didn't like a particular song, or something a disc jockey said, or just got bored with whatever was on.

But now that the Portable People Meters, known as a PPMs, which can be worn like a pager, are around to monitor the airwave signals instead, the fudging is gone.

In the old days of diaries, somebody could be a fan of particular talk show, and write down that five days a week, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., he was listening to that station, says Mark O'Neill, one of the founders of ROI Media Solutions in Los Angeles. He's a media consultant doing PPM consulting these days, although not in Seattle.

That method didn't reflect reality, he says.

"Not even the talk-show host's mother could listen that long to it," O'Neill says.

Monson also acknowledges the old diary system was flawed, "and it said I was the top talk show in town for 12 years. It's a new set of rules and I have to figure out how to prevail under the new set of rules."

Read the full story here, Seattle Times Newspaper: Arbitron now uses meter to measure radio listening

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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