Radio will never be the same…
The advent of PPMs, portable people meters – electronic devices replacing handwritten diaries used by Arbitron to gage radio listener’s actual habits – have turned the media world upside down these past two years.
Stations and personalities that loomed large and walked tall have been humbled.
While wallflowers mired in Cinderella-like shadows have been tongue-kissed like frogs, rising to star-like status.
The winners, KCFX FM, KCMO FM and 97.5 The Vibe – love PPMs. They’re on Cloud 9, doing fine.
The opposite being the case for Urban stations like KPRS FM.
So with millions of dollars on the local line, let’s take a look…the good and the bad (I’ll leave the ugly to commenters) of today’s PPM radio ratings world….
"The good side is it really does record real listening," says one local radio exec. "So in reality, it’s real listening, not recalled listening. In a diary you usually fill it out and you kind of recall. And if you have a favorite station, you just write down that station. So it’s not real listening."
Trouble is, with diaries, Arbitron participants loosey-goosey ways can result in startling results.
"You could literally see a station go from a 10 share in one month to a 2 share the next, depending on the way people filled out their diaries. I had it happen to me. And it wasn’t going from Christmas music to something else – it was going from the same thing to the same thing."
Here’s what critics claim is wrong with PPMs.
"The problem with the PPMs is you get real listening but the sample is much smaller because they’re so expensive. So you don’t get those wobbles like you used to and that’s the good news."
Now the bad.
"We used to think people listened to just 3 radio stations. But what we found out (with PPMs) was they listen to 5 to 6 stations. So it’s had a negative impact on ratings. A ratings point is 1 percent of the population. A share is 1 percent of the radio listenership."
Translation: a station may pull a 10 share – 10 percent of people listening – but if they’re listening to twice as many stations it can cut the time they spending listening by half.
"So it’s dilluted the time spent by listeners, and air personalities don’t seem as important as music formats."
The big losers in PPM ratings are Hispanic and urbans stations and air personalities.
Example: the PPM ratings for the morning show on one local station – under the diary system – plunged from double that of other day parts on the station to approximately the same.
It’s a brave new world out there, folks…
Speaking of brave, a ratings surprise appears likely for the new 24/7 Comedy 102.5 FM.
Where past KC comedy stations on the AM band languished at 1 shares or less, the early returns on 24/7 Comedy point to a 4.5 share in adults ages 25 to 54. That’s a full point above News Radio 980 KMBZ, the second-higest billing station in the marketplace!