You’re Radio One. You’re trying to make ends meet with 53 radio stations in 16 markets - and it’s not going so well.
Ever since those no good, rotten bastards at Arbitron rolled out the Portable People Meter (PPM), your urban formatted stations have gone into a ratings free fall. Since your ad rates are based on Arbitron data, the lower your ratings are, the lower your ad rates will be. The lower your rate, the more challenging it is to service your massive debt.
You’re Radio One and you’ve called for Rep. Edolphus “Eddie” Towns (D-N.Y.) to take care of your business on the Hill.
See, Rep. Towns as head of the House Committee for Oversight and Government Reform subpoenaed the Media Ratings Council (MRC), an independent industry org that certifies media rating s, to turn over audits of Arbitron’s PPM system to his committee.
See, Rep. Towns as head of the House Committee for Oversight and Government Reform subpoenaed the Media Ratings Council (MRC), an independent industry org that certifies media rating
s, to turn over audits of Arbitron’s PPM system to his committee.
After reviewing their findings, he accused Arbitron of “persistent problems” with their minority sample.
Let’s take a peak at their study. Towns’ committee issued a statement saying the subpoenaed documents proved that Arbitron recruited a sample audience of 5,400 people in New York - but only 2,700 — half of the sample — provided actual data.
His report stated that “the radio listening habits of over four million ethnic minorities are represented by only 500 Arbitron recruits” - and that similar sample problems are occurring in Arbitron PPM rated markets nationwide.
No one will argue that Arbitron's PPM isn't flawed. It's a slight improvement over the diary, which has been in operation for how many decades? Still, it's a 20th century flop. Had it been introduced in the late eighties or early nineties, it would've had its decade of fame. But what might've worked a twenty years ago isn't going to measure up in 2010. Not when you're selling against on-line, which can provide up-to-the-minute detailed data.
In research and information, methodology is vital. The manner in which data is mined circumscribes the results. The PPM is already old and in the way.
Some media experts believe that urban radio listening is down for the same reason that rock, alternative, and Triple A formats are taking it on the chin. Who's going to carry around an object that makes them look like they're being monitored by their probie?
Then you could also argue that urban format listeners - like those rock, alternative, and Triple A formats suffered audience erosion because most aren’t programming what their potential audience want to hear - and they can get what they really want on-line, on satellite radio, or listen to their own music on an MP3 player. .
The way radio is formatted today, an active and seasoned listener is least likely to listen to terrestrial radio. There are better options than formats as dated as the PPM's technology.
The contemporary hit format is racking up numbers because its tween and very young teen audience, still in their musically instant gratification current music phase, which terrestrial radio satisfies with tight high-rotation playlists. There are exceptions, of course, though very few, and they tend to be the few stations independently programmed for the market they're in.
Classic Hits does well because it's the new old fashioned adult contemporary - music for passive people who don't care about music that much but want to hear something in the background at work - in settings where terrestrial radio is still present.
You’re Radio One and faced with declining numbers you must be certain that every penny of potential revenue gets on the books.
The competition is always intense, but today, we have a new Dumbest Radio Rule to add to the never-increasing list of terrestrial follies.
Let’s visit this Radio One market’s policy. I don’t want to give away the market since I don’t know if the decision originated there or from the corporate office.
Here’s part one. If you don’t get your weekend and first-of-the-week spots in by Wednesday, they won’t run. No exceptions.
When spots don’t run, Radio One loses money.
Part two, should your Radio One account exec be on a forced, unpaid “furlough day,” on a day you want to buy time - forget it. You can’t. Add this. Just like those restaurants you never go back to - there aren’t any substitutions allowed. You can’t ask for another AE to write up the order.
I’ll say it again. When spots don’t run, Radio One loses money.
It’s another dollar chasing a dime. Maybe you’re saving some production o.t. and a few bucks with your unpaid furloughs. - but it’s not worth the business you’re not writing.
But wait. Let’s go back to Rep. Eddie Towns. Was he not part of a group that also included House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Charles Rangel (D-Manhattan) and that met with senior Obama administration officials this past August, demanding that minority broadcasters - including Radio One - be on the receiving end of a government bail out? Did Towns claim the station owners had a right to tap into the Troubled Asset Relief Program?
(There was a mayoral candidate in Cleveland named Bill Patmon who said on a Sunday morning TV political show that the government should bail out Clear Channel. Maybe he was gunning for an endorsement.)
Do you think Radio One should start saving their properties by having systems in place that insure that clients who want to advertise on their stations can advertise on their stations?
Last time I checked, that's the way commercial radio still made its money. Selling time.