Monday, June 14, 2010

PPM measurement and all that jazz

A recent article in the Columbus Dispatch caught my attention, given its partial focus on the death of jazz radio stations.

I have nothing against jazz stations, but have long believed that these stations really attracted a small niche audience while many others found it hip to act as though they listen. Back in the early 80's, I was a partner in an upstart radio ratings service in the Midwest which reported specifically on in-car radio listening. That research confirmed my belief, even then, that people sometimes reported what they considered "hip" stations to make it appear they were listening.

There was one survey of more than 3,000 drivers showing what they were listening to at the moment of the interview, and it showed a grand total of one person listening to a jazz station. That was among the findings which were NOT in line with the diary system also in use.

Since the PPM method has been introduced, and as the article points out, several jazz radio stations have bitten the dust. It doesn't surprise me one bit.

Considering that audience measurement is primarily for advertisers and potential radio advertisers, finding the truth about listening habits is the most important gain.

Stations should not be concerned about the jazz format, especially with satellite and online channels playing jazz for the small and niche audience that wants it. Rather, they should be concerned with getting the audiences to return to radio. With the trend of tighter and tighter playlists, endless clusters of commercials, and reduced local programming, this is where the stations should be concerned.

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