If It Ain’t Broke

This post on MinnPost.com, serving Minneapolis and St. Paul, is interesting for what it says about Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM). For the third month, it says, Arbitron has declared a different top station in the market. Their chart shows how four stations have wobbled all over the popularity scale:

But beyond that, writer David Brauer’s analysis of the “ad-buying” nature of the numbers holds some interest. As he notes, radio executives “would give their left gonad” to lead in the advertisers’ beloved 25-54 demographic. This, of course, shouldn’t apply at all to a non-commercial station, but — you guessed it — of course it does.

And this from Tom Taylor’s blog on radio-info.com:

Radio’s “in jeopardy with an entire generation”, concludes the new Alan Burns study. The 2,000-person study of female listeners to AC and CHR . . . says “over half of 15-24 year olds agree with the statement that ‘I can foresee a day when I won’t need to listen to music on the radio because I can get it online, on my iPod or on my cellphone.’ ” Burns believes “we don’t have to lose that generation,” and he’s got some ideas — “these listeners are looking for a community to connect to, and radio can be their coffeehouse.” But “the more like a jukebox we become, the more we’ll lose audience to digital alternatives. It’s important not to over-react to PPM that way.”

And allaccess.com continues the quote, saying

“Teens are the demo most inclined to say ‘no station around here really seems to understand me,’ and they’re the heaviest users of online music streams by age.

“We don’t have to lose that generation,” continued Burns, “because radio has some strengths we can fight with; we just have to use them well. Helping people find out what’s popular, providing entertaining personalities, and an overall sense of fun are all key assets that are both important to 15–24s and are advantages of radio over digital jukeboxes. They’re also major attributes of good Top 40 stations. These listeners are looking for a community to connect to, and radio can be their coffeehouse.”

And as a commenter aptly summed up: “It’s still far less of a technology problem than a quality & content one. When radio decided to try and compete with iPods 5 years ago, that may have been the most idiotic decision since dereg.”

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