Said & Done

Bits and pieces from this week’s news…

Jerry Del Colliano:

My view is that Pandora survives anything Apple comes up with because it uses a well thought out music genome to identify a listeners musical preferences. That in and of itself is cool and will never go out of style. For everyone else there is choosing your own music and storing it on the cloud.

I can tell you from working with young people that while they like their iPods, they are also bored with their iPods. Ask and they will tell you. If this isn’t a wakeup call to the radio industry to reinvent itself, I don’t know what is. Consumers need another music service like coffee drinkers need another Starbucks.

Pandora is golden. Apple’s cloud will eventually be a smash hit.

Now who is going to entertain people on mobile devices with short-form, personality and expert-based content? Music. Talk. Information.

It is likely not going to be a radio company because they can’t see this, but radio is the perfect incubator for new media content. I’ll bet you some former radio employees will jump into this void and see the next growth business ahead — mobile entertainment not just music available everywhere on-demand.

Irish Up

This post in the Independent says that while the British officials are waffling about when — or if — analog radio will be switched off, the Irish are pretty much decided against it:

The British government is considering a U-turn on its DAB policy. It had set a date of 2015 for switching off FM transmitters, but has now decided to put the date on hold, and may even abandon it altogether, after a backlash from millions of radio listeners perfectly happy with FM.

Today FM chief executive Willie O’Reilly said: “What are the negatives for the consumer or the country if we do nothing? . . . In my view, none. So technology is in a kind of flux. What we have is a heritage technology that is performing very well. So we should be slow to change. We should experiment . . . but very slow to damage something that we have that is so successful and which is so well regarded by the public. That’s the thing.”

Insightful

This post on Radio InSights details the differences between Arbitron and Nielsen ratings and the problems the Big A is facing in the competition with its flying Purple People Meter.

When AQH ratings drop in a market, a media buyer will pay less. Period.

The reason for the drop is immaterial. Fewer points. Fewer dollars. If new PPM numbers are 30% lower than the old diary numbers, she will expect a 30% discount from what she paid in the past. Arbitron came up with a solution that only Arbitron could. They simply decided that media buyers should pay more per point with PPM….

There is no scientific basis for Arbitron’s buying guide. It is simply an ad hoc attempt to dance around the negative financial implications of PPM’s lower estimates dressed-up with some scientific sounding mumbo-jumbo.

But it gets worse.

The top 50 metro markets will have switched over to PPM by the end of the year. The remaining 241 Arbitron markets are measured with diaries, and will continue to be measured with diaries. Since PPM and diaries produce different estimates, strictly speaking we cannot combine PPM and diary estimates. They are not comparable. But Arbitron does. Repeatedly.

More Flying Purple People Meter Woes

This post on the rbr.com (Radio Business Report) indicates that Arbitron has other problems as well. It seems some stations don’t want to pay more for what they deem is less:

More importantly, Arbitron wants to bring back customers who have quit subscribing to its ratings services, since that lost revenue continues to have an impact quarter after quarter. For the first half of 2010 the company says it lost $4.7 million in diary revenues from markets where Cumulus and Clear Channel switched to Nielsen’s sticker diary. And Univision’s refusal to subscribe to PPM except in Houston is having a big impact. Add that to the Cumulus/Clear Channel cutbacks and other former clients who are no longer subscribing to radio ratings and Arbitron puts the lost revenue at $7.5 million from customers who were buying its services in the first half of 2009 but not in the first half of 2010.

Duck, Duck, Goose

Interesting post from a site called Quality Articles on the so-called Drake format of radio, something that public radio is now attempting to utilize in the pursuit of advertising . . . errr, underwriting:

Like the content in other media, radio programming has been influenced by the desire to maximize profits. One illustration of this is the Drake format (named for its originator), used in Top 40 radio. The Drake format or variations on it are designed for maximum efficiency in holding listeners and for standardizing music selection.

It is also ideally suited to Arbitron ratings because it is planned in quarter-hour periods. Each quarter hour is organized into specific categories of a recording’s popularity, such as a current hit, an up-and-comer, a golden oldie, and so on. The Drake format meant that “a station could use as few as thirty records for an entire broadcast day. . . . Program directors now had absolute control over what records were played and when they were scheduled.”

The Drake format maximizes profits because it is a proven means of attracting and holding audiences. The format functions rhetorically; listeners are introduced to new selections in the context of music that is familiar. Such a format creates and exploits audience identification.

Taylor Translators

Jack Hammond sent along word of this post from Tom Taylor on Radio, with the added comment: “I think this shows you us just how low AM has fallen in the eyes of the industry’s dominant forces. But at least these translators aren’t for HD-2’s!”:

Still more FM translators for AM stations…

We knew about the one in Dickson, Tennessee – but we didn’t know until this week that owners Lori and Kenneth Forte are actually going to call it “The One.” That’s because the Hopkinsville, KY-licensed translator they bought for $30,000 (April 23 TRI) will be “the only commercial full-power FM station licensed to Dickson County.” There are several non-com-band translators and a full-power C3 FM at 91.5 in the county. And while this “One” isn’t really full-power, but a translator, it’s close enough for the Fortes, who’ll use it to simulcast their country WDKN (1260). The translator’s moving from 101.3 to 101.5, and they’ll call it “The One FM 101.5.” The Tennessee Board of Radio-Info.com is talking about Dickson, here. Over in Charleston, West Virginia, GM Mike Buxser of West Virginia Radio Corporation has just begun simulcasting all-sports WSWW (1490) on a translator at 104.5. That’s W283AQ, licensed to Cross Lanes, WV, and getting a spot on the FM band lets Buxser think about adding a local PM drive show – to be called “The Drive.”

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