Friday, September 7, 2007


Early results are in on the new PPM (Portable People Meters) from Philadelphia and Houston, and so

far I would have to give them an "A-". I give a "minus" because I don’t believe there is any rating

system that is going to be completely or entirely accurate. That being said, the new Arbitron

electronic monitoring system may be the best available tool for audience measurement now being

offered. One thing for sure, PPMs out-perform the old diary method. I never liked diaries, did not

believe them to be accurate, plus, the methodology was based on erroneous recall of diary

participants. I knew this forty years ago when I was a Program Director in San Antonio, and a day

time Spanish station placed first in the ARB at night! I was suspect of Arbitron diaries when an  

ARB diary keeper came by the station to ask me what it might be worth to be paid for filling out his diary in our station’s favor. I was in dismay when a "book" came in showing an album rock station in

the ‘70's as number one, yet had only three diary keepers in the Men 18-24 category...each one

represented over 30,000! Radio ratings have always been a little "skewed" in some fashion, an

inexact science to be sure. I remember twice in the sixties when C.E. Hooper ratings were taking 

their co-incidental phone call polling to see who was listening to a station in the past fifteen

minutes of their call, I received calls while on the air on our station’s "hotline" (or inside) phone

number from Hooper’s surveyor. Naturally, (and truthfully),I said I was listening to my station.

To think large advertising buys were made off such mis-information. Now, with the new PPM

method, this shouldn’t happen as much. I suppose a rating participant who carries one of these

"page-like" devices could call a station and ask to be remunerated for listening only to that station.

It’s happened before, as in my above recalled story, and people are very clever at

winning prizes or obtaining favors from the broadcast media. I still believe that a ratings participant

knows he or she is a part of something important, and won't necessarily listen the way they normally

would. However,the PPMs have already shown in the early sampling returns, that the diary method

was quite poor indeed, and certainly didn’t follow a radio listener’s every movement of the dial.

This is going to change a lot of things in the way Radio programs, and the way it sells that

programming. A change that’s for the better.

That’s my RadiOpinion, what’s yours?