I haven’t managed to do a lot of radio writing lately.
It’s a shame; the last time I really covered the business in this blog in any real deep detail, KSTP was still a conservative talk station, more or less; KTLK was still following some idiot consultant’s advice and steering toward the middle of the road. WCCO had changed little in decades; Air American Minnesota was still a contender at the low end of the ratings scale with WWTC (where I broadcast, then and now).
More importantly, perhaps? Radio ratings back then were measured by Arbitron, more or less the same way they were measured back in the sixties. Abritron would mail out diaries to carefully selected users, who would spend a few months filling out everything they listened to on the radio, in quarter-hour increments.
Today? KSTP went sports-talk last year; KTLK went conservative; WCCO is poking around looking for a new identity now that the audience that kept them on top for decades slowly fades from demographic signficance.
And the big news? Ratings are now largely done with “Personal People Meters”, devices that people carry around that “hear” radio stations, and pick up on an inaudible code in the signal the stations transmit. It’s a little controversial – it favors the kinds of music stations that people just leave on as background music (“Jack FM” and WLTE “The Lite FM” are particularly strong under PPM), while shorting stations that have more purposeful listeners (like, say, talk radio).
But all that is background noise to the real news in the Holiday 2010 PPM ratings. AM1280 is the #22 station in the market (in the relatively meaningless “all listeners age 12+” category. The cool part, of course, is the numbers; notice the “cume”, or cumulative audience, for the period. WWTC gets statistically the same ratings as Hubbard’s “Chick Talk 107” with about 40% of the audience, and 2/3 the numbers that the 100,000 watt KTLK-FM gets with about 1/5 the listeners.
What that means is that the Patriot’s listeners are loyal – especially on the weekend, where the key measurement is called “Time Spent Listening”. The average KTLK listener tunes in for twenty-odd minutes; the typical Patriot listener is well over 45 (and, on the Northern Alliance, the average listener, statistically, listens for about an hour every hour).
And KTNF, the former Air America station? It’s dropped to a 0.4 share. Almost too low to measure. Almost into “dead skunk bounce” territory.
I guess Ed Schultz doesn’t reel ’em in like he used to.