» Portland Radio

State of AM Radio Ratings

(10 posts)
  • Started 4 years ago by semoochie
  • Latest reply from RadioBuggie

  1. semoochie

    For most of my adult life, from time to time, when I happen to think about it, I check the ratings in the top 50 markets and figure out how many AM stations showed up in each market's top ten and top five. By the time I got started, AM was already beginning to slide but still looked pretty good. I clearly remember the top ten averaging three stations per market and two for the top five. At that time, it was not uncommon for there to be four to six stations in the top ten and three in the top five. I just checked and the grand total is 34 in the top ten and 16 in the top five! This averages well below one for the top ten and zero in the top five. Of the top 50 markets, there were 20, with no stations in the top ten and 36 with none in the top five. There were however five AM stations that topped their markets. On the other hand, in one market, the top rated AM station had 0.1! This is just total audience. Imagine what 25-54 must be!

    Posted on October 12, 2014 - 02:40 AM #
  2. jr_tech

    Interesting! there is no doubt that AM radio is falling out of favor and has been falling for some time. Of the 5 AM stations that still cling to the number 1 spots in their (top 50) markets, I find:
    KNBR, San Francisco, Market #4, Sports
    WSB, Alanta, Market #9, News/talk
    WKAQ, Puerto Rico, Market #15, News/talk
    KMOX, St. Lewis, Market #22, News/talk
    WLW, Cincinnati, Market #30, News/talk
    Any theories as to why these 5 are still hanging on?

    Posted on October 12, 2014 - 01:33 PM #
  3. San Francisco has lots of hills. Reception might be better for a strong AM signal.

    Posted on October 12, 2014 - 02:14 PM #
  4. Alfredo_T

    I recall that the introduction of the Portable People Meters changed things around quite a bit. Spoken word formats (most likely to be AM) went down. AC or country formatted stations skyrocketed.

    Another thing that I recall was that KGO was #1 in San Francisco until their format change a few years ago. (Sorry, but I pine for the old KGO).

    Posted on October 12, 2014 - 04:53 PM #
  5. RadioBuggie

    Yeah, what HAPPENED to ol' 'KGO' anyway? -- I mean, c'mon!...

    Posted on October 12, 2014 - 05:24 PM #
  6. Alfredo_T

    They killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. :(

    Posted on October 12, 2014 - 07:41 PM #
  7. semoochie

    The diary exaggerated "time spent listening" in a variety of formats and the natural aging of News/Talk and lack of interest among the target audience sealed its fate.

    Posted on October 12, 2014 - 10:30 PM #
  8. Andy_brown

    Diaries were a sham, plain and simple. Horribly inaccurate because people didn't really keep them in real time. PPM's fixed this problem, but because of their huge expense, the sample size in any market is now too small, so they too are circumspect for accuracy. I understand the power of ratings, especially since the death of good radio and the rise of the corporate garbage we have now, but even in the old days the ratings were never convincing and they haven't gotten better. In fact they may be worse.

    •Radio’s actual problem with ratings in the 1990s was one of inadequate sample size: With Arbitron using only a few thousand diaries in a given market per book, a 4.0-share radio station could gain or lose up to a full share point per book simply due to margin of error. (I used to have a slide show — literally 35mm slides; this was before PowerPoint — using a “Marbles in a Swimming Pool” analogy that illustrated the effects of standard error on a research finding.)

    •AccuRatings was a product designed to solve the sample size problem: Developed with researchers like Amy Vokes (now at Radio One), Gregg Peterson (now at Market Strategies International), and Tripp Eldredge (now at DMR), it was based on a brief telephone interview that allowed us to use a sample size that was typically three to four times larger than Arbitron’s. (And it had a higher response rate than diaries did, so its findings were likely more representative of the general population.)

    •Consolidation largely killed AccuRatings: We were successfully measuring most the top 70 markets in America, but as Clear Channel, under Randy Michaels, kept acquiring more and more of our station clients, Randy insisted that those stations drop Strategic Media Research and switch to a research company that he himself personally owned. (We admittedly made a few mistakes in management hiring, too.)

    •Arbitron’s introduction of Portable People Meters (PPMs) solved the wrong problem: Diaries weren’t being filled out precisely to the minute (in fact, lots of respondents filled out their diaries in one sitting at the end of the week), and PPMs “fixed” this problem, but because meters were so much more expensive than paper diaries (hundreds of dollars vs. maybe a dime), Arbitron used far fewer of them per market. So the sample size issue got *worse,* not better!

    •More importantly, PPMs introduced a much bigger problem: While people’s entries of their listening behavior in diaries no doubt were somewhat inaccurate, they were inaccurate *in radio’s favor*! In the markets where PPMs were intro used, overall radio listening per Arbitron dropped something like 25%. Nationally, using a mix of PPM and diary markets, radio listening appeared to drop 15%.

    Posted on October 13, 2014 - 12:29 AM #
  9. greenway

    KNBR's success is due to the simple fact that it is the home of San Francisco Giants baseball and has dynamic local hosts pretty much all day. Large market ...

    Posted on October 15, 2014 - 05:57 AM #
  10. RadioBuggie

    You got it greenway! Good station -


    Posted on October 15, 2014 - 08:51 AM #