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All Hail the Meterkeeper

April 3, 2014

In 1980, I was working at a Washington, DC radio station and my program director said, “I don’t care how many people are listening to my radio station, I care how many diarykeepers think they are listening to my station.” While still true in diary markets, this philosophy needs to be updated for PPM.

“I don’t care how many people are listening to my radio station, I care how many meterkeepers are exposed to my station.”

While the term “exposed” will be addressed shortly, the real thrust is that a small portion of your market determines your ratings success or failure. By not focusing on Nielsen’s panelists, you may be programming a great station with terrible ratings. It’s like having a great curve ball, but not knowing where the strike zone is.

So what do you do? Program Directors need to think like marketers. Since terrestrial radio is free, you cannot attract listeners on price. You need to market to the listeners who count, the meterkeepers. If the meterkeepers are not listening, you have failed.

Fish where the fish are. There are tools available that can help you target that small segment of the population that keeps a meter. Knowing where the meters are, and when they are tuned into radio, is key to your success. A quick analysis of meterkeeper locations and peak listening times will help you snag those valuable listeners at the right time.

Another thing to keep in mind: not all meterkeepers are created equal. A smart programmer is going to focus on those meterkeepers who count. Are they in a desirable demographic group, and do they have a propensity to tune to your format? There is no need to market to a meterkeeper who will not help your audience grow in your desired demographic group.

Finally, some focus on just getting that five minutes of exposure. While that will help your cume, it will have less of an impact on your AQH. Once you have gotten them to your radio station, the key to ratings success is getting them to stay longer, but more importantly getting them to come back numerous times. Building occasions will grow your time spent listening and therefore your AQH.

There is really no secret to this. Invite people to listen, and then give them what they expect.

If you need help strategizing, the experts at Research Director, Inc. can help. Contact us here.

-Charlie Sislen, Partner