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Back to Basics: Why Can’t I Add My Station Cumes to Get a Cluster Cume?

March 17, 2022

Wait a minute! What? I can’t do this? They are separate radio stations so why can’t I add the cumes together to get a cluster total?

This is the most common misuse of audience estimates that I have come across during my tenure in the industry. It’s easy to think we can add cume across stations, yet it’s not that simple…

Remember we discussed the meaning of cume in our January Back to Basics post. Cume represents different people over time. Since you can listen to multiple radio stations over time, you cannot add them together. We need to remove any duplication between radio stations. We will cover duplication in a future Back to Basics post, but for now let’s review some other Dos and Don’ts of using audience estimates.

The chart below shows you the nuts and bolts of audience estimates for us to review.


First, you want to keep in mind the terminology basics:

  • AQH represents average people right now and cume reflects different people over time.
  • Ratings are percentages of population and shares are percentages of radio pie.

When considering adding estimates across stations, you can add AQH but not cume. AQH reflects right now. Right now you can only listen to one radio station, yet over time (cume) you can listen to more than one station. You can add any AQH estimates such as Persons, Ratings, and Shares as long as you use the same geography, daypart, and non-overlapping demographics.

Can I add estimates across demographics? Yes, but only for Persons (AQH or Cume). You may add Women 25-54 and Men 25-54 to get Adults 25-54 for the same station. Or you can add 18-34 and 35-54 to get 18-54. The gender or age cells cannot overlap. You cannot add ratings or shares because the base of the percentage is different for each demo. In the first example, the population (or people using radio) is different for Women and Men.

What about dayparts? Can I add morning drive to afternoon drive to get a combined drive time estimate? The rule for dayparts is NO, NO, and NO. People can be listening in multiple time frames, so you do not know the duplication. Good news is that you can create a custom daypart in Tapscan to get the correct estimate you want.

Now you have the basic terms and the nuts and bolts of using estimates. If you need a little more help, you know where to find us. Next month we will discuss the basic terms for selling with qualitative data.

For more info, reach out to us here.

-Karen Morriss, Director of Client Services