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December 8, 2022

It has been said that radio is not rocket science. However, we can often overcomplicate things. If you program in a PPM market, you know the margins between a great book or a bad one can come down to a handful of meters. Before you pop the cork or revamp all your clocks, take a step back.

There are generally four things that can affect your station’s ratings…

Something You Have Done: Did you just implement a music test? Change your clocks, add or delete commercial-free hours, or run a huge contest? Any personality changes? Remember that you are much more in tune with the workings of your station than the vast majority of your audience. When you are looking under the hood, think macro, not micro. Adding one more recurrent an hour will go largely unnoticed. Changing your morning show will have a larger effect.

Something Your Competition Has Done: This is basically the previous paragraph in reverse. However, do broaden your definition of competition to include stations that are going after the same demos you are. If your target is Women 35-44, you’re fighting it out with several different formats. You should be running regular Tapscan reports so you know which stations share the most audience with you.

Something Big Has Happened in Your Market: The obvious choice is Christmas music. Once the Santa station begins its reign of terror, listeners flock to that frequency from all over the dial. We see big changes with the male audience every year when the football season begins – both college and pro. The same thing can happen when a team goes on a postseason run in baseball. Major weather events will often have an impact as well. Be sure to keep an eye on weekend listening. In a PPM world, there are only four Saturdays and four Sundays in each survey. A long holiday weekend could have an impact on a quarter of your weekend listening.

Something Nielsen Has Done: This is where you need to be tuned into your sample. It appears that the move to wearables has allowed Nielsen to be more consistent with the 6+ sample – at least when compared to the pandemic. That said, no one cares about 6+. The devil is in the demos and this is where you need to know how representative the sample is in the age cells that matter to your station. We have talked about indexing in a previous blog so we won’t get into the detail work here. Suffice it to say you want to make sure you are getting the sample you are paying for.

We help our clients peel back these layers to gain a better understanding of what is happening with their ratings. You (hopefully) have tools at your disposal that can help with this process. The PPM Analysis Tool, PD Advantage, Tapscan, and XTrends can all give you valuable insight. Learn how to use and interpret them.

We would be glad to assist you in this process. Just click here for more information.

BTW – do rocket scientists ever say: “This isn’t radio”?

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant