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New Year’s Resolutions for Programmers

January 11, 2024

How’s that for a click bait title? This is not going to be a blog about making resolutions. I don’t make them and according to Google, 63% of you don’t, as well.

If you’re in a PPM market – and you are not the one station that went all merry and bright – the December and Holiday books fall in the “meh” category.  Rather than do a deep dive into surveys that are somewhat skewed, take a broader look at your market and your station(s). Here are a few things to look at:

INDEXING: Nielsen is one of your biggest budget line items. However, you do not pay them for ratings, you pay them for sample. Are they delivering adequate sample, especially in the demos you most care about? In a perfect world every demo, ethnicity, and sampling unit would index at 100. We do not live in a perfect world. Ideally, all indexes should fall between 90 and 110. Anything between 80 and 120 is acceptable, if not optimal. If a sample falls outside of that range, it is time to raise the red flag.

PUMM: We have seen cume rising close to pre-pandemic levels. How’s PUMM (Persons Using Measured Media) doing in your market? Chances are the time spent listening or actually AWTE (Average Weekly Time Exposed) is not where it once was. Knowing how much time your target demo is spending with all of radio will help you gauge the health of your station. We find that most successful stations that target A25-54 will have a weekly AWTE of around two hours. However, that can vary dramatically depending on the market AWTE.

TUNE IN: As you are likely aware, AWTE is composed of two factors – occasions and durations. Durations tend to be somewhat static, but you can affect occasions. Check your recycling. Are you getting at least 50% of your cume to vertically recycle? What about the dayparts? Where is your cume congregating? This is where you want to focus your recycling efforts. Adding one occasion a week can greatly impact your overall share.

P1: If you subscribe to PD Advantage, you should regularly run the P1 reports. This is your fan base and if they’re happy, you’re happy.

DEMOS: What is driving your ratings? Do you have a high-performing cell? Does that cell have low cume but high AWTE? You could be overly dependent on a household or two. We see this all the time. If you’re in this situation, you could be heading for a cliff when that household times out of the panel. Our proprietary Exact Age report will show you your strengths along with those of your chief competitors.

ZIP CODES: Two things to keep in mind when looking at your zip codes. First, Nielsen does not sample by zip code. They focus on sampling units. Second, zip codes tell you where your listeners live, not where they might be listening. That said, knowing what zip codes are generating the most AQH can be an effective tool for both programming and sales. If you want to get a full picture of market listening by location, you should get our proprietary Hot Zip Report.

All of the above information is readily, if not easily, available in your suite of Nielsen offerings. However, we can streamline that process for you and save you the time it takes to dig up all this data. Plus, our 30+ years of experience and national scope will help you gain deeper insight into your ratings success (or lack thereof).

We’d be happy to show you how all this works.

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant