Watching the Listeners
January 30, 2003 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Have you filled out your Arbitron Diary? Radio watchfrogs Arbitron more or less provide the nooses in which Conglomerations hang themselves with (or, switch formats from R&B to Country.) Perhaps your station is losing "ears" and you'd like to beat that system? First, don't play too much music. It gets in the way. Also, your morning show might want to adopt that old sawtooth sawhorse The Birthday Game! ("People perceive their chances of winning a substantial prize in the Birthday Game to be 1 in 365. Plus, most folks think of their birthday as lucky.") Diarists love it. If you're feeling especially sub-moral you should announce the wrong time to your listeners, a sneaky move deemed Time Warping (PDF) that in effect cuts a hole in the space-time collusion, not to mention your competitor's 'Drive-By' block. Arby's getting wise, though: The new-for-2003 The Portable People Meter, a snap-on privacy preventing prosthetic that records "invisible and inaudible" radio station cues removes that pesky Human Element from the diaries.
posted by neustile (10 comments total)
Well, if you're visiting this Web site, then chances are you've finally received the call—or will very soon.

Arbitron sounds like a robot that makes decisions at random.
posted by eddydamascene at 4:03 PM on January 30, 2003

Have you filled out your Abitron Diary?

No, but I got $9 for saying I would.
posted by Satapher at 4:19 PM on January 30, 2003

I thought the Portable People Meter's audio encoding was pretty trick, though I dunno that "psychoacoustic masking" is going to necessarily make anyone feel good about it.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 5:10 PM on January 30, 2003

Ogre: worked for Fraunhofer, they get a dollar for every mp3 player because of their "psychoacoustic masking!" (Although Arbitron is using it in the inverse direction.)
posted by neustile at 5:42 PM on January 30, 2003


Dammit, I thought we had agreed to go easy on the French for a while. Where's the love?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:58 PM on January 30, 2003

An old roommate and I got Arbitron diaries a few years ago and actually filled them out.
posted by mrbula at 11:11 PM on January 30, 2003

what the hell is "cume" and how is real "cume" different from "'phantom' cume"? (see first link)
posted by clockwork at 12:09 AM on January 31, 2003

clockwork: "Cume" is shorthand for cumulative (I think) listeners/watchers via the diaries, i.e. if your station has a high cume during 5pm, that's good. "Phantom Cume" is when people are listening to your station but don't know the name or frequency!
posted by neustile at 4:03 AM on January 31, 2003

Ahh, the jargon of industrial audience measurement ...

cume: a radio stations cumulative audience, equivalent to a newspaper's circulation.

AQH person: average number of people listening for at least five minutes during a 15-minute period.

TSL: time spent listening = (quarter hours in a time period * AQH persons) / cume persons

AQH rating = (AQH Persons / Population) * 100
posted by marcusb at 8:00 AM on January 31, 2003

I work for a radio station and the archaic Arbitron diary system we have to use is nuts. There is a great deal of promise with the People Meter but it's going to be a long wait, there are plenty of complaints about it's accuracy. It seems that anything would be an improvement though. So many jobs and livelihoods ride on those little damn diaries, it's insane.
posted by Woolcott'sKindredGal at 10:22 AM on January 31, 2003

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