Have you heard B98.5's sweeper saying more people are listening to B98.5 than any other Atlanta station?
That probably sounds dishonest to a lot of people who look at the Arbitron 6+ shares online. But it's totally true. While B98.5 is #3 in average share, the Cox AC station is #1 in cume, the number of different people who listen to the station over a week. Most media buyers pay more attention to average quarter-hour than cume, but puffery has long been a part of advertising and promotion.
Contemporary music stations have always had large cumes and high turnover ratios, meaning the size of the cume compared to the average quarter-hour. In the 1960's and 1970's, many markets had out-and-out wars between two Top-40 stations, and their young listeners were notorious "dial twisters."
All News is another format that has always had a high turnover ratio, and for an obvious reason. The old WINS/New York slogan of "You give us 22 minutes, we'll give you the world" explains why.
When Arbitron launched its Portable People Meter, AC stations showed up with huge cumes. And a big reason for that was listening in the workplace. With the old system, people listening to a radio at work would report their station in the diary.
With the PPM, however, if someone other than the Arbitron respondent has a radio loud enough for the respondent's meter to pick up, that station will receive credit. Moreover, if a station is played on an office-wide speaker system with enough volume, it will be recorded even if the PPM carrier does not consider himself or herself to be listening.
The at-work hours have always been important to stations for a couple of reasons. First, radios in the office tend to stay on one station for the day, adding substantial Time Spent Listening. Second, diary keepers in cubicles adjacent to a radio might write down the station they heard in the survey. With the PPM's advent, however, at-work listening became an even higher-stakes game.
In the January and February PPM's averaged together, B98.5's weekly cume exceeded Star 94, #3 in cume, by 37%. (V-103 was #2 and closer in number to Star 94 than to B98.5.)
There are some good reasons for that. B98.5 is played in offices, restaurants and retail businesses far more than any other station. AC is the format that does not offend anyone, as the stations like to say.
Jordan Graye has been the bedrock of middays on B98.5 for years, and her delivery seems just perfect for places of business. Importantly, B98.5 is widely perceived as the station appropriate for employees and customers alike. B98.5 does not even need the faux election that we all used to make fun of several years ago.
Here's something to think about, however. Only 3 stations in the market have a cume of at least a million a week, B98.5, V-103 and Star 94. So looking at the numbers without thinking about the reasons makes Star 94 look like it's within striking distance.
Star 94 PD Scott Lindy knows workplace listening is the big advantage that B98.5 has over his station. While the above factors probably will keep Star 94 from ever beating B98.5 at the office, anything Star could grab would help narrow the gap in both cume and, greatly impacted by cume, average quarter-hour.
Star has long promoted workplace listening with sweepers telling employees that they are listening to "Star 94 at work." In recent weeks, however, more aggressive attempts to increase listening on the job have hit the air. Workday ticket giveaways have been featured, such as "Maroon 5 Monday."
The call-in times for Star 94's major promotion, a chance to win a designer purse with a prize inside, are spread out to keep people tuned in through the entire workday. The contest strategy includes some quarter-hour maintenance, with the mystery prize in the next purse revealed 30 minutes prior to the giveaway.
Lindy has programmed Star 94 into an excellent-sounding station, in many minds at least as good as B98.5. With the station's sound in place, aggressively going after workplace listening is a smart and logical next step.
Thanks for reading. I would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/atlantaairwaves, and we'll follow you back.
Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV blog: http://blogs.ajc.com/radio-tv-talk/.
Atlanta Radio Insider: http://atlradioinsider.blogspot.com/.