Ratings release season is upon us again and the statisticians are out in force. According to a story from Inside Radio:
“No significant loss of listeners to satellite” from (Howard) Stern’s defection.
Katz researcher Maggie Hauck says “Howard Stern listeners have stuck with terrestrial radio despite all the hype.” They mostly turned to new options on the AM/FM dial. What Katz finds is that the total audience — Persons Using Radio — didn’t shrink in the Winter Arbitrons released yesterday. It was off 2% in New York, Long island and Chicago, and 1% in L.A.
Persons Using Radio isn’t the issue. Let’s look at the time spent listening trend. Is there a difference between 1,000 people listening for 2 hours and 1,000 people listening for one hour when it comes to advertising? The lower the time spent listening the more difficult it becomes to reach a radio listener with adequate frequency.
And even though the number of people using radio in New York, Long Island, Chicago and L.A. are down, advertisers in those cities may take solace from knowing that overall, the audience didn’t shrink.
I am reminded of a quote from the late Dr. Neil Postman in "Technopoly." “We must keep in mind the story of the statistician who drowned while trying to wade across a river with an average depth of four feet. That is to say, in a culture that reveres statistics, we can never be sure what sort of nonsense will lodge in people’s heads.”