Our Annual PD Salute

Every year the Thanksgiving holiday brings us together with (non-radio) family and friends and reminds us just how odd our business can sound to folks. We’ve written about describing diaries to non-radio people – folks trying to remember their listening for a week and writing it all down in a pamphlet. Of course, this leads to a discussion of PPM methodology, inevitably ending with friends asking, “Why don’t they use smartphones?” and “What about when you’re using earbuds?!” Indeed.

Never mind the per person value ascribed to each diary or meter or the challenges of getting the PPM codes picked up at all. After talking about PD’s who become violently ill facing the new ratings data, I describe PPM market PD’s having their Sunday mornings ruined as they wait for the raw numbers from Media Monitors (and then having to model/estimate/guess how the actual numbers will reflect that early indication when they’re released … three weeks later).

I always end up telling a few radio war stories from the pre-consolidation days. Banners towed by plane over a competitor’s outdoor event. Deflated inflatables. Showing up with the station van outside a competitor’s music test. Billboards posted on the daily commute routes of competing GM’s and PD’s. Visits from the Secret Service (some over talk-show comments, one over full-size $100 bills shown on a direct mail piece). It is a colorful business.

It’s talking about the instability of the ratings and the nomadic lives of many PD’s that cause people to ask, “Why do they take those jobs?” I talk about the money in the best cases. I talk about the opportunities to mingle with music stars and celebrities. I talk about stations serving listeners during emergencies, staying on the air through hurricanes and snowstorms; the camaraderie of bunking in at the station. I talk about it still being fun to do (some of the time, at least). And I talk about the satisfaction of meeting listeners at station appearances, hearing how deeply ingrained stations have become in their lives.

And so we salute the crazy people living with Nielsen-based uncertainty every moment of every day: Program Directors. We love you all.

At the top of the new year we’re fielding our 15th Ratings Prospects Study. And we’re asking for your input on what new questions you’d like us to explore in that study of over 3,000 respondents. You’ll find a short survey at: nuvoodoo.com/rps15. The questionnaire includes a page gathering your interest in areas we’ve looked at in the past. On the second and final page, there’s ample opportunity to weigh in open-ended about what you’d like us to cover in the new study. You should be done in less than five minutes.

Over the past 14 studies, we’ve studied what digital channels get used most by likely Nielsen ratings participants, the radio station marketing messages that have actually caused them to change their listening and what motivates them to participate in the radio ratings to begin with. We’ll continue to dive deep on trends with Smart Speakers, the best contest prizes and the best contest-activation methods. And for our 15th study, we want to incorporate as many of your questions as we can: nuvoodoo.com/rps15.