Stop Looking at Share


The session Carolyn Gilbert, PJ Kling, and I presented at the All Access Audio Summit 2023 last week focused on growing the next tenth of a rating point for stations. Moneyball for Radio involved seven steps, but the most important item was #1 “Stop Looking at Cher Share.” In that initial section we pleaded that programmers stop looking at AQH Share and pay attention to AQH Rating.

When 90%+ of all key demos really did use radio and levels of PUMM and PUR were more robust – and radio didn’t face the tremendous competition of internet-delivered audio and other digital audio it faces now – AQH Share was a fine metric. For starters, AQH share is a more sensitive accurate measurement – there are more digits. In the Top 20 market example we showed two weeks ago (using numbers among Adults 25-54 for weekday prime in the February monthly), stations are mostly playing for a rating between 0.2 and 0.5. That’s not very precise or very sensitive. A significant lift in AQH might boost your AQH Share from a 3.7 to a 5.0, but both shares equate to a 0.3 AQH Rating.

If you run the Weekly Cume and Average AQH Rating for a PPM, you’ll likely see something like the example below. The numbers show weekday prime estimates (M-F 6A-7P) from the February 2023 month in a top 50 market. Weekly Cume for the market is just over 67% for Adults 18+ and just over 55% for Men 18-34.

AQH Shares for all stations (not shown here) total 100%, but AQH Rating – the Average Quarter Hour audience for radio as a percentage of the population – is 5.5%. The top 10 market example we showed in our session had the total listening for the market at a 6.6 AQH Rating. What are the numbers like in your market? Are you targeting the demos most likely to help you grow your ratings?

If the Weekly Cume numbers shown in the example above are shocking, take a closer look at the AQH Ratings for the market. Remember, this is weekday prime, Monday-Friday 6 AM – 7 PM.

If you were in this market, would you spend more time courting Men 25-34 or Men 35-44? Some sales teams are having success marketing 55-64 listening, citing the tremendous purchasing power of that demographic. The numbers above show, however, that just because those older Gen Xers and younger Baby Boomers were long-time radio listeners, doesn’t mean they remain as faithful today. Before you decide to stake the farm on Adults 55-64, make sure you know the reality in your market.

There’s merit in the assumptions that increasing ratings are good, declining ratings are bad, and steady ratings depend on where you start. BUT … knowing the specifics for your market, grounding yourself in the realities of AQH Rating, and understanding the numbers that are most important from the perspective of your sales team are all mission critical in 2023. Every listener is precious, and every new listener is worth their weight in gold.

Many have asked about the “special sauce” mentioned by our marketing guru, PJ Kling. As he mentioned, it’s only available for Nielsen subscribers in PPM markets. If you want the details, reach out to him at