When will it stop?

by Russ Hill on March 4, 2010

I can not believe anyone in radio is using 12+ or 6+ numbers when referring to their ratings.  Will you PLEASE let go of the life raft and just go ahead and sink to your death right now?

Can we all agree on one thing please?  Can we acknowledge that traditional media (R-A-D-I-O) is dying?  And, one of the biggest victims of this is TALK radio.  The PPM numbers are NOT inaccurate.  Talk radio is a niche player and we are not bringing new people to the format (at least 95% of talk radio stations aren’t).

Traditional talk radio listeners are old farts.  They’re dying.  And, we’re not replacing them with younger people.

So, why are programmers, hosts, industry writers, and executives of radio companies still quoting 6+ numbers.  Of course, we’ve got a good showing in that demo.  But, only because it includes people over 65!

We’ve got to ADMIT our problem with 25-54 year olds and CHANGE.  Programmers: I know you want to keep your jobs.  GMs: I know you’re concerned about what you’re seeing and don’t know how to solve it.  Corporate types: I know you don’t understand programming and have to watch the spread sheets.

But, we are going to be THE generation that kills radio (and more specifically talk radio) if we don’t first acknowledge that we’re having HUGE problems attracting people 25-40 years old.

Industry trades: I beg you to never publish another 6+ number.  Do what you have to with Arbitron or whomever and start getting the 25-54 numbers and 18-49 numbers.  Start publishing them on spoken word stations.  You will help those at the local level with their challenge of getting the tools they need to change.

Yes, I am very lucky to work at a station that’s one of a handful that do news and talk that are crushing it in younger demographics.  We just got back research that shows we have grown 40% in the last 24 months in 30-44 year olds.  It’s where our greatest growth has come.

I attribute it to a TON of things including: we never looked at 12+ numbers (even when they were the only good numbers we had) and most of our programming has NOTHING to do with politics.

I know there are a few other news/talk stations out there killing it in PPM in these key demos.  They deserve ENORMOUS praise.  But, I don’t think the folks at McDonalds measure how well their company is doing by looking at the performance of 5 franchises.  They look at how the overwhelming majority of them are doing.

In talk radio, most of our franchises look like nursing homes.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

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