Friday, January 16, 2009

KDLE is dead, long live KDLE

At 10:00 am on January 15th the radio station known as Indie 103 KDLE (and simulcast KDLD) began stunting. normal programming ended and they played the song "My Way" as recorded by Frank Sinatra. Then came the announcement. Audio below.

It goes something like this:
"This is an important message for the Indie 103.1 Radio Audience -Indie 103.1 will cease broadcasting over this frequency effective immediately. Because of changes in the radio industry and the way radio audiences are measured, stations in this market are being forced to play too much Britney, Puffy and alternative music that is neither new nor cutting edge. Due to these challenges, Indie 103.1 was recently faced with only one option -to play the corporate radio game..."
The claim is spurious. Idolator had a pretty good article somewhat debunking the claim. But here's the basic facts. For the last year KDLE has had a 0.4 share on average, and peaked at a 0.6 share. With the launch of PPM they've dropped to a literal 0.0 share. The numeral is real. The claims against PPM are iffy.

Complaints that the PPM system relies on too small a sample are also sketchy. The entire LA market relies on a sample of 2,800 meters. A couple state attorney generals have sued over similar complaints. But the truth is that the diary system while it may have provided a larger sample it was a bad sample. It was error prone, and biased. The system's basic function relied on human memory and honesty. once the raw data is that flawed, no amount of sampling, skewing, averaging or auditing can fix it.

Nobody claims the diary data was better, only that it was different. Inevitably the complaints of the PPM system are stations who have lost market share. The accuracy gap between the two is better gauged by Nate Silver than any of the office weasels currently making bald statements. (Please save us Nate!) the history of ratings data shows the same reaction. Every time the data improves, someone complains. That someone is whoever's ratings went down.

My problem is with this phrase "Because of changes in the radio industry and the way radio audiences are measured." That's crap. A 0.4 share is nothing to be proud of. The ratings were bad, they got worse. A 0.4 share is the stake in the ground they're defending in the face of PPM. Only 5 stations rank below it in the most recent book: three religious talkers, a spanish sports talker, and a country station in an adjacent market. That said, I quite enjoy the format. I just don't delude myself into thinking that it's popular enough to be commercially viable.

****UPDATE 01-19-09****
You didn't think I'd stop there did you? On the 16th just minutes before midnight, Indie 103 made the big switch, ending a year of alternative rock for "El Gato" a Regional Mexican playlist. With the demographics of the metro it inevitably will outperform Indie 103, but it's a sad day nonetheless. The only question that remains for me is whether of not it will survive online. In prior years Y100 and WOXY have tried to survive online to mixed results.

I will however give them points for the most abrupt flip ever. They played "Gimmie Gimmie" by Black Flag then after a quick noise effect and a couple samples BANG it was all tuba and espanol. Audio below: