Thursday, February 11, 2010

PPM and College Radio

I was looking at the ratings for Boston this morning and I noticed something I didn't expect. WFNX only had a 0.8 share. They've been the big rock station in Boston for more than a decade and now they can't muster a 1-share. But the PPM books have had some outliers and odd results. Overall PPM seems to be more accurate. So when it's results don't jive with an assumption you have to reconsider your assumptions.So when I saw that WERS had a 0.9 Share... that was something that had to be reconciled. can a college station out-draw a commercial station? Hypothetically it's possible, it seems improbably when you think about marketing budgets but programming really is everything. In Boston WODS, an Oldies station is the number 1 station. That' s also unusual. So I took a look at the other PPM markets looks for this result. PPM is currently in the following 16 markets: Philadelphia, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Washington DC, Detroit, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, and San Diego.

To preface this I'll say now that I excluded NPR talk and Classical as they obviously demo differently than rock. In New York, WSOU, WFUV, WFMU and WFDU don't even book WBGO came in at the bottom with a 0.3. That pattern continues almost without exception. In San Francisco KCSM gets a 0.5, in Dallas KEOM 0.6, in Houston KTSU 0.5, in Atlanta WCLK 0.5, in Philly WXPN has a 1.5, narrowly bested by WRTI with a 1.6, KPLU scored a 2.2 in Seattle, Minneapolis KCMP 1.6, and in San Diego KSDS got a 1.3.

Of that entire set of stations all are jazz except for three: Both KCMP and WXPN are AAA and KEOM runs a Hot AC mix of sorts. KEOM, while it's book was respectable was still dead last in it's market. WERS leans hard toward Triple A, and it's rating was comparable to the other two, thsi level of scrutiny proves little. The outlier could be instead a consistent and repeatable sampling problem. But, perhaps this is real and can set a new bar for non-commercial stations. Maybe they can compete on their own terms.


  1. Pennywhistler10:57 AM

    I'm rather confused here. You are comparing "college stations" with commercial station, then say you will exclude popular NPR talk and classical stations.

    But then you include NPR jazz stations - which are also "apples and oranges" with commercial rock stations.

    And you don't factor in wattage and coverage.

    As to New York, WSOU broadcasts 3000 watts from South Orange, New Jersey, and barely reaches NYC. And WFMU hasn't been a college station since May 31, 1995.

    And you don't factor in on-line listening - which is significant for many of these stations (though I realize you ARE only talking about PPM results).

    So what's your point, exactly?

  2. I didn't factor in wattage and coverage because it was a list exclusively of major stations in major markets. I'm not parsing out 100 watt college stations in market 254. Brevity matters in bloggery so I avoided getting bogged down in the engineering data.

    As a former resident of New York I can tell you that WSOU does reach Manhattan and much of the metro. It doesn't cover all of it, but neither does WDHA and WHTG who do appear in the book. WFMU 's status as a "college" station is irrelevant since it's still a non-com and is unarguably eclectic. Your objections seem ancillary.

    I'm making the point that previous to PPM none of this data was publicly available. More over, PPM is indicating that non-coms, outside the the standard NPR mold can get real ratings, even perhaps outstripping some commercial stations; as WERS did.