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Fred Jacobs is President of Jacobs Media, a media research and consulting firm. Jacobs Media clients have included CBS Radio, Premiere Radio Networks, Citadel, Greater Media, MTV Networks, Playboy, Amazon, Electronic Arts, NPR, Sylvan Learning Centers, and Taubman Malls. Learn more about the company here.


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August 2011

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Buzz knight

I must disagree with our old friend Jay.
Big morning shows still live!
Preston and Steve...Drew and Mike all pulling massive numbers.
Not knowing the particulars of Bob Rivers case I can't speak to it..but high quality compelling content still matters in PPM
Yes a short attention span must be considered..but great quality wins!


Buzz, oh wise one, you are of course correct. Some shows have figured it out, made adjustments, and/or continue to deliver great, compelling "must listen to radio" day in and day out. And some sales departments have smoothly made the adjustment from diary to PPM to continue to justify high rates. But as you know, the radio road is now littered with Carolla, Dahl, now Rivers, and many others. Congrats to you and the Greater Media teams for maintaining strong ratings in both services.

Rich Van Slyke


I completely agree. They never did listen as much as diaries gave them credit for. That's why I really admire morning shows who do well with ppm. As far as big salaries, it's simple...if my radio station can make more money, I will gladly pay a fat salary. But in a recession, I have to cut costs.
I'm Bob Rivers, I'm gonna see if any other station will pay me more before I take a pay cut. And to get higher ppm numbers, I would hire a staff of writers, just like Letterman does, so I can keep those ppms glued. I would also take a smaller salary from a station with an outstanding sales team, because ratings aren't enough...it's the billing. Or, I would forget ratings and get into the podcast business. People will always have the need for morning audio


Rich, thanks for the englighteed comments. It's a whole new day, and ratings alone cannot keep the boat afloat, much less make it profitable. The days when that time-honored relationship between ratings and revenue are rapidly coming to a halt. Quality radio + personalities who "get" the revneue struggle + sales reps who can actually sell the concept & quality of shows = success. It is few and far between, which is why today's PPM success stories are all the more impressive. Thanks for taking the time to read our blog and to comment.


Your DH rule does not quite hold up my mentor Fred. Since 1973 the DH rule has made "that" league and how you play the chess pieces almost un-baseball like. Poor wittle pitcher can't hit, put in the big stud. What if it is more like a black and white tv you watched games with your grandpa on, has become full color. The crowd is the same, just looks great. What if the amount of listeners are the same, the people are still there...but the ppm doesn't catch them. Buzz is right...Kidd, Preston and Steve, Paul and Young Ron, Jim and Randy, Tom Barnard, Kerry Jackson, Bill Allred, and Gina Barberi all produce high quality content that wins. Why is it the more we hear that we shouldn't sound like my Ipod, the more personalities disappear? Steve Harmon Baseball NUT


Steve, PPM has separated the great shows from the also-rans. In that regard, there is less room for those middle-ground shows. And yes, the DH rule sucks. Thanks for commenting.

Buzz Brindle

I admit to a certain bias here but I'd submit that MTV didn't cause reduced attention spans but instead responded to them. Although it's nothing like we experience today, the fact is that consumers were being presented with many more entertainment/information options in the late 70s/early 80s than they had been during the 60s and early 70s. Especially in radio, as FM stations became more commercially viable, programming became more focused on audience lifestyles and radio consumers became more accustomed to being button pushers. Burger King was one of the first brands to respond to the What-You-Want-When-You-Want-It consumer attitude with their 1970s "Have It Your Way" advertising campaign.

Regarding morning shows, the diary was all about top-of-mind awareness and recall so shows modeled on Howard Sterns' ensemble approach which de-emphasized music and featured more talk helped to build and reinforce the various characters. Unfortunately, self-discipline tended to go out the window. It's obvious that people still want to hear relevant & interesting personalities during morning drive but, just as during the late 60s when Bill Drake revolutionized Top 40 by requiring on-air talent to be brief, more disciplined & focused with their content, today's personalities will need to develop skills that work within the context of their listeners' expectations and to take advantage of the multi-platform content distribution opportunities.

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