In my travels and conference calls, many of the same questions continue to crop up:
(Fill in your format of choice below)
How’s the format trending? How is it working in other PPM markets?
What’s the performance difference between diary and PPM?
What’s the gender composition of the format?
Which age group(s) is most important?
What do these listeners do, besides listen to the radio? What do they buy and where do they spend their money?
Do our listeners really text message?
Amazingly, all this information is available in one, nifty little package called “Radio Today.” And it has been for years.
It is produced by Arbitron, it’s free, and it is a treasure trove of information for strategy sessions, sales pitches, and jock meetings. But I’d bet that many of you don’t even know it exists.
Like a lot of the “free” research that Arbitron bankrolls, this is data that has strong industry value, especially at a time when many companies have put the brakes on research.
No, this isn’t music research, nor is it even perceptual data. But for stations that are well-positioned in a given format, there is information here that can help make you and your staff smarter. If you're doing a format search, this is a ratings foundation that can answer key questions BEFORE you order that new logo or jingles.
Here, for example, are a couple of the slides for the Classic Rock format – which by the way – turned 25 years-old this year (based on the first FM station, WMMQ in Lansing). Classic Rock (and its soul mate, Classic Hits) now account for more than 960 AM/FM stations nationally, according to “Radio Today.” (That's more than the number of Active Rock, Alternative, and Triple A stations - combined!)
The format is not only alive and kicking, but continuing to uptrend after all this time. It is a champ in both diary and PPM, and as you can see by the data, very attractive to buyers, advertisers, and local retailers:
Here’s another that speaks volumes about this audience, especially given some of the conversations I have with radio managers about whether Classic Rockers are engaged with new media and technology:
Note the strong indices for texting, video games, and streaming video. It makes a strong case that Classic Rock stations should be providing content on these platforms and investing in these digital tools – because that’s what your audience does.
And with two-thirds of this mature audience shopping online in the past year, it continues to beg the question why more Classic Rock stations aren’t actively setting up online stores right now to sell logoware and merch just in time for the holidays.
Of course, these were some of the questions that jumped out at me when I read “Radio Today.” Maybe you’ll see other highlights or key points.
By the way, there’s a free Public Radio version, too.
Thanks to Ron Rodrigues, Jeff Green, and the team at Arbitron for putting this together, and yes, to Arbitron for continuing to make us smarter.
Or, at least try to make us smarter.