Measuring creative work is like trying to gauge the height of the tallest building with an inch tape or, better still, trying to figure out how much water there is in the sea with the help of a tea cup! It’s foolish to have such measuring devices on radio. As a listener or an advertiser, I would back my instinct and experience when investing in a station and not a rating chart.
A few big players in the radio circuit are disciples of R.A.M (radio audience measurement). It’s a service that tells you if you are on top or a flop. It gives you data on the average number of listeners tuned into a particular station on an hourly basis. The process used to deliver such judgements is so advanced that, at some point of time, NASA will use the same method to find out if there is water on Mars.
Now here’s how it’s done. If you are one of the chosen few selected for the measurement, then a state-of-the-art ‘diary’ will be handed to you. This is your power and, as the old Spidey saying goes, with ‘great power comes great responsibility’. With deep breaths and ears wide open, you have to put a tick mark beside the name of the station you are listening to. This, at the end, decides which the most sought-after station is.
Stations that do take this seriously are kidding themselves. There are times when personnel from the sales and creative teams, and even presenters, are shown the door based on the numbers from this circus. How can a few thousand decide on what eight million people are listening to? If this is an indicator device, then the method used to measure the audience has to be more advanced.
Do stations that subscribe get better ratings on R.A.M? If that be the case, then it’s a fix right there. It’s the sound of the station that decides who is on top of the leader board, not measurement methods that are amusing and not reflective. See you next week.
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The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.