Saturday, December 9, 2006

Air Amerika und radio teilen

This is a most interesting article – but not for the droning, skull-numbing topic. I could not care less about why or even if Air Amerika Radio is going to survive bankruptcy. There is, however, a line towards the bottom of the article worth investigating: ABC Radio informed its stations that they were to black out all ads from almost 90 companies that had bought time from ABC but did “not wish to air on any Air America affiliates.” The list of companies include Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, McDonald's, Cingular, Visa, Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil, the U.S. Postal Service and the Navy.

Why won’t they buy time on Air Amerika? Hewlett-Packard issued a statement explaining that its decision to avoid Air Amerika was based on its desire to steer clear of “inappropriate or controversial programming environments.”

The article gives an insight into why normal companies don’t want to buy time there: “With an almost imperceptible audience, according to the Arbitron ratings, WWRC [the WDC station] …” and “Air America's afternoon host, Randi Rhodes, has been relegated to evenings on WWRC, in good part because Hess believes her show is unrelentingly harsh and bitter. ‘She's got unbridled passion, which is good,’ he says, ‘but my ears are going to bleed after 15 minutes. Man, how about a laugh now and then?’”

Imperceptible ratings and “harsh and bitter” hosts – no wonder advertisers are seeking higher ground for their ad money.

The memo from ABC Radio is below. The image can be enlarged by clicking on it.

Poor Air Amerika. Bu-bye! We barely knew you, and listened even less.

I always give equal time. At least sometimes. Well, rarely if ever actually. But this time I will only because I found something humorous within their logic. Seems that there is a website devoted to those in left field: Liberal Talk Radio. They be ascreamin’ cuz that bastion of lberaldom, Madison, Wisconsin, is dumping its liberal radio station is favor of – God forbid! – Fox Sports Radio.

"When I heard about this, I thought it was a radio stunt," Schultz, known as "Big Ed," said in a phone interview from his office in Fargo, N.D. No, Big Ed, you be going the way of white noise. Speaking of white, did you know that Madison is 84% white? That’s quite a jump from the 75% national average. Seems they have less than a third of the national proportion of Hispanics and less than half of that stat of blacks. Chalk one up for integration!

"Our job is to get ratings," Big Ed said. "Not only our show, but other shows did what was expected of us. It was poor sales management and poor market management, in my opinion. It makes no business sense, and it makes no operational sense either.” It was them, those evil, slimy management types! Yes, sir, Big Ed. Fox Sports has demonstrated numbers nationwide. Those numbers probably outpace yours. Sorry, son.

Schultz says ratings in the Madison market for his show and others were solid; the station posted a 3.7 percent of the overall market share in the summer Arbitron rankings, good for 11th place.

11th place out of 20 stations serving the area. That’s like a losing record, ain’t it?

This last article has a great comment: "I find it puzzling as to the timing given the election results," said Terry Kelly, one of the founding members of the Air America network and a longtime Madison businessman. "There is no business reason that is apparent to me (for the change), therefore, one wonders what the real reasons may be."

One wonders, doesn’t one? Let me tell you what is “puzzling.” I find it puzzling that Mr. Kelly thinks that corporate America responds to anything based upon purely partisan politics and also within 72 hours of an event for which we all know will have little impact. Changing control of the Congress is not that big of a deal, putz. Offices change, the arguments continue.

More? OK! "To me, it's dumbing down the market," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, whose Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation had a Sunday morning talk show in the Madison market. "It's not at all meeting local expectations. Of all the markets in the country, Air America ought to have a Madison affiliate."

“Freedom from religion” with a Sunday morning radio show? Ironic. But the wisdom lies in her final words: if the marketplace demands an Air Amerika affiliate, it will present one. Where’s your checkbook, darling?

Alright already! Enough picking on libs. I know! But it is so fun to listen to the .22 bullet bouncing around inside their empty heads. OKokokokok! Let’s try to learn something here.

What is a radio share, anyway? Those buffoons got a little over 3% of the market in Mad. Does that mean 3% of 400,000 (the regional pop), 12,000 listeners? Au contraire, mein dummkopf! (Two languages in one sentence! It’s like I’m smart like a liberal! Wowee! Let’s see. I gotta try this newfound intelligence out. “Impeach Bush (PBUH)! Tax cuts only make the rich richer! You waited on Katrina aid because the victims were black! Killing people to stop people from killing people is … um … wait … brain freeze … HEY! WAIT! That’s logical! It’s the same reason you neuter cats! Oh, {spit!}, what’s that nasty taste in my mouth?!?)

OK, back to radio share. This article lays out the calculations so that even I, a conservative, can understand it.

You should read the differing measurements (average audience, reach (or cumulative audience), share, duration, impressions, frequency (average and distribution), and loyalty), but here is the focus for us: “Audience share is a different kind of measure altogether. Both average audience and reach are counts of people. Audience share, though always expressed as a percentage, is not a percentage of people, but of person-hours. It's easy to forget this, but try not to! Take the statement "FM99 has a 40% share of the radio audience in this area." That means: out of every 100 hours that people in the area spend listening to radio, FM99 has 40 of those hours. That does not mean it has a reach of 40%. The reach could be a lot more or (more likely) a lot less, depending on the number of stations in the area, and how long people spend listening to each station.

“Think of it like this: if you add together the shares for all stations in an area, the total is always 100%. That's why it's called audience share. It can be calculated for a single quarter-hour, a time zone, a day, a week, or any time period. No matter how few people are listening to radio at a given time (e.g. 4 a.m, when audiences are usually tiny), the share for all stations will always add to 100%.”

So, what do we distill from these tidbits? With a 3% share, for every one hour folks are tuned to Lib Radio in Lib-Central Mad, there are 32 hours being heard elsewhere. The actual number of folks listening isn't given that I could find, but since not everyone listens to radio (start with a 94% reach and work downward), the people actually hearing you all in Mad is waaaaay down the food chain to just a couple of thousand folks. It must suck to be you.

Lib Radio reminds me of Pauline Kael's quote in 1972. Expressing her disbelief that he had just won re-election in a landslide (49 states), she said, "I don't know anyone who voted for Nixon." In similar fashion, but for inopposite reasons, I don't know anyone that listens to Lib Radio. Apparently not many people in Mad do either.

OK, enough learning.

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