It has been just over 4 days since my first post regarding the format change at WBOS. I have had more than 2000 page views and about 100 comments (just for the record.)
The Boston Globe picked up the story. It discusses the situation from a ratings perspective, provides some insight on audience measurement, and includes a rather vanilla/safe comment from Buzz Knight, VP of Program Development for Greater Media. Is that it, Buzz?
Here is an excerpt from the article discussing the new Portable People Meters:
‘However, analysts said, the station, which had played soft rock since 1989, may be anticipating the next stage in ratings technology. Arbitron’s Portable People Meters, which are being used in New York, Philadelphia, and other markets, are scheduled to be unveiled in Boston in 2009. These passive, hand-held devices are considered more accurate than the traditional diaries, which rely on people reporting listening habits. In cities where the meters have been launched, they have resulted in a boost for rock radio, according to Chicago-based media analyst David Lange of McVay Media.
But the meter data also show listeners changing stations when songs stop: “The whole role of the disc jockey is changing,” Lange said. “The audience is very trigger-happy.”‘
In other words, they want to make sure they are in position to have a good market share when they switch rating systems.
Point of clarification – it really makes no sense to say that the people meters resulted in a boost for rock radio. Rather, the people meters are responsible for highlighting the existence of behavior that was, perhaps, previously unrecognized. So, the behavior didn’t change, just the method of data collection. Since they haven’t put them in Boston yet, can they be sure that our city will have the same result?
On another note, it is obvious that people would be inclined to change the station when the music stops…Is that proportion consistent across radio stations? What about those with loyal fan bases? I don’t know what proportion of the WBOS listener base was loyal, but I can’t recall changing the station too much during commercials. Usually, my switching was based on other motives…such as I feel like listening to NPR or some classic rock, or I didn’t like the song they were playing. Hey, that’s just my experience. I have no idea whether I represent the average listener or not. Hopefully WBOS tapped into these types of behaviors before making the change.
All I know is that Greater Media trashed a really great fan base that included a lot of high income professionals. Even with a small market share, if I had a strong base of listeners and filled a void in the marketplace, I would have tried to build on/expand on it rather than eliminate it and start over.
Is there a considerable amount of latent demand for the type of music they are now playing? And, aren’t there already quite a few similar sounding stations? Essentially, they are now fighting for market share with well established players who do it better. That’s going to be tough. Good luck WBOS now Radio 92.9. If it doesn’t pan out for you and you want to come back to us, just realize that it could take a lot to win us back this time.
Lastly, here is a great post from another blogger who apparently is having the same experience.