Here’s a dilemma for you: Arbitron lists non-commercial stations in the book in its monthly Portable People Meter (PPM) reports, but not in its quarterly reports for diary markets.
Since Arbitron began to publish the PPM ratings of non-commercial stations, we’ve been able to see the impact that non-comms have on the radio listening landscape. For example, NPR programming is in the top-five rankers in many of the PPM markets, especially during drive times. But if you’re not in a PPM market, you need to subscribe to Arbitron’s additional services like Maximiser or Tapscan to see how non-comms play into your market’s total radio listening. Public stations that subscribe to Arbitron ratings through the Radio Research Consortium (RRC) can see how they did in the Arbitron ratings in diary markets.
Even after subscribing to additional Arbitron products in diary markets, one needs to select the “All Stations” option in Arbitron’s Maximiser and/or Tapscan in deciding which stations are displayed. True to its name, the “All In The Book” default option shows only stations listed in the book.
So if listing non-commercial stations is a good thing in PPM markets, why isn’t it good in diary markets? Obviously, rankers look better when non-commercial stations don’t appear. Power ratio calculations delete non-commercial and out-of-market stations. Nonetheless, non-commercial stations often are front-and-center in the PPM ratings.
Non-commercial stations provide important programming. Shouldn’t station management in diary rated markets readily know what percentage of News/Talk listening goes to NPR; how much listening a creative Adult Album Alternative or college station garners; or even what percentage are listening to the non-commercial religious station?