Fresh from the Portable People Meters: July radio ratings

Probably way too wonky for a Friday afternoon, but the July Arbitron numbers are out, marking the fourth month under the new Portable People Meters.

Here are the charts and brief comments, beginning with the biggest measure of listenership — the share of radio listeners aged 6 and over, 6 a.m. to midnight. (Talk stations are in blue; public radio in green):

Although it’s a bit dangerous to compare year-ago numbers (diairies measured people 12+; PPMs take it to 6+), MPR News is showing some nice growth in its total audience in June and July; as noted in a previous column, May contained a pledge drive, and we’ll expect to see such listenership slides now that ratings are out every month instead of every quarter.

Conservative talker KTLK rebounded from a tough May and June. On the music side, KQ is slipping a bit (but have a long way to fall), while raunch rockers 93X are growing. KS95, country station K102 and robo-music JACK maintain their PPM era gains.

Now the prime advertising demographic, 25-to-54-year-olds:

League leader KQ’s four-month slide is interesting, and the trends from the previous graph repeat. Overall, a fair amount of stability from June to July.

Next up: the talk radio demographic, men 25-54. First, morning drive:

MPR News got a nice bump and is now above the diary era. KFAN’s Power Trip plus Paul Allen is slumping, while 93X again surges. At the lower end of the rankings, conservative talker the Patriot and liberal talker AM950 have both held on to post-diary gains as the healthcare debate rages.

Finally, evening drive:

KSTP-AM continues to struggle in the Joe Soucheray block; the Twins can’t be helping. KQ’s erosion and 93X’s gains show up starkly here, but both are ahead of diary days.

KFAN’s Dan Barreiro has regained footing after a relatively bad May, MPR News has another strong drive time. Michele Tafoya isn’t wowing the boys this month, but her station is up from a year ago. The Patriot is gaining nicely.

Radio wonks: If you see something else noteworthy, please add your comments.

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Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Patrick Steele on 08/14/2009 - 01:32 pm.

    It would be interesting to see how Mischke’s listenership with Citypages has changed during his run there. Do his numbers on that medium even scratch terrestrial radio?

  2. Submitted by Dean Carlson on 08/14/2009 - 01:36 pm.

    Here’s a question. How deep into the data can radio stations go with this information? For instance, if KQ plays a Journey song, can they figure out if a larger percentage of people switched the station at that given time than normal? Of if Barriero goes on another mind boggling rant and I hit the button to the Current would that get picket up (maybe not personally but in the aggregate?) If that level of detail is there, that’s a powerful tool for programming.

  3. Submitted by AC Jones on 08/14/2009 - 01:38 pm.

    The Twins Cities talk radio market seems oversaturated w/ sameness right now. KFAN and KSTP get more similar each day w/ their sports/politics niche. You could also put The Good Neighbor in this category w/ the airing of Gophers sports, MN Wild, and the hiring of Tafoya.

    KTLK never was able to develop a strong local talker. Limbaugh and Hannity can hold their own, but MN has always been a state that never fully embraced national radio personalities.

    I think MPR got its bump because it doesn’t fall into that sports/politics niche that KFAN, KSTP and WCCO are in right now. Its product stands out a bit more.

  4. Submitted by William Souder on 08/14/2009 - 02:48 pm.

    It appears that except for only a few stations…notably KFAN and KSTP-AM…everybody gained listeners in evening drive time from last year to this summer. Where is this new audience coming from?

  5. Submitted by karl anderson on 08/14/2009 - 03:16 pm.


    I may be wrong, but I don’t think this shows an increase in overall audience. Just an increase within those already listening to radio.

    So if there are 100 people listening to radio, last month KQ may have received 10 share. This month an 8 share. So of those same people, they lost 2 share within the same group. Those 2 they lost may have gone to K102.

    The only way you can show an increase in audience is if they handed out more PP Meters and expanded their survey group.

  6. Submitted by Reggie McGurt on 08/14/2009 - 04:26 pm.

    Do you have more data for the bottom of the barrel stations? I’m interested in what kind of share the freak stations (the only ones I have presets for) get. Like KFAI, Radio K, KBEM, etc.

    I can’t listen to the rest of that garbage. Even MPR gets more watered down every day. Morning Edition is now approximately 40% weather.

  7. Submitted by Jarrett Smith on 08/14/2009 - 04:51 pm.

    Thanks for the info, but now I’ve got “It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flying personal people meter” stuck in my head.

  8. Submitted by Jim Swanson on 08/15/2009 - 08:10 pm.

    The real danger with comparing the latest data with last year is that the two batches were collected with different methodologies. Last year’s survey was administered with the traditional diary and the new survey is the first using the PPM. It’s apples and oranges since the purpose of the PPM is to provide greater accuracy, reflecting the acknowledgement that the diary method possessed many flaws which lead to over-reported and under-reported listening. But Arbitron has been the only game in town so absent an alternative, it has become the standard.

    One likely example of the difference in results is the rise of 93X. Historically, young men, 18-24, always were a difficult demo from which to recruit diary participants (and those who would actually follow through). Without the reliance on diaries being completed and sent in to Arbitron, the station’s increase may be the capture of what has in the past been unreported listening.

  9. Submitted by Norman Larson on 08/17/2009 - 01:58 pm.

    Too many numbers confuse me, and I really do not care, but I guess the stations do so they can charge more for commercials if they get the listenership.

    What about midnight to 6 a.m.? I used to listen to WCCO because I liked Al Malmberg. Then he got canned and some sort-of syndicated man is on. Malmberg, meanwhile, is on KSTP weeknights in the late evening till midnight. Because of baseball, his time period is often quite short, though. Then there is the man who has “Coast to Coast” or whatever it is (formerly Art Bell). On the weekend, the spot is filled by someone who is here in the Twin Cities; he is pretty good. WCCO during that time slot keeps playing reruns of dramas/mysteries. They used to have Brad Walton, but he got canned, too.

  10. Submitted by Jim Swanson on 08/17/2009 - 06:34 pm.


    Arbitron collects data 24 hours a day and that data is available to subscribers of the service – chiefly broadcasters and advertisers/agencies. The company releases (and allows for publication) only the all-inclusive numbers for age 6+ 6am-midnight Mon-Sun. These numbers, practically, mean nothing because they are so broad. They give a general overview to what’s happening and broadcasters use them for bragging rights.

    Any other data, such as the breakouts in the report above, has been provided by those with access to the data, not Arbitron. It’s that data that tells the real stories and is most valued.

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