Good news for fans of Lisa May, formerly heard as part of the Kevin and Bean morning show on KROQ (106.7 FM) throughout much of its history. You may recall that traffic reporter/sidekick May -- and newsman Doc -- were unceremoniously dumped from the program they helped build back in February.
May has landed on her feet, with the help of KLOS (95.5 FM). Station owner Cumulus Media announced late last week that May would join the program as a traffic reporter and “contributor” beginning May 11.
Contributor? Kind of a catch-all, since May did, and does, mush more. Explains KLOS programmer Keith Cunningham: “May isn’t just a traffic reporter or female sidekick, she’s a radio brand and she’s beloved by Southern California radio listeners. She’ll be doing a lot more than traffic and we can’t wait to get her in the building.”
This is not the first time May has been on with the morning duo. In March, she was on with Heidi and Frank to do the sendoff she was not allowed to do before being let go from KROQ. It appears that this accidental audition got things in motion that led to her being added to the show permanently.
If you happened to hear the program this week (which airs weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m.), let me know what you think. Personally I think she can only add to the program.
Problems at Neilsen
When Arbitron Ratings initially released the Portable People Meter, the claim was that radio station ratings would be far more accurate than ever before.
Unlike the old days which used a diary system in which people would write their listening habits down in a diary, often much later than the listening actually took place, PPM would measure actual listening as it happened. People agreeing to wear a meter would wear it all day, the meter would pick up audio in the environment, and as long as the station encodes their audio with a special signal, the PPM can decode listening habits. Instant ratings, accurate down to the minute. Or so they say.
Problems started surfacing even before Arbitron was bought by the Nielsen Company. Were there enough PPMs in the field? Probably not, as one meter counts for as many as 2500 listeners ... or more. I don’t recall the total number of PPMs in the field for Los Angeles, but I do recall being shocked at how low it is.
Worse, Arbitron still “weights” particular demographics because it seems some age groups or ethnicities have an aversion to wearing the PPM. So an already small number of PPMs becomes even smaller when split up into demographics, so suddenly one person can make a huge difference in ratings calculations This was seen last year when Nielsen recalled the entire Los Angeles ratings report to recalculate it after it was determined that someone manipulated a PPM.
Now it turns out that the PPM itself may have issues. It appears that certain formats may have trouble being picked up consistently, and that external forces -- wind through a window while driving, for example -- may prevent the PPM from accurately crediting listening. Likewise, a station heard but with static as in long-distance listening or listening to a weak signal may not be credited at all.
A company called Telos can install something at a station called Voltair, a technology that allows a station to be better “heard” and decoded by a PPM. Think about that ... without Voltair, a PPM could miss actual listening, and this has been proven in computer studies of PPM. With Voltair the system works better, at least in theory.
If this does not prove that PPM is flawed -- possibly fatally -- I don’t know what does. It will be interesting to see how the industry responds to this development. Will PPM be improved? Will it be changed? Dropped? or will another company come around and show Nielsen the door?
American Top-40: the Seventies has been removed from the schedule at KOLA (99.9 FM). Programmer Gary Springfield says it came down to ratings. “The show has had consistently bad ratings for over a year,” he told me.
Since I live in the seventies, it makes me sad. Must be the damn PPM ...