Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Radio Waves Podcast #84

KCRW (89.9 FM) kicks off their 6th season of free “Summer Nights” concerts this Saturday, June 6th at 7:30 p.m. with a performance by LA-based duo De Lux and a DJ set from Dan Wilcox in the courtyard amidst the historic buildings of One Colorado in Old Pasadena.
DeLux will preview some songs from their upcoming album “Generation,” scheduled for release June 23rd. Featuring a sound that is a combination of disco, post-punk and funk, they are a favorite among listeners of KCRW and the show should be fun for all ages.

One Colorado is a collection of 17 historic buildings housing a mix of retailers, designers, local merchants, restaurants and a boutique cinema. It is located at 24 East Union Street in Pasadena, and is a full city block bordered by Colorado, Union, Delacey and Fair Oaks Boulevards.

This is the first of many in the concert series; other venues include locations in Chinatown, Grand Park, the Hammer Museum, the Santa Monica Pier, and the Annenberg Space for Photography. Details are still being finalized; you can get the latest information on this series by visiting SummerNights.KCRW.Com.

Programming to the PPM

In what may be likened to “teaching to the test” in which educational standards are lowered as schools try to hit only topics that are tested on state assessments, it appears that programmers are guilty of lowering broadcast standards by “programming to the PPM” (Portable People Meter); the test being the ratings as determined by Nielsen’s PPM ratings collection system.
The problem is, the PPM is flawed. Perhaps fatally, though I am currently in the minority in believing  that. But it is seriously flawed, and the fact that a system called Voltair -- discussed here a few weeks ago -- can be used by radio stations to increase ratings proves that.

As explained by industry website AllAccess.Com in reporting on a study from Harker Research’s Richard Harker, stations may have been changing station formatics based upon flawed data. In other words, if stations were programming to get higher PPM ratings, and the PPM ratings system is not accurately picking up listening habits, then those programming decisions were as inaccurate as the PPM system itself.

“Everything was predicated on the fact that since the PPM was accurate, we needed to act on what we learned from it,” Harker told All Access. “Such as shutting up jocks. Radio has been depersonalized in terms of personalities because we saw the numbers go down and thought listeners didn't like jocks. Now it turns out that the jocks weren't getting credit for hours because the PPM dropped out during momentary pauses and soft-volume moments. End result: A lot of high-profile jocks are out of work because we thought they talked too much and listeners didn't like it when they did. Now we'll have to completely rethink it.” 

Speaking of Talk

I guess it has been a while since I listened much to talk radio in general and KFI (640 AM) in particular. How can I tell? Besides my much more mellow mood, I happened to tune in last weekend and heard the start of the KFI traffic report ... complete with the most obnoxious and annoying music bed known to man. Or animal. They added it last year and it’s still there.

Apparently someone at KFI thinks we need music that often drowns out the report itself. That someone should be fired. To my ears the bad European techno-sound is like fingernails on a chalkboard, and it is bad enough that I just switch off KFI ... and discover other stations that treat me better as a listener. Judging by KFI’s recent ratings compared with the past, I am not alone.

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