That should be our goal
Radio spends a small (or not-so-small, depending on the market) fortune every year for data that purports to accurately measure listening to individual stations within a defined area.
Everything about this process is open to doubt.
And the data is so expensive, it has caused budget changes at almost every station that subscribes, even impacting staffing. Reading that sentence aloud makes the absurdity of this situation sound insane.
I don’t know how you and I can begin to change this trap which has ensnared our stations, but hopefully (almost certainly) you’re smarter than I am, and you will figure out how to do it.
Because we should be measuring not just passive hearing from a disengaged mass of humanity, but the passion, the love, each individual feels for individual stations and talent, for the product we give them each day.
“Way down deep in what Robert Penn Warren called ‘the darkness which is you,’ there is a great and terrible feeling that our life and work is meaningless, a clawing fear that everything we do will be for nothing. And CSI Miami is really good at distracting us from that fear.”
“Don’t misunderstand me, I think that’s great; I am in favor of distractions. The distraction business is a great business and because the number of eyeballs a distraction attracts is a reasonably good way of judging its effectiveness as a diversion, advertising is great at funding it.“
“But I and the most passionate creators on YouTube…we’re not in the distraction business. We’re in the community business, and number of eyeballs is a terrible metric for my business. I can say, ‘Our videos have been viewed more than a billion times’ and it sounds impressive, but its not actually an important number to me.”
“I don’t care how many people watch or read something I make. I care how many people love what I make.”
“And that love is tougher to measure.”
Our business has been an interruption business for decades. If you’ll sit through the next few minutes of commercials, we’ll give you some more free music, until we do it all over again.
And I think the interruption business has a terminal illness. It was based on scarcity. Only one station in each city played this kind of music. Only one station in each city had this kind of contest, or this disc jockey, or could be heard in this part of town.
There’s a reason we used the term “captive audience” to sell drive-time advertising for generations.
But those times are long gone.
Now, every person in your town has virutally limitless access to any kind of music or audio entertainment they choose.
Now, every interruption pushes them to another better option.
Now, passion matters. Love counts.
Because we don’t leave what we love. We look forward to its return. We can’t wait for its return. We share what we love with others we love so they can love it too.
Podcasting is measured by love. Netflix is measured by love. HBO is measured by love.
And the sooner whoever’s in charge of Radio figures this out and lays out the way forward, the better off we’ll all be.
One more thing: I guarantee you, it will not include Nielsen.
So, if you can see that far ahead, please raise your hand, because no one currently running a radio company can.