PPM & Stop Sets – Erickson Media


PPM & Stop Sets

PPM & Stop Sets

Don’t believe everything you read

No doubt you read the item last week purporting to reveal the absolute optimal times to schedule your spot breaks to maximize PPM numbers.

Most consultants started calling client stations early that morning to try to be first to share the ‘secret.’

I could see GMs and PDs all over America, huddling over computer screens, Traffic Managers on the speaker phone, waiting for the decisive announcement.

The future of your station, of your job, of our industry in a cluttered and consolidated world, for God’s sake, rests on whether you stop music at :15 or at :22…


You’re really buying this??

Isn’t this kind of group-think about gaming the system what got us where we are today?

Haven’t we spent the last couple of decades so consumed with anxiety about every little thing that can cause tune-out that we have completely ignored what may create tune-IN?

Maybe I have a strange sense of humor…

Strike that. I have a strange sense of humor…

…but I find it hilarious that radio management is paralyzed with fear that a morning show may talk 30 seconds too long at the same time they justify 8-unit stop sets and mid-week remotes.

Do you really think you can control mass behavior by putting your 8-unit stop set at :15 rather than, say, :09, based on “lessons we’ve learned from PPM”??

The People Meter can’t even prove that people are actively listening to what the meter says they’re hearing, and much of the time, I bet they’re not.

And you think putting a stop set here rather than there will induce them to stop listening??


That’s a proper English word that basically means the same thing as WTF??!!

May I humbly suggest you spend your time coming up with ideas that will create mass tune-IN, and stop obsessing about what Arbitron tells you causes tune-OUT?


How about this…

  • Play great music, one of my favorite songs, every time I punch you up
  • Help me discover new and interesting songs and artists on a regular basis
  • Be interesting, and unpredictable, every hour. Give me something I can’t get anywhere else.
  • Provide companionship by making me feel you are speaking to me, not a faceless mass. In other words, act like a real friend. (If you don’t know how real friends act with each other, you have far larger problems than spot set placement.)
  • Let me know if something awful has just happened that I need to know about right now. This requires a live body in the studio. All the time.
  • Don’t ever bore me with mindless blather and self-aggrandizing liners
  • Make me feel a strong emotion: Move me. Entertain me. Challenge me. Relate to ME.

We’ve just spent a generation trying to scrub every negative from every non-commercial minute on the air at the same time we’ve increased spot loads and sponsorships to mind-numbing levels.

It has left many cities with insipid, boring, predictable product that is instantly forgettable.

But it’s safe. It’s all researched, and sanitized, and PPM-friendly.

No VP of Programming can second-guess any song, or any bit.

And the result is we have sucked the passion, the reasons for people to love us, right off the air.

Stop worrying about gaming the ratings, and start obsessing about creating an amazing product every time I hear you.

Stop letting Arbitron program your station, because if you haven’t already noticed, they’re not really all that great at entertainment.