Thursday, September 15, 2005

Radio Days

In case you weren't aware, there is a company like AC Nielson that surveys the radio listening habits of Americans. That company, Arbitron, contacted me about a month ago and asked me if I would be interested in participating in the survey. As it turns out, I happen to be a bigger fan of radio than most people under the age of 87, so I was thrilled. They sent me a log book to keep track of everything I listened to on the radio for a week. My week ended yesterday, and I have to say that keeping track of everything you listen to on the radio is a total pain. Heisenberg noted that you can't observe any physical phenomenon without affecting it in some way, and what's true for quantum physics is true for radio surveys.

The biggest problem is that I, like most people, do most of my radio listening in the car. It's very difficult, not to mention dangerous, to try and write down which radio stations you've been listening to while driving, especially if you frequently change the station. I don't tend to do much signal surfing while driving, but I completely abstained from it this past week since it would've been a bookkeeping nightmare. In a couple of cases, I just turned off the radio since I didn't want to have to bother trying to remember what I was listening to and when I listened to it.

Based on the multiple phone calls I received from Arbitron before and during the survey, I have a feeling that they have trouble getting people to complete the surveys. They kept calling me and asking if I had any questions and if they could count on me to finish my survey and send it back to them in a timely manner.


Airline Tickets said...
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MDS said...

Do you get compensated in any way for doing this? Were you scrupulously honest, or did you claim to have listened to certain shows more than you did because you wanted to help those shows by boosting their ratings? I think if I were a Nielsen household and I were a fan of a show that were in danger of cancellation, I'd be tempted to claim that I had 10 guests over, all of whom were between the ages of 18 and 35 and made more than $100,000 a year, and we all watched an entire episode of said show.

dhodge said...

I got about $4 from Arbitron for my services. I tried to be as honest as possible in my reporting. When I started the survey, I thought I was going to make an effort to listen to my favorite radio stations and programs more than I usually do, but that didn't pan out.

I may be wrong, but I think that households that participate in the Nielson ratings get some sort of reporting gizmo hooked up to their TV set so they don't actually have to manually log the programs that they view. I guess you could still lie about the number of guests at your home and their age and income.