It turns out that people don’t listen to local radio stations because they provide interesting entertaining programming. No, according to Arbitron, they listen because local radio stations have a “bigger, broader, bully pulpit,” that according to Arbitron’s SVP Bill Rose.
Rose’s revealing moment was prompted by a front page Inside Radio article releasing unpublished results from Arbitron’s Infinite Dial study.
To Rose, local radio is like Buford Pusser in Walking Tall, wielding a baseball bat to get people to listen. Rose feels that without persuasion, listeners would abandon local radio to embrace pure Internet services like Pandora.
His comments were an attempt to reconcile apparent contradictions between released and unreleased study results. Arbitron’s presentation of the results had portrayed radio under siege. Local radio had lost ground to the Internet in virtually all areas.
Most significantly, listeners preferred pure national Internet services over local station streams.
An Inside Radio story pointed out that the presentation misrepresented the real findings. By better than a two to one margin, more people had listened to an AM/FM stream than an Internet-only national service. The ratio was 21% to 14% in favor of local radio in the past month, and 12% to 9% in the past week.
Despite what the presentation claimed, listeners overwhelmingly chose to listen to the streams of local stations over national services.
It turns out that the presentation had selectively chosen data that cast Internet services in the most positive light, while portraying local radio as if it were failing.
Because showing local radio’s continued strength doesn’t fit the narrative. The people creating the presentation chose consciously or subconsciously to focus on the data consistent with what they believed.
Local radio is dying. It is just a matter of time before the Internet takes over. That’s the current narrative. As a result, they highlighted the data that supports it, and buried the data that contradicts it.
So when a representative from Arbitron is confronted with data that says that more people listen to AM/FM streams than Internet streams, he essentially dismisses it:
That doesn’t necessarily mean that when people are listening to it (the stream of a local station), they feel better with that content than the other.
In other words, people listen to local radio streams despite their not liking them. Apparently Arbitron believes that local radio isn’t very good. Listeners just don’t know how bad it is. That’s why they listen.
Despite a massive propaganda effort to marginalize local radio and portray it as walking dead, people keep listening. This upsets the new-media pundits, and it makes them do transparently manipulative things, like selectively present research, and then explain it using twisted logic.
Hats off to Inside Radio for exposing it.
If you recall Walking Tall, you know that Buford Pusser was fond of saying take your best shot, ‘cause it’ll probably be your last.
It is becoming increasingly clear that local radio stations can successfully compete in a digital world. No attempt to suppress the truth can change that.