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October 13, 2011


Richard Harker

Bill, thanks for contributing to Radio Insights and presenting your perspective. We too would encourage readers to download and read the Infinite Dial studies.
A search on Radio Insights will show that we’ve read each of the Infinite Dial studies. We’ve cited the studies when they touched on issues we thought relevant for our readers.
While you may feel that Arbitron has made a strong case for radio in the studies, the vast majority of questions have little to do with radio. Large portions of the studies are devoted to such things as online video and social networking. Do we really need another study that shows the rapid adoption of Facebook, the penetration of WiFi networks in the home, or the “passion” for cell phones? A Google search on any of these topics will find a cornucopia of studies on these topics.
The opposite is true for radio. There is very little objective research on radio–far less than for television or new media.
That is our primary complaint about the Infinite Dial series. Radio seems almost an after-thought in their design Here’s just one example.
Page 21 of the 2011 study shows the rapid growth of online radio, now 9:47 per week. How does that compare to broadcast radio? There is no comparable graph for broadcast radio. Why not?
A little sleuthing finds that on page 59 the stack-bar graphs include radio. The purpose of the graph has nothing to do with radio listening, but it does reveal that daily time spent with radio is 2:06.
(Why radio is reported as daily listening and online listening is reported as weekly listening is a separate methodological complaint, but we’ll let that pass.)
So it would appear that weekly radio listening totals 14:42, over 50% higher than online’s listening.
If that’s true, it would seem to warrant some attention in the executive summary, or at least a graph in the presentation slides. But there is no reference to the fact in either.
That’s just one example of the many lost opportunities to shed much needed light on the health of radio.
In the entire study there is just one single question regarding broadcast’s fate in a digital future (page 60). Just one.
As a company that depends on broadcast radio for the majority of it’s revenue, shouldn’t Arbitron devote its considerable research prowess on actionable information to protect its meal ticket?

Bill Rose

Perhaps you didn't see or read our free Infinite Dial study which looked at the relationship between radio and new media consumption in depth. Together with Edison Research, we've conducted these studies since 1998. Frankly, several of the "insights" you point out are indeed found in the Infinite Dial series. In particular the finding that media consumption is not a zero sum game. Please refer to pages, 7, 9 and 11 of the executive summary. Quoting from implications on page 11 of the executive summary, "Media consumption on digital platforms is an extension of traditional platforms, not a replacement.
The proliferation of digital platforms means people are finding more time in their day to consume media, and they are finding new places do so."

I encourage you to check out Arbitron's web site (www.arbitron.com/home/radiotoday.htm) for a wealth of free information to help radio tell it's story. You can also sign up to get our periodic newsletters for planners and buyers.

Finally, your characterization of The Road Ahead is incomplete and biased. To selectively pick those two points misses the big picture. 1) Radio remains the King of All In-Car Media; 2) there are new technologies that have the potential to impact radio's hold on an extremely valuable media environment.

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