With all the PR following last week's Consultants' Fly-In, this story seemingly got overlooked. I hope, for the good of the radio ratings and research business Arbitron is serious about this.
With Clear Channel divesting 448 smaller market stations and many of the medium to smaller companies who are looking at the (very!) high prices being asked for these stations whose ARB contracts will need to be renegociated (or cancelled) in the coming year and ARB's decision to start measuring major markets with PPM even without MRC accreditation and full support of stations in those markets, you can't blame small market managers for wondering if Arbitron is focused at all on serving their needs at prices they can afford.
ARB President Steve Morris just gave the company's VP/Marketing Dennis Seely responsibility for rebuilding what he terms "an entirely new business, small market radio."
It will be a huge challenge for the talented and very smart Seely, since it appears that ARB is trying to focus on many different business challenges simultaneously. Hopefully, he'll have Morris' ear amidst all of the possible futures being envisioned by the thinktanks at ARB. He's going to need it if ARB hopes to remain relevant to its core customers.
One thing for sure: country music and radio could not have a more sympathetic friend at ARB than Seely. If you're in a small market and have issues with Arbitron which need resolution, it's now a great time to test ARB's walk to see if it's as good as their talk, by calling Dennis at 972-385-5363 or emailing him with your concerns.
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9 months ago