It’s not a secret that country’s core target is 35-54 and largely non-ethnic living more in suburbs than in the center of cities, so just as ARB was working to placate unhappy ethnic stations by improving the proportionality of African-Americans and Hispanics and calling its sample “solid” (September 2008) it now admits (according to Beasley) under-indexing of the 35-54 demo in those same months last fall of WXTU’s ratings decline.
Beasley claimed that 92.5 XTU had been consistently in the market’s top six or seven during the first year and a half of pre-currency and then the initial currency PPM monthlies, leading the company to believe that PPM was going to be kind to country radio, but, as minority broadcasters pushed ARB to improve the index of their listeners’ in the PPM panel, for some reason, WXTU fell to the low to mid-teens in the rankers.
Every country manager and programmer needs to demand, hope for, ask for, beg for, pay for excellent sample balance each month, at the very least within 10% +/-, in our targets too.
The Beasley exec last week told investors he feels that Arbitron is now correcting the problem:
“Recently we’ve seen some progress on 35-54 sampling and expect the revenue trend at WXTU to improve.”
He also said he “expects that [Arbitron] will not repeat the issue that impacted us in Philadelphia..” in Miami, where the company also owns WKIS, the country station in another highly ethnic market.
Are the same ARB people who provided those "solid" assurances last fall the ones promising Beasley that things are now under control in their markets?
Ask any researcher: sampling is both art and science. As sample sizes get smaller, “panel management” is the name of the art which Arbitron must consistently master equitably or everyone’s business is going to suffer.