Radio Hosts Squeezed by Too Much Listener Info
Hosts say it takes away from content
By Sarah Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2009 11:10 AM CDT
Ryan Seacrest presents an award at the National Council of La Raza ALMA Awards in Pasadena, Calif., on Aug. 17, 2008.   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

(Newser) – Radio stations are collecting more and more data on the listening habits of their audience, and even popular hosts like Ryan Seacrest are feeling the pinch. Seacrest says Clear Channel execs told him to zip it because ratings would rise if "you actually play some more music," the Wall Street Journal reports. When he complained to a pair of cross-town rivals, they said they were hearing the same thing: "Maybe you guys should shut up and play more Red Hot Chili Peppers."

At the center of the issue is the 2-year-old audience-measuring system called the Portable People Meter. The small device carried by a panel of consumers lets stations see in more detail "when the tune-ins and tune-outs were," a program director said. They use that info to adjust programming and maximize audience. Of course some say that kind of micromanaging makes shows feel scripted. "If you spend too much time looking at the granular data, your brand will become bland," a CBS VP said.

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Showing 3 of 7 comments
Sep 17, 2009 3:16 AM CDT
Sep 17, 2009 2:53 AM CDT
Finally! Someone is listening to the audience instead of the annoying DJs. We listen to the radio to hear MUSIC... if we want talk we will go to those specific stations.
Sep 17, 2009 12:54 AM CDT
In the past, we did not have so many alternatives to the radio, so they played less music and more commercials because it meant more money for them. Now that we can plug in to so many other devices and outlets, radio is trying to make a move faster than newspapers's still too late. Fuck radio. I have an iPod and I listen to MY programming and there are NO commercials.