Hispanic radio delivers engaged audiences

RAB: Urban and Hispanic Radio Deliver Exclusive, Engaged Audiences
By Paul Heine, Radio and Records March 17, 2009

Two years ago, Radio One regional VP Doug Abernathy watched in horror as his once top-rated Houston stations plummeted after the market converted from diary to portable people meter measurement in June 2007. Today, he's smiling. His stations, Urban Adult Contemporary KMJQ-FM and Urban KBXX-FM, hae since become textbook cases of how to adjust programming to adapt to a new ratings technology.

“After 20 years of dominance, it was a hard pill for us to swallow,” he told attendees at the Radio Advertising Bureau conference here during a session devoted to Urban and Hispanic radio in a PPM world Monday (March 16). “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you will not be successful. You have to look at everything: jocks, where you place stopsets, how you do your contesting. PPM is so unforgiving,” Abernathy said.

The sales component of Radio One’s PPM strategy involved training account execs to educate the marketplace about the new ratings currency. “We became students in PPM, so that we could be the voice of our city that would answer questions for clients,” Abernathy said.

Barry Fischer, executive vp of rep firm McGavren Guild Media, which counts Spanish Broadcasting System among its clients, said he isn’t out to bash the PPM. “If we didn’t jump on electronic measurement we would have accelerated our path to oblivion,” he said, noting that SBS was among the first companies to ink a ratings contract with Arbitron for the metered service.

But as has been widely reported, some Hispanic and urban stations have not fared well with the new system. “Our AQH ratings are down 40-50-60 percent,” Fischer said. And while Hispanic radio cumes have gone up under the PPM, they haven’t shown the staggering cume increases of general market stations.

“Buyers are not paying more attention to cume and reach,” Fischer said.

Fischer said that the PPM validates that Hispanic stations as a whole have delivered almost exactly what they said they would deliver. For SBS, that is a total national radio cume of 7.2 million- 7.6 million, he said. “Our story is not that dramatically different. Our strategy revolves around that and selling an audience that is engaged.” CLICK HERE FOR MORE.

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