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AG News: 3/28/2006


Radio Industry's Use of Words About Howard Stern

Let me place two sentences side by side that describe Howard Stern and his move to Sirius. See if you react differently to each:
New Jacobs Study Says 70% Of Stern Listeners Stayed With Terrestrial Radio
New Jacobs Study Says 30% of Stern Listeners Moved To Sirius

Now, which one do you think was the headline bantered about in radio trade publications?

Here's where the radio industry has been playing games over the last few years. The first sentence came from Friday Morning Quarterback. It was, essentially, the same headline used in nearly all radio industry trade publications about data on Stern's move to Sirius. (I particularly like the one that ran at Radio & Records: "Most Listeners Stayed With Radio, Waved Goodbye To Stern.") It must be pointed out that BillBoard Radio Monitor did not take take this approach, choosing to use a satrad-leaning headline of "Study: 28% Of Stern Fans Shift To Sirius."

Semantics, we all play with semantics and it's one reason why the radio industry finds itself in trouble today. To demonstrate how these percentages might have been positioned differently, assume that the 28% spoken of here was the percentage of radio's audience that responded to an advertising campaign.

There would be HUGE font used to shout to the world the success of that ad campaign, because a 28% response to any advertising is remarkable - and that is all Howard Stern did during his last year at CBS, advertise that he was moving to Sirius.

I'm sticking my tail between my legs, as my predication was that Howard Stern would have no more than 10% of his audience move with him, and I'd be surprised at that. Well, I am. Very.

While no subscriber numbers were released by Sirius or Howard Stern, it's clear he brought one million new subscribers with him because of the 34 million Sirius shares of stock that are now a legal battle centerpiece.

One analyst placed the number of Stern-related subscribers at 1.2 million, which puts the percentage of audience that moved at 10% (if you use 12 million as Stern's pre-Sirius audience figure). That's much more in line with advertising campaign response, but still remarkable.

It's time that the radio industry started to view the world through the same glasses everyone else is using. To contend that 70% of Howard Stern's audience didn't follow him to satrad is a weak argument.

Perhaps, if the radio trades followed the same style word usage for Arbitron's RADAR national audience measurement service, instead of seeing the headline "Arbitron: Radio Reaches More Than 230 Million People," we'd have been witness to "Arbitron: 63 Million Persons Not Listening to Radio."















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Online Since January 1997



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