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PPM: LA Stations Play DJ Musical Chairs with Best Shows to Gain Audience

In my weekly conversations and emails with Urban, Rock and CHR PDs All are concerned with but urban programmers are more worried…. to that end…

Rock staple has also been paying very close attention to PPM and station Kevin Weatherly has made a decision that is not too popular with some listeners and a surprise to others. I’ve met Weatherly once and he appears to be a savvy programmer so his decision to take the top rated morning show, Kevin and Bean, and move an hour plus of their show to a time slot in the afternoon appears to be risky… as well as interesting. He knows that he is introducing them to an audience that may or may not know them in the afternoons. He explained that he was seeing the station’s high ratings start to slip around 9am which is why he made the decision. Nevertheless he plans to evaluate the results at the end of next month… is that enough time?

The shake-up in the KROQ program lineup can be traced to the arrival in Los Angeles of Arbitron’s most talked about PPM, which was introduced to the market this past August.

It appears that Weatherly is looking forward to the new challenge and monthly feedback while many urban stations are still not convinced that PPM is the best method. “PPM is causing people to reevaluate everything,” Weatherly said. Which is the same thing that urban stations have been saying with some urban programmers admitting to RFFocus they still don’t fully grasp and /or fully understand the concept as of yet and those who do claim not enough meters are being distributed in the predominately urban areas.

Some pop and Rock programmers think that PPM will give them a better shot at more accurate reporting, like PD , “Some guy might have been working in a bank and listening to -FM (103.5) all day because that’s what they played there, but he’d go home and report that he listened to KROQ because that’s his favorite station. The takes all the guesswork out.”

In many cities, rock stations, including Top 40, modern rock and oldies formats, have performed better with PPM than with diaries, causing some low-rated stations too jump on board and switch formats to rock to better their chances.

“One of the most significant findings is that people only listen for 20 or 30 minutes at a blow,” Ivey said. “So the key is to get them back to listen as much as possible. If you’re a good radio programmer, that’s not news.” I have to totally agree on that point. But the question remains, how and what will urban radio do to lock listeners in for longer periods? Some urban programmers feel they can fair better by FINALLY expand ing the music selection and allowing urban jocks outside of the morning and afternoon slots to once again, have personalities. Something that has indeed been missing from urban radio for the last 25 years. Another idea for urban would be the return of daily community affairs shows.

The PPM data is certainly a wake-up call for ALL stations. “The People Meter is showing that if time spent listening is less than it’s ever been, then you better deliver — you better deliver on personality, deliver on something that’s going to be better than the song I just heard,” said Jeff Pollack, one of the nation’s leading radio consultants.

One example at KROQ: “We’re looking at the length of our promos,” Weatherly said. “We want to see if we can say the same thing, get the irreverence across and capture the energy in a shorter amount of time.” This is a great idea. PPM is motivating people to clean up the unnecessary intrusions and on-air clutter.

One thing is certain if anything, with all the complaints I hear on a weekly basis, PPM IS providing new energy to time-tested programming philosophies.

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