Part 2 of 5: How does WNST measure up to other Baltimore media?

January 28, 2012 | Nestor Aparicio

to fill out this form and return it so they could figure out what you’re listening to at home, at work and in the car.

Yes, in 2009, they would mail a few hundred of these out “arbitrarily” to Baltimore households a few times a year and almost $200 million of local advertising money was spent with this as “research.”

It is – and has always been – a complete joke in my humble opinion.

But every agency radio buy in this marketplace is predicated on this system and it controls nearly $200 million of annual local money.

Arbitron is the sole possessor – a monopoly if there ever was one – of the business of the radio industry. It’s false. It’s fake. Everyone in the industry knows it and acknowledges that this entire industry is still funded via this “cloud measurement” system of ratings.

Now they’ve graduated to “People Meters” at Arbitron, giving the folks in the radio business more back doors to cheat the system and falsify readings that begin with a flawed measurement system. In the industry, they’re called “PPMs.” I’ll just save my breath on the “science” of these things for a link here. That way you can make up your own mind.

Hmmmmmm??? I wonder which method is more accurate: a few hundred Arbitron diaries and PPMs doing random “drive bys” or the science of Google Analytics, which measures every click and interaction with a web site?

How about this as a simple, common sense proposition: I’m 41 years old and have listened to the radio my entire life – thousands and thousands of hours in Baltimore. From programming and producing WNST to the old WLPL, to B-104 to long nights of Jon Miller’s Orioles baseball and the dulcet tones of Phil Wood and Stan Charles late into the nights of the 1980s. I’ve been on the radio for more than 18 years, producing almost 250,000 hours of radio in my lifetime here in Baltimore. I’ve listened to more hours of Sarah Fleischer, 98 Rock, Mike Brilhart and Fran Lane than I care to admit. I listened to the Greaseman for thousands of hours in the 1980s. I listened to Howard Stern for 10 years in the 1990s.

I have NEVER, EVER been “counted” as a radio listener. I’ve never received nor filled out a diary. I’ve only seen one diary in my life, a few years ago, when a listener dropped by studio and asked me if I wanted him to “cheat” and say he listens all day, every day. (As it turns out, if he filled it out that way, Arbitron would discredit the diary and throw it out! How’s that for F%$#ed up? When a really passionate WNST listener actually gets one and is overzealous, it doesn’t it get counted!)

This isn’t as much an indictment of Arbitron – as a fundamental premise measuring radio listeners is like measuring clouds, it’s an IMPOSSIBLE medium to truly accurately measure – as it is an indictment of the businesses who still believe their fiction and make million-dollar decisions based on a few hundred diaries sent to a mailbox that I don’t even visit anymore.

So, if you were spending money advertising in 2010, how SHOULD you measure

As I stated earlier, we love honest competition and a level playing field. In radio, I’ve never had one.

I bought a little AM radio station on the right (or wrong? LOL) side of the dial for $1 million in 1998. If I had wanted to buy WBAL-AM in 1998 it would’ve cost at least $50 million. If I had wanted to buy 98 Rock it wouldn’t been at least $40 million. If I wanted to buy a TV station – say WBFF or WMAR – it would have been in excess of $100 million. And, if I had wanted to buy The Sun, it would have been several hundred million dollars.

Somehow – in 2010, in the only sphere that will ever matter again for eyeballs and the money of advertisers, the internet – we’re ahead of ALL of these entities (except The Sun) for tracking, registration, daily people visiting the site and the interactivity of social media on Twitter and Facebook.

The primary and fair-across-all-web-media measure system that we’ve used for the past two years has been We also can use Google Analytics. There are a variety of “web scientists” that will dispute the measurement systems of both of the aforementioned. (Not unlike my criticism of Arbitron.) And there are also systems of “pay for play” like Quantcast and Neilsen Net Ratings and plenty more you can research here.

The newest measurement system – real clicks, real traffic, real Google Analytics – have proven over the last year that is the new market leader in covering real time sports in Baltimore. Arbitron (radio), Neilson (TV), Scarborough (print) reports – they’ve all been woefully unrepresentative of most industry brands if not a set of lies, damned lies and false statistics.

But here’s my reality as the owner of even if you choose to dispute web science and legitimate, modern measurement statistics: every statistical tracking point – from registration to text service to Twitter to Facebook to daily traffic to Alexa – all point toward the same, inarguable