The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

18 October 2006

New York City Ratings, Drudge, NY Daily News


Can Drudge's NYC Ratings Be Trusted?

Several Radio Equalizer readers wrote to ask about the New York City ratings numbers Matt Drudge reported on his website yesterday. Could they be trusted?

For a very simple reason, the short answer is no.

First, let's take a look at what he posted:

AGES 12+

LIMBAUGH 342,000
HANNITY 322,900
IMUS 279,600
GAMBLING 257,100
LEVIN 245,700
SAVAGE 175,600
O'REILLY 157,800
INGRAHAM 127,600
AL FRANKEN 122,300
LIONEL 86,700

Host's peak hour? What in the world is that?

We've never seen a show's performance measured this way, so immediately these figures look suspect. In radio, it's common to twist and contort results to suit one's own needs, but that doesn't make it honest.

But who provided Drudge with this pile of manure? Ordinarily, we'd expect to see a ratings average for a host's combined two or three hours. That gives us a slightly more comparible result.

Even then, there's no accounting here for the various timeslots where the shows are heard, making them difficult to put side-by-side. Morning and afternoon drive- time programs have a distinct, but unstated advantage here, since that's when most people are listening to the radio.

For instance, Laura Ingraham's results appear to be just above those of Al Franken and Randi Rhodes, but the former is heard at night, making her accomplishment more significant. The same can be said for Michael Savage and Mark Levin.

Since even Drudge normally posts combined program averages, take these numbers with a giant grain of salt.

At the same time, the New York Daily News provided these more useful numbers yesterday:

These are the summer (July-September) ratings released yesterday by Arbitron. The number in parentheses is the percentage of the audience listening to that station in the average quarter hour.

OVERALL: WLTW (6.0), WSKQ (5.7), WHTZ (4.9), WPAT-FM and WRKS (4.4), WQHT (4.1), WBLS (4.0), WWPR (3.6), WABC and WINS (3.5), WQCD and WAXQ (2.9), WCBS-AM (2.8), WFAN and WKTU (2.7), WPLJ (2.5), WQXR (2.4), WCAA (2.1), WOR (2.0), WNEW and WCBS-FM (1.8), WADO (1.5), WFNY (1.3), WALK (1.1), WLIB (1.0).

MORNINGS: WSKQ (8.4), WINS (6.1), WBLS & WHTZ (4.7), WLTW (4.4), WPAT-FM (3.9), WRKS (3.6), WABC and WCBS-AM (3.5), WQHT (3.4), WPLJ (3.1), WOR, WAXQ, WWPR & WFAN (2.5), WADO (2.3), WFNY (2.2), WQCD & WKTU (2.1), WQXR (2.0), WNEW & WCBS-FM (1.6).

AFTERNOONS: WLTW (6.1), WHTZ (5.3), WRKS (5.0), WBLS & WQHT (4.4), WSKQ (4.3), WABC & WWPR (3.9), WPAT-FM (3.8), WFAN, WQCD & WAXQ (3.1), WKTU (2.9), WCAA & WPLJ (2.6), WINS (2.5), WQXR & WCBS-AM (2.2), WNEW (2.0), WCBS-FM (1.9), WOR (1.7), WLIB & WADO (1.5).

25- to 54-YEAR-OLDS: WSKQ (6.4), WLTW (6.2), WPAT-FM & WBLS (5.1), WRKS (5.0), WHTZ (4.3), WAXQ (4.1), WKTU (3.6), WQHT (3.5), WPLJ (3.4), WWPR & WINS (2.9), WFAN & WQCD (2.7), WCBS-FM (2.5), WNEW (2.4), WCBS-AM (2.0), WCAA (1.9), WABC & WFNY (1.7).

18- TO 34-YEAR-OLDS: WQHT (8.9), WHTZ (8.8), WSKQ (8.1), WWPR (7.4), WPAT-FM (5.8), WLTW (4.7), WBLS & WCAA (4.6), WKTU (4.4), WRKS (3.7), WAXQ & WPLJ (2.8), WFNY (2.3), WCBS-FM (2.1), WFAN & WNEW (1.6).

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  • Ree-diculous, regarding Ingraham.

    Firstly, the time of day that one listens is irrelevant, in an age of podcasting and repetitive streaming. People like who they like, the means exist for computer-literate people to take the bull by the horns and listen when they want if they are motivated to.

    Secondly, in the New York market she replaced John Batchelor recently. Batchelor's style and Ingraham's are diametrically opposed to one another, and it's not logical to assume that one audience would simply jump to another, especially at Ovaltine and bedtime.

    Thirdly, Drudge is a nice enough person, but, as I've advised before, please take all of his latebreakers with a grain of salt and RESEARCH before accepting it as gospel. Many a green blogger learned this the hard way...

    Lastly, have I mentioned yet today how NONE of these figures, whether they relate to ratings, polls, or even "elections", can be trusted in the first place? Show me the methodology, show me a paper trail, show me a hacker-free program that issues forth.

    THEN you can make absolute judgements and pronouncements. Until then, statistical analysis is meaningless if you're not working from verifiable data in the first place....

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 18 October, 2006 06:16  

  • Host's peak hour? What in the world is that?
    That would the the host's BEST hour. Really, not so difficult to understand. The Daily News #s are useful for overall station performance, but not for individual host performance (which is what Drudge's #'s judged).
    And, according to these numbers, Franken and Ingram are basically tied, while Franken is not too far beghind O'Reilly (and they're on at around the same time). Maybe Franken actually is a standout on an otherwise lousy network...

    By Blogger Justin, at 18 October, 2006 07:35  

  • And maybe pigs will fly out of my butt to quote Mike Myers on a SNL skit.

    By Blogger Seriouslyunserious, at 18 October, 2006 14:06  

  • Don't mind my asking, but doesn't Arbitron have a big problem with reproducing their ratings anywhere, particularly on an easily accessed webpage? I'd hate to see NYC's ratings get embargoed...

    Besides, the real story here seems to be CBS's incredibly bad decision to Jackify CBS-FM. It certainly hasn't paid off ratings-wise.

    By Blogger Snowed In, at 18 October, 2006 15:39  

  • In the full arbitron book, every hour from 5AM-Mid is broken down, for TSL and respective age groupings. So Drudge took the highest hour of each show's hourly TSL(12+) and printed it. I do not think it is legal to publish these numbers though. Basically Drudge's highest peak hour, is the highest TSL hour of each show 12+ He just covered up the name of the group of arbitron numbers he published, to avoid getting in trouble. Typical of a sleezeball like Drudge , who defended pedophilia as a prank

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 18 October, 2006 17:02  

  • Drudge is simply a classic gossip.

    Every rumor or suggestion fed to him gets published.

    Some stuff is true, some stuff is kinda true, some stuff isn't true, and most stuff is a goddamn lie.

    I never trust anything in Drudge until I see it in at least two other reputable sources.

    However, as we all know, gossip is fun, and figuring out who started the rumor and why is what really makes it delicious fun.

    By Blogger Lokki, at 19 October, 2006 08:55  

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