The first Pittsburgh ratings using the new Personal People Meters are due out on Monday. The new system, in which participants wear a small device which picks up a silent signal from the radio, is thought to be more accurate because it instantly picks up the signal rather than relying on people to remember to fill out a diary. Those taking part may wear the device for up to two years with new participants coming in on a regular basis. Ratings will now be tallied monthly, not just quarterly, and includes listeners aged 6-11. 1088 people are taking part in the Pittsburgh panel.
Negative attention has been given to the PPM device being criticized by minority broadcasters for under-representing minority listeners. It’s a complaint which has opened the eyes of the FCC and attorneys general in many states. As a result, Arbitron plans to increase the overall sample size by 10% within the next two years. Former WAMO program director Ron Atkins told the Post-Gazette, “There are not enough panels out there to get a good read with the ethnic audiences. There weren’t enough respondents out there on the young-ended stations. The urban stations are mostly a younger audience.” He went on to say that stations like WAMO had a long-lasting and strong brand which was easy to recall which was a benefit in the old diary system.
Meanwhile, KDKA’s program director Marshall Adams sees a consistency in the ratings so far saying that the PPM gives the station a much quicker feel for what attracts listeners.