This is good news for market researchers, and bad news for National Public Radio stations.
From the Portland Tribune, deep in the heart of NPR territory, comes this news:
Portlanders have been saying for years that they listened to public radio more than anything else.
But it turns out they aren’t as refined or cerebral as they claimed to be.
A new — and more accurate — way of measuring radio listenership shows Portland-area residents are soaking up soft rock and oldies to a much greater extent than previously reported. And while public radio station KOPB once reigned as No. 1, preliminary statistics from new electronic measuring devices indicate that it dropped to 11th-highest in total listenership among local stations in October.
K103, which airs adult contemporary music, rocketed to the top in total listenership in October, while oldies station KLTH leapfrogged over several rivals to finish second.
And it isn't only in Portland that NPR has been enjoying inflated numbers:
In markets where Arbitron has rolled out the portable people meters [devices that identify each radio station within the wearer's earshot] NPR stations are taking hits much like OPB — including KUOW in Seattle and KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif.
In my local radio market, the NPR station (WAMU) normally ranks second, behind the commercial all-news WTOP. Sheer unscientific personal anecdotal evidence suggests to me that when Arbitron introduces portable people meters here, WAMU will take a big ratings cut.