From where I sit On The Kowch, this year’s 78 day federal election campaign will be better for talk radio ratings than the last 37 day election campaign in 2011. Why? Because by the time the PPM ratings started on August 31st in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver and in the smaller diary markets on Labour Day, almost half the campaign took place during the hot lazy days of summer when more Canadians traditionally listen to FM music than talk radio. So there was no talk radio election fatigue at the start of the most important rating period of the year for radio stations in Canada.
Another reason is because of what happened 48 hours into the PPM ratings, when Canadians woke up to the photo of a lifeless three-year-old Alan Kurdi whose body washed up on the shores of a beach in Turkey.
From where I sit On The Kowch, it was only a matter of time before radio stations in Canada would follow the lead of 600 American broadcasters who use the new technology known as Voltair to boost PPM rating results. Sources tell me that four of the biggest radio groups in Canada secretly used Voltair between March and the end of May of this year on some of their radio stations to boost their 2015 Spring PPM rating results.
“It definitely impacted the stations using Voltair,” one radio source told me. “Evanov Communications, Corus, Newcap and Bell tested the technology. Newcap had Voltair on most of their stations. Bell tested it out on one of their AM stations.”
From where I sit On The Kowch, God bless the internet. It has given radio in Canada a new lease on life. That old radio box on granny’s kitchen counter is not the only way to listen to radio anymore. In the past month, 30 per cent of Canadians used non traditional platforms to tune in to their favourite radio station online. Just ask Mike Mohammed, a manager on the Bell Media Research team, and Alicia Olson-Keating, a senior director of the team. On December 19th, they explained on YouTube how 5.4 million or 29 per cent of Canadians 18-54 listen to radio while they are using the internet. A power point presentation drove home the importance of online radio listening. Hell, even I got the Bell Media App to listen to radio on my iPhone in the past month.
From where I sit On The Kowch, the media loves a great scandal – especially if it’s when radio is caught with its hand in the PPM ratings’ cookie jar like what happened in Los Angeles earlier this year. The juicy tidbits include: cheating, denials, confirmations, embarrassment, investigation, finger pointing, firing and a lot of headlines in the press. L.A. is America’s largest radio market. $1 billion is spent on radio advertising based on the results of Nielsen’s Portable People Meters (PPM) ratings system.