Radio Waves: 6/8/18

Shotgun Tom’s big week

Big news for former KRTH (101.1 FM) afternoon drive personality Shotgun Tom Kelly: not only has he been selected to lead the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters as the organization’s president effective September, 2018, he’s also landed at SiriusXM and will be hosting afternoon drive on channel 6 — Sixties on Six.

Kelly will begin his new show in “about a week,” he says.

Kelly is the perfect person to lead the PPB. With an extensive radio and television background in both San Diego and Los Angeles — I grew up listening to him on the legendary KCBQ/San Diego — as well as an amazing head full of broadcast trivia and information, he fully represents the goals and ideals of the PPB. I look forward to his presidency.

Ratings troubles

As previously reported, ratings company Nielsen removed four households from the Los Angeles ratings pool and is retroactively recalculating the ratings for the region going all the way back to October, 2017.

The company still refuses to state exactly what was found to be wrong, but issued a statement stating that the homes “did not meet our data quality and integrity standards.” 

My hunch would be that at least one person in each household either did something to help raise ratings of their favorite station — on their own or influenced by someone or something — such as to play a radio on a particular station as the Portable People Meter “listened” in order to help calculate ratings, or someone in each household was directly or indirectly connected with a station.

That is just a guess of course … I honestly have no clue. But the change did affect the ratings of some stations in the first month of revisions released in late May. In the revised March ratings, ver half of the top-20 stations in town gained a tenth of a point, while KLAX (97.9 FM) lost a full point, causing it to drop from its original 9th place finish to 15th.

The revised 2.4 share is consistent with the 2.5 share the station earned in April, a month when the suspect households are assumed to have already been replaced.

KLAX owner Spanish Broadcasting System was quick to respond to the revised ratings. “SBS, and other Spanish-language broadcasters, vehemently object and protest such unilateral, and seemingly, discriminatory actions taken by Nielsen,” said SBS General Council Richard Lara, “which unfairly and disproportionally exclude Hispanic-listener households from the ratings methodology. The restated ratings and rankings reports are, in SBS’s view unreliable.”

It would be helpful if Nielsen explained exactly why the households did not meet its quality and integrity standards. But more important than that should be the frightening fact that four households in a city as large as Los Angeles can cause a 29 percent change in ratings for one station.

In other words, regardless of what happened, SBS is right, though not in the way it is trying to argue. Essentially, Nielsen’s system is flawed so badly that the ratings indeed are unreliable. Not just in the restated numbers, but in all numbers. Four households should not make a 29 percent difference in a city with over 11 million listeners aged 6 and over.

Something is just not right.

In History

57 Years ago last week, the first approved FM (multiplex) stereo broadcasts commenced. At midnight Eastern time on May 31/June 1, 1961, WGFM/Schenectady began broadcasting in stereo. At midnight Central time it was WEFM/Chicago. And in Los Angeles at Midnight Pacific time it was KMLA (now KKLQ, 100.3 FM). Those three are “officially” the first stations in the United States to broadcast in stereo after the FCC set June 1st as the day when multiplex broadcasts were authorized. 

But there may be one more. According to a story in industry newspaper Radio World, KCFM/St. Louis broadcast in stereo at the same moment as WEFM, using a stereo generator designed and built personally by station Chief Engineer Ed Bench.