Radio Research Methods

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Radio Research Methods

Post by rogerwimmer » Sat Jul 24, 2010 4:41 am

Hi, Dr. Wimmer: Which are the most commonly used methodologies in radio research to create a format or to improve a radio station's performance? Where can I get more information about it? Thanks in advance for your help. Keep up the great work! - Anonymous

Anon: Hi to you too. I'll try to keep up the "great work." Thanks and on to your question . . .

There are a variety of ways in radio research to look for a new format or to improve a station's performance, but the least expensive way that is both reliable and valid is a telephone perceptual study. While a telephone study isn't cheap, it costs far less than conducing individual interviews or focus groups with 400 to 500 respondents.

Format Search. The questionnaire for a format search study includes several sections, including, but not limited to: (1) Finding out the type of music (or news/talk/sports) the listeners like; (2) The radio stations available in the area that provide that entertainment; and (3) How well the radio stations are doing in providing that/those format(s). The information from these areas, and a few others, are used to determine which formats, if any, are available.

Improve Performance. In most situations, this type of perceptual study involves two sections: (1) How the respondents rate the importance of a series of radio programming elements; and (2) How they rate one or more radio stations on those elements. This process follows the three steps for success I have mentioned hundreds of times in this column: (1) Find out what the listeners want; (2) Give it to them; and (3) Tell them that you gave it to them.

More information? Unfortunately, there aren't many publicly available sources that discuss radio research methods. I don't like pushing my own information, but the only source I know that discusses all radio research methods is the research book I wrote with Joe Dominick – Mass Media Research: An Introduction, 9th Edition.


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Roger Wimmer is owner of Wimmer Research and senior author of Mass Media Research: An Introduction, 10th Edition.

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