Listeners look different in automated ratings

Electronic measurement of radio listening habits is changing the perceived popularity of programming formats, The New York Times says.

More men listen to soft rock than radio executives thought, and fewer people listen to classical music stations. Mainstream formats like oldies, news and country have larger audiences, but smooth jazz really is a bore.

“Talk radio, a largely conservative format, turns out to have fewer fans than previously thought,” the newspaper says.

The radio industry’s conversion over the past year from measuring ratings through surveys to monitoring listeners electronically has resulted in stations changing their formats and advertisers shifting their money, the report says.

The television industry switched from diary entries to metered ratings in 1987 and saw similarly surprising changes.

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