Hey Doc: I love your column. Hopefully, you can help me out with my little problem. We have had three bats in our house in the last year. The problem is that I can't figure out where they are getting in. I have checked the entire house and can't figure it out. Is there some type of exterminator that would be able to help me? Thanks for any help doc!
By the way, why would bats be attracted to come in our house to begin with? - Anonymous
Anon: I'm glad you enjoy the column. Thanks. On to your questions . . .
First, bats want to live in your house for the same reasons you do—protection from the weather, a place to sleep, and to watch TV. Well, OK, maybe not the last reason.
You said that you have checked the entire house and can't figure out how the bats are getting into your house. It's obvious that you haven't checked everywhere. If you read some of the Internet articles about bats, you'll find that they only need a hole of about one inch by one-half inch. That's small. So check again and I'm sure you'll find a little opening somewhere.
Next . . . while most professional exterminators do include bats on their hit list, I think you might be able to save money if you read some of the articles I found on the Internet and do the job yourself (unless you don't want to): Bats One and Bats Two.
Why don't the battery manufacturers have the ‘testers’ on their batteries any more? They were very helpful. - Anonymous
Anon: I called Duracell Public Relations department. They said that they dropped the testers from their lower priced batteries to save costs. The testers are still on the "ultra" line of Duracell batteries. I didn’t call the other battery manufacturers, but my guess is that their reason is similar.
Interesting question. I thought all batteries still had the tester and you forced me to dig around in my junk drawer to prove that you were correct. Thanks for teaching me.
BDS and Mediabase
I'm sure you and most of your readers are familiar with BDS & Mediabase. These companies track the songs radio stations across the country are playing. My question is, how do they do it? I thought CDs were somehow digitally encoded so that BDS or Mediabase could retrieve the information. I think I might be ill informed. As long as their techniques aren't closely guarded secrets, can you tell me how Mediabase and BDS actually operate? Keep up the great column! - Anonymous
Anon: Thanks for the comment about the column. I appreciate that.
In order to answer your question, I talked with Rich Meyer at Mediabase and Marc Birger at BDS. Just so you know, the procedures both companies use are not closely guarded secrets. Rich and Marc were both very helpful in answering all my questions, and Rich faxed an article from R & R that discussed the Mediabase procedures.
I’ll provide a brief summary of how both companies collect their data. If you want additional information, call them. As I mentioned, both companies are very receptive to questions.
BDS: Marc explained that BDS uses a three-step process to identify songs. For every song, BDS stores a "song pattern" that is used to identify and log songs that are played. The primary computer first attempts a match of radio station data to the stored song patterns. If that doesn’t work, it goes to a second computer. If the second computer can’t identify a song, it goes to a human being.
Mediabase: In the R & R article, Rich explained that Mediabase is a blend of computers and people. Field researchers analyze digitally recorded data from radio stations to produce the final product.
From what I understand, neither company uses codes from CDs to identify songs.
I am a model in the Chicago area. I am also a radio student. Is it true that ugly people get all the best radio jobs? Friends have told me that. I really want to work in radio, not modeling. - Anonymous
Anon: I thought for a long time about answering your question before I actually started typing. I’m not sure if you are pulling my leg here, but I’ll take a stab at an answer anyway. But before I do, I’d like to say this: I probably have been involved in radio in one way or another for more years than you are old and I have never heard such a question.
OK, on we go . . .
Rather than totally dismiss your question with a cute quip, I have decided to analyze what you said even though I’m not a qualified interpreter of writing. This is what I came up with:
I am a model in the Chicago area. This is a statement identifying your profession.
I am also a radio student. Another statement identifying what you do.
Is it true that ugly people get all the best radio jobs? Friends have told me that. Positioning statement from information you received from friends that is posed as a question.
I really want to work in radio, not modeling. In other words, "I want to work in radio, but only ugly people work in radio. I'm not ugly (since I'm a model) and, therefore, can't work in radio."
That’s what your question says. In reality, you have posed a form of argument known as a syllogism, which is a sequence of three propositions such that the first two propositions imply the third proposition, the conclusion. There are three major types of syllogism. The one you posed in called a "hypothetical syllogism," which uses the first premise as a conditional hypothesis: If p then q, continues (p), and concludes with therefore (q).
A well-known syllogism that demonstrates the potential absurdity of argument by syllogism is this example (also a hypothetical syllogism):
God is love
Love is blind
Stevie Wonder is God
Your syllogism is:
Beautiful people aren’t hired for radio jobs
I am a beautiful person (Implied from your job as a model)
I can’t be hired for a radio job
Only ugly people work in radio
I am not ugly
I can't work in radio
Now look at your statement very carefully, especially the first proposition (Beautiful people aren’t hired for radio jobs.) On what did your friends base this statement? What is a beautiful person? I need an operational definition and there is none provided. Where’s the beef? In other words, the word "beautiful" is meaningless unless it is very succinctly defined so that it can be quantified.
And keep in mind the axiom, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." In my case, for example, some people may think that I’m an OK looking person, while others may say that I’m a goofy looking skinny runt who has a chance of drowning everyday by slipping through the shower drain. So I don’t have any idea what your friends mean by "beautiful people."
But even if I did understand what your friends meant by "beautiful," I would say that your syllogism ranks in the same category as the one I provided about Stevie Wonder—it makes no sense.
Now, I don’t mean in any way to hurt your ego, feelings, or anything else, but . . . Even if your first proposition is true ("Beautiful people aren’t hired for radio jobs"), that doesn’t mean that your second proposition is true ("I am a beautiful person"). It may be that others do not share your definition of beauty and you might be able to find a radio job in one day.
Finally, if you read this column regularly, you should have noticed several examples of my dislike for using categorical statements such as "Everyone says . . ." or "Most people think . . ." without a foundation of empirical research. As is said in Atlanta, "That don’t be right," and I don’t subscribe to that approach. Your friends’ assessment of the relationship between beauty and working in radio makes absolutely no sense to me. Take it from a skinny dude who may slip down the shower drain one of these days.
Bellhop Brain Teaser
What's up, doc? I remember someone telling me this one a long time ago. I just looked it up again and thought I'd pass this your way. What's the answer?
Three shoe salesmen attend the same convention every year, and every year the stay at the same hotel, which offers them the same rate for the one room that they share. Upon arriving at the hotel, they head to the front desk to book their room, however, the manager is on a lunch break, so the bellhop decides to help the salesmen out. He charges $30 for the room and the three salesmen each pay $10. After returning from helping the salesmen with their luggage, he finds the manager is back, and tells him what happened. The manager is alarmed, as it has been customary for the hotel to charge them $25 for that room, and tells the bellhop to refund the difference to the salesmen.
On his way up to the room the bellhop is not sure how he is going to split the $5 with the three salesmen. He decides to give them each one dollar and keep two dollars for himself as a tip.
So the salesmen originally paid $10 each, the bellhop returns one dollar to each of them, which makes it $9 paid each—9 times 3 is 27, plus the $2 that the bellhop keeps as a tip equals $29. Where did the other dollar go? - Tom
Tom: What's up, Doc? Don't make me come out there.
The dollar didn't go anywhere. The statement should read: 9 times 3 is 27, minus the $2 the bellhop keeps as a tip equals $25.
It's semantics, so consider it this way: There are 30 one dollar bills on the table. From that pile of money, the salesmen take 3, the bellhop takes 2, and the hotel takes the remaining 25.
Best and Worst Formats
In terms of the diversity and execution of formats, which radio market do you think is the best and worst in the U.S.? – Marcy
Marcy: The operative word in your question is "execution." That’s exactly what would happen to me if I answered your question. Besides, my opinion doesn’t matter here.
There are two ways to find answers to your questions. The first is that you could conduct a national study. Radio listeners would rate the diversity and execution of the radio stations in their respective market. You could then convert these ratings to Z-scores and see which market rates highest and lowest by its residents. This doesn’t mean that you would know the "best" and "worst" radio markets according to some "professional" opinion, but it would give you an indication of the satisfaction level of listeners across the country.
A second approach is to have a panel of objective listeners rate each market on the same list of items.
Both studies would take a long time to accomplish, so I think we’ll have to settle for opinions that you can argue about at the next radio convention.
Best and Worst Radio Stations
I have a theoretical-type research question. I hear (and see on message boards) a lot of discussion about the best and worst radio stations in the country. People say one station is best or worst and then give their reasons to "support" their choice. I know this really isn’t "research" since people are only voicing opinions, so what type of research could be conducted to find out what the best and worst radio stations are, or does research like this already exist somewhere? - Anonymous
Anon: First, I agree with you that the comments made in discussions and on message boards are not research. They are opinions and should be interpreted as such. If you wanted to determine the best and worst radio stations in America using the scientific method (objective, etc.), you would have to develop operational definitions for the words best and worst. That is, what do these words mean? Best or worst in terms of what?
This would not be a simple task. For example, you could say that "best" includes "good DJs." Uh-oh. Another problem. What is a good DJ? See what I mean?
However, when the definitions of "best" and "worst" are developed, you could proceed with your analysis.
The only publicly available "best and worst radio station" research that I know about it Arbitron. In this case, "best" and "worst" are defined in reference to reported listening. In other words, the "best" stations receive the most mentions; the "worst" stations receive the fewest mentions.
If a person says that, "Radio station A has the best music mix because it’s Number 1 in Arbitron," is misstating the evidence. While the music mix may be a variable that makes the radio station appealing to listeners, saying that the music mix is the reason for the Number 1 rating is stating a correlation that may not exist. The radio station could be Number 1 for any one (or combination) of dozens of variables.
Arbitron numbers do not tell you why a radio station receives the numbers it receives. Arbitron only reports the listening that respondents record in their diaries.
If you don’t want to develop a massive headache by trying to figure out what "best" and "worst" really mean, an alternative is to use Arbitron data (if you’re willing to accept that "best" and "worst" are defined as the number of people who listen to a radio station.)
All this leads to the last comment: If Arbitron is the only readily accepted, publicly available "best and worst radio station" research, then it is important for you to find out why listeners select one radio station over another. What things do listeners consider important when they select a radio station? If you discover these things, then you’ll know why your radio station is or is not written down in a diary. In other words: Find out what they want, give it to them, and tell them that you gave it to them.
Doc: Who is the best DJ in the
United States? - Anonymous
Anon: I'm not trying to be evasive, but it all depends on your definition of the word, "Best." To discover which DJ is best, you (or someone else) would need to develop a universally accepted operational definition for the word. The reason it's necessary to have a "universally accepted" definition is so that the results could be generalized to the entire population of DJs in the U.S.
For example, let's say that I define the word "best" as: "The DJ with the largest audience." Any number of people could argue that audience size doesn't necessarily mean that the DJ is the best. It could be that a DJ has a large audience because of some other reason, such as the number of people the signal reaches. See what I mean? A DJ on a major market radio station, or satellite channel, has a larger potential audience (reach) than a DJ in a very small market—but the a DJ in a smaller market may, with a different definition of "best," be better than a DJ who has a huge audience reach.
Once "best" is defined and accepted, then I'll be able to find out who is best. Until that time, comments or opinions about which DJ in the U.S. is best are just that—comments and opinions.
Is there any type of research study that discusses who is the best guitarist of all time? I checked the Internet and there are many sites, but almost every site has a different person who is said to be the best. I thought some type of research study might solve the problem. - Anonymous
Anon: I’m not aware of any such study. However, this type of research would be a little difficult, primarily because of the word best. As with all research of this kind, you would need to have an operational definition of best. The problem with that is to get a universally accepted definition and that might be tough to do.
For example, I could say that I saw Jimi Hendrix (I did) and I rate him the best guitarist of all time. But what does that mean? He is best because he’s fast, could play behind his back, play with his teeth, or what? See what I mean?
The "best guitarist" argument will never be solved until such time that someone develops a universally accepted definition of best and that doesn’t seem likely.
What’s the best liner you have ever heard? - Anonymous
Anon: "The most music allowed by law." It was developed in 1986 or 1987 by E. Karl, a programming consultant and one of my best friends, for WMZQ in Washington, D.C. (E. Karl recently retired from the radio programming consulting business.)
Is any quarter-hour more important (more heavily listened to) than another? I’ve looked for information on the subject. All I find is unproven rhetoric. Great stuff! Thanks for the help. - Anonymous
Anon: Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you enjoy the column.
While morning drive is the most listened to daypart, a specific quarter-hour when the most people listen varies from market to market. However, I suggest to you that every quarter-hour is equally important. We don’t know when people tune in for the first time; we don’t know when people will decide to make a radio station their favorite.
Each quarter-hour should be treated equally and each should include the best programming. A radio station should offer its best at all times because we don’t know when listeners will make decisions.
Best Research Option
We are a station that has been on the air for only a few years. No research went into the format and none has been done since sign on. The owners don't believe in research, but have suggested that if we (programming) bitch enough, that they might fund a project. Which of the three would you choose if you could only do one: Music test, focus groups, telephone survey. - Anonymous
Anon: The owners don’t believe in research? During the Gulf War, I can just hear General Norman Schwarzkopf say that he doesn’t need information about Saddam Hussein’s army. "Hey, what the hell, we’ll just wing it. Charge!" Yea, right.
From my perspective, you have two choices:
1. A music test with a tack-on questionnaire to pursue non-music questions. The problem here is that your sample size will be about 100 and your error rate will be around 10%.
2. A telephone study with about 400 respondents to allow you to purse a variety of music and non-music elements. The problem here is that you won’t have specific information about your playlist (song scores).
There is a third choice . . .
Tell your owners to buy a Ouija Board (the cheapest option) and get information about all three research projects during a cocktail party with 20 friends.
Best Research Wins
Two stations, about the same coverage, both the same format, both paying about the same for research (from two different companies, obviously). One is #1, the other has half the numbers.
Is this a case of one research company is better than the other, or one station is applying the research more effectively than the other, is or is one station simply more established than the other?
If it is one station more established than the other, with pretty much everything else being equal, could the #2 station ever beat the #1 station? Or at least divide the audience equally between the two stations?
I realize this is hypothetical, two stations with the same coverage and the same but different research, but I feel that's what I'm seeing in my own market. The heritage station has lost a little ground to a "newcomer," but it's been several years and they still can't seem to catch up. I'm sure they're doing research as well, yet they seem to have peaked in the ratings with only half the audience of the heritage station.
If you can't build a better
mousetrap, can you build an equal mousetrap and catch half their audience?
Thanks so much for your insight! - Anonymous
Anon: Interesting question. Here is what I think:
First, not all researchers are the same. While some are very good, there are others pushing themselves as researchers, but don't know what they're doing. Take a look at some of the people who are running radio research companies and you'll see that some of them have no research background at all.
Second, not all radio people are the same. While some are very good, there are others who have no idea what's going on.
Third, if researchers and radio people are not all the same, then you have to expect that even though the basics of two radio stations may be the same, the executions of research and programming may be completely different. A heritage radio station sometimes accrues some addition Arbitron credit simply because it has been around for a long time, but the age of the radio station doesn't guarantee success if the managers are incompetent. In the example you describe, it appears that the people who run the heritage radio station probably know what's going on and probably use a researcher who knows how to ask the right questions. In addition, they probably also watch/listen very carefully to the new competitor so they are not caught off guard with anything the radio station might introduce.
What's the best slogan or "logo" that says, "We play the most music." Thanks. - D
D: If you follow Occam’s Razor (the simplest approach is the best), then the best slogan or logo is: We play the most music. Why make it complicated?
Are all the stars in the Big Dipper the same distance away from the earth? - Ray
Ray: The Big Dipper includes 7 stars—three in the handle and four in the "cup." I’ll use numbers to identify each star.
(The photo (edited) is from www.astropix.com/HTML/C_SPRING/BIGDIP.HTM and is copyrighted by Jerry Lodriguss.)
Here’s how far each star is away from the Earth:
Star 1: First star of handle (farthest left) – 545 trillion miles away (93 light years)
Star 2: Second star of handle – 404 trillion miles away (69 light years)
Star 3: Third star of handle closest to the cup – 2 quadrillion miles away (360 light years)
Star 4: Cup upper left – 310 trillion miles away (53 light years)
Star 5: Cup lower left – 680 trillion miles away (116 light years)
Star 6: Cup bottom right – 363 trillion miles away (62 light years)
Star 7: Cup top right – 504 trillion miles away (86 lights years)
I’m new to radio and I love what I’m doing. I’m also constantly trying to learn things and I hope you can help me. My problem is that I often hear people say, “You (or someone) needs to look at the big picture.” What is the “big picture?” Is that a dumb question? - Anonymous
Anon: No, it’s not a dumb question. On the contrary, I think it’s a great question. I hope I can help with this explanation.
The concept of the Big Picture isn’t related only to radio. It relates to literally everything in life. For example, when you were young, did your parents or another adult ever say something like, “Don’t touch the stove, it’s hot.” Hmm. Don’t touch? Why not? If you are like most other kids, you probably touched the stove and burned your finger. Whoa! That hurt! Now you know why you were told not to touch the stove—the person who told you that already saw the “Big Picture” of touching a hot stove. In other words, they knew the relationship of touching the hot surface to getting burned.
Or what about knowing that you’ll get sick if you drink too much alcohol, or have sore muscles if you exercise too much, or get a speeding ticket if you drive 100 m.p.h., or get a flat tire if you ride over hundreds of nails? All of these are Big Picture situations because you can “see” the end or result of an action; you can predict what will happen if you proceed with a decision or action. In other words, you synthesize information from a variety of sources to allow you to understand the consequences of one or more individual items. Sometimes the items are obviously related and sometimes they aren’t.
In radio, seeing the Big Picture relates to understanding how all the individual elements work together to produce the final product. For example, radio isn’t commercials. Radio is music or talk shows. Radio isn’t DJs or talk show hosts. Radio isn’t liners, slogans, ramps, shouts, IDs, and all the other “little” things. Radio is a compilation of all these things.
If you could go to the “radio gallery” at an art museum and view the “Big Picture of Radio” painting on the wall, what would you see? My guess is that you would see some type of painting that represents “Entertainment and/or Information.” You would not see a picture of a DJ. You would not see a picture of a liner or slogan. You would not see a picture of a commercial. And so on.
How does this relate to someone telling you to see the Big Picture? It relates to you (or anyone) being able to see how all the pieces fit together. For example, a person who sees the Big Picture of radio can “see” how changing a morning show team will affect everything on the radio station, or “see” the affects of adding another commercial minute to afternoon drive, or “see” the affects of adding more recurrents to a playlist, and so on.
Another example of seeing the Big Picture relates to research. A researcher who has been around for a while can “see” the final report and tables for the project while the questionnaire is being designed. The researcher knows how the results will be organized (not what the results will be) long before the project specifics are finalized.
The ability to see the Big Picture takes talent, experience, and the ability to synthesize a lot of information. Some people can do it and some can’t—and it’s very easy to identify which of these two groups a person belongs in. To get into the “Big Picture” group, pay attention to everything. How does one element relate to everything else? If you can’t see this clearly now, continue asking questions? Just keep asking.
Hey Doc! I was wandering around
the Internet looking for motorcycle photos, and I was really surprised to see
what I think is you on a website called "PhatRatt.com." Am I correct? Is that
you on the website? Here is the
link to the page I'm talking about. - Anonymous
Anon: Yes, that's me on my 2001 Bourget Kruzer, and a few of the bike alone. The Vietnam Moving Wall was here in Denver only July 4, 2008, and I went to pay my respects. The guy from PhatRatt.com asked to take a few pictures.
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