Figuring Percentages

For some reason I always have trouble figuring out percentages. For example, assume that my radio station's 12+ share goes from a 5.6 to 7.1. Is there an easy way to figure out the percentage increase? – Frank

Frank: You aren't alone with this "trouble." Many people get confused with calculating percentage increases and decreases. Let's take a look . . .

The typical way to figure out your increase is to subtract your first number (5.6) from the second number (7.1). This produces a difference of 1.5 points. You then take this difference and divide it by your first number to get your percentage increase: 1.5 / 5.6 = 26.8 percent.

However, there is another way: Take your second number and divide it by the first number, and subtract 1. Like so . . . 7.1 / 5.6 = 1.268 – 1 = 26.8 percent (I moved the decimal place over two places).

OK. Test time. What would your percentage increase be if you went from 5.6 to 8.4? (You should come up with 50% using either method.)

But what happens if your radio station's share goes the other way, from 7.1 to 5.6? What percent decrease did you have? The procedures are the same:

Method 1: 7.1 – 5.6 = -1.5 . . . -1.5 / 7.1 = -21.1 percent

Method 2: 5.6 / 7.1 = .78 – 1 = -21.1 percent

Test time again. What would your percentage decrease be if you went from 7.1 to 4.4? (You should come up with –38% using either method.)

File Sharing

Doc: Dumb question for the day…Not that I am worried...I have a cavalier attitude towards the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America)...Bring it on...Father of two, husband, radio guy…come after me...throw me in jail...I welcome it.


It’s funny to me that the recording industry whines about downloads being the cause for CD sales declines.  Could it be that people are sick of buying CDs that only have two or three decent songs on them?  Whatever...that’s for another forum.  My question is this:


Everything I have seen in the news is that the RIAA is going after file sharers.  Now, I have used Napster, Kazaa, and various other services (is that a confession of a felon?), but when I use these services, I don’t share.  I know I’m a bad person, but I download songs I either need for work (mostly karaoke tracks) or songs that we need but don’t get in time to add.


Since I don’t let others download songs I have on my computer, I am not sharing.  Hence, I am not a file sharer.  Would the evil overlords still hit me?  It’s a technicality, but still I ain’t afraid of them.  Bring it on, RIAA.


(By the way...keep me anonymous.) - Anonymous


Jim…No, just kidding:  First, just so you and other readers know…If you don’t sign your name or include your email address in your question to me, there is no way for me to know who you are.  When you hit the “submit” button at the top of the column to send the question to me, your question passes through the All Access server, but your email address and other identifying information are stripped from your note.  I do not know who sends questions unless the person includes identifying information in his/her question.  Understand?


OK, now on to your attempt to rationalize your actions…(I call them the way I see them)…


You say that you aren’t sharing files.  That’s correct from the perspective of not sharing the files with someone else after you download them.  However, you are still involved in file sharing because you download the files from someone else.


File sharing doesn’t only refer to allowing other people to take files from your computer.  It also refers to taking files from another person.  You downloaded the files from someone without paying for them—and that is what the RIAA is fighting.  The RIAA doesn’t want you or anyone else to obtain music without paying something.


Is that fair?  Is it fair for artists and publishers to want money for their product?  Let’s look at it this way…If you put in all the time and effort to write, perform, and produce a song, would you want people to pay you for your work?  Would it be OK if hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people obtain your song without paying?  That may be OK with you, I’m not sure.  But from what I know about many artists and music publishers, they are interested in making money from their products.  Music is their livelihood and that’s how they put food on the table.


This is the heart of the entire argument about file sharing—Artists and publishers produce music to make a living, but many people obtain the music without paying anything.


Let me put it another way…you said you download songs to put on the air, so I assume you’re a PD or MD.  Would it be fair to you if your company asked you to perform your duties without a salary?  Probably not.  And it’s logical to assume that most artists and most music publishers don’t want to perform their duties as a volunteer project.  They want to be paid for their work, just as (I assume) you want to be paid for your work so you have money for your family.


Here is another reason why I have problems siding with people who download music for free…As you may know, I wrote a college textbook with Joe Dominick (University of Georgia) called Mass Media Research: An Introduction, 7th Edition.  (We just started working on the 8th edition.)


Each year, Joe Dominick and I receive royalties from the sale of the book.  The problem is that we don’t receive the royalties from all sales of the book because many texts are used books.  Some students sell their text back to the school’s bookstore or other outlet, and when the book is resold, the bookstore or other outlet keeps the profit from the sale.  Is that fair?  The bookstore/outlet had nothing to do with the writing or production of the book, yet it makes a profit on the textbook.  Many authors (including me) and publishers have a problem with this practice.


Now, you may say something like, “Well, that’s the way it goes.”  The problem is that this practice affects the cost of the new text.  In order to recover some of the lost revenue from used book sales, publishers routinely increase the retail price of their texts.  Who is hurt here?  The authors?  No.  The publishers?  No.  The students who buy new textbooks?  Yes.  The students take the hit because they pay a higher price to attempt to recover some of the lost revenue from used book sales.  (Don’t misunderstand me here.  Even though new book prices are high and royalties are based on these higher prices, authors and publishers still fail to make a large sum of money because of used book sales.)


If the third party sellers would pay royalties on their sales of used textbooks, the price of new textbooks would drop.  This won’t happen unless the students revolt.  They should demand that bookstores and other third party booksellers pay royalties to authors and publishers.  If the students would band together, new book prices would drop.


OK…I related that story to provide some background on why I support paying royalties for downloaded music.  People perform work with the understanding that they will be paid for their work.  When people perform their work (artists, publishers, authors…and you) and other people obtain the product free, then you’re naturally going to create some frustration.


You “beg” the RIAA to “bring it on.”  Well, that’s what they are doing.  Their lawsuits are attempts to get people to pay for products produced by someone else.  Now, I know that some people say things like, “I’m only downloading one song,” or “I’m not killing, maiming, or raping anyone…I’m just downloading a song.”  Both of those statements are basically true.  It’s only a few songs (in most cases), and no one is being killed.  But…downloading songs without paying is stealing.  What?  Stealing?  Yes…stealing.  It’s the same as if you go to a retail store and put a CD in your pocket and walk out the door.  It’s the same as you putting in 40-50+ hours at your radio station and receiving a “thank you” note from your GM at the end of the week.  Do you put in all the hours as a volunteer?  I doubt it.  And I doubt that musicians and music publishers put in all the hours so you and others can have free music.


You also suggest that people download songs because of the quality of music on CDs…“Could it be that people are sick of buying CDs that only have two or three decent songs on them?”  Your approach here is an argumentative fallacy known as a “Red Herring,” which emerges when an irrelevant topic is presented to divert attention from the original issue.  The idea is to “win” an argument by directing attention away from the original topic.


CDs contain bad songs so it’s therefore OK to download music on the Internet?  Doesn’t hold water, my friend.  Stealing is stealing and that’s what file sharing is—stealing.


I will probably get some comments from readers who disagree with me.  That’s OK.  What I will say to each person is what I just wrote to you…Perform your job as a volunteer and then it should be OK to download songs from the Internet without paying anything.


One final thing…this whole music sharing phenomenon is extremely complicated and causes some very heated discussions.  Some people disagree with the RIAA because they say something like, “Hey, wait a minute.  If I buy a magazine, book, or newspaper, and then give it to another person, does that person have to pay for it too?  What about if I make a copy of an audio cassette?  What about a copy of a VHS?”  And so on.


These are all legitimate questions.  I believe the music file sharing problem emerged because of the Internet.  Music sharing has been around for years, but the Internet has made it a public activity where millions of people are involved.  When huge numbers of people do anything, it attracts attention—especially when money is involved.  A few copied audio cassettes didn’t attract a lot of attention.  Millions of shared music files creates a lot of attention.


Will music file sharing disappear?  I doubt it.  Just as I doubt that theft of merchandise from retail stores will disappear.  I can’t speak for the RIAA, but I believe they (like all businesses) are trying to reduce the amount of music theft.  There is no way to eliminate file sharing, but there are ways to reduce its pervasiveness.

File Sharing Comment

You made many good points in your response to the file sharing question.  However, I wanted to point out a couple of things.


I too work in radio, and make about $30,000 a year.  Barely able to support my family and  no, I would not be willing to put in 40 hours of work for free.  On the other hand, if I made literally millions of dollars a year, as many of these artists do, I wouldn’t mind if people wanted my song to listen to, in fact, I would be all for it.  Most of the file sharers aren’t in radio, or in some way making money off of the songs they download, they simply listen to the songs.


Another point I would like to make is, you said, “A few copied audio cassettes didn’t attract a lot of attention.”  Do you honestly believe that only a few cassettes were copied throughout the 1980s?  I would say millions were copied, not to mention recorded off the radio.  Times change, and MP3s, are in a way, the cassettes of the day. - Anonymous


Anon:  I’m sorry, but the fact that your salary is not equal to (or even close to) the artists who perform and/or produce music does not make it “OK” to take their products without paying for them.  I understand what you’re saying, but that doesn’t cut the mustard.


If I were to use your rationalization, then I think I deserve a Ferrari without paying for it since I don’t make as much money as the people who can afford to pay for one.


You also asked if I honestly believe that only a few cassettes were copied.  No, I don’t think only a few cassettes were copied, but I do think that it was “a few” in comparison to the number of music files shared on the Internet.  In addition, unlike the highly public nature of Internet music file sharing, cassette copying was (is) done in private.  That’s why it didn’t create as much attention in the music industry.  (I know that the record labels worried about cassette copying and introduced a variety of measures to inhibit the practice.)


As far as I know, the fact that technological advancements have created new recording media does not automatically grant users the right to acquire the material without paying for it.

File Swapping

Hi Doc, What are the copyright issues regarding radio stations who are or have been file swapping and downloading music for airplay?  Do BMI/ASCAP fees cover radio, or can individual radio stations expect a subpoena from “the man?” - Anonymous


Anon:  I called ASCAP (800.992.7227) with your question and was told that ASCAP (and BMI) have no “jurisdiction” over the file swapping situation.  The person told me that the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is the organization you need to “worry about.”


If you go to the RIAA site, you’ll find an article about file swapping and the organization’s efforts to put a halt to the process.  Click here to read it: File Swapping Stuff.


To stay away from “the man” as you say, I suggest that you avoid (don’t do it) file swapping of copyrighted music.

Filtering Research

Hi-ya Docta.  My GM put a huge survey on our website and invited listeners to fill it out.  The response has been great (300 or more so far), but since we have no idea who these answers are coming from (there was no screening process other than “are you over 13?”), I don’t know how much stock to put into the results.


For instance, the most common complaint was repetition (duh).  There also seemed to be a perception that we played many styles of music that we don’t play, or that we rarely play.  There were complaints about artists we have not touched in more than a year, alleging that all we do is play their music or their kind of music.


While the information seems valuable and useful, what kind of advice would you offer about how much we should rely on it and make decisions from it?  Sure, the respondents weren’t screened, but with such a large sample it seems that the major issues might be valid. - Anonymous


Anon:  Hi-ya to you too.  Interesting question.  Let’s see what I can do here.


1.  Your concern about not knowing who is answering your questionnaire is the main problem with conducting research over the Internet.  Even though you have a screener question about age (“Over 13”), that doesn’t mean your 300+ respondents are over that age.  They can lie about their age.


Also…How many people submitted more than one questionnaire?  How many respondents are employees of competing radio stations?  How many are respondents don’t listen to your radio station?  How many are from outside of your market?  How many completed the survey as a joke?  And so on.


You don’t know the answer to any of these questions and therefore it doesn’t make sense to rely on the answers.  In addition, there is an indication of a misperception of the music you’re playing.  That’s a red flag to indicate that something “don’t be right” with your sample.


2.  In your last paragraph, you say, “Sure, the respondents weren’t screened, but with such a large sample it seems that the major issues might be valid.”  Read the following paragraph very carefully.  Listen to me now and believe me later.


The size of a sample has nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the sample.  This relates to the research term called the “Law of Large Numbers,” which relates to the fact that a large sample does not compensate for the quality of the respondents.  A sample of thousands can be as bad as a sample of dozens.  Understand?  In your case, every one of your 300+ respondents could be inappropriate.  Sample size alone means nothing.


The Law of Large Numbers approach is used by companies that conduct radio listening studies in malls around the country.  They claim they have “thousands” of people in their sample, implying that the sample must be good.  Sorry, but sample size alone doesn’t guarantee quality.


You ask what kind of advice I would offer about how much you should rely on the data and make decisions based on the information.  Here’s my answer:  You have no idea about the validity and reliability of your data.  What you have at best are indications of the perceptions of your listeners.  What you need to do is verify these indications in a legitimate scientific study (telephone perceptual).  Should you make any decisions based on your current information?  No.  No way.

Finding a Radio Station

Is there a way I can find out which radio stations can be picked up in a specific Zip Code? - Anonymous


Anon:  One good source called the “Radio Locator” does just that, although with other ways to locate radio stations.  Click here: Radio Locator.


Is it possible to make a skyrocket out of a “Piccolo Pete?”  Thanks. - Anonymous


Anon:  I know as much about fireworks as I do about Yak droppings, so I had to find  a Piccolo Pete on the Internet.  It looks like this fun and exciting incendiary device is designed to stay on the ground.


Can you make a skyrocket out of a Piccolo Pete?  Hmm.  I’m not sure, but I think there are two possibilities:  (1) Go to a playground that has a teeter-totter.  Place your fun incendiary device on one end of the teeter-totter, light it, then run around to the other side and push down really hard.  This should cause the Piccolo Pete to fly into the air; or (2) Look for other alternatives on this Internet search I set up for you.


Finally, I have no idea how to do this and my final recommendation is to stay away from any type of fireworks.  They are dangerous and you could get hurt.

First Broadcaster

Who was the first radio broadcaster? - Anonymous


Anon:  That’s a tough question because several people were involved in the early years of radio and many are considered “first.”  The answer depends on what you mean by “broadcaster.”  However, many people claim that Charles Herrold is the first broadcaster (1909 in San Jose).


But I don’t want to reinvent the information wheel.  Here are three good articles about the history of radio: History One, History Two, and History Three.

First CD

Doctor: I need to know who (Title and Artist) was the first U.S. band to have/produce a CD.  I found that the time frame was 1983, but have trouble finding the band. - Scott


Scott:  The first CD released in Japan, but available in some areas of the U.S., was Billy Joel's “52nd Street” in October, 1982.


According to a several sources, three companies released the CDs in the U.S. in 1983:  CBS released 12 titles, Telarc released 15, and Denon released 30.  In that group of 57 titles, it is tough to determine which one was first.


For more information, click here: CBS and here Telarc.

First CD Revisited

Wasn’t the first CD created in Rome, New York in the Rome Laboratories? - Anonymous


Anon:  According to several sources I found, the CD was co-invested by Sony and Phillips.  Rome Laboratories may be involved, but I can’t find any reference for that.  However, while searching for other stuff, I found a reference for the first CD manufactured in the United States.  According to a few sources, there were two: a promotional CD sampler called the “Edison CD Sampler” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The U.S.A.”

First Golf Course

What was the first 18-hole golf course in the United States? - Anonymous


Anon:  The answer to your question surprised me because it’s located in the town where I grew up.  It’s also the course where my dad taught my twin brother and I how to play.  (I learned and played at the first 18-hole course in the U.S. and didn’t know it.)


The first 18-hole golf course in the United States is in Downers Grove, Illinois.  Click here for more information: First 18-Hole Golf Course.

First Internet Service Provider (ISP)

What was the first ISP? When was the internet open to the general population? - Anonymous


Anon:  From what I can find, the first ISP (a company that provides access to the Internet) was Al Gore, Inc.  No wait, he just invested the Internet.  OK, so he didn’t.


If you search the Internet for the Internet history, you’ll find a little confusion about the first ISP.  In an article written by Spike Ilacqua, he claims that the first ISP was created in 1989 by Barry Shein, who formed a company called Software Tool & Die.  You can read Mr. Ilacqua’s article by clicking here: First ISP.


However, other information indicates that CompuServe was the first ISP in 1979 (and available to the general public), 10 years before Mr. Ilacqua’s information about Barry Shein.  You can read that information by clicking here: CompuServe.


The will always be debates with “firsts” in anything as popular as the Internet, so you can select whichever source you wish to document the first ISP.  If you need additional information, you can see one of the best summaries of the Internet by clicking here: Internet Summary.

First Personal Computer

My friend said the first personal computer was made by Apple.  Is that true? - Anonymous


Anon:  According to many sources, your friend is wrong.  The first computer was the “Simon,” made available in 1950.  Here’s a great article that explains the origin of the first personal computer: First PC.

First Radio Stations

What were the first radio stations?  Is there a site where I can research this? - Anonymous


Anon:  The first commercial radio station is generally recognized as KDKA in Pittsburgh, PA, which received its license on October 27, 1920.  A few other stations that followed in 1921 and 1922 include WJZ, WBZ, KYW, WDY, WCJ, WBL, WJX, and KQL.


Radio stations with three call letters are the oldest radio stations.  The FCC changed to four letters on April 4, 1922 with the assignment of WAAB (now WJBO, Baton Rouge).  A few of the old three-letter stations have changed to four letters for whatever reason.


Here are a few websites for information about radio history and radio call letters:


Radio History 

Museum Archives

University of Kansas


First Stock Certificate

In the movie, "Ocean's Twelve," the characters steal a stock certificate from a collector.  George Clooney's character says that it is the first stock certificate ever issued.  Is that true, or is that just made up for the movie? - Anonymous


Anon:  If you believe the information on the Internet, the statement is true.  If you read some of the articles in the search, you'll see that the Dutch East India Trading Company issued the first stock in 1602.

Fist Bump

Doc:  Silly question, I know, but do you know where and when the "fist bump" originated? - Anonymous

Anon: I didn't know the answer to your question, but I did find a few articles that should help . . . click here.

5-Gallon Jug Problem

In the movie "Die Hard with a Vengeance," Bruce Willis and Samuel Jackson are faced with solving a problem with two water jugs. One is a 5-gallon jug and the other is a 3-gallon jug. They are supposed to come up with four gallons of water. I watched the movie a few times but they go so fast I can't follow how they get four gallons of water. Can you please explain the answer?-  Anonymous


Anon:  OK, here we go . . .


1. Fill up the 5-gallon jug and pour 3 gallons into the 3-gallon jug.

2. That leaves 2 gallons in the 5-gallon jug.

3. Empty the 3-gallon jug.

4. Pour the remaining 2 gallons in the 5-gallon jug into the 3-gallon jug.

5. You now have 2 gallons in the 3-gallon jug.

6. Fill the 5-gallon jug again and pour it into the 3-gallon jug.

7. The 3-gallon jug already has 2 gallons in it, so you will only be able to pour out one gallon.

8. That leaves 4 gallons in the 5-gallon jug.


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