Independent Record Labels

What are the current percentages of independent labels domestically compared to majors? - Anonymous


Anon:  I'm not sure exactly, but from the lists of record labels on the Internet, my guess is that only about 10% of the record labels in the United States can be considered "major" labels.  It's clear from the lists that most record labels are small, independent companies.


One good website demonstrates this very clearly—click here and you'll see only a handful of large companies in the list of about 196 record labels.

Index - How to Determine an Index Against a Zero Population

Let's say you want to measure the impact of your programming from the number of calls it generates, and you want to divide your callers into groups to study each separately.  Silly, I know, but it's easier than trying to explain what I'm really trying to do.


Anyway, you do some analysis and find out 100 lefties called on Tuesday, and nobody called in on Monday, period.  To calculate the index for lefties on Tuesday (100 callers, 100% lefties) against the total calls on Monday (0), how do you avoid having to divide by zero?


I sound like a crazy person, don't I?  Yet, I'm stuck here in a very similar (but more relevant) situation and can't seem to clear the cloud.  I have to do over 100 such comparisons in which my comparison "base" is 0, and I, (1) Don't want to manually calculate them (let Excel do the work), and; (2) I need to see all of them, even the gigantic ones.


I feel like the answer is right in front of my face, but I'm willing to look foolish here in a public forum in order to clear the fog.  Thanks! - Anonymous


Anon:  First, there is no worry about you looking foolish in public since no one knows who submitted the question.  Questions come to me without any identifying information.  The only way I know the identity of a person who submits a question is if the person includes his/her name and or email address.  Second, even if people did know who you are and made fun of you, then you should just have them call me.  I'll eliminate that garbage in about 30 seconds.  Never feel foolish about asking any question.  Fools are those who ridicule others for asking questions, not those who ask the questions.


Before I answer your question, I need to raise a red flag about doing anything with phone calls to your radio station.  There are several problems with doing anything with the information you gather from the people who call your radio station, including, but not limited to:  (1) The people who call your radio station may or may note represent the general population of your listeners—the data might be 100% incorrect; (2) While all media research uses volunteer sample in that people have to agree to participate after they have been randomly selected, the people who call your radio station are complete volunteers in that they made the effort to contact your radio station; (3) One person might call in 20 times, or even 100 times, which really messes things up since you may have a sample of only one person, or just a handful of people; and (4) You don't know who is calling your radio station.  Of your 100 callers, 100 may be employees of your competitors who are trying to mess things up.


In summary, I can't think of one positive thing about doing anything with people who voluntarily call your radio station.  Oh, wait, there may be one—thank the person for calling.  If you want information about your listeners, you have to initiate the phone calls (or a research company you hire).


Now, on to your question . . .


Wait a minute.  Before I get to your question, we need to understand the word index.  As you may know, an index is a number (actually a percentage) used to indicate the change in magnitude of something, where the starting point is known as the base (usually established as 100).  There are several well-known indexes (which by the way, is the correct word to use—indices isn't usually accepted anymore) such as the Dow Jones Index and the Consumer Price Index.


OK . . . Now to your question . . .


Your confusion is based on the problem of dividing by zero.  In the case of using a starting point of zero, you'll have to work around it.  Here is how to do it . . .


Recall that most indexes use "100" as the base, so in your case, the zero starting point for lefties becomes 100.  That's your Monday starting point.  On Tuesday, 100 lefties call in.  Now, you can't divide by zero, so in the case of a zero starting point, you should write a formula in Excel that adds the number of callers for Tuesday (or any other day) to the base number 100.


On Tuesday, then, your index number for lefties is 200, which means a 100% increase over Monday's number.  Get it?  Remember that an index shows the percentage change from the base period to the next period in question.  You had a 100% increase in lefties who called, so that must be added to 100.  (Keep in mind that adding the second date's numbers only works if the starting point is zero.)


Now . . . if you don't want to start with a base of 100, then use zero as your starting point.  If you do, you would simply add 100 (the number of lefties who called on Tuesday), to Monday's number, which is zero.  If you do this, your lefties index would be 100, or 100% (over your base starting point).

Industry Perceptions

Hi Doc.  Why is everybody complaining about voice tracking?  Loss of jobs and stale programming are the same arguments we heard in the 60s and 70s with the rise of automation.  Why is it now such a big deal?


I compare it to the grousing some have with the big companies who own several hundred radio stations.  How different is that from the grousing that took place in the 70s when the “evil ownership” was the old geezer who owned the station and his idiot son who was program director?


Why can’t people just accept the realities of business as they are and continue to do their best work, no matter what happens?  Time marches on. - Anonymous


Anon:  I haven’t seen the word “grousing” (complaining) used in a long time.  That’s an interesting word.


Prelude: I realize that what I say will not change anything in the industry.  My purpose here is to attempt to objectively look at the situation to understand why so many people are upset.


First, although you may not have intended to do so, I don’t think it’s fair to single out voice tracking (loss of jobs) and stale programming as the only items people are complaining about.  These are only two elements of a bigger picture, and I think it’s best to look at the big picture—the picture you mentioned in your second paragraph.


The big picture is consolidation and consolidation produces downsizing.  (These two words are virtually interchangeable and hereafter the use of the word consolidation refers to consolidation and downsizing.)  What we must understand is that the radio industry isn’t the only industry experiencing consolidation.  I’m sure you’re aware that consolidation and loss of jobs are also evident in virtually every industry in the United States.


OK, so the loss of jobs and significant changes are not unique to radio.  Watching the national news stories about the American economy is not a pleasant experience.  Many industries are hurting and many people are losing their jobs.  Then there is the additional negativism created by slime bag corporate executives, people making money on insider stock information, accounting scams, a general lack of confidence in America, and more.  So what?


Well, all of this—the situation in radio, dreadful economy, scandalous activities in many areas of corporate America, and a lack of confidence—has created a very pessimistic attitude for many people.  In radio, people may be complaining about voice tracking, but if you look more closely, you’ll see that the complaints have a much wider base.


Quite frankly, although some of the complaints about radio may be unfounded and unjustified, I believe that many complaints about the dramatic changes in radio are warranted (loss of GM and PD positions, fewer DJs, corporate centralization of almost everything).  I believe complaining is good in many cases.


The current situation reminds me of what happened during the Vietnam War.  There were basically two sides—one group was against the war and the other group supported the war and/or the government.  The protesters said, “Get out of Vietnam.”  The supporters said, “America, love it or leave it.”


Love it or leave it?  The protesters were supposed to accept what was going on and just forget it?  Excuuusse me!  How about, “America—I love it, but let’s change it!”  And that’s exactly what happened.


That’s what I see happening with the complaints about radio’s current situation.  I’m not sure if the changes in radio are good or bad because the changes are still new.  However, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with the approach of, “Radio—I love it, but let’s change it.”


I don’t think it’s wise in every situation to blindly accept the decisions of others (leaders included).  I think it’s wise to have intelligent protests and debates because they often produce better products, procedures, and philosophies.  I don’t think it’s right to blindly accept that the “new” radio is the right radio.  The current situation with voice tracking and all the rest may in fact be what radio will forever be, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with questioning what’s happening.


Don’t misunderstand me and think that I’m telling you that you’re wrong—I am not in the position to criticize your perceptions.  However, you must realize a few things:

I agree with you that radio in the 60s and 70s had situations that created complaints and that the complaints may be very similar to those heard today.  But that doesn’t mean that the current complainers should keep quiet.  Since you used history as an example, how about this?  I can remember many older people in the 60s and early 70s telling the Vietnam protesters that they should keep quiet—that Vietnam was no different from the Korean War situation they experienced in the 40s and 50s.


Your experience in radio during the 60s and 70s is a valuable asset you can use to help the younger folks try to understand what’s going on today.  Help them out.


In summary, the changes in radio such as voice tracking, one GM and PD for several stations, and so on, may be the future of radio.  But there is no harm is questioning to make sure that the decisions are correct.

"ING" in Broadcasting

My buddy and I are arguing whether it is correct or incorrect to add ing to the end of words during a sportscast.  I feel that Ing, while not totally conversationally correct, makes the sportscast sound more topical and avoids making the news sound outdated.  However, my friend thinks ing inserted in writing is terrible grammar and cringes anytime he hears this.  Here is an example:



What do you think?  Also, could a person not get a job if an air check sent to a radio station includes the use of ing?  Thanks for your help!  - Anonymous


Anon: You and your buddy aren't the only people who discuss which tense, or which grammar to use, in news and sports reports.  Using your example about the Red Sox, here is what you need to consider:


Are you reporting something that is happening now, or are you reporting something that already happened?  If the event is happening while you are reporting it, then you should use present tense, in which case you may use ing.


Once again, using your example, the most grammatically correct way to report the Red Sox score is:


"The Red Sox lost 5-4 to the Yankees tonight.  Alex Rodriguez hit a grand slam to win the game."


Or, let's say that you (or someone) replays the audio from Alex Rodriguez's home run.  It would OK to say, "Here is the description of Alex Rodriguez hitting his game-winning grand slam."


I don't think using ing would cost you a possible job because many radio and TV personalities make this same mistake.   "Alex Rodriguez hit a grand slam in the win" doesn't make the radio or TV station sound dated.  The statement relates to something that already happened and, therefore, using past tense is 100% correct.

Insider Trading - Stock Market Information

Doc: Is there a way to find out the sale and purchase of stock by a person who works for (or runs) a company? - Anonymous

Anon:  Sure.  The information you're referring to is called Insider Trading — the share buy/purchase activity of a company's top executives.


While there are several places on the Internet to find this information, one of the easiest to use is the "Investor" page on MSN's Money website.  When you click on the link at the end of this paragraph, enter a company name or stock symbol in the upper left of the page (just to the left of the GET QUOTE button).  To get to MSN Money, click here.


After you get to a company's summary page, look on the left hand side of the page and click on the link that says, Insider Trading.  It will show the information you asked about.  For example, here is Microsoft's home page, and this is the Insider Trading information.


If you want to find Insider Trading for other companies, just enter the company name or stock symbol in the box at the top left of the page.

Insignificant Things

Doc:  I'd like your advice on something.  Our PD worries about everything, including the most insignificant things in the world.  He makes comments about even the smallest items, like a scrap of paper on the floor, and it drives everyone at the radio station crazy.  Is there some way to get him to stop worrying about so many insignificant things? - Anonymous


Anon: Have you heard the term, "individual differences?"  It means that each person is unique and perceives everything from his or her own perspective.  What some people perceive as good may be perceived as bad by others.  While some people may worry about scraps of paper on the floor, other people could care less.


I'm assuming your PD doesn't have any significant mental problems, so I think the key for you (and the other people at the radio station) is to get a better understanding of your PD.  The best way to do this is to ask your PD why something is so important (don't ask in a critical way, but in an "informational" way).  If he mentions a scrap of paper on the floor, ask him why that is important.  You may learn a lot.


If that doesn't work, then you'll just have to accept that your PD has a unique perspective and just live with it.


Your question reminded me of an abstract painting I did many years ago.  I was thinking about the significance of things while walking on the grass in my yard.  My neighbor at that time worked in his yard almost every day.  He spent a lot of time and money on the grass in his yard and it was very important to him.  That didn't make a lot of sense to me and I wanted to do a painting to try to show how the significance of things differs from one person to another.


However, instead of using a person in my painting, I used an ant.  As the painting depicts, at least from my perspective, is that while grass isn't important to me, it is very important to an ant — each blade is important and each blade may be an insurmountable task.  Here is my painting called, "An Ant's Eye View."


"An Ant's Eye View"


See the little ant (the black spot) near the bottom in the large space between the blades of grass?  From the ant's perspective, the blades of grass are a big deal.  Your PD may see everything from the perspective of the ant.  Give him a break.

Insignificant Things — Comment (The Fussy PD)

Doc: Can you say anal retentive?  BTW, I love your painting.  Glad things worked out so well with Bill Medley.  I really enjoyed your visit.  It was great to see you and Darnell again.  As ever. - Jerry Gordon KNUU Las Vegas


Jerry: Anal retentive?  Maybe, but as I said, each person perceives things in his or her own way — it's the old "Eye of the Beholder" thing from psychology.


I'm glad you enjoy the painting.  I'm not talented enough to paint real things, so I only paint abstract stuff (one of my hobbies).  However, I always try to paint something that means something to me, rather than just a bunch of lines and blotches.  For example, many years ago, I wanted to paint a depiction of the word, "vasectomy."  After many failed designs (in my opinion), this is what I came up with, and the symbol is actually copyrighted.  (The photo is a scan of the sheet I sent to the Copyright office when I submitted my application, not a photo of the actual painting.)


Vasectomy - ©1979 Roger D. Wimmer


Now, this simple painting became another lesson for me in reference to learning about individual differences and how people see, perceive, and understand things.  After my copyright was granted, I had a few hundred t-shirts printed with the vasectomy design that I thought would be purchased only by men.  I thought this because, in my opinion, the symbol means — None can get OUT (the little swimmer depicted in black).


My surprise was that mostly women bought the t-shirt because, as I learned from them, from a female perspective, the symbol can also mean — I don't want any of them IN (the little swimmer depicted in black).


That's one of the reasons why I never assume people perceive things the way I do.


We enjoyed the visit to Las Vegas, happy the Bill Medley encounter worked out, and want to thank you again for allowing Darnell and me to sit in and watch what happens at your radio station.

Intel Email Virus

I received an email from Intel that starts like this: This is an official warning from Intel Corporation!  If you receive a mail with the subject: Special Offer!  DO NOT OPEN THIS MAIL!  What kind of virus is this?- Anonymous


Anon:  This is not a virus.  It’s a hoax that has been around for about four years.  You can find out more about it from the McAfee website.  Just click here: Intel Hoax.


Keep in mind that most of the email you get about viruses is a pile of Vulpes Fulva droppings.  Although there are several sources to find virus hoax information, one good one is by McAfee.  Just click here: McAfee Virus Hoax Stuff.

Interactive Telephone Systems

Dr Wimmer:  Thanks for your column.  I always find it interesting and informative.


You seem to be interested in a wide variety of things and I was wondering if you had any idea of how to bypass all of the prompts when you get one of those automated response systems when calling a company.  Someone told me to hit zero until a person answers, but someone else told me to keep hitting #.


Sometimes I just want to talk to a person and not go through press 1 for this or 2 for that.  Thanks. - Anonymous


Anon:  You're welcome for the column.  I'm glad you like it.  Thanks.  On to your question . . .


You aren't the only person who is frustrated with automated answering systems.  In fact, a guy named Paul English became so upset about automated systems, that he took the time to find out how to get around them, and then developed a website called, "Get Human."


On his website, he has a database of automated system shortcuts—click here.


You won't find every company listed on English's list.  So . . . If you encounter a company that isn't on the list, the two suggestions you offered (hit zero or #) often work, and I also found that rapidly hitting a bunch of keys will confound the system and get you through to a human being.

 International Space Station

Doc:  Do you know if there is any way to find information about viewing times for the International Space Station?  I saw a story about it on our local TV news and I would like to get more information. - Anonymous


Anon: Sure . . . you can find viewing times for the International Space Station (ISS) and other satellites on the NASA website—click here.  First, select the state you live in, and then the city you live in (or the city closest to you).

Internet Explorer

Hi there, Dr. Wimmer.  I really enjoy your column.  I learn something new each time I read it.  I hope you can help me out with a problem I’ve had recently.  If you’re trying to download an MP3 file using Internet Explorer, you’ll get a dialog box that says something like, “what do you want to do with this file? Open?  Save?  Cancel?”  All of a sudden, that box isn’t coming up and I can’t get mp3s anymore.  Do you know how to fix that?  I am running XP as my OS.  Thanks and take care.  Bye. - Anonymous


Anon:  Hi there to you too.  I’m glad you enjoy the column.  Thanks.


I asked a few computer geeks about your problem and none had a specific answer.  They agreed that your problem could relate to a variety of things.  So I looked for an alternative and I think I may have your answer.


Go to (the former “”) and do a search for can't download mp3.  You’ll see that there are several discussions about the problem, which leads me to believe that the computer guys I called were correct—there may not be one specific solution to the problem.

Internet Explorer Problem

Hi, Dr. Wimmer:  I use Internet Explorer on the XP operating system..  OK, I've cleared the memory in IE, yet some sites that I've visited are still showing up in the address bar.  Like, if I typed "rad" shows up.  Do I need to completely install a new version of IE, or is there another way to completely delete the sites I've visited?  I ask, because I don’t want my employer to see that I'm scoping out new jobs.  Thanks, man. - Anonymous

Anon:  There are a few things you can do.  First, go to the “Tools” option and delete your temporary Internet files.  Second, hit the “Clear History” button 3 or 4 times (one hit doesn’t always clear the history.  Third, in the “Tools” area, go to “Content” and turn off the “Auto Complete” option in the bottom of the box.

These steps may not help, and deleting the drop down stuff in the address bar is not an easy task.  Here are two sources that discuss the problem.  In addition, maybe another reader knows the answer.  This one stumps me even when I follow Microsoft’s instructions: Microsoft Help and TechTV Help

I tried Microsoft’s suggestion but can’t find the “TypedURLs” area on my computer.  I guess I’m too old or something.

Oh, by the way…There is one way to insure that your employer doesn’t see your “tracks” on the computer looking for a new gig:  Don’t use the computer at the radio station.  Don’t make me come out there.

Internet Fraud

A few weeks ago, someone wrote in asking about Internet fraud and scams. A new FBI site has just been established to help deal with these situations. For more information, go to this site: Money Central.

If you want to skip the information and go directly to the FBI site, here it is:

The FBI site to report suspected fraud is . . .

Internet History

How did the Internet get started?  What was the first page?  Are there any sites that discuss the Internet’s beginnings? - Anonymous


Anon:  The Internet started as ARPANET, a network created in 1969 by the United States Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA).  ARPANET tested network technologies and linked together several universities and research centers.  The first two sites (nodes) in the ARPANET system were UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute.


There are dozens of great explanations about the history of the Internet—click here.  The first web page?  I’m sure there are many debates about this, but I think the best description is located here.

Internet Home Page

A few weeks ago, I saw a segment on “The Screen Savers” (a show on “Tech TV”) where a woman was talking about how to make your own home page instead of using one from Microsoft, AOL, or anything else.  She said it’s faster and you can design the page the way you want.  Do you know anything about this? - Kevin


Kevin:  Yes I do because I saw the same program.  By the way, the woman’s name is Morgan Webb and the segment you are talking about aired on March 20, 2002.


Ms Webb’s segment caught my attention because I was tired of all the popup ads and other garbage on my MSN home page.  I decided to try her suggestion and it’s great.  I now have my own personal home page that contains only the stuff I want.  No advertisements.  No flashing pictures.  No popup ads.  In addition, since the home page is on my computer, the access time (time to load) is virtually instantaneous.  No waiting for the junk to download from the Internet.


In order to make your own page, you’ll need to know HTML or know how to use software like FrontPage 2002 and Dreamweaver (I use both.)  Anyway, I designed my own page that has about 100 links to sites I frequently go to, and the only thing I need to do to access my page is click on the icon on my desktop.


If you’re tired of all the extraneous junk on your home page and you know how to design your own, it’s a great alternative.  For more information, go to a summary of the show by clicking here.

Internet Language

Hi. I’m 13. I’m new to the Internet and I like to visit radio station websites to see the different approaches they use. I know that the pages on the Internet are written in special computer language. Is there a way to see how the web pages are written? - Rick


Rick: Hi. I’m not 13, but I’m happy to know that you’re using the Internet and reading this column. You’ll notice that I edited your question a bit, but I don’t think I changed your meaning.


The answer to your question is, yes you can view the language used to construct almost any web page. The language is called HTML, which stands for hypertext markup language. To view the HTML for a web page, go to a blank area on the page and hit your right mouse button. A little menu will pop up. On the menu, click on "View Source" and you will see the HTML language for the page.


There are some pages where this won’t work since the creator hides the HTML language. In these cases, the "View Source" will not be an option in the pop up menu.

Internet Radio Station Advertising

I own an Internet radio station in Detroit, Michigan.  We have just recently begun the process of promotion and advertising.  Our target audience is 16-28, so what would be our strongest approach? - CP


CP:  By “strongest approach,” I assume you mean the content of your messages and the advertising vehicles you should use.


The best content for radio station advertising and promotion comes from the listeners themselves.  I don’t mean that you should use their exact words, but find out what they like about your Internet radio station.  Why do they listen?  What do they like?  Use their comments as a base for your advertising and promotion.


Next, you should find out from your potential listeners which media they prefer for advertising, but I can tell you from experience that TV and billboards usually show up at the top in most markets.  You also have options of Internet advertising, email, and direct mail.  The best thing to do is ask them.  If you can’t, then go with TV and billboards.  If you can’t afford that, then you’re left with Internet-related vehicles.

Internet Research

Is spending money on Internet research only worthwhile if you’re targeting kids and Generation Xers?  How can you be sure they’re being truthful about their age? - Anonymous


Anon:  Your question is a bit confusing, so I’m going to reword it.  Please tell me if this is what you are asking.  “Spending money on Internet research for kids and Generation Xers is worthwhile since they are truthful about their age.  Is Internet research worthwhile for older respondents who may not be truthful about their age?”  In addition, I’m also assuming that when you say, “Internet research,” you are referring to using the Internet to gather research data as opposed to conducting research about the Internet.  Is that correct?


If it is, then here is my answer…Your question includes the implicit assumption that younger people (I’m not sure the age limits here since you don’t provide that) don’t lie, or are not likely to lie, about their age, but older people (again, no age limits) lie, or are likely to lie, about their age.  If you have data to support that, I’d like to see it because I have never seen anything like that.  One thing I do know is that when my kids were 11 or 12 (a long time ago), they always used to say they were 13 because, I guess, it was cool to be older.  I also remember that same routine when they were 15 and 20.  They used to say, “I’m 16/21…long pause…well almost.”  (If they finally admitted it at all.)


I can’t say if older people are more likely to lie about their age.  I also can’t say if younger or older people are more likely to lie about anything.  How do you know that young people will tell you the truth about the radio stations they listen to?  Or how do you know that a male is a male and a female is a female?  You don’t.  That’s why you must use large samples and consider sampling error when you interpret your results.


The problem with using the Internet for collecting research data (for any age group) is that you have no way to know who is actually answering the questions.  Forget about lying.  The main problem is not knowing anything about who is doing the typing.


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