Sampling Problems

Dr. Wimmer:  I read with interest your reaction to the Ball State study.  On that same subject, I've had a concern for quite a while that our typical forms of research are in great jeopardy due to dropping cooperation rates, particularly telephone research since we use it to recruit for auditorium tests, focus groups, and perceptuals.  What is the future?  What other forms of recruiting will we need to use in the future? - Anonymous


Anon:  There is no question that cooperation rates for all types of research have declined in the past several years.  The decline has been caused by at least three things:


1.  Caller ID.  This technology allows respondents to screen phone calls.  Many people don’t answer the phone if they see the name of a research company or field service on the screen.


2.  Telemarketing.  The number of phone calls from telemarketers has increased dramatically over time and many people are fed up with the intrusions.  The national and state “no call” lists were developed because of the intense dislike for telemarketers.  This intense dislike has affected legitimate research.


3.  Popularity of research.  As you know, radio isn’t the only industry involved in research to find out what the customers want.  Virtually all major industries conduct telephone-based customer research, and many people are inundated with phone calls from companies interested in gathering information.


Lower cooperation rates didn’t happen overnight—people involved in research have seen the situation for years.  And, like radio people, researchers have been innovative and have searched for alternatives.  The best alternative to date is to use a database of some type—a list of potential respondents created by the radio station or some other company.  There are also lists of people who give their permission to be contacted for participation in research.


Right now, databases help reduce the problem of low cooperation.  However, it may be necessary in the future to pay respondents for their involvement in a telephone research project—the same approach used for respondent involvement in focus groups.


You may ask, “Aren’t databases comprised of volunteers, which eliminates the randomness of respondent selection?”  The answer is: No research in radio or any other industry uses a truly random sampleall research uses volunteer respondents.  We can’t force people to participate in research.  They must volunteer.


Cold calling (phone calls made randomly) is a very expensive and time-consuming task.  The way to save both time and money is to use a good database.  That’s the answer to the lower cooperation rates.


My dad used to wear pants called Sans-a-Belt, or Sansabelt.  I always thought that was a strange product name.  Do you know where the name came from? - Anonymous


Anon:  The word sans means "without," therefore, Sans-a-Belt means "Without a Belt."  Clever, eh?


Whenever you see "sans" in a term, it always means "without" something.  For example, there is a printing/typing font called Sans Serif, which means that the font doesn't have serifs.  What?  I'm not kidding, check these examples.


I haven't heard about Sans-a-Belt in years. I was surprised to find that the product is still available and that the company has a website (which shows the alternative spelling of their product—Sansabelt).

Satellite - Anti-satellite Radio Ads

Hey Doc, a while back I worked for a station that was airing anti-satellite radio ads (I believe obtained through NAB, but not totally sure).  I was wondering if you knew anything about them and if so, where I can obtain them (contacted old station and person who got them is no longer there).  Thanks much for your help Doc! - Anonymous


Anon:  There are many anti-satellite ad references on the Internet.  In addition, another reader (Scott) wrote and said:


I believe those anti-satellite ads were initiated by Emmis and they made them available to anyone who wanted to air them.  Here’s the link:  anti-satellite ads.

Satellite Radio

Doc:  How is it that the FCC allows XM & Sirius to have terrestrial repeaters?  I thought it was supposed to be <b>satellite</b> radio. - Jerry Gordon


Jerry:  There are several articles on the Internet about terrestrial repeaters for satellite radio, but I think this document from the FCC will answer your questions—click here.


The FCC's "Order and Authorization" is not exciting reading, but what you'll find is that satellite radio companies were granted the ability to use terrestrial repeaters because of potential coverage problems.  What?  Yes, that's what it says.  The FCC granted repeaters based on using information from the Communications Act of 1934.


In point number 5 of Paragraph III (Discussion), it says:


The Communications Act of 1934, as amended, (the Communications Act) gives the Commission authority to grant temporary authority in extraordinary circumstances where such temporary operations are in the public interest and where delay in operation would prejudice the public interest.  Similarly, the Commission's rules governing satellite facilities, specifically Section 25.120, permit special temporary authorization under extraordinary circumstances stating that "[C]onvenience to the applicant, such as marketing considerations of meeting scheduled customer in-service dates, will not be deemed sufficient for this purpose."


I read the document twice, and although I may be wrong, I think granting terrestrial repeaters to satellite companies was more of a political decision, or maybe something else, like, uh, hmmm, some other type of influence.  But what do I know?

Scarecrow Equation

In the "Wizard of Oz" when the scarecrow gets a brain, he rattles off an equation to show how smart he became: "The square root of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side." Now I wasn't the brightest student in math class, but isn't this statement incorrect? - The Great Oz

Oz: Whoa there Oz dude, since you're Oz, you should know the answer. Never mind . . .

I wanted to make sure that you were quoting the line correctly so I checked the Internet for the script. The script shows that the Scarecrow says, "The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side." You left out the word "sum." Regardless, the formula is incorrect. I don't know if the formula was written by L. Frank Baum or someone else, but it's meaningless (it don't be right).

Here's the problem. The writer(s) basically butchered the formula for a right triangle, known as the Pythagorean Theorem (explained in any introductory statistics course), which is: "The square of the hypotenuse (the longest side) of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the remaining two sides." (A right triangle is also known as a 3 x 4 x 5 triangle, or Golden Triangle.)

An isosceles triangle is a triangle that has two equal sides. An isosceles triangle is not a right angle triangle and vice versa. The Scarecrow's formula is gibberish and doesn't identify any formula I know about.

The Scarecrow should have stated the formula for a right triangle, or without using the word "hypotenuse," he could have said, "The sum of the squares of the two shortest sides of a right triangle is equal to the square of the longest side."

Scree Test

I have a statistics question.  I was reading about factor analysis and saw the term “scree test” used.  What is that? - Anonymous


Anon:  First, the word scree is defined as: The debris at the base of a mountain or cliff.  Raymond Cattell, the statistician who developed the Scree Test, used the term for his visual method to determine the number of significant factors in a factor analysis.


I’m not sure what material you were reading, but it should have included a section about determining the number of factors to interpret in a factor analysis.  One method is to select only those factors with eigenvalues of 1.0 or higher.  Cattell’s Scree Test involves plotting the eigenvalues on an X-Y axis so you can determine visually the number of significant factors.  Here is a good visual example of the Scree Test.


Let me know if have any other questions.  However, I set up a search for you for more information about the Scree Test.


Aside:  You brought back many memories about the Ph.D. classes I had in factor analysis and other multivariate statistics.  I can remember doing several Scree Tests for class assignments.

Screen Door Question

Doc:  I have a screen door on the back entrance to our house and it doesn't close tightly.  I remember that my grandfather had something on his door that kept it closed.  It was metal and shaped like the letter "C."  There was a spring inside and the ends of the thing had little rubber roller-type things.  I have been trying to find one of them, but don't know what they're called and I can't find them on the Internet.  Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?  Thanks in advance for your help. - Anonymous

Anon:  You provided an excellent description of the item, and yes, I know what you're talking about.  What you're talking about is called a screen door catch.  The catch is a neat invention even though they aren't used much anymore.


You can see a bunch of different models on this search, and here is another search that provides names of places where you can buy the catch.


Hey Dr. Wimmer:  I have always been frustrated when I have to use a "flat head," "straight slot," or "slotted" screwdriver.  It seems to me that the Phillips head screwdriver is such an improvement, why would anybody still use slotted screws for anything?  So, I guess that's my question:  Do slotted screws have some sort of advantage over Phillips screws that I don't know about?  Am I the only one who wonders about this?  Thanks! - BC


BC: In almost 10 years of writing this column, this is the first time I received a question about screws and screwdrivers.  That doesn't mean you are the only person who wonders about this topic, but it does mean that you were the first to send the question to me.  I'm always amazed that the types of questions I receive.  So . . . on to your answer.


First, for those who don't know, there are at least 15 types of screw heads available today, and here is an excellent summary of all the choices—click here.  In addition, you mentioned the Phillips head screw.  I didn't know much about the design until I read this article


I couldn't think of any reason why a person would use a slotted screw over a Phillips screw (or any other more versatile screw head), so I checked the Internet.  This is the only advantage of the slotted screw that I could find:


One advantage a flathead screwdriver has over a Phillips screwdriver, however, is universality. In case of emergency, a number of other flat metal objects, such as coins, butter knives or keys, can be use as flathead screwdrivers. It is much more difficult to duplicate the fit of a Phillips screwdriver.  (Source:  Wise Geek)

Search Engines

When I do a search on Google (or other search engine), I always get a bunch of junk I don’t need.  How can I eliminate the stuff I don’t want? - DW


DW:  You’re problem is a common one.  When I review the “referring” log on my websites, I’m amazed at what people input into a search engine.  In most cases, it is clear that they don’t know how to use search engines efficiently.


You didn’t give me an example of something to search for, so I looked at my websites and found the following search using Google:


difference+between+qualitative+and+quantitative+research+design.  When I input that search phrase, it produced 15.3 million items.  Give me a break.  It would take about 10 years to go through all of those items.


Next, I eliminated the “+” signs and the words “between” and “and” and searched for: difference qualitative quantitative research design.  This didn’t help much because it produced 5.3 million items


Then I used quote marks, like this: "qualitative quantitative" differences design, and it narrowed the items to 44,600.


However, I noticed there were several irrelevant mentions related to college courses, so I eliminated the word “course” by using a “-“ sign, like this: "qualitative quantitative" differences design -course.  This produced only 14,500 items—a bit more manageable, but still too many.


But I also noticed the word “class” in several items, so I also eliminated that word, like this: "qualitative quantitative" differences design -course -class.  Whoa!  Jump back!  I’m down to 9,620 items.


See how it works?  Using quote marks, minus signs, and eliminating generic words like “between” and “and,” I reduced the found items from 15.3 million to 9,620, although this number could probably be reduced by using other qualifiers.

Search Engines Article

You often tell people to search the Internet for things.  Although I know how to use search engines, I always seem to get too much useless stuff.  How can I search for things and not get so many useless mentions? - Robert


Robert:  I’m going to make this easier for me.  I have developed a website for my media research book (co-authored with Dr. Joe Dominick from the University of Georgia), located at  For that website, I wrote a brief article for students that explains some of the basics of using search engines.  To read the article, click here.

Secondary Listeners (Attracting Them)

From which formats should a Hot AC try to attract secondary listeners?  I ask this question based on a recent fax I received stating that Hot ACs should pull secondary listeners from other ACs (which I agree with) and from Country stations (which I disagree with).  This was based on the fact that AC and Country are on the upswing and Top 40 is entering a downtrend.  Your thoughts? - Anonymous


Anon:  One common misperception by many people in the radio industry is that listeners are limited in the types of music they listen to; that is, listeners tend to be pigeon-holed as AC listeners, Country listeners, Top 40 listeners, Rock listeners, etc.  If you get involved in research, or if you look at the Cume Sharing pages in an Arbitron book, you’ll find that this isn’t true.


I’m sure there are a few people who listen only to one format, but these people are in a minority.  Most people listen to several types of music.  While your Hot AC audience consists primarily of people who prefer to listen to your type of music most often, your audience also includes people who prefer other formats.  What you need to do is find out what people who like Hot AC music like to listen to.  Does it matter where these people come from?


The problem that jumps out of your question relates to the fax you received.  I don’t know who wrote the fax, but the comment that “Hot ACs should pull secondary listeners from other ACs and Country stations” is a typical “radio-speak” ambiguous statement.  What does that really mean?  Did the fax say how you should go about “pulling” these people to your radio station?  You can’t advertise on your competitors’ radio stations, so how do you go about doing this?  Are you supposed to run a TV ad that says something like, “If you like Country, you’ll like us.”  No.  That would be silly.


The situation you are talking about here is similar to music testing where some PDs and consultants conduct music tests only with the radio station’s P1s (fans), and the screener is designed so that ONLY radio station P1s qualify to participate.  That makes no sense.  None at all.  A music test screener should be designed to recruit people who listen to your type of music.  You will naturally get P1s in the group, but you’ll also get the secondary listeners who are a large part of your daily audience.


Radio is not rocket science.  Rocket science is easy because it deals with static elements.  But what you don’t want to do is “over-think” what you’re doing.  You are a Hot AC radio station.  You are trying to attract anyone and everyone who likes that type of music.  Don’t worry about pulling in secondary audiences.  Pull in a Hot AC audience.  You have no control over where your audience comes from.  You simply don’t.


What you do have control over is what is on your radio station and what you tell your listeners and potential listeners via advertising and promotion.  If the author of your fax knows of a way to design messages to communicate only to AC, Country, or Top 40 listeners, etc. to  “pull” them in as secondary listeners to your radio station, then please tell me about it.  I’d like to know.


In summary, don’t pigeon-hole your listeners.  They come from a variety of backgrounds and listen to a variety of music types.  Find out what a person (regardless of format preference) who listens to Hot AC music likes, give it to them, and tell them that you gave it to them.


Can you let me know what Selector means?  I see ads posted saying that you must have Selector skills.  Thanks. - Anonymous


AnonSelector is a music scheduling system.  A radio station's PD (Program Director), Assistant PD, MD (Music Director), or someone else enters the station's playlist into the software, along with a variety of codes for such things as era and tempo, and Selector prepares a log showing which songs play when.


For more information, here is Selector's website.

Selector Analysis

Do you have a checklist of everything programmers should include when conducting regular analysis of their Selector database to make sure everything is running properly?  Thanks! - Anonymous


Anon:  I’m sure there isn’t one checklist.  However, I sent your question to one of the best PDs I know, and this is what he suggested as a basic checklist to perform each week:

  1. Make sure the most played songs are powers, and the least played are the secondaries.

  2. Run daily audits, particularly after making category changes and music scheduling.

  3. Scan the history map of individual songs of each category to ensure that all daypart rotation rules are being met.

  4. Shuffle the secondary categories at 75% at least once per week.

Self Awareness & Smoking

Hey, Doc.  I really enjoy your column.  I learn something new every day.  Two questions for you, and I’m interested in your answers.


1.  Does smoking cigarettes deepen your voice?  I don’t smoke, but friends of mine who do, report that their voices are temporarily “deeper” after they puff on their cancer sticks (as I like to call them).  Any truth to this?


2.  I was once told that I’m “not cursed with self-awareness.”  Since you have a doctorate, I thought you’d be a wise choice for answering that question, because I have no idea what the person who made that comment, meant.


As always, love your column and can’t wait to read your answers. - Anonymous


Anon:  I’m glad you enjoy the column.  I learn things almost every day too, so we’re in the same boat as the saying goes.  On to your questions.

  1. Yes, smoking deepens a person’s voice.  Probably a better way to say it is that smoking screws up a person’s voice (decreases voice quality, promotes laryngitis, and all sorts of “neat” negative things).  This is well documented in any review on the adverse of affects of smoking.  If you would like to read more about it, do a search for smoking affect voice on the Internet.

  2. ”The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self-awareness.”  This frequently quoted line comes from the Annie Savoy character in the film, Bull Durham.  What does it mean?  I’m sure you could find many explanations, but here is mine:

  3. As human beings, we are blessed or cursed (depending on how you perceive it) with the ability to think about everything we do—where we “fit” at home, work, and in the universe, the consequences of our actions, how we behave and react toward others, our social status, how we can change ourselves and our environment, and more.  The people who worry about all these things are those who are “cursed with self-awareness.”  These people think about everything they do and are constantly worried about what others think (“I’m not going to dance to disco songs because I’ll look like a nerd.”)

  4. On the other hand, there are people who aren’t “cursed by self-awareness” and don’t spend a lot of time (if any) worrying about everything they do.  They accept life for what it is at the moment and pursue only those things they really need; they are spontaneous; they may be called “free spirits” or “easy-going.”

I think a good way to differentiate the two groups is this:  People who are cursed with self-awareness take themselves too seriously; people who aren’t cursed with self-awareness do not.  It’s OK to take things seriously, but the problem is when people take themselves too seriously.  (Dance as if you’re the only one in the room.)

Senior Citizen Speeding - Can You Find It?

Doc:  A listener called me today and asked if I knew the joke going around the Internet about a senior citizen driving a Corvette.  He was interested in finding it, and I can find it anywhere.  Do you know anything about the joke? - Anonymous


Anon:  When you search for things on the Internet, just put in a few relevant words from the joke, or whatever it is you're looking for.  I think this may be the joke your referring to . . .


Best Excuse Ever

A Florida senior citizen drove his brand new Corvette convertible out of the dealership. Taking off down the road, he gunned it to 80 mph, enjoying the wind blowing through what little hair he had left.  "Amazing!" he thought, as he flew down I-75, pushing the pedal to the metal even more.  Looking in his rear view mirror, he saw the highway patrol behind him, blue lights flashing and siren blaring.


"I can get away from him.  No problem." thought the elderly man as he floored it to 100 mph, then 110 mph, and then 120 mph.  Suddenly, he thought, "What on earth am I doing?  I'm too old for this nonsense!"  He pulled over to the side of the road and waited for the Trooper to catch up.


After pulling in behind him, the Trooper walked up to the driver's side of the Corvette, looked at his watch and said, "Sir, my shift ends in 30 minutes.  Today is Friday.  If you can give me a reason why you were speeding that I've never heard before, I'll let you go."


The man, looking very seriously at the Trooper, said, "Years ago, my wife ran off with a Florida State Trooper.  I thought you were bringing her back."


"Have a good day, Sir," said the Trooper.


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