Maine Radio Ratings Won’t Tell the Whole Story
The numbers are coming: Arbitron is set to release the radio ratings for all four Maine markets it surveys on Tuesday, Jan. 25. The figures for the Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn markets will be made public on Arbitron’s Web site, but the listener counts in the Portland and Augusta-Waterville areas will be limited to subscribers, because some major stations in those markets – notably those owned by Saga Communications – refuse to pay for the service.
Nevertheless, I hope to have most of the ratings posted here on Tuesday.
What I won’t have is a complete picture of Maine’s radio-listening habits. That’s because Arbitron doesn’t report on people who listen to satellite radio or online services.
This past week, I spoke with several broadcast executives across the state, and while they all claimed Sirius XM and Pandora weren’t cutting into their business, a few of them did concede their cumulative figures (the total number of individuals who listen in a week’s time) had taken a small, but significant, hit in the past year or so. For instance, after several years of steady growth, one top-rated outlet saw its “cume” audience decline by almost 10 percent from Spring 2009 to Spring 2010. Other stations in its markets didn’t show a corresponding increase in cume, so those statistics indicate there are people who either stopped listening to radio altogether or went with an alternative medium.
The one-year timeframe may, as some executives argued, be too limited to indicate any trend, but this shift bears watching, as it could have a major impact on the future of locally produced radio in Maine.
Baker’s man: Why waste a trip to Augusta just to testify at a legislative committee hearing, when you can also write a story about the hearing you took part in?
Well, there’s the little matter of conflict of interest. But that doesn’t seem to have bothered Ellsworth American publisher Alan Baker.
Baker not only testified on Jan. 20 before the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry in favor of the confirmation of William Beardsley to be the commissioner of the Maine Department of Conservation, he also posted a brief piece about the committee vote recommending Beardsley for the post on his paper’s Web site.
Baker’s story didn’t mention his role in the proceedings. He also didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.
Control shift: I’m not sure how significant this is, but the MaineToday Media newspapers’ three-person State House bureau is now being run by the editors at the Portland Press Herald. Until this past week, MTM's coverage of state government had been overseen by editors at the Kennebec Journal.
I expect things will improve any minute.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.