CBS Radio: Better Ratings and Confident Advertisers


As format changes at CBS Radio stations have improved ratings, the division’s CEO says the response from advertisers has also been positive. David Wilkerson of MarketWatch reports:

“Anytime you see a surge in ratings, the advertisers gain a lot of confidence in those stations,” said Dan Mason in a telephone interview from New York. Mason returned to the helm at CBS Radio last spring after leading the unit from 1995 to 2002.

As reported last month, fall 2007 ratings at CBS Radio’s140 stations rose by more than 6% over the same period a year earlier among listeners 12 and older, according to the Arbitron research firm. At 14 stations that have switched formats or made other significant changes in programming since the beginning of last year, 12-plus ratings have risen by a combined 29%.The figure reflects increases of 80% at WWFS-FM in New York, 76% at New York’s WCBS-FM and 50% at KFRC-FM in San Francisco.

Mason admits that the weakening American economy could have unpredictable effects of both his company and on the radio industry as a whole, but he also points out the medium’s ability to weather recessions. That strength is based on the fact that while radio advertising is less costly than most other forms of mass media, it still has the ears of 95% of the U.S. populace. Inexpensive delivery to a large market segment is, of course, quite attractive to advertisers.

Upon his return to CBS Mason took stock of things and developed a three point plan:

  • Replacing the “Don Imus in the Morning” show on WFAN-AM with “Boomer and Carlton in the Morning,” a show which scored higher with Arbitron among the 25-54 male demographic than Imus had.
  • The phasing out of Free-FM, a talk radio format geared towards rock music fans that never captured the public imagination.
  • Bringing solid, long standing CBS brands (WCBS-FM, B94 in Pittsburgh, and KFRC in San Franciso) back to the airwaves, restoring their beloved original formats.

The numbers seem to support his efforts.

Mason believes that accurate measurement of radio audiences is a crucial part of maintaining the rate of progress he has so far achieved. Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile may remember the piece I wrote about the Portable People Meter. Mason is a fan of that little device and believes it is responsible for newly accurate audience measurement, a metric that will help fuel further growth. He cites the fact that five stations in New York were logged as reaching 6 million people according to the diary method, but PPM statistics report roughly twice that number.

A 29% increase in the 12 and up demographic is no small thing.

Photo courtesy of punkjr, used according to this Creative Commons license


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One Response to “CBS Radio: Better Ratings and Confident Advertisers”

  1. Sarah Says:

    I always enjoy hearing that radio is going no where and although it may be changing, radio is a medium that will not die (YEA!!!!). I used to intern for CBS radio in Minneapolis and was there when our 80’s format turned into JackFM. I had to go back to school and was wondering if you knew how the JackFM format is doing with listeners and how it rates on Arbitron?

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