Friday, February 14, 2020


Image courtesy of Randy Kabrich
Audience researchers Leigh Jacobs and Carolyn Gilbert from NuVoodoo Media [link] released a new report last week that quantifies workplace audio listening sources. 

That means Nielsen may be missing some listening because of a flaw in their PPM data-capturing methodology.

The problem is that Nielsen's system has a difficult time “hearing” embedded watermarks when listeners use headphones or ear-buds. 

Nielsen recommends that PPM survey participants use a system like the one pictured on the left  to capture their listening via headphones/ear-buds.

Jacobs and Gilbert say Nielsen’s system not only misses listening to station’s streaming audio, it also misses some of the listening to music “pure play” providers such as Spotify and Pandora. The study looks at workplace listening habits, specifically whether workers hear the audio via speakers or headphones/ear-buds.

The researchers base their conclusions on a sample of nearly 4,000 respondents, representing four generations. 

The chart on the right is a summary of workplace audio sources. 

Around 50% of the survey respondents say they listen to audio at work on headphones/ear-buds.

Jacobs and Gilbert say that the percentage of respondents who use headphones/ear-buds at work is the highest for younger demos. Respondents in Gen Z and Millennial-age are the most apt to use headphones/ear-buds.  Boomers are more likely to listen on speakers.

The researchers say that measuring listening on headphones/ear-buds has always been a problem for PPM methodology, but now represent significant losses in ratings and revenue as at-work listening continues to shift away from speakers. To our knowledge, Nielsen has not responded to the NuVoodoo study.


On Wednesday (2/12) we posted on an update on commercial broadcaster Saga Communications’ FCC petition to deny five Charlottesville LPFM stations renewal of their broadcasting licenses. Saga alleges that the five stations have acted in a "pattern of abuse" that disqualifies them for renewal of their licenses. The FCC is now investigating Saga’s complaint.

We received a comment from Kevin Trueblood, Associate General Manager, Technology & Operations at WGCU Public Media in Fort Myers. He believes that we were too quick to judge Saga’s motives and that our implied support for the five LPFM stations in the dispute was misguided. Here is Trueblood’s message (which we have edited for length and clarity):

Kevin Trueblood
Trueblood: Are you actually advocating that it's OK for LPFM stations to break FCC rules?

This isn't about "the big bad corporation" trying to screw the little guy, it's about making sure everyone plays by the rules. Having an FCC license means you have to follow the rules or face punishment.  

LPFMs were created to allow non-profits to super-serve their communities with content that commercial broadcasters don't provide. In doing so, the FCC says you have to obey the same underwriting rules as other non-comms, and have certain ownership and programming requirements.

Why? Because otherwise what's their point? It's one more point of interference in an already packed FM band.

If this group [the five LPFM stations] is indeed acting as a de facto commercial group and flaunting the rules, they should be enforced, because there are plenty more LPFMs doing just this that need to be sent a message. It's not fair for anyone else who has to play by the rules.

KEN SAYS: We like to receive comments like this because they cause us to examine our assumptions. We tend to root for noncommercial stations when they have disputes with commercial broadcasters.

In the Charlottesville matter, Saga has made a convincing case that the five LPFMs have acted inappropriately. Neither we, nor Trueblood, know how the FCC will rule. There is a 50/50 chance that the Commission will decide in favor of Saga.  Either way, the upcoming ruling will set a precedent that effects LPFM, noncommercial and commercial stations.


Last October we posted a story [link] about the video platform and their decision to become part of NPR Music as “Live Sessions.” In the post we said that “VuHaus has folded.” It turns out that we used the wrong term. VuHaus has not folded, it is "transitioning;"

This week we received a press release with new news about VuHaus. According to the release, VuHaus is changing its name to VuHaus Group and it is expanding its services to stations.

According to Erik Langner, VuHaus Group President, the organization will continue to help increase support for stations and artists. VuHaus Group will also “help underwriters connect to public media’s dedicated audiences.”

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry to say that many LPFMs flaunt FCC rules. I have witnessed LPFMs running excessive power, transmitters miles from the licensed location, the studio not at the address on the license, not doing EAS, and many other egregious problems.

    I have also witnessed them stealing content. They just download what they want off the web and put it on the air.

    To be fair, broadcasters of all types occasionally break the rules, but it appears to me that the proportion of LPFMs doing so is much, much higher.