Radio Ga-ga

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You often hear about the importance of "ratings" for TV and radio, and how critical they are in allowing broadcasters to sell advertising space. Typically, there's only really somthing to watch on TV when you're in a ratings period, and outside of that you just get reruns of reruns. It's more or less the same for radio, only without so many reruns...

But I'd always wondered who actually gets to decide on these all-important ratings. I know that people supposedly get selected to be involved in the ratings process but it had never happened to me. Until a few weeks ago.

Funnily enough, I had just been lamenting to Donna about how crappy commercial radio is here in Canada. (Don't feel offended Canadians, I think commercial radio in Australia is generally crap as well) I think that one of the most annoying media genres I've ever come across is "morning radio"... it's always the usual inane banter back and forth between a male host and a female host, lame jokes, forced laughter, and an unhealthy obsession with celebrity gossip, all interspersed with "easy rock", or a "classic mix of the 70s, 80s, 90s and now." Blahh! It absolutely drives me mad. And as bad as it is in Australia, the quality of breakfast radio here in Toronto lowers the bar to a new standard.

The other option is to listen to AM news and talkback - normally a good way to stay informed on local issues - but the alleged "news" station around here has turned superficiality of daily events into an art form. Honestly, the news reports are so brief you just wonder "Is that all there is??" Of course if you want traffic, or weather, or more to the point "traffic and weather together", then you'll overdose on that stuff. Seriously, the traffic reports are probably 3 or 4 times longer than the actual news reports, and you seem to get them every few minutes. Real content or analysis of world news is nearly non-existent.

So when the local radio ratings mob rang me recently and asked me to participate in a ratings survey I was actually quite keen to have my say. As you might guess from the rant above, I was a bit blunt in the survey booklet, but hey...

Still, it was interesting to take part in a ratings survey and to see the process take place. Of course, these days I've decided that podcasts are a much better way to listen to radio that actually interests me. I just subscribe to a bunch of feeds in iTunes, sync it to my iPod and listen whenever it suits me. Other than that I just stream Triple J over the web. Radio on my own terms.

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