Recently, I had the opportunity to be part of the Arbitron ratings system. I was sent an initial questionnaire, in which I left no doubt that I would be interested participating in the TV survey. I also made it very, very clear that I had no interest in the radio survey.
So of course I was selected for the radio survey.
At that point, my interest ended, for a few reasons:
1) My radio listening habits consist primarily of changing the channels 3-4 times in the 10 minutes it takes me to get from home to work. I don’t listen to the radio at work, at home, anywhere else. Sure, I’ll occasionally hang with National Public Radio for the full dime on the car ride, but it’s not unusual for me to turn to one station, listen to the end of a song there, hate the next song, turn to another station, listen to the end of a song there, etc. Recording that would drive me nuts. Plus, I’ve gotten to the point now where I play music on my iPhone half the time, music that would in no way be part of said survey.
2) Since I listen to the radio like in such a minimal and haphazard way, it would mark me as an outlier and my data would be ignored. Statistically, I wouldn’t matter. Just like I haven’t mattered to radio since about 1991, when I graduated high school and quit listening.
3) Why the hell would I do anything to help radio? It’s the ultimate in lowest-common-denominator media. It eschews anything interesting, intelligent or artistic to pump aural junk food and the garbage that is talk radio out to the sheeple. No thanks. I don’t want to be part of that. Unless, of course, it’s time to put radio down like Old Yeller. I’m all in on that one.
4) As mentioned in the previous paragraph, I have no dog in this hunt. With things like iTunes, Spotify, etc., I can find any music any time, not something that’s programmed by a bunch of music-hating numbers crunchers who only play music that record labels pay them under the table to play. I don’t need radio because I have what I call my “Radio Adam” playlist, consisting of more than 400 songs, always listened to on shuffle. I can hear Jimmy Cliff’s The Harder They Come followed by The Cars’ My Best Friend’s Girl followed by Liz Phair’s Fuck and Run followed by Helmet’s In the Meantime followed by Nice ‘n’ Smooth’s Sometimes I Rhyme Slow. Where am I going to hear five genres spread out over 3-4 decades like that on the public airwaves? Maybe on stations in places like Austin or San Fran, and even then it’s doubtful.
So, thanks, Arbitron, but no thanks. Contact me again if you ever want me to do the TV survey. Or if you need someone to help dig radio’s grave. I’m all in.