Thursday, October 11, 2007

Is Ed Schultz the #1 Lib Talker?

Talkers Magazine has released its semi-annual survey of "The Top Talk Radio Audiences." The survey which corresponds with the Spring 07 Arbitron ratings has been published on theTalkers website. I assume paying subscribers to Talkers will see these results in the November issue, (That's four months after Spring Arbitron survey was released.)

According to the Talkers survey, Ed Schultz is the number one liberal talk radio host. They claim that Schultz is reaching 3.25 million radio listeners per week or more than twice as many listeners at the three other top lib talk hosts – Randi Rhodes, Stephanie Miller, and Thom Hartmann. According to Talkers, Rhodes, Miller, and Hartmann each had only reached 1.5 million listeners.

Most of the hosts ranked ranked in the Talkers survey are not lib talkers. They are coservatives with Rush Limbaugh on top reaching 13.5 million listeners per week.

If you’re are regularly reader of this blog, you know that Talking Radio also releases periodic rankings of talk show hosts. However, we only rank syndicated lib talkers and release our findings quarterly corresponding with the Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall Arbitron reports.

We released our Spring report on August 2, (see below). As you can see, we did not find Schultz to be the number one lib talk host. Instead our survey found a very close race for the number one slot between the top four hosts. In a photo finish, Rhodes was first, Miller was second, Schultz was third, and Hartmann was fourth.

So how does Talkers Magazine, which calls itself the "Bible of Talk Radio", have Schultz doubling the ratings of the rest of the field while Talking Radio, a puny blog, almost finds it "too close to call."

Well, the short answer is that we are right and they are wrong. There is absolutely no way that Ed Schultz has twice as many listeners as Rhodes, Miller, or Hartmann. If you believe this, I have a bankrupt liberal talk radio network to sell you.

Earlier today, we found that several blog's were covering the release of the Talkers survey, showing Schultz as the number one lib talker. We were troubled that excellent blogs like Raw Story and Liberal Talk Radio were running with the story.

We also found ourselves to be in rare agreement with Brian Maloney, the Radio Equalizer, who blasted Talkers and its publisher, Michael Harrison on his blog today.

Maloney wasn't happy about the fact that Talkers only gave Limbaugh credit for reaching only 13.5 million listenners per week. He feels it should be closer to 20 million. Here's what he said.

"Every six months, the folks at Talkers Magazine create headaches for hosts, industry insiders and others by publishing a credibility- challenged list of the "top talk radio audiences".Using the kind of mathematics that would get one flunked out of first grade, the monthly advertorial publication clumsily attempts to rank syndicated talk hosts by audience size.While most in the industry send the list straight to their circular file, it is quoted quite often by mainstream media reporters who assume the data is reliable."
TR uses a very straightforward method of ranking talk show hosts. For each host, we add up the number of stations, the coverage of those stations, factor in the time period, and complete our analysis with ratings data. Rhodes, Miller, and Hartman are carried on about 50 stations. They all enjoy relatively good time periods. (Miller’s time slot is slightly better.) The reason why Rhodes was number one is because she had the best ratings.


Well, what about Schultz? Isn’t he carried on more stations? Yes, if you go to Big Eddie's website you will see that he is carried on about 25 more stations than the other three top lib hosts. However, unlike Rhodes and Hartmann he is not carried in New York and unlike Rhodes, Hartmann, and Miller he has a terrible time slot in Los Angeles, 7 to 10 PM with frequent sports pre-emptions.

The coverage that Schultz loses is New York and L.A (which account for 13% of the lib talk universe) is greater than the exclusive coverage he gains on those 25 stations. Moreover, since most of those stations feature conservative talk, Schultz has generally poor time slots.

The only way that Schultz has more than twice the number of listeners is if his ratings are more than double those of Rhodes, Miller, or Hartmann. While we don’t have access to all the ratings data, from what we've seen, Schultz’ ratings are comparable to his lib talk competitors.

However, the most ridiculous finding of the Talkers survey is that listnership to lib talk increased by from 8% (for Schultz) to 20% (for Rhodes, Miller, and Hartmann) from the Fall 06 to the Spring 07 surveys. During that six month period 22 stations dropped lib talk, (with an associated 12% loss of coverage) and largely because of the Air America Radio bankruptcy lib talk ratings fell by another 11% on the remaining stations. Given these conditions how can listnership of the top lib talk hosts be up so sharply. (In fact, listnership is down.)

Talking Radio will be releasing its rankings for the summer ratings period within the next 30 days. We once again expect a close contest between the top four. It will be interesting to see how Talkers sizes things up four months from now.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Give me a break.
You do a guesstimate. They do a guesstimate. Neither of you has actual numbers for any given daypart.
And even if you did, we are seeing with the PPM results from Philly and Houston that diary results are total kaka. Let's wait and see what happens in a few months when we have PPM numbers for major markets that have lib talk stations.
How much you want to bet some (well intentioned) liberals have been fudging their diaries and over-reporting their lib-talk listening?
And why do you have such an axe to grind about this? I can't figure out whether it's pro-Randi or anti-Ed but you write you've got a dog in this fight.

robinz said...

I can't stand to listen to Schultz myself. I'll take Stephanie or Rachel or even TYT over him any day of the week.

barooosk said...

You do a guesstimate. They do a guesstimate. Neither of you has actual numbers for any given daypart.

We don't do "guesstimate" we use coverage, time period, ratings etc. I can't speak for Talkers.

And even if you did, we are seeing with the PPM results from Philly and Houston that diary results are total kaka.

It's going to be several years (if ever) when PPM becomes a factor. Early results in Houston and Philly (where there are no lib talk hosts) suggest that there is not big difference between PPM talk radio ratings and the old diary system.

How much you want to bet some (well intentioned) liberals have been fudging their diaries and over-reporting their lib-talk listening?

I'm sure that goes both ways.

I can't figure out whether it's pro-Randi or anti-Ed but you write you've got a dog in this fight.

I have no "dog in the hunt." I'm not "anti-ED." I'm just questioning Talkers' methdology.

Bill's Mom said...

"I have no "dog in the hunt." I'm not "anti-ED." I'm just questioning Talkers' methodology."

How come you don't have a problem with TALKERS methodology when you quote their numbers for Rush?

I'm just sayin'.....

Anonymous said...

Go look at these folks on AAR's numbers both 12 plus, 25-54, and 35-64. The format is a bust and this all hype that they put out. Bad product + no promotion +bad signals = no numbers.

Interested Reader said...

I suspect that both your guesstimates and those of Talkers are wide of the mark but a few things are hard to dispute...

1) In a previous post you made the point that your statement of methodology was exactly the same as Talkers.

2) Now you dispute Talkers' results, which merely serves to reveal both methodologies as hot air and not any sort of science.

3) The very fact that this whole tempist in a teapot is about being "The #1 Liberal Talker" shows that liberal talk art form is, most unfortunately, not yet competitive. Liberal talk is finally on the map but at best Triple A not major league. What's next, a contest to honor the tallest midget?

4) I doubt the folks at Talkers are devoting much effort to explaining the differences between their "results" and yours.

ltr said...

Well, in defense of myself, I will say first that I often question how Talkers comes across their numbers. The annual Talkers Top 100 survey often seems to be more clutching at straws than anything else. Some of their methods are suspect.

But do I believe that Schultz has more listeners than Hartmann, Rhodes, et. al.? Yes, I do. Schultz has many more station clearances than any of the Air America shows. And his show is often on in a pretty strong time slot (aside from delays in places like L.A.).

And do I believe that Schultz has at least as many listeners as Bill O'Reilly? Yes, I do.

ltradio.blogspot.com

barooosk said...

ltr said
I believe that Schultz has more listeners than Hartmann, Rhodes, et. al.? Yes, I do. Schultz has many more station clearances than any of the Air America shows. And his show is often on in a pretty strong time slot (aside from delays in places like L.A.).

As I stated above

The coverage that Schultz loses is New York and L.A (which account for 13% of the lib talk universe) is greater than the exclusive coverage he gains on those 25 stations.

Here's a little more data. Those 25 exclusive Schultz stations only account for 11% of the lib talk universe. However, because his time periods are better, Schultz slightly beat out Rhodes in clearances and time periods. In the end Rhodes edged out Schultz by getting better ratings.

barooosk said...

Interested reader said...

In a previous post you made the point that your statement of methodology was exactly the same as Talkers.

I did that as a joke in December. At that time here's how Talkers described their methodology

"These estimates, pertaining to characteristics of the talk radio audience across America, are excerpted from Talkers Magazine's in-house, 14 year, non-scientific study called the Talk Radio Research Project. It is drawn from interviews with listeners of general news-talk radio across the United States supplemented by input from talk radio programmers, hosts, sales personnel, and radio station in-house research in addition to occasional studies provided by academic institutions."

You have to admit that’s pretty funny.


The very fact that this whole tempist in a teapot is about being "The #1 Liberal Talker" shows that liberal talk art form is, most unfortunately, not yet competitive. Liberal talk is finally on the map but at best Triple A not major league. What's next, a contest to honor the tallest midget?

Yes, at this point lib talk doesn't compete very well with the first tier of conservative talk. There are lots of reasons, in addition to the "alleged" talent of first tier talkers like Limbaugh and Hannity. These talkers are carried on heritage stations with powerful signals. They almost always have a strong local talk show as a lead-in, high quality local news and large promotion budgets. Lib talk competes very well with second tier conservative talk stations and always beats the Salem station.

I doubt the folks at Talkers are devoting much effort to explaining the differences between their "results" and yours.

Yes, I agree that you will probably not see Talkers trying to defend their bogus ranking system.

Interested Reader said...

>>Schultz slightly beat out Rhodes in clearances and time periods. In the end Rhodes edged out Schultz by getting better ratings.<<

Okay, I'll bite. Is there a market where Schultz and Rhodes are both on live, on comparable or the same signals? If so, what are their respective ratings? (Ratings not shares please.)

Anonymous said...

Who's Ed Schultz? Didn't he used to write a comic strip---I thought he was dead? Now, what, he's got some kind of radio show? Never heard of him.

Anonymous said...

Ed Schultz is a blowhard, who explodes at anyone who criticizes him. Would definitely prefer to hear Randi or Thom Hartman.

Gary in Texas said...

Who?

amocat said...

Curious....

Why do you refer to liberal/progressive talk host and shows as "libs" but you refer to conservative host and shows as "conservative"? Libs is a rush limpball and the neo-cons term. They also like to refer to the Democratic part as the "democrat" party

By the way, I LOVE Thom Hartmann! That man is a professor when it comes to the history of the USA, our Constitution and the Founding Fathers.

Anonymous said...

Ed Shultz has more Listeners than Rhodes,Hartman etc.Must be a joke.

Anonymous said...

#1 Lib Talker is good.

Being the #1 gopher in a vacant lot in suburban Fresno is good, too.