Saturday, August 23, 2008

Alleged (Or Confirmed) Arbitron cheating means trouble for former WRKO host

The issue of listener affiliation has created a huge ratings controversy by a former WRKO AM midday host John DePetro.

Since February 2007, he has been hosting morning show on Providence's WPRO AM 630. Prior to landing at WPRO, DePetro was hosting the 9-Noon slot on WRKO from August 2004 to November 2006. He was fired by WRKO for referring to a Green Party gubernotorial candidate Grace Ross as a "fat lesbian" on his show.

A program/news director at a rival Providence news/talk station WHJJ AM 920 demanded that Arbitron recall the market's spring book because, he claimed that a diary keeper from one specific address(DePetro's home address) failed to acknowledge a direct affiliation with another radio station(WPRO) in town.

WHJJ's Bill George insisted that one specific household have filled out six diaries and returned them to Arbitron representing extraordinary and somewhat unrealistic listening preferences(109 out of possible 120 hours) accoring to
the Providence Journal report. Although George did not name names attached to a questionable media-related address, it was widely assumed that he was referring to WPRO's DePetro who zoomed from 9th to 4th in a single ratings survey period. Providence radio market's spring book results were released in early August. WHJJ's George was taken aback by WPRO's meteoric climb and tipped off Arbitron. Incidentally, DePetro worked fro 5 1/2 years at WHJJ prior to joining WRKO in 2006.

Arbitron proceeded to reissue the spring ratings book for Providence on August 11th after it discovered evidence of cheating. The six diaries in question were disqualified because they were filled out by resident(s) of the household in which one of the occupants worked at an area radio station(WPRO). Arbitron would not reveal the identities of the diary keepers or the station where they worked. WPRO was not penalized in the reissued book.

On Thursday(8/21), DePetro, who is still on the air WPRO AM 630, publicly aknowledged the ratings impropriety but claimed that it was his wife Kristen who lied about their media affiliation in the screening phone call and also claimed to be a six-person household to secure extra diaries. DePetro claimed no knowledge of his wife's ratings scam.

Although Arbitron's written diary system has had its critics over the years, many observers believe it's still a much more reliable recordkeeping method compared to soon-arriving Personal People Meter which carries a number of fatal flaws as it has already proved in initial market rollouts. PPM's are expected to roll into Boston with Spring 2009 survey. PPM's record every radio signal they pick up thus presenting a major problem of measuring the exposure as opposed to actual listening.

BRW Notebook :

Pumping Iron with Jimmy Myers : WTKK 96.9 FM Jimmy Myers will talk to former Boston firefighter Albert Arroyo – the Boston firefighter who went out on disability last April, but competed in a bodybuilding competition in May. Arroyo’s attorney, Neil Osborne, will also be live in the studio for the interview with Myers. The interview is scheduled for the 4pm hour on Myers' Sunday(8/24) show(3-7pm). On Thursday, Boston Fire Department officials denied Arroyo’s reinstatement after they determined the new test results produced regarding Arroyo’s disabling back injury were too subjective and not doctor certified. Arroyo is expected to give his side of the story and what his future might hold.

Convention coverage : WTKK 96.9FM's Democratic convention coverage begins from Denver August 25 - 29th with Michael Graham(9-Noon) and with "Jim and Margery"(12-3pm) broadcasting live from Denver. On Monday, September 1st - 5th Michael Graham and Jim Braude will head to Minneapolis to provide coverage of the Republican National Convention.

Getting the MoJo working : The Globe reports that WZLX 100.7FM's HD-2 24-hour all-blues channel "MoJo Radio" will be available on-line by end of September. WZLX's blues station has been on the air for the past four months and is programmed by WZLX's music director/midday personality Carter Alan who also hosts the station's "Sunday Morning Blues" program (9am-Noon).

Kissing Off : WXKS 107.9FM/Kiss 108's evening host Jackson Blue is leaving the Medford-based Top 40 powerhouse after three years. His next stop is afternoon drive at sister-stations KHKS-FM/Kiss 106.1 in Dallas. No word yet on who will fill nights(7-Midnight) at Kiss 108.

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