Radio Perceptual Research

Perceptual Research: An eye into the listener's mind.

Music testing, whether an Auditorium Music Test, callout or web based polling, is what is called "quantitative research." This is because the results are "quantities" since the usable result from the process is the score for each song ranked against each other song on a variety of criteria like  age and sex and radio usage.  Sometimes we want opinions on the station itself or its DJs and shows.
Those are harder to quantify and require in depth interviews.
Many people are familiar with the concept of the Focus Group which is simply a group of users or potential users of a product who are brought together to give opinions on the product category.

Here the moderator will face the group, or, sometimes individual respondents, and follow a structured script of key points. The decision to use individual interviews is generally based on the desire to avoid group dynamics or to probe individual behavior more in depth. The one on one process is, however more costly and vastly more time consuming.

Focus Groups are conducted by a professional moderator and generally taped for later analysis and review. Often, participants use a dial to indicate positive or negative feelings about the subject matter. Many of us saw the cable news channels use the dial for the 2008 election campaign to measure a focus group's reaction to debates and speeches.

While a Focus Group is being conducted, the sponsor of the group (a radio station in our case here) may view via video cameras or a one-way window the people participating, as well as view the meter readings for the respondent dials.
While the client observes the interviews, the research company staff, equipped with computers, will take extensive notes and also use messaging to send instructions to the moderator conducting the project. When finished, a research analyst will prepare a summary of findings and present them to the client. Sometimes, of course, the meetings "add" to the research findings by forgetting that the base for this type of project is the listener.
Here is a "client room" where the camera is showing one of the respondents in the perceptual project as they give an opinion. The screen might also show the dial settings when the respondent is listening to a morning show segment or examples of different kinds of TV spots a station might run to promote itself. Radio researchers have been known to survive over 150 meeting room meals a year!