Radio finds out that people are liars.

The NYTimes is running a story today about how the radio industry has switched from paper diaries for people to self-report what they listen to, to electronic "portable people meters." And it turns out (shock, horror) that people don't listen to what they said they listened to. They often just reported what they thought would paint them in the best light.

Some of the findings:

  • When 12 major areas, including New York and Los Angeles, switched to the system last year, classical radio’s market share fell 10.7 percent in those areas.
  • Talk radio’s market share declined 2.6 percent in the study of areas where the meters were used.
  • Spanish-language stations’ ratings declined sharply — at Univision’s KLVE in Los Angeles, for example, ratings fell 54 percent in the first quarter of 2009 from the same period the year before, leading it and other broadcasters to testify before Congress on Dec. 2 that the new system is discriminatory.
  • Men had been thought to make up 34.7 percent of the soft-rock audience, according to Arbitron, based largely on paper entries. This month, Research Director and the publication Inside Radio released their analysis of meter-only cities from July through October, showing men make up 40.1 percent of the total light-rock audience, a jump of 16 percent.

It's going to be interesting to watch more and more conventional research get debunked by the data streams that we're all emitting. I'm off to listen to some light-rock.