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Watch out, radio stations. I'm no longer impotent when it comes to determining your success of failure. Suddenly, I'm a force to be reckoned with. Sort of. Kind of. In a way.

A few days back, my beloved received a letter from Arbitron, the Maryland-based radio-ratings service. "Be Part of the Radio Ratings!," the note from Arbitron president Steve Morris began. "Whether you listen a little, a lot, or not at all, you are important. Yours is one of the few households in your area chosen to tell radio stations what you listen to."

I could feel the power rippling through me...

"It's easy and fun to take part in our radio survey," Morris' note continued. "In just a few days, an Arbitron research assistant will call with details. Or, here is how to get started right away..." Two bullet points followed, with one featuring an 800 number that would put us into contact with a research assistant right and the other including the address for Enroll.ArbitronRatings.com, where our entry of a serial number would set the process in motion immediately.

Naturally, we chose the web approach, and the site we discovered was filled with page after page explaining why we should participate. The following is listed under the heading "What's In It For You?":

Some of the best reasons for participating in the radio ratings:

• You make your voice heard. • You can express your opinions to local radio stations. • It's your opportunity to let radio stations know what you listen to. • It's fun and easy!

Remember, radio stations have no way of knowing who's listening or why they're listening. Stations depend on the radio ratings to help them make programming decisions.

That's where Arbitron comes in. We gather radio listening information from a select group of people in an area. Using this sample, we estimate the radio listening for the entire town or city.

All of this is done so that the radio stations in your area will have an idea of what you want to hear. Stations need to know what you listen to so they can better meet your needs. They respond to your input by improving their programming.

Your participation in the ratings helps determine what goes on the air. You are the most important part of this process, and you are the one who benefits most.

By participating in the radio ratings, you make your listening and opinions known to the people who have the power to make changes. We're looking forward to hearing from you!

The process is confidential, too, as we were reassured by info tucked under the banner "It's Just Between Us!":

Trust is one of the most important parts of what we do at Arbitron Ratings. We understand that people are wary of telephone calls from strangers. After all, the people at Arbitron Ratings are just like you.

We value your participation, so we will treat you with respect and consideration, according to the following practices:

• Arbitron Ratings has conducted audience research since 1949. Consistent with our corporate values of honesty and integrity, Arbitron is committed to protecting the information you provide us. Arbitron Ratings, and any third party we work with in our research, will not release or use your personally identifiable information to market or sell you anything. • Arbitron Ratings and any third party we work with in our research will not try to sell you anything or ask you for money. • The website www.enroll.arbitronratings.com is not intended for use by children under the age of 16.

Radio and television research is important. It allows people to express their media choices and their opinions on the radio and television industries.

At this point, we don't know if my clan will be filling out old-fashioned diaries or use a newfangled device like the Portable People Meter, or PPM, which is described on another part of Arbitron's website as the "next generation" of electronic ratings. But we've already been paid for our help. A post script to Morris' missive said, "Please accept the small token of appreciation we have enclosed with this letter" -- and inside the envelope was a crisp, new one-dollar bill.

Once we start earning that buck, expect the local radio landscape to tremble. -- Michael Roberts

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.