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Public Radio Stations Meet With Mediabase in an Effort to Work It Out

As BDS sunsets, Mediabase execs are open to ideas for improving their Triple A Chart. It’ll be hard to please everyone…

Paragon Media Strategies’ Jordan Lee facilitated.

By Paul Marszalek

Roughly 100 leaders from the Triple A radio and record label community joined a video conference to make their collective case for enhancements to the Mediabase Triple A Chart.

At issue is the sun-setting of rival tracking service BDS, which offered a chart featuring many more Triple A outlets. Hence the concern: Who’s in, who’s out in  November.

Mediabase execs Alissa Pollack and Josh Medlock were receptive to a range of ideas presented, but were unable to commit to criteria for stations or a timeline for decisions. Citing the format’s considerable number of idiosyncracies, Pollack said “Triple A is a massive undertaking…and we put more time into that format than any other.”

Issues include the extreme variety of songs played at the format, and the simple fact that Mediabase does not have access to all of them. Imagine the workload of attempting to keep up with public radio stations playing more than a hundred currents, and rarely spinning any of them.

Those assembled, largely representing public radio, had a large wish list: bring over all BDS reporting stations, include more public stations, create separate commercial and public charts, and develop an Urban Alternative chart. Some of those would be doable, others financially untenable – at least not in the near term.

Pollack noted that Triple A aside, the company is currently combing through 3000 contracts with a 1000-station difference between the two systems.

Other significant hurdles remain. Currently Mediabase requires a station to post a 1-share in order to be eligible for the panel, but Nielsen has pulled out of several smaller markets. In these instances, stations would self-report to the Mediabase Activator chart but would not be part of the official panel.

While the discussion was strong and positive, the subject of chart integrity did not come up. The BDS chart features many smaller market stations that are notoriously corrupt, selling airplay brokered by indie promoters.

Mediabase has a golden opportunity to blunt this dubious practice and benefit the artist community by keeping these stations off the published panel. At the same time, Mediabase can improve the chart by adding stellar performers such as KUTX and other public stations with audiences in excess of 100,000 people.

More stations does not make for a better chart. Billboard deserves better than to publish a chart corrupted by bad apples selling spins that occur in the middle of the night.

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