Latin Radio Programmers Trying to Make PPM Its BFF
Latin Radio Programmers Trying to Make PPM Its BFF

Ever since Arbitron introduced its new Portable People Meter, or PPM, system of ratings in 2007, radio programmers have struggled to make sense of the new data. At the conference's closing event on Wednesday, "Make PPM Your BFF," it was clear they're still feeling the pinch.

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The panel, moderated by Billboard's Justino Aguila, featured Gabriel Buitrago of Summa Marketing & Entertainment, Pio Ferro from CBS Radio, Roberto Darvin Garcia of WRYM/Hartford and WNNW/Boston, David LaPointe of LP Marketing & Promotions and Bobby Ramos of the Riviera Broadcast Group. All agreed that the main issues with PPM come from the devices' micro-focus on users' tune-ins and tune-outs. With ratings affected by of-the-moment switches of the dial, the pressure is on to keep listeners locked however possible. For many stations, panelists admitted, this means playing more of the familiar.

"We can tell exactly what drove you away, if it was a song, a commercial, or even a DJ talking," Ramos said. "Every song counts."

That even goes for established artists, like titans Mana, Ramos said, recalling the low initial performance on his station of their latest single. When a song is unfamiliar, no matter who it's by, it causes listeners to tune out and PPM ratings to drop.

All panelists insisted, however, that there is still room for new, unfamiliar songs by established acts, as well as songs by independent artists. They just need to build a street buzz first and come to the station with a story.

This higher entry point actually means better quality control, according to Ferro. "I think it's made the artists and labels work harder to put out better product," he said. will be reporting from the Billboard Latin Music Conference and Awards all week -- check back every couple of hours for the latest!