Bouvard: Pandora Is Clueless. Here’s Why.


Radio executives were quick to react to Pandora’s Friday white paper which quotes a recent Edison Research study that says consumers switch radio stations 22 times during their commutes. Of course, the automobile is extremely important to radio because it’s where most listening is done. Cumulus/Westwood One CMO Pierre Bouvard was the first to strike back at Pandora in his latest blog. Bouvard says Pandora is clueless about listening in the car and barely anyone listens to them while driving.

Bouvard took a shot at the recent changes at Pandora as well: “Lots of turmoil these days at Pandora. A steady stream of sudden executive departures. Stalled audience. Spotify and YouTube eating their lunch among 18-24s. Recently Pandora issued a piece on channel switching based on an Edison study of in-car listening.”

Bouvard says radio managers and sellers need to know that most channel switches Edison observed do not count in Nielsen ratings. “Nielsen requires at least five minutes of listening in a fifteen minute period for audience credit. Advertisers can be assured they are buying sustained listening to a station. They are not paying for short bursts of switching.”

Bouvard also says AM/FM crushes Pandora in the car. “AM/FM has a 72% share of listening in the car. Pandora has a 1% share. Podcasting is as big as Pandora in the car. This is according to Edison Research’s ‘Share of Ear’ study from Q4 2015. AM/FM is 72 times bigger than Pandora in the car.”

share of ear

Bouvard says it’s easy to be envious of AM/FM’s massive reach and huge in-car audience. “Sixty-six percent of streaming occurs at home as background music. AM/FM is a foreground medium with 64% of time spent occurring away from home. AM/FM is the soundtrack of the American worker. Pandora wishes they were used in the car; but barely anyone listens. Pandora’s bigger issue is YouTube and Spotify and hoping that they don’t become the MySpace of streaming audio.”

Check out Bouvard’s new Blog HERE


  1. So on an average 20 minute commute, the average listener changes the dial 22 times? 1x every minute? NOT a chance. YES – we all switch but 1x per minute is just an absurd number. Even if there is an 8 minute commercial pod and your top 5 listening stations are all running those breaks at nearly the same time, I still cannot imagine someone changing the channel back and forth, so on and so forth 22 times.

    • I was in the car with my wife the other morning and she changed the station 9 times in a 5 minute drive to my daughter’s school. 22 times is low for someone in a city like L.A., the Bay Area or DC. I listen to sports so tune in and switch less, and I bet I switch about 25x times a commute when listening to the radio. And look at Pierre’s tie… Even more than Cumulus debt and lack of ratings, this proves Pierre is the clueless one.

  2. When I was being trained to wear an H/R hat, my teacher reminded us we would run into people who made knowledge-claims based on extremely limited or no evidence whatsoever.
    Alphonse has just, inadvertently perhaps, joined the group.
    Over the course of 160 articles for Radio Ink, I have spilled more beans that I originally planned.
    In fact, I have offered more than 50% of my programs for drastically improving radio communications – at fundamental levels.
    But, if Alphonse and others think otherwise – they think otherwise.
    I continue however, to do my part and press on.

  3. Note to Smiller and others:
    I, too, have spent a lifetime in radio and supplying services to radio.
    As to “solutions”:
    I have been providing them, as well – sometimes more than I cared to.
    I have been specific. I have alluded. I have been subtle. I have teased.
    Over the course of 160 blogs – provided at the pleasure of Eric and Ed – I have offered a completely new, extensive, but still tested model-of-communications for radio.
    But, “deaf ears” and refusals to consider alternatives have been my experience from the leadership…. the very crowd that, ironically, would benefit the most.
    I justify the circumstance as a “refusal to refute radio’s ‘dogma'”.
    And the beat goes on.

    • You’ve never offered anything specific on any aspect of radio. All you say is most spots sound dumb..or bad..
      Name a station that sounds good in your opinion. But you won’t. Because then we can judge you and your opinions.

  4. What Benny and many others know about my experience, education, skills and proven, communicative methodologies could be shoved up a gnat’s butt with plenty of room left over for hard copies of the last 10 years of the National Geographic.
    Me? A one-trick pony? Not.
    Either Benny is very late to the fray or he hasn’t been paying attention. Either way, he is wildly uninformed.
    His sincerity is mildly impressive. But still, all that and a buck, ninety-five will buy a cup of coffee.
    The comments, however, are still vacuous.
    Would they, I wonder, be typical of a whole generation of radio management…?
    The serious issues that require serious considerations are still at hand.

    • i know you want to make a buck Ron but if you feel that you seriously have answers to what is ailing us all in radio please share them. but please use the same energy you use to write about how foolish we in radio and the industry itself is. you see Ron, i have been in the business for most of my life (family owned at one point) and i deal with folks who have moved on from the industry but continue to attempt to knock it down. most of these people didnt make it in radio for 2 reasons…they couldnt grasp what we (RADIO) do great DAILY/WEEKLY/MONTHLY/YEARLY and they didnt like to work (THEY FELT THEY HAD THE ANSWERS)! for you ron i lean toward you feeling like you had all the answers and didnt like to have to work or work for someone else! These 2 reasons…not grasping an industries ways and not liking work/answering to others…are the downfall for all industries. i have said it before – share solutions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Ron has no answers. Ron mouths nebulous criticisms of all radio ads (except the ones he writes and voices) while composing tortured sentences intended to impress us with his pretentious prose. I think you have Robinson pegged pretty close-lazy, arrogant and a phony.

  5. I don’t know how Benny can swallow what he’s chewing.
    Reading comprehension seems to also be a problem.
    I work in radio every day. I refuse to be employed by any gang of corporate ruffians under anything but my own terms.
    I write and produce commercials. Voice them, as well. Most of those spots for which I am hired to voice represent stellar examples of pure and simplistic crap. But, I am a V/O ‘ho, after all.
    The extraordinary irony of all this is that I work to improve radio. After 25 years of gutting and communicative strangulation, radio is stagnant and long overdue. It may, however, not be necessarily deserving.
    I write the blogs to a.) stay sharp with my materials, and b.) provide every opportunity for some astute ownership – somewhere – to ‘fess up to their own foilbles and to start considering offered alternatives.
    My odds at being successful? Long – at best.

  6. The guy Robinson is a fast talker. A few hours ago he said he was employed elsewhere, outside radio. Now, he’s working in radio every day. Hey Ron- tell us where you’re employed in radio. I’d like to listen this know the non-irritating spots, the perfect blend of Ron’s comments and music, all the things he tells us we should be doing. Don’t be selfish, Ron. Share yourself-we’ve been denied long enough.

  7. Radio is operating on its own momentum.
    It has done nothing to improve the quality of its on-air presentations.
    It has done equally as much to improve the structure and influence of its locally-produced advertising.
    Meanwhile, I am, indeed, working in radio – every day.
    I just won’t succumb, and put myself under the boot of radio operators – and for all the well-known reasons.
    Nor will I suffer fools with any congeniality or by being deferentially “nice”.
    Radio has been, nevertheless, hobbled by its own ownership and management. It’s not difficult to find agreement on this point.
    And, by the way, I love radio commercials. That is to say, I admire those commercials that are listenable and persuasive.
    That’s why I write them just that way.

  8. It’s bad enough that we have to look at Ronald Robinson’s anti-advertising, hate-radio blog on Radio Ink weekly-he then hogs the post comments, insulting men and women with his low-brow view of management and a billion dollar industry which he never understood. At least I was glad to find out that he is neither in this country nor this industry. Pity, all the other Canadians I’ve met are fine, polite, courteous professionals who act nothing like Robinson. Time for his exit.

  9. There is a awful lot of talk here about a business that hasn’t made money and doesn’t have any path to making money.
    The simple fact is, Pandora has done more to destroy the MUSIC business than the Radio business.
    I’m not going to wade into the debate on the number of spots per hour, but it is higher than it should be. And a lot of it has to do with people like the former head of CBS who helped put the pressure on raising spot loads but now – when he’s collecting his Golden Parachute – is preaching abstinence a former alcoholic who wants to stop the party now that he’s on the wagon.
    Pandora? It’s a non-entity. They are selling a stock (not a very good one) and not a product. My feelings are similar to Rick in Casablanca – I would despise them if I gave them any thought.
    Radio’s problem was the big companies are selling a stock too and put little value in the product. Or maybe I misread the “value to the shareholders” quote from CBS the other day.

  10. “…something Ronald and Bob are ignorant of as they hate advertising on radio.” – Shelly
    This is inaccurate, cobbled-together and near incoherent babble.
    I have to wonder: From which orifice is the person pulling all this gibberish?
    Serious matters are up for discussion here.

    • Thank you Rob for clarifying. I was going to respond to Shelly also, but i didn’t want to go down to her level. Clearly she is an unhappy person. And overall, i am amazed at the level of unhappiness and hostility on this comment board, by people who work in radio. I wonder why so many of them are like Shelly, coming across with hostile and presumptive comments. Doesn’t speak well of the industry!

  11. In radio business (something Ronald and Bob are ignorant of as they hate advertising on radio) news today….two translators…..translators!..sold for $175,000 and $230,000 in California and Tennessee. This top dollar being invested in a “dying business”, as Ronnie frequently says, showing his total ignorance of how things really are and how he has been left behind.

    • An entire station… STATION… Just sold in LA for just 8 million. There are houses in LA that are ten times that!!

  12. Note to Roger: At some point, the premises of congenial discourse are lost. Besides, nobody made you the hallway monitor.
    I refuse to be discounted to that degree while demonstrating deference to a thug and a boor. Man or woman.
    For what it’s worth, I considered my response before making it.
    Meanwhile, with or without the vulgarity, the issue is still one in which so many radio-folk have such extremely limited understandings of the matters at hand.

  13. Pierre should worry more about his own company and its miserable performance. Radio always blames and never looks in the mirror. They blamed satellite radio. Now it’s Pandora. And they actually believe that a chip in a phone is a savior. Good Lord fix thine own house.

  14. Pierre… I just checked Cumulus’ ratings and revenue in the Top 10 markets… guess who else seems Clueless? Anyone else find it interesting that Pierre spends his time writing blogs while Cumulus investors continue to take it on the chin?! Way to go, Mary!

  15. Ronnie,

    Keep talking. Keep digging. There’s only one Messiah…and you ain’t it. Those of us employed in radio will keep you posted. Great choice you have for a radio blog there, Ed Ryan. Ronnie reflects on your judgement.

    • Shelly…you exhibit a seriously unhappy and miserable outlook; heck you now even are taking a shot at The Editor of Radio Ink!! Are you ok Shelly? We’re here to help when you decide you need it!

  16. Based on the (below) comments, Countryboy is another who is going along to get along – while presuming to have it all figured out.
    What do advertisers know about how audiences are responding – consciously and unconsciously – to the gibberish that is produced for them? Squat. Radio is very fortunate to be enjoying completely unearned penetration and a form of “magik” influence.
    Radio was supposed to have known about these elements decades ago.
    But that is way too much to expect from an industry that has been so stagnant for decades.

  17. You guys don’t know what you’re talking about. Advertisers have the choice of buying single sponsorships that would eliminate 6 or 8 spot clusters, and they choose the 8 spot clusters. What you hear on the radio is what the advertisers want. They’re the ones who pay, and they get what they want. If they wanted to buy spots between every song, that’s what they’d get. But they don’t. They see the same research everyone else sees. None of this is new to them. Why? Because they’re the ones paying. They get to call the shots. Understand?

    • No. Look ar PPM’s… they factually show that listening audiences TUNE OUT EN MASS by the 2nd commercial, in long stopsets. That is a fact proven by PPM’s. Some either you don’t care that many advertisers are not getting the audience that they THINK they are getting, or YOU don’t “understand,” or both.

      • When listening to a station that I KNOW runs 8-10 minute islands, you bet your biffy I’m changing the station to hear two or three tunes. Then normally I’ll flip back for more of what I was listening to in the first place. I’m good with a 2-3 minute island. But when commercials hit on ANY of those “20 in a row” or “105 minutes of non-stop music” stations, there is not a chance I’ll stick it out until the music returns.

        Those formats turn the station into a jukebox. How often do you listen to a jukebox that isn’t playing music? Their advertisers would be better served by a little balance in the formatting. (And islands that are shorter than a song on the competitor’s signal.)

  18. Many, like Shelly, are willing to go along to get along.
    This does nothing to advance the cause of radio – its appeal, it’s influence or its potential greater prosperity. Nor does it do anything to benefit either advertisers or audiences.
    Meanwhile, of course I am not employed in radio. Radio refuses to consider my expertise as extraordinarily useful. Good thing I have other interests – and skills.
    (This does not bode well for future messiahs.) 🙂
    When radio ever becomes a source of meaningful work for a grownup – I might consider it.
    Bob is correct, as well.
    Meanwhile, I detect a snide slander of my nationality from Shelly. And so, while mustering that famous Canadian congeniality, I can say to Shelly: “Kindly gfy.”

    • Really Ron can’t you keep the conversation professional? Why use that kind of language with a lady or anybody for that matter. You might consider picking up a book on manners.

  19. Oh, Bob…..

    I hate to tell you, but the vast majority of my advertising customers at the radio station have been with me for many years. That’s a fact I can document. Where do you get your “churn rate” bunk?
    And the reason my customers stay is because radio works for them. Now, go back and join the King of Subjective Statements, utterly baseless comments, Canadian Ronald Robinson, who is currently not employed in radio. I checked.

    • Your hostility is typical of some in radio…who get defensive and attacking when they can’t handle the truth. Funny!! And I never said radio “doesn’t work”…my comments are based on factual PPM data that clearly demonstrate over and over, that audiences tune out of cluster breaks. So I’m addressing the matter of super-long commercial breaks, that’s it. Maybe your station has short breaks, and good for you if that’s the case. But in major markets, way way too many FM stations -most owned by the group owners – run 7, 8, 10 or more commercials in a break. That is what is driving audiences – and advertisers – away. And that is why in Los Angeles for example, radio revenues are down 40% – that’s 40% !! – since 2007. And we can’t blame the economic 2008 crash, because overall advertising including digital is now up, compared to 2007 or 2008. …But LA radio is down 40% because many local advertisers now find better results/ROI with cable, broadcast TV, and digital. Even broadcast TV has shorter breaks than some FM stations. That’s sad.

  20. Ronald is correct. This is typical behavior of radio execs and owners…that is, get hostile and attack other media like Pandora, and just avoid the realities of the deficiencies of your product. Attacking other media is negative, will not impress clients – in fact, it will do the opposite because attacking makes you look defensive. And not one dime will be switched to radio with this tactic!!!!! Basic selling 101 is to sell the strengths of your product, not to be talking about the other guy. Fact…many stations, especially FM music stations, run too many commercilas!!!! Fact, listeners WILL NOT TOLERATE OR LISTEN TO, 6 or 8 or 10 or more commercilas in a row!! What about this, is so hard to understand?????? And the advertisers in the middle or end of these cluster breaks are getting shafted…yet, apparently most radio execs could care less. They figure that there are just more suckers who will line up, and be ok buried in long long endless breaks. Well, that’s true for national and regional advertisers, because there’s no accountability for results, thankfully, Radio just tells them they are “branding”…But local advertisers who measure results, get hurt badly with cluster breaks. No wonder the churn rate for local business is above 50% at most stations. And eventually we will run out of suckers …


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