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How to read an arbitron report

If you’re considering advertising on the radio, you need to learn how to read an Arbitron report.

In our area Arbitron’s syndicated radio ratings service collects data twice a year by selecting a random sample of the population and sending them a paper diary in which they record their daily listening habits for one week. After collection, the data is compiled and sold to radio stations and ad agencies. Most radio stations subscribe to the Arbitron reports and make the information available to potential advertisers upon request.

This information is exceptionally valuable in evaluating which radio station fits your demographic. Learning to read and analyze the information will come with time and experience. To get you started I’ve defined some of the most commonly used terms.

Average Quarter-Hour Persons (AQH Persons)

The average number of persons listening for at least five minutes during a 15-minute period.

Average Quarter-Hour Rating (AQH Rating)

[AQH Persons / Population] x 100 = AQH Rating (%)


Of those listening to the radio, the percent who are listening to a particular station.

Cume Persons

The total number of different persons during the specified daypart for at least five minutes.

Cume Rating

[Cume Persons / Population] x 100 = Cume Rating (%)

Time Spent Listening (TSL)

An estimate of the number of quarter-hours the average person spends listening during a specified time period.

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