"We recognize research is a critical element of our long-term success," said Scott McCarthy, VP-general manager of Radio Disney. "We intend to commission regular measurement."
ABC has not yet signed a deal with Statistical Research Inc., which publishes Radar network radio data, but is committed to research as it prepares to move the live 24-hour format beyond its four test markets (AA, Dec. 2).
SRI handled the research in those markets, though Arbitron did some testing several years ago for competitor Children's Broadcasting Corp.
LACK OF DATA HURTS GROWTH
Other industry players recognize a lack of information on the children's market has hampered market growth, but none have paid for regular measurement yet.
Mr. McCarthy said the network will announce next month which markets will be the first to get the format, with up to 25 stations a year planned.
Rival network KidStar ceased operation in February and is temporarily broadcasting Radio Disney on its original Seattle station KKDZ. A sale is expected shortly but not to ABC.
Even in tests, marketers including McDonald's Corp., Hasbro, Kraft Foods and others have lined up to advertise. The expansion will be undertaken in time for the lucrative summertime period.
"All our research was done during the school year and we had huge numbers in the afternoon and on weekends," Mr. McCarthy said. "By summer, listening will be even bigger."
Radio Disney has received 1 million phone attempts into its request line since its launch last November.
DIFFICULT RATINGS TASK
SRI polled children ages 5 to 11 in the Radio Disney test markets of Atlanta; Birmingham, Ala.; Minneapolis-St. Paul; and Salt Lake City, and it was a difficult task. First, random calls were made to find households with children; the second phase involved telephone interviews, always with a parent on the phone.
"Adults are difficult to measure and kids are more difficult," said Gale Metzger, SRI president. "And adults are appropriately protective of their