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Author Topic: The Weird Machine That Measured Radio Audiences in the '30s and '40s  (Read 242 times)

Offline ChrisSmolinski

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The February 1945 issue of Radio-Craft magazine included an article titled “Radio Audience Meter” which looked at the machine that was revolutionizing audience measurement. First installed in homes on a trial basis in 1939, the Audimeter was placed next to a family’s existing radio.

The article included photo cutaways that showed how the Audimeter worked. Back in those days, radios had dials. Fitted with a series of gears, the Audimeter was a standalone device connected to a radio. It had an arm that moved whenever the radio dial was turned. So whenever the radio station was changed, the Audimeter’s arm would swivel along a long tape that was slowly rolling inside this gadget. The tape inside was about 100 feet long and three inches wide and reportedly lasted for about a month of recording.

The market researchers would collect the tapes by visiting each house monthly and shipping the tapes to a plant in Chicago. Once there, the tapes were processed by dozens of laborers feeding the tapes into tabulation machines.

“The Audimeter made it more scientific,” Buzzard noted about the measuring device. “They got automatic readings.”

Full article: https://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/the-weird-machine-that-measured-radio-audiences-in-the-1633851253
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Offline Josh

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Now they listen for the IF freqs of passing cars as they go down the hiway.
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Offline ThaDood

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This reminds me of the story in the early 1990's EBN from Ernie Wilson, (Yeah, the ex-Panaxis Productions dude.). This story was about how a French TV station engineer noticed a minute more RF current drawn at the transmitter site right at the time a well watched soap opera aired, then after it would air, the minute current level dropped back down to where it was set. I thought that it was an interesting observation, but never heard anything about it since. You'd think that someone would have wanted to do the math more and figure out the TX RF current to the number of RX stations tuning in. Oh, wait... That might just put the Nielsen Ratings out of business.  So, never mind...
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Offline BoomboxDX

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This reminds me of the story in the early 1990's EBN from Ernie Wilson, (Yeah, the ex-Panaxis Productions dude.). This story was about how a French TV station engineer noticed a minute more RF current drawn at the transmitter site right at the time a well watched soap opera aired, then after it would air, the minute current level dropped back down to where it was set. I thought that it was an interesting observation, but never heard anything about it since. You'd think that someone would have wanted to do the math more and figure out the TX RF current to the number of RX stations tuning in. Oh, wait... That might just put the Nielsen Ratings out of business.  So, never mind...

How would a receiver several miles away affect current draw in a transmitter?

Unless the engineer was reading the current of the power grid itself? I can see how a power company could notice a change in current draw if everyone in a city turned their TVs on at the same time. But in today's multichannel world, I don't think anything like that would work.
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Offline Kage

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This reminds me of the story in the early 1990's EBN from Ernie Wilson, (Yeah, the ex-Panaxis Productions dude.). This story was about how a French TV station engineer noticed a minute more RF current drawn at the transmitter site right at the time a well watched soap opera aired, then after it would air, the minute current level dropped back down to where it was set. I thought that it was an interesting observation, but never heard anything about it since. You'd think that someone would have wanted to do the math more and figure out the TX RF current to the number of RX stations tuning in. Oh, wait... That might just put the Nielsen Ratings out of business.  So, never mind...

How would a receiver several miles away affect current draw in a transmitter?

Unless the engineer was reading the current of the power grid itself? I can see how a power company could notice a change in current draw if everyone in a city turned their TVs on at the same time. But in today's multichannel world, I don't think anything like that would work.
It's an old myth. I've heard that story eons ago and it's always told in a slightly different form. It is similar to the story of a guy who lived near a high powered AM radio station and setup some wire antenna outside to capture the field strength of the local station to light his attic at night only to get a knock on the door because the station engineer noticed the transmitter RF ammeter raised significantly causing tube failures or something as such.
They are fun tall tales :)
I'm not saying aliens are in the radio, but aliens definitely are in the radio.
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