Your participation helps determine what stations put on the air.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click on a question:

Featured question
I didn’t get my diary yet—what do I do now?

Who is Nielsen and what are the “ratings”?

For more than 50 years, Nielsen has been a leader in radio and other media research. As media and entertainment options have expanded, so has our research. We measure the radio listening, TV viewing, and other media use of adults, teenagers, and children across the United States. This information is combined with demographic and other information and becomes the “ratings.” The ratings are used by broadcasters to learn more about what programs are being listened to or watched across the country. Media companies, advertisers, and other businesses also rely on this research to make decisions about the products and services they provide.

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What’s in it for me?

You are one of the very few selected in your area to tell radio stations what you listen to or why you choose not to listen. Chances are your home will not be selected again for many years.

This information is also important to media companies, advertisers, and other businesses. This is your chance to help them better serve you! You will even receive a small token of thanks for helping us out.

See our What’s in it for you? section for a more detailed explanation of how your participation affects you and your community.

What if I don’t listen to the radio?

That’s fine! Just check the “No Listening” box at the bottom of the page if you didn’t hear radio on a given day. As a non-listener, your comments and opinions about why you donít listen to the radio are still very important. In fact, radio stations, advertisers, media companies and other businesses are very curious to know why some people don’t listen to the radio as much as others.

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Why was my home chosen to participate in the radio ratings?

Nielsen gathers the listening of people across the United States. Since we cannot talk to every person, we choose a random sample of households to speak for the entire population. Every household has an opportunity to be randomly selected. Your participation ensures that the radio research represents the people in your community. For more on this topic see What’s in it for you?

Will you ever put me on a mailing list or sell my name, address, or telephone number to anyone else?

No! Nielsen is committed to protecting the information you provide us. When we share information with other companies for research purposes, they also agree to keep it confidential. Nielsen is a research company. Our published research reports do not contain personally identifiable information. We will NOT provide your name, address, or telephone number to other companies who would put you on a mailing list for fundraising or try to sell you something. And we will never ask you to buy anything. Please look over our policy on this matter.

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Will this cost me anything?

Absolutely not! We don’t want any money from you, but we do want your completed radio diary. In fact, you can receive a small cash reward for your participation.

How did you get my telephone number? It’s unlisted!

So that participation in the radio ratings and research is representative of your community, we need to include households with both listed and unlisted telephone numbers. Your telephone company did not give us your unlisted phone number. Our computer selects the area code for a given community and then lists every phone number possible. From this list, we randomly select the phone numbers to be in the ratings and research. Some are listed, some are unlisted.


Why do radio stations care what I listen to?

Because they want to please you and keep you as a listener! When you turn on your radio, the stations don’t know what you’re listening to. So, you tell us—and we tell them. That way, your stations can continue to program the things you want to hear.

Can the other people in my household keep a diary as well?

Yes. We need to know what everyone in your home, 12 or older, listens to each day for one week. We mail a diary for each person age 12 or older.

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What happens to my radio diary after I mail it back to Nielsen?

We combine your radio listening with other information we have, as well as with information from all the other diarykeepers in your community. Then, we publish the results in a research report which may be used by the radio stations in your community. With our permission, the entertainment section of your local newspaper may even publish some of the results.

Why don’t I just tell you over the phone what I listen to?

The radio stations want to know about your daily listeningóand the listening of the others in your home—during a one-week period. Writing it down is a more reliable way for the stations to get this information, and it only takes a few minutes a day. Also, radio stations really look forward to your comments and opinions.


Can anyone participate in the radio ratings and research?

Unfortunately, no. We randomly select a percentage of households to represent the people in your community. Your household was selected to participate in the ratings and research period coming up. Therefore, what you are about to tell the radio stations is pretty powerful.

Can I participate if I work for the broadcast media?

Sorry, no. In order to keep the survey unbiased, we cannot include anyone in the ratings and research who works for a radio station, a cable system or network, or a TV station or network.

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Can we do the radio ratings again?

Chances are your home will not be selected again for many years. It’s nothing personal; it’s just random selection. In fact, you may never have another chance to participate. However, we may ask you to participate in other research that we are conducting.

Do I have to write down my listening every time I change stations?

No, only stations that you listen to for at least five minutes.

What about when I listen to radio on the Internet, over cable, or via satellite radio or satellite TV? How do I record that?

You would record that listening just like you would for any other type of radio. The instructions on the inside cover of your diary provide an example of how to record your listening.

I didn’t get my diary yet—what do I do now?

If your diary hasn’t arrived in time for the start of the survey on Thursday, please click here for instructions on how to keep track of your listening.

Write down the time you listened. Include the call letters, dial setting, station name or channel number, program name, or even the name of the on-air personality. Tell us whether you listened on AM, FM, the Internet, or satellite, and include the place you heard the station (at home, in a car, at work, or some other place).

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What are Nielsen privacy practices?

If you have questions or would like more information about Nielsen privacy practices, please send an email to

Nielsen is committed to protecting the information that you provide us. Published research reports do not contain personally identifiable information. When we share information with other companies for research purposes, they agree to keep it confidential. Since confidentiality is so important to research, we also ask that you do not discuss your role in Nielsen research with people outside of your household, including people on social media such as Facebook or Twitter.

I’m on the National Do Not Call Registry. Doesnít that mean you canít call me?

Legitimate survey research companies, such as ours, are exempt from the National Do Not Call Registry. Remember, we are contacting you NOT to sell anything but to ask you to participate in our ratings and research. Nonetheless, we will place you on the Nielsen Do Not Call List if you tell us not to call you.