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Mary Katharine Ham

True Confessions of a Power-Drunk Nielsen Family, and other stories of the wacky data collection that dictates the airwaves

Ratings dictate what you see on TV, what you hear on the radio, and the precise date on which a promising Joss Whedon series will prematurely get the ax. Though copious fan fic and Buffy DVDs allow an outlet for confusion and frustration, wouldn't it help the grieving process to understand what happened? Though technology is improving data collection on TV and radio audiences, accidents of history and sometimes arbitrary experimentation shaped the system we have today.

Did you know that programming was governed by Crossley Ratings before anyone had ever heard of Nielsen? That there's a reason every radio station runs a contest on Thursdays, not Tuesdays? What the heck are "sweeps" and why must they always include a J-Lo guest appearance?

And, how much does it matter now that the Internet gives us so many other options for media?

About Mary Katharine Ham:

Mary Katharine Ham is a new media enthusiast who never quite found her way out of old media, and was a newspaper and magazine writer before turning to tweeting and online video. She was a member of the randomly selected Nielsen ratings brigades for two years. She now appears weekly on TV as a Fox News Contributor, but still enjoys watching more than appearing, and she hosts a morning radio show on 105.9 FM in Washington, D.C. Since her livelihood is now governed by ratings, she figured she better investigate. She lives in Northern Virginia, with her husband, her cat, and a giant flat-screen.

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