Stars and Stripes

Stars and Stripes – Saturday, February 9, 2002

Opinionmeters weigh reaction to AFN Radio programming in S. Korea
By Franklin Fisher, Taegu bureau chief Pacific edition, Friday, December 14, 2001

TAEGU, South Korea – The U.S. Army in South Korea wanted to know what soldiers thought of the American Forces Network’s morning radio program. But the usual survey methods were slow, cumbersome and likely to draw few responses. “In a typical survey, they would have probably sent out 500, and if they got 50 back, they would have been doing well,”; said Evan Krauss, who leads a team that runs opinion surveys for the Army’s 20th Support Group at Camp Henry in Taegu.

So they tried something new. Opinionmeters – machines that allow survey questions to be answered with the push of a button – were placed at high-traffic spots like post exchanges. The results are downloaded to a computer, which tabulates them. The radio survey ran for two weeks and received more than 600 responses, “which pretty much blew them away,”; Krauss said. “Getting 600 surveys from the the Area IV population was a fairly dramatic number. “The meter surveys can draw so many responses, and give the results so fast”, that Krauss’ team is analyzing results from four other surveys and has several others lined up.

“The bottom line from our standpoint was we needed a quick way to gauge customer satisfaction,” Krauss said. “With most traditional forms or survey types, you normally wind up with very low response rates that you really can’t do any analysis on.
“The 20th Support Group bought 20 opinionmeters”, said Kevin Jackson, a unit spokesman. Seventeen are floor-models that can be placed inside the entrances to post exchanges and other high-traffic areas. Three are hand-held models.
Jackson has used the hand-held meters to survey about 100 people. “I just introduce myself, tell the people what the survey is for, all they have to do is read the questions, choose an answer and … it will advance to another question. “The beauty of this is that all the information is tabulated, and you don’t have to go back and do it manually.”

The AFN Radio survey asked nine multiple-choice questions

1. What type of music would you prefer to hear during the AFN Taegu Morning Show?
a. Adult Contemporary
b. Rock/Alternative
c. Oldies
d. Pop/Top 40
e. R & B

“It gave us an idea of what people like and what they listen to, and it gave us an idea of the demographics,” said Sgt. 1st Class John B. Bradley, AFN Taegu detachment commander.

“In terms of the short-term,” said Krauss, “it will give us a much better handle on what the community thinks about the specific services being offered, which allows you to make the longer-term corrective actions. You have to know what the customer population is thinking about what you’re providing in order to provide the longer-term services.

“Survey responses are still being evaluated, and no final programming decisions have been made, Bradley said.
But, said Bradley, early indications were that some respondents in the 35 to 50 age bracket want to hear more “classic rock,” and that the station will look at the possibility of working it into its programming.

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