The EARS System

EARS setup

The EARS® (Electronic Attitude Research System) methodology, first developed by FMR in 1983, is a true technological innovation and a superior method of in-person data collection for music and program testing (ergonomically-designed, as displayed above).

 Each EARS® unit is an ergonomically-designed, fully digital hand-held computer – with “radio-relatable” buttons (not dials). The EARS® technology is state-of-the-art. In addition to advanced technology, FMR’s Music and Program Content Testing methods are the most superior approach available today.


A single EARS® session can measure response to several different types of test material (such as music hooks, television commercials, music mixes and/or program airchecks), specifically designed to understand PPM listenership responses.

The types of EARS® testing available include:

  • Music Library Testing – Used to evaluate as many as 650 song “hooks” with the same set of respondents, in a single two-hour session.
  • Program Content Research – Test tune-in/tune-out appeal and the “emotional attachment” of Morning Shows, program prototypes, stop-set/announcer examples and/or television commercials in a natural, relaxed setting as respondents record their attitudes on a moment-to-moment basis.
  • Music Mix Testing – As part of an EARS® Music Library Test evaluating as many as 525 titles, up to four “replicated hour” Music Mixes of approximately 13 songs each can be tested in “real time,” evaluating the flow of different combinations of songs.

Key Advantages of FMR’s Exclusive EARS® Music Testing System Include:

  • Quality Recruitment — Recruitment/validation conducted by telephone and online at our Tucson Research Center. Custom screening is thoroughly conducted, with pre-screening and post-screening methods used as well.
  • Digitally produced hooks presented in a portable MP3 player to respondents to ensure proper placement, spacing and sound quality — as well as a rotation of the songs tested in multiple sessions.
  • The use of personal, wireless, hand-held computers (which do not accept invalid responses) mean participants are not impacted by others in the room and are less likely to make response errors that are common with paper-and-pencil forms.
  • A more “realistic” response method — Pushing buttons is a more relatable way of responding to music — either negatively or positively — than scoring songs on a “test form” or turning a “dial.” A “test form” suggests there are “right” and “wrong” answers.
  • Elimination or reduction of respondent fatigue — The psychology of taking a 650-question “test” is eliminated. FMR limits the length of its sessions to two hours. Participants actually enjoy the process.
  • Custom perceptual supplements — An EARS® test always includes additional perceptual questions, along with the Library Test – which are sometimes also collected during the recruitment process as well. Statistically-projectable data can supplement the EARS® session respondent perceptual data to cross-validate and further quantify the perceptual findings.
  • Speed — With our internal recruiting controls and capabilities, EARS® music sessions can be scheduled in as quickly as two weeks — with preliminary results (song scores and rankings) e-mailed in an Excel format the morning after a test. The full report is typically available within three working days.
  • Flexibility and Customized Output — A variety of unique indices and breakouts are possible based on clients’ needs. The output is typically provided electronically.
  • Cost-Efficiency — Due to the unique EARS® technology, more songs can be reliably tested with the same set of respondents, not to mention the supplemental perceptual questions. If multiple station tests are conducted on consecutive days, further cost efficiencies are achieved in the recruiting, as well as travel expenses.