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GRE Argument Analysis (WWAC Radio) - With A Free Essay Review
Prompt: “The following appeared in a memorandum from the manager of WWAC radio station. ‘To reverse a decline in listener numbers, our owners have decided that WWAC must change from its current rock-music format. The decline has occurred despite population growth in our listening area, but that growth has resulted mainly from people moving here after their retirement. We must make listeners of these new residents. We could switch to a music format tailored to their tastes, but a continuing decline in local sales of recorded music suggests limited interest in music. Instead we should change to a news and talk format, a form of radio that is increasingly popular in our area.’ Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.”
The manager of WWAC radio station claims that the number of listeners have got reduced despite the increase in population because of broadcasting in rock-music format. The manager has also mentioned that changing this to music format would not work as well as there is a continuing decline in local sales of recorded music. Finally the WWAC manager concludes that broadcast format should be news and talk format as that is increasingly popular in that area. The manager has presented points in such a way that one would agree with the conclusion in the first glance of the memorandum, however there is no strong evidence to make such a conclusion. Presence of the following evidence in the memorandum would help strengthen or weaken the decision that the news station would be a success by broadcasting in news and talk format.
First, the manager has mentioned that there is a decline in number of listeners in the area even when there is population growth due to people moving in after retirement. But if we could have the number of listeners over a period of time, we would know if there is really a decline in number of listeners. For instance, we do not know how the decline was measured. If it is measured by the ratio of number of people in the area to the number of people who listen to WWAC channel, then may be the number of listeners remain the same and only the new people moving to this area are not listening to the channel. So if the format was changed, there is a possibility of losing regular listeners to he channel. If the number of listeners over a period of time has been presented in the memorandum, it would have strengthened the argument if there is really a decline in number of listeners to the radio channel. If there is not much decline in the number of listeners, then this would have weakened the argument.
Secondly, the manager has reported that there is a decline in local sales of recorded music and hence concludes that music format would also not be popular in this area. But if we are provided the number of stores in the local area selling recorded music and the cost of music would help us in evaluating the claim that people in the area have lost interest in music. If there are only limited stores in the area, given that increasing population is only due to people settling in the area after retirement, they would not want to drive to these distant shops to get recorded music. So if we have evidence that there are many shops all over the area, selling recorded music, then this would strengthen the claim that people have lost interest in music and ,as I have mentioned, if these shops are scarce then this would weaken the claim. There is another important factor to be considered regarding the sales of recorded music-price. If there was an increase in cost of recorded music in recent days, then people would have gradually stopped buying them and this doesn't mean that they are not interested in music. If there was no increase in cost, this would help us in agreeing with manager's conclusion and if there was an increase in cost then this would weaken the claim.
Finally, if the format was changed to news and talk, we do not know how many of the present listeners would be happy with this change. For this, we need the number of present listeners to this channel and if they would be happy with this change. Also we need to know why other people in the area do not listen to this channel. If the non-listeners reason for not listening as the rock-music format, and if they say that it is likely that they would listen to news and talk format, then it will strengthen the argument that the changing to this format would help in increasing the number of listeners to this channel, otherwise it would weaken the conclusion. Also if the current listeners enjoy rock-music format and if they state that they would not be happy with the change, then changing to news and talk format would make regular listeners upset and never tune to this channel again. If the regular listeners also like this change, then this would help strengthen the conclusion that the number of listeners would increase after this change. If they are not fine about this change, then it would cause the channel to lose regular listeners to the channel and hence this evidence would weaken the conclusion of the memorandum.
It’s not a bad idea to restate the prompt (or summarize the argument) in the introduction if you really have not much else to say, but I doubt that you will get much credit for a paragraph that doesn’t really contribute anything to the task of responding to the prompt. I would recommend skipping such elementary introductions in order to save your time and to get more quickly to the point.
I don’t really understand the point of your first argument. The original memorandum states that there has been a decline in listener numbers. I think you should take that to mean that there has been a decline in listener numbers. In other words, I don’t think you should take it to mean there may or may not have been a decline in listener numbers, and we need evidence to be sure. What you want to analyse here are the argumentative claims not the factual claims. It is legitimate, however, to wonder (as the last sentence of that paragraph suggests you are wondering) whether the decline is significant in terms of absolute numbers. The memorandum doesn’t say whether WWAC has suffered a 1% decline or a 99% decline. Knowing how far the listenership has declined would surely be relevant to evaluating the merits of the recommendation. However, you would still need to specify in what way it would be thus relevant.
The argument of the next paragraph is clearer and more obviously responsive to the prompt. Information about recorded music shops might help us more accurately assess the interest in music among the population. Generally, of course, it would be safer to take sales of recorded music as an index of interest in buying recorded music, rather than as an index of interest in music as such, since there are other sources of music (including radio!).
Your next argument is also reasonable. That argument at least implicitly recognizes that the memorandum proposes to increase its audience by targeting the new, older population and so the success of such a project would depend not only on its ability to capture that audience but, quite possibly, on its ability to retain its current audience. Of course the relative sizes of the different target audiences (current listeners and future listeners) could be such as to make concern about losing the current audience irrelevant, which is a point that you don’t pick up on here.
The upshot, in any case, is that you should take your final two paragraphs as better examples of the kind of thing you should be aiming for in this kind of essay.