"That is a top priority for our team, and we will do all we can for these workers to ease the transition," Ulman said.
Nielsen edged into radio measurement in 2008. But it couldn't make inroads against Arbitron and later pulled out, said Michael Harrison, publisher of RadioInfo and Talkers, two radio industry magazines.
Harrison said Nielsen told his publications as recently as Oct. 2 that it had no immediate plans to cut staff at the former Arbitron.
"It's kind of wild that a company comes along and spends all the money that they did to pick up one of the most identifiable brands in the radio industry and then eliminates it," he said. "If you eliminate the brand and you eliminate the staff, what are you buying?"
He figures Nielsen was mainly interested in Arbitron's technology. The Columbia company had been trying to better measure a difficult-to-track audience with "Portable People Meters." The devices automatically track what listeners would otherwise have to make note of manually: What stations and shows did they tune in to in the past week?
For decades, Arbitron listeners used paper diaries. It began introducing the Portable People Meters in 2007, though small sample sizes drew customer complaints. Nielsen said it would increase the samples by 20 percent in select markets, the trade journal Radio World reported last week.
Founded in 1949 as the American Research Bureau, Arbitron began life as a television ratings service, adding radio measurement in 1964. Eventually, the battle with Nielsen for TV business proved too difficult and Arbitron got out of that market in 1993, laying off 733 people.
Harrison expressed concern that radio measurement might get lost amid Nielsen's multimedia empire. He pointed to the company's decision to shut down the long-standing trade publication Radio & Records in 2009, a few years after acquiring it.
"I hope that Nielsen continues to service radio," he said. "They claim they will, but we worry about that."