Monday, 4 February 2008

"What's the Story, Morning Glory?" / "Spinning Around" - RAJAR Qtr 4, 2007

So what did the RAJAR fairies deliver for Qtr 4 2007 then? What was the big talking point this quarter? And how was it spun?

Well, it’s difficult to get away from the continued dominance of BBC Radio against commercial radio (perceived and real!). Chris Moyles record 7.31 Million listeners is an excellent result… no doubt about it, and he’s within shouting distance of Terry Wogan on Radio 2 with just 420,000 listeners in it. If, as I predict he will, overtake Wogan, then we can expect the Radio 1 PR machine to go into overdrive!!

It was interesting to see how commercial radio was fighting back against the might of the BBC in terms of PR. (As we know, sometimes the figures are irrelevant, merely what do stations want readers to believe!) In particular, the point that Johnny Vaughan on Capital and Jamie & Harriet on Heart both beat Moyles in London.

I won’t bore you with the figures (this time around!) but even when you fiddle around with the different times the shows are on, there is certainly a preference for commercial services at breakfast verses Radio 1.

Mark Browning, PD of Heart 106.2 was quoted on Media Guardian saying:

"The London market tells us that if commercial radio was freed up from the regulatory burden it is constrained by so it could share best practice across the UK then the real winner would be the listener. Where listeners have a strong commercial radio proposition, and a strong BBC, as they do in London they are choosing commercial radio. We need Ofcom to let us give listeners more choice and better commercial radio."

This is not an accidental ‘off the cuff’ remark by the very eloquent Mr. Browning! It seems that at any opportunity commercial radio is going to lobby Ofcom for a more liberal approach to what it can and can’t do, with the endgame surely being a networked ‘Jamie and Harriet’ and ‘Johnny and Denise’. The theory being that only networked big name talent will be able to compete with Radio 1 in local markets. It’s an interesting thought and one I will expand upon in a future posting.

Meanwhile, there were the usual ups and downs for most stations / groups and naturally they tried to make the best of what they had in their press releases. There’s an interesting article in today’s Guardian where journalist Paul Smith discusses the tactics used by stations to put a positive shine on their figures. I’m surprised that he feels so surprised himself! (I suspect he's not that suprised actually!). Of course stations try to make things sound good!! Far be it from me to suggest that journalists (even in The Guardian) sometimes try to make a story sound more sensational than it actually is!! It’s a good piece nonetheless, and shows that PR is still such an important weapon in the battle for listeners and the figures will keep spinning!

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