Success is something we all look for.
Whether it’s being personally successful in your job, whatever you do... Or if you work at a radio station, both individual and collective success can be measured in different ways.
A few weeks ago we had the Sony RadioAcademy Awards, the undoubted pinnacle of creative achievement and success in UK radio. While the hangovers were still mellowing, the latest RAJAR figures came out that same week, and provided a different measure of success... an appraisal by the audience.
These 2 measures are very different.
Creative success can be just that – a wonderfully inventive and original piece of radio that may not reach a mass audience, but totally delivers in its creative endeavour. As a Sony judge this year, I heard many examples of creative radio that although very good, would not really trouble the listening figures too much. It’s about art, and that’s something rather tricky to define.
Then there’s success in terms of listening figures. Every radio station wants the most amount of people to hear its output. The listening audience have a rather good knack of knowing what’s good... and what’s not. Getting great numbers for your station is, I believe, perhaps more important than gaining recognition from your peers. Sure – awards are really nice, (especially when you win them) but nothing beats that feeling of having the listeners voting with their ears, and telling you you’re the best.
But there’s a third kind of success in radio. One that’s the sole domain of commercial radio... and that’s business success. Is your radio station a viable and profitable business.
There are many examples of stations that have failed because they just can’t get it all to work. Sure, good listening figures help in this equation... but it’s about having solid foundations to build and grow a business on. Without a viable business, you have nothing... no audience, no awards, in fact, no radio station at all.
So are these 3 measures of success linked?
A creative station that understands it audience from the start is more likely to grow its loyal listener base and continuously add new fans along the way. This leads to increased investment from advertisers in the station... which leads to more revenue and profit, and greater opportunities to market the brand and invest in talent and content... which leads to more creative programming... which leads to more awards and plaudits. In fact, the whole thing is somewhat of a virtuous circle once it gets going.
When I look at these three measures of the success in commercial radio, for me there’s one station above all that delivers on all of them.
And that’s KISS.
The RAJAR numbers are nothing but impressive, and they lead the pack when it comes to young Londoners listening habits. And this, against stiff and improved opposition in the form of Capital.
They picked up Gold in Breakfast Show of the Year (10 Million Plus) and Station Programmer of the Year for Andy Roberts, which is great work again... and they continuously collect gongs at The Grosvenor House Hotel. (Little known fact - Andy Roberts’ house is made from nothing but Gold Sony Awards)
And, perhaps even more importantly, this station makes money. Stacks of it. Every year it delivers many millions of pounds of profit to Bauer.
Is there another station that delivers on creativity, delivers on audience, and delivers in profit in such a significant way? (If there is tell me, and I’ll write nice things about them too!)
So when measuring success in any commercial radio station, I believe it’s vital to look at all these measures. Only then do you get a true reflection of who’s genuinely successful.