My diary for the Rajar Wednesday always used to be blocked out from about 0930 until about 1730 with one entry entitled “Rajar Numberwang!” Lets rotate the board! (for the uninitiated see clip of Mitchel and Webb)
There are a few great posts about the ups and downs and analysis of the latest Rajar results. My friend Matt Deegan always posts a very insightful and accurate summary and I would urge you to subscribe to his substack and learn more about a lot of things, not just Rajar.
This post though isn’t a dissemination of the latest numbers. Rajar is a very complex beast- one of the most complex bits of research in Europe actually. There are many many things which can influence the results for any particular station, network or group. In turn there are many things which can wrong along the way too, like anything it’s not inflatable. That said I have also met people who seem to take the Rajar result as sacrosanct and beyond any question of possible error, even though history shows that can happen.
This latest result is the first time I think in my career that I’m not sat in a radio station on Rajar day and it feels a bit weird to be honest. I can’t say I miss “the longest hour ever” between 9:30 and the results release at 10:30am on the Wednesday morning. The breath holding, the hoping and the wishing as you click the pdf open and look to the far right hand side for the latest numbers!
I do miss delving into RALF – the amazingly flexible software from Deryck Pritchard’s company, DPSAS. I became a bit of an expert in RALF and for those who have access to it and see a report called DAMS in there- that’s my legacy!
When in GWR group and then GCap with some clever tech guys we created a bit of software to crunch Rajar and produce a one sheet with station top line, and dayparts in hours, reach and share- trended over the last five books all on one sheet, exported to Excel. The in house software was very buggy to be fair, but the end result was really useful and so when GCap happened and I was introduced to RALF (known at the time as ADA in Capital Group), and I chatted to Deryck about creating the report within RALF. Deryck later made it available for all subscribers. Why DAMS? The original GWR software needed a name which I had to create and it stands for Daypart Audience Measurement Software. The great thing is that it’s flexible, you can build you own dayparts, add or remove stations and even run it just for demos.
Whether you are up or down, you will always find nuggets which give some insight into your audience and above all TRENDS. I always used to urge away from any knee jerk reactions to one book- tempting though it can be. Look at the Rajar CLIMATE not the Rajar WEATHER! The best programmers already have an idea of what needs fixing, tweaking or reinventing, refreshing or replacing and they will use the latest result to confirm their thoughts and then act. Not in a knee jerk way, but in a considered way, armed with some logic and evidence to underline the thinking.
One final personal thought looking at the most recent published results. I wasn’t expecting a result for Union Jack, Union Jack Dance and Union Jack Rock at all, since they passed away before the end of the survey of course. Having been obviously very much involved with the immensely talented team, its pleasing to bow out with a very much UP book, particularly with Union Jack Dance, reach from 51k to 194k (a massive 280%!!!) and hours from 190k to 395k, and Union Jack Rock reach from 51k to 90k and hours from 279k to 420k (Source Rajar/ IPSOS Mori/ RSMB Wave 4 2021 and Wave 1 2022).
Small in comparison to many others, but with a fledgling station, born in a lockdown, with no marketing and a small team it was nice to actually put some numbers on the board as a final bow out and testament to the teamwork and attention to detail of those involved.
Of course it’s bittersweet as it all came to a grinding and speedy halt, but also for myself and for the team I built there it’s good to know that actually we did know what we were doing and we were onto something that had a following and could grow. It really helps actually as you can’t help thinking, when something closes and comes to a close in that way, that maybe everything you did was actually just not good enough and you own a bit of the failure. The team knew that the signs were there but from the outside it didn’t look like that of course and I think we all felt a bit embarrassed. It’s a relief to know what we all believed at the time, the business failed but the radio didn’t.
I feel, and I’m sure the team feel, a bit of a weight lifted today.
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