With the radio industry going through so many recent changes, it feels more than ever that the competition for listeners is at an all-time high, for us that means more appetite for radio PR stories. With so many stations and shows to choose from, every listener counts, but just how that is measured is a mystery to many.
Shout! Communications set up Shout! Digital Radio for a special day of broadcasting in which we covered many different aspects of the broadcast and PR landscape to hopefully spread some light on areas listeners may not know so much about. I invited Lyndsey Ferrigan from RAJAR to take part. She’s the communications manager for the organisation which is responsible for monitoring audience figures in the UK.
For those of you not in the know, RAJAR stands for Radio Joint Audience Research and it’s the official body in charge of measuring radio audiences in the UK; the organisation is jointly owned by the BBC and Radiocentre, on behalf of the commercial sector.
The RAJAR Audio Survey is designed to provide context and insight into how, when and where audio content is being consumed within this liberated environment. The figures include device usage, activities, location and who listened. Podcasts, live and catch up radio and on-demand music services are all wrapped up in the numbers.
RAJAR has been around for 27 years, established in 1992 as a joint industry committee on behalf of BBC and commercial radio in order to fairly track audience listenership.
It started out as a diary system and that same system still exists today. While it is an old fashioned system (one that Lyndsey acknowledges people can find frustrating) it is still the most full proof way of tracking radio audience listenership in the UK.
RAJAR has a group of people (they aim for a sample size of 100,000 people every year) write in their radio listening into a diary. This did, and in some cases still does, involve physically imputing by hand. But in recent years they have updated the system to an online version, as well as an app.
This study is then used to calculate radio listenership in the UK and their results are released every quarter. The sample size is representative of the population, in terms of gender, age, household size etc. The only specific data published is for Breakfast shows, as they harbour the most interest. All other stations are calculated as weekly reach.
Lyndsey says many other alternative methods have been trialled, but none has been found to be better. This is the system that works best as electronic methods seems to have compliance issues with tracking devices.
As far as going with the times are concerned, 2007 amendments were made to capture platform listening – RAJAR wanted to know the progression of DAB. And for the first time in Q1 of 2018 they saw digital listening tracked at over 50 percent. This is largely down to the increased ways of listening on the move as well as through smart devices in the home such as Sonos and the Amazon Echo.
The end of year results for RAJAR proved very interesting as we continue to track the change in listenership in the radio landscape due to so many big changes recently. The first results of 2019 also proved just as fascinating.With breakfast still the headliner for local and national radio, if your radio PR story is strong, there will be more demand than ever for it.