Coming, ready or not: Real Radio's Shaun Bowron, Billy Anderson and Jay Crawford wait for the Rajars to arrive.5.15 a.m.: It’s Rajar morning and the time has come to execute the “seemed like a good idea at the time” plan of witnessing the listener ratings first hand at Real Radio. The idea seems considerably less like a good one as The Drum stumbles bleary eyed into the car and sets off down the M8.
5.50 a.m.: Pull up to the Real Radio offices at Glasgow Business Park and phone sales director and deputy MD Billy Anderson to open the door. Soon I’m inside with Billy, managing director Shaun Bowron, programme director Jay Crawford and agency planner Justine Murphy, eagerly awaiting the results of the latest Rajar survey.
6.05 a.m.: The results are in, and Real is top of the ratings in its TSA (Total Survey Area). The Drum hasn’t seen the figures yet. It doesn’t need to. The roar from the assembled staff in Bowron’s office says it all. All three directors jump around like madmen and Bowron hugs everyone in the room, including The Drum . Bless ’im. The station has increased its reach, average listening hours, total listening hours and market share. It’s a success across the board, and the Real Radio top brass couldn’t be happier. “This,” says Bowron, smiling from ear to ear, “is what it’s all about.”
6.10 a.m.: Bowron is on the phone to the other stations in the Guardian Media Group to share the good news. Justine has taken the results away for analysis and to get them ready for the staff briefing at 10.30. Crawford and Anderson take the time to toast rivals Radio Clyde, which has also had a strong showing and is the top of its own TSA.
6.30 a.m.: All the other stations in the GMG group have checked in and the news is good. Most of the stations have added listeners. The team in Glasgow achieves the seemingly impossible feat of getting even happier. They’re not the only ones, either. Group boss John Myers has been on the phone and he’s a happy man indeed. “The worst part is that we’re getting these figures in at just after six o’clock, but we can’t tell the staff,” says Crawford. “So we have to go around here with straight faces.”
8.20 a.m.: Most of the rest of the Real staff have now arrived and there’s anticipation mixed with frustration in the air. The Rajar embargo means the staff will not be told of the station’s performance until 10.30. The Drum feels a little guilty. We know something they don’t know ...
10 a.m.: The caffeine’s wearing off and the early start kicking in. How do these people manage this every three months? As the clock nears 10.30 and the office starts to buzz I realise it must be the adrenaline.
10.30 a.m.: The wait’s over and the call goes out around the building. Every member of staff is summoned to the main conference room. They don’t have to be told twice. There’s a feeling of nervous anticipation as the room fills up with Real Radio employees.
10.35 a.m.: Bowron clicks on the first PowerPoint screen and the company sees the headline result: Real is number one in its TSA, with a 14.7 per cent share of the Central Scotland market. The room erupts. The Drum hasn’t seen so many smiling faces outside of an Amsterdam coffee shop. Anderson and Crawford get up and dance a jig at the front of the room. And the good news keeps coming, when it’s announced that the Real Breakfast Show is the market leader among 15+ adults in the Central Belt. Listener hours are up as well, giving even more cause for celebration.
“It means that the ones who are with us are listening to us even more, and that’s a great position to be in,” says Bowron.
In addition to the breakfast show, Real also has the market-leading mid-morning, afternoon drivetime (jointly with Radio 2), football phone-in and late-night shows. Every announcement results in a fresh round of applause from the assembled staff.
10.50 a.m.: The news is out and the Real staff couldn’t be happier. There’s an excited chatter as everyone files out of the conference room to sip at glasses of Champagne and toast the station’s success. By now everyone’s grinning.
11 a.m.: Tired, but caught up in the infectious happiness of the Real team, The Drum heads back to Carnyx Towers and spends the remainder of the day asleep at its desk.