Normally eagerly anticipated, the second Rajar quarter of 2006 is particularly poignant for a number of stations.
Talk 107 had its fingers burnt after negotiating with Rajar to publish early, only for the figures to reveal less than it would have liked. Rajar showed Talk107’s percentage share to be only 0.2 percent of its total survey area, with 2 percent of a weekly reach. Peter Gillespie, managing director of Talk107, said that his initial 11 percent target for its first year was still its objective. “We took a risk by negotiating with Rajar to publish early, as we shouldn’t have published until Q3,” he says. “We went to Rajar and paid an additional fee to get additional sample points and diaries so we can get information earlier for our benefit, because when you’re starting something like this from scratch with no precedent there’s no template or rulebook, there’s no music research that we can use, it’s a much harder thing to do and we need as much information as possible. Rajar is useful to us from that perspective up to a point and also we hoped to start putting some proper numbers on the board and building things up more quickly. It was a risky one because the research started just four weeks after we’d been on air. Obviously the numbers are slightly disappointing. We’d hoped for two or three points higher in the build-up to get 11 percent in our first year. But let’s just get on with it. It’s always a long term game. It’s a two and a half to three year plan and this is the first Rajar out of what will be 12 Rajars in that period.”
XFM Scotland saw a fall following its overall launch figures of 4.8 percent share in the previous quarter to 4.2, having lost 42,000 listeners in that time. These are the first clear Rajar figures since the station rebranded from Beat 106.
Claire Pattenden, XFM Scotland’s programme manager/controller, is pragmatic about the results. "This is the result we've been expecting,” she says. “You have to bear in mind we're a brand new station and took the decision not to market it for the first few months until we had absolute confidence in the product and had it sounding the way we wanted - which we now do. We're not expecting to see an upturn in the figures until at least October. This is a three year game plan and this set of results has again confirmed that there are plenty of listeners out there ready to be picked off. We're in this for the long haul."
Alison Black, head of radio at Feather Brooksbank, feels that Xfm’s drop – in particular - would have been expected by the station, which is also trying to steady itself in a fragmented marketplace. “I would imagine that they would have expected a bit of a dip initially as people settle into the XFM brand,” she says. “They had a very low-key launch which I don’t know whether they would maybe regret that now, because in Manchester it was a much higher profile launch. I would think that they have to start building up, as XFM is a big brand, but it’s new to Scotland. I think they’ve got a bit of work to do to work with what they’ve got and build up the XFM brand up here, by developing the programming. That will be important in being seen to be driving a new music scene. It needs to settle down for them, but they need to invest in that and give them the support they need to give them the profile in Scotland. It wasn’t a huge drop that they had. Quarter on quarter, it’s quite difficult to be too judgemental, they’ve got to look at the bigger picture, look at the same period next year and take a view on it then, but at the moment they need to get time to brand and push it.”
Billy Anderson, managing director of Real Radio, defended both Xfm and Talk107’s results, as he basked in the continuing success of his own station’s figures, which showed it had gained 0.1 percent of audience share from the same period last year. “It comes down to content,” he says. “I think it’s too early to judge Talk107 or XFM. The brand XFM is strong in the UK as a whole and I think it will continue to prosper and the team who are there know what’s got to be done. It’s a volatile market place the youth market. People are very promiscuous in their listening habits and they’ll move with trends. It’s got to be their job to make sure that those trends are proactive and no reactive, but I think they’re doing a good job.
Anderson continues; “As for Talk107, that’s the hardest gig to make happen and I think in Peter Gillespie they’ve got the right person at the front of that. I really do think if anyone can turn it round, he can. It’s far too early to judge and I challenge UTV to invest in it to make sure that the content’s right.”
It was another significant Rajar for Saga 105.2fm, which is coming up to its 2nd birthday. Its listeners have risen to 222,000, an increase of 40,000 year on year. Norman Quirk, the station’s managing director, is obviously delighted. “That’s five surveys in a row that we have celebrated increasing listener numbers,” he says. “It’s clear proof that listeners like what we are doing.”
Radio Forth saw the largest growth in audience share, jumping from 16.4 percent to 20 percent in the previous quarter, gaining 34,000 listeners on Forth One alone.
Radio Forth’s managing director, Adam Findlay, credits its recent marketing, alongside a tight broadcast schedule. “We’ve been policing a very tight minutage policy on Radio Forth, tighter than anywhere else in Scotland, so we don’t do more than 11 minutes an hour of advertising in the breakfast show,” he says. “We had a record year in investing in marketing, so getting the product right has taken us about a year.”
Richard Muir, marketing manager at Radio Clyde was also positive about Clyde’s figures “Our big shout is to do with the listening which has gone up to 25.3% and the fact that we still get enormous numbers such as 736,000 listeners, and obviously Clyde One remains the market leader which is great news,” he says. “We’re certainly not complacent, we know there’s a lot to do, but there’s some nice nuggets for us to pick out - the fact that George Bowie is still bigger than Moyles and Wogan. The BBC is not doing nearly as well as it is proportionally in the UK, so that’s a credit for the commercial sector up here.”