Radio Cake

August 7, 2014

The latest set of JNLR figures were released last week. We have JNRR figures to come soon too.  It’s always an interesting phenomenon to witness sitting in an ad agency. We have our own flurry of getting the data in and analysing it as soon as we can and issuing our report to our clients. There’s usually some contact with a journalist or two who are looking for an angle or an argument to substantiate. Each radio station or group of stations then kick their PR machines into action, eking out a positive spin on the figures, no matter what they may be. Everyone has an angle, usually accompanied by a celebratory cake or two (the way to every media buyer’s heart). Some column inches are filled and off we go.

 

radio cake

I’m sure the atmosphere in a radio station is more complex. Presenters anxiously awaiting figures which, in such a personality based medium means they can’t but fail to take the results, good or bad, very personally. Contract negotiations centre on these figures after all. Station CEO’s and Financial Directors populate their spreadsheets and try to predicate the effect that these figures will have on future earnings. Can they increase their yield, will they gain share? Sales Directors start formulating their sales story, which will be needed to convert their results into the sales that their lords and masters automatically expect. The nature of the research and the time lag involved, which can mean that it takes a full year for the effect of a schedule change to be captured in its entirety, adds another layer of complexity. The Programme Director second guesses himself (or herself) as to the direction that the station is going in. Is the music mix right? Is my Breakfast Show achieving all that I want it too?

Added to this, are the challenges that radio faces as a medium itself. Overall listenership has been slowly declining. This in an environment where there are a proliferation of stations that mean that the average unit of listenership is being diluted across more entities. This can polarise the value of individual spots and has led to media buyers making more cutting decisions than in the past. The inroads that digital players like Spotify are making is another competitive obstacle. There are winners and losers.

I’m a huge fan of radio and Irish radio, in my mind, justifies its greater than average share of the advertising pie that it gets here, compared to our European peer group. We are a small country and radio, personal medium that it is, has a greater than most opportunity to get to the hearts of the collective Irish people – more so than in larger countries. Those stations that get it right have the opportunity to have a unique place in Ireland’s media infrastructure. The collective brainpower that fuels the machinations of each radio station will undoubtedly be in overdrive in trying to reach this goal. I wonder if a slice of cake to every listener would help them in their efforts.

Tim

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