John Collins: Radio the Big Winner from RAJARs

BBC Radio Scotland’s excellent figures come as no surprise. They follow an excellent book for the first quarter of the year where the reworking of the schedule to concentrate on personalities has paid off.

None of the presenters were new – all had been groomed over some time by the station – and this attention to developing talent has paid off. It may be something of a worry that the March-June figure shows a fall at a time when the station’s football coverage was reaching a climax, but it’s a tiny change and well within the realms of statistics. The addition of the live overnights and an early morning news update will also go some way to adding pairs of ears.

The performance of GMG’s 96.3 Rock Radio bears out a hunch I’ve had about the station for some time – that it consistently outperforms RAJAR. It’s combination of irreverence and rock has finally gone prime time.

Its penetration of the student market in the west has always been impressive and it provides a clearly differentiated offering to the more generic pop stations. Once it’s immediate future becomes clearer, there seems a clear niche in which this station can grow – though it may appeal to younger listeners than it lets on.

Real Radio’s results were entirely as expected. With a new breakfast show replacing the Galloway-juggernaut and the station sounding like it was trying really hard to rediscover its identity on-air, it would seem at this early stage that they have given up audience in the Central Belt. This hasn’t just been to Clyde and Forth, but to the local stations that it nearly killed off a few years ago. Both Central and Kingdom have recorded double-digit growth in one of the UK’s toughest radio markets. This is all the more impressive at a time when marketing spend is at a premium.

The big winner? Radio. Almost 92 per cent of us listen to the radio every week. Despite all the worries about TV, networking, digital and all the rest. Radio right now has more listeners than ever and needs to assert its dominance.

John Collins lectures in radio broadcasting at Reid Kerr College in Paisley, following a 25-year career on both sides of the microphone in both BBC and commercial radio in Scotland. He still pops up on the radio at Central FM on a Sunday morning. 

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