The latest JNLR/Ipsos MRBI report into radio listening in the Republic of Ireland has been published today (2nd February, 2012), covering the 12-month period from January to December 2011.
The latest results show daily radio listening at 85% – that is 85% of all adults listening every weekday. A total of c15,600 people were interviewed during the survey period by Ipsos MRBI, on behalf of JNLR – Joint National Listenership Research – that is funded by all national, regional and local stations, BAI, AAI, and IAPI.
85% of Irish adults listen to the radio on an average day – 58% (=) tuning into their local or regional station and 47% (+1) listening to a national station. Among the younger 15-34 year market 82% listen daily. Irish audiences continue to listen to a significant amount of radio daily – tuning in, on average, for almost 4 hours per day during the prime 7am to 7pm time (Irish Adults listening Mon-Fri).
In terms of share of all minutes listened, national radio has 47.6% share of all minutes (plus 1%) while local/regional radio holds the majority share position with 52.4%.
Looking at the various regions throughout the country, national radio holds the majority share position in Dublin (57.1%), the Dublin Commuter belt (57.7%), the Multi-city areas (52.1%) and the North East/Mid region (51.7%) while local/regional radio is in the majority in the other regions throughout the country. Among the younger, 15-34 year old audience across the country, local/regional radio holds the national majority share position at 62.4% (-1%) versus 37.6% (+1%) for national radio. In particular, the local/regional group holds a strong share position among this age segment in Dublin, 70.5%; Cork, 64.4%; the Multi-city region, 65% and the Dublin Commuter region, 67.6%.
Considering the 35+ age segment, national radio holds the majority share, 51.5% (+1%). In regional markets, national radio maintains a strong share position in Dublin, 68.8%, the Dublin Commuter region, 68.4% and in the Multi-city area, 59.4%. (See T8). Local radio continues to be a strong performer in the individual radio markets across the country – in many areas reaching more than 40% of the local adult population daily (particularly in the south and west) . In Mayo, the Shannonside area and Donegal Nth, more than 50% of the adult population tune in daily. In particular, on the criterion of share of minutes listened during prime 7am to 7pm, Highland Radio, Tipp FM, Radio Kerry, MWR and Shannonside 104FM hold the majority share position in their franchise areas.
Full breakdowns of reach and share for all areas are available in the official Ipsos/MRBI JNLR report available at www.bai.ie
I was always on the rebel side.
It was Us versus Them, the forces of rock and roll and musical freedom struggling against the older generation, those in power, the corporate and musical estblishment whose music was of a bygone age. I was always on the side of “Us” and would never change. Or so I thought . .
Of course, my friend and onetime Caroline colleague Christopher England would tell me differently. Chris has many hobby horses, and one of them is a dislike of “oldie music” and a disdain for how quickly the new young thrusting generation become oldies themselves, despising newer music from a younger generation, and believing that theirs was the only true generation of revolution. Chris talks about this a lot, but it was not Chris who brought me to see the error of my ways, though funnily enough my moment of realisation did come when I was in his company, sitting beside him in a darkened theatre in central London, waiting for a tech launch.
Chris is my tech mentor in life you see. Even though I have been involved in IT for more than 30 years, and have worked either directly or on projects for the biggest names in the business - Microsoft, Apple, Dell, Compaq, HP – Chris has always been at least two steps ahead of me when it comes to living in the future.
My first ever mobile phone? Reccomended and procured for me by Chris (who had earlier got me into that great yuppie trend of the late 80s, the pager).
It was Chris who told me about the Orange network, which had this unique new geeky feature not available on any other network, the facility to send short SMS text messages. My first messages were to and from Chris.
When, at a technology exhibition in Earls Court in 1992 I tried out a very early video-phone on the BT stand, it was Chris who was the blocky, pixellated face at the other end, jerking around at a rate of about 2 or 3 frames per second (or that’s what it seemed like anyway). Skype was far, far in the future in those days.
It was Chris who first mentioned some weird tech start up called Twitter, long before it was anything other than a curiosity, and at least two years before it became mainstream.
Not all of his playthings went on to success however. I vividly remember a huge, multi-caller, interactive premium-rate phoneline called “The Villa” which he was an administrator of, into which you could dial if you wanted to meet and interact with people. By pressing commands on the phone you could go into different areas of the villa, meet different people in different rooms, play games, chat etc. It was woefully clunky and terribly expensive, but I can’t help thinking back to it when I see some of the interactions on Facebook.
And so it was that when Microsoft were launching their huge step forward that was Windows 95, it was Chris that I was sitting beside in a large theatre or other such place somewhere in central London. I can’t remember the exact date, but a look back at the launch schedule for Windows 95 tells me that this must have been sometime around, or just before, August 1995.
As we sat waiting for the show to begin, I was very pleased to hear a Rolling Stones track “Start Me Up” being played. (of course, prior to the launch we would not have known that this was a planned part of the whole Win95 theme, in reference to the “Start” menu).
I remember thinking that, after years of big corporate giants being very conservative and oldies focussed in their music for events like this, that it was great that finally they were moving forward, and recognising the value of “our” generation’s music, being young and rebellious, rather than middle aged. Maybe we were winning our battles after all!
And then it hit me, and that one single moment changed my whole worldview on music. This was not big business recognising the value of youthful rebellious music. This was my generation, and our music having been around for long enough that people of my age were now moving up into positions of corporate and government responsibility. This was my generation’s music, in effect, becoming the new “safe” choice, favoured by people drifting towards middle age. This was the moment that I realised that, without so much as a whisper of warning, time had played the cruellest trick of all, and now “we” were becoming “them”.
And sure enough, the signs were there. A new generation of music bubbling under that was not really listened to by my generation, the fact that our music was now increasingly playlisted on mainstream radio . .
From that day on, I could see the truth in Christopher England’s polemic about how closed people’s minds became to everything new over time, and I resolved to think and act differently myself. And this was a good time to do it, as around about the same time as Microsoft was launching Windows 95 another giant was rethinking its strategy, as the BBC started a revemp of Radio 1, to howls of protest from established presenters and audience, that would see a new generation of presenters coming on board, bringing with them the new wave of dance, rock and alternative sounds that had been there, but ignored for quite some time.
Later I was to end up at Phantom FM in Dublin, where for 11 years I was constantly fed a diet of new bands and live gigs. That really helped me to stay up to date, and I couldn’t help but smile when, on the station’s message board in the mid noughties, I saw listeners complaining about how the new music it was playing now was not the same as the new music it had been playing five years earlier.
“They are playing crap aimed at 16 year olds” these 21 year olds would complain, “not like when we were 16, the music was much better then”.
Having recently left Phantom to strike out on my own, I’m working harder than ever to keep up to date on new music, and try to feature a minimum of 50% new material on my shows each week on Radio Seagull. I don’t have the dislike of oldies that Chris has, but on the other hand I don’t have the dislike of modern music that so many of my contemporaries seem to have grown into.
And, though it is itself an “oldie” now in computing terms, that’s as good a reason to be thankful for Windows 95 as any.
Driving across Dublin yesterday afternoon, I caught the tail end of Derek Mooney’s afternoon show on RTE Radio 1, and I listened with a mixture of sympathy and admiration as he coped gamely with the situation that all broadcasters encounter sooner or later - the unresponsive winner.
Derek had some big competition running for listeners with a fairly substantial prize, and he and a co-host made much of how they had put all the correct entries into a spreadsheet, and were now picking the winner using a random number generator.
Poor Derek’s heart though must have sank when he started talking to the winner. My recall of the conversation is not word-perfect, but it went a little like this:
“Congratulations on being our winner, now, could you give the listeners the correct answer to the question we asked?”
“Er . . I can’t remember the question. What was it?”
“In which year did Abba win the Eurovision Song Contest?”
“Oh . . . I don’t know, I can’t remember what I said, I’d have to look it up”
“Well, you got the answer right, so make a guess”
“er . . 1972?”
“No, it was 1974, but you got the answer right in your entry, so congratulations . . “
Derek handled it well, and kept upbeat, but he must have been talking through gritted teeth. I know I was gritting mine just listening.
It’s a dilemma we all face in radio – how to deal with the person who’s won the big prize, but turns out not to be ideal when put on air. Some stations get around this by pre-recording the winners, calling different people and choosing the most excitabble sounding ones as winners. I don’t believe in doing that myself, the picking and putting on air of a winner should be as “live” and as “real” as possible, even if it does occasionally produce a damp squib.
I had this myself a couple of years ago, when giving out a set of weekend tickets with camping rights for a large music festival in Ireland (package worth at least a couple of hundred euro, and tickets were already sold out, so a great prize to win).
I had done this the year before, to great excitement from a winner , so I was looking forward to putting this one on air. We had hundreds of text entries, and the winner was one who was texter no 105, so no need to choose who was winner.
I put the guy on air and told him he had won. He sounded mildly interested.
So I asked my followup question, designed to get him talking:
So, which band are you most looking forward to seeing?
I’m not sure. I don’t really like seeing bands live.
Gritting my teeth and wondering why he had entered a competition for music festival tickets if he didn’t like seeing bands live, I thought of another angle.
Your prize is a pair of tickets for the full weekend – have you decided who you’d like to take with you?
My wife doesn’t like going to see bands either.
Well, I guess you’ll be popular at work in that case! Is there anyone at work you’d like to bring?
I don’t really like hanging out with the people I work with . . .
All you can do as a broadcaster at that stage is cut it short,congratulate the winner again, remind the audience excitedly that there is another pair of tickets still to be given out later in the weekend and kick into a bloody strong song . . .
The next year I was apprehensive when my turn came round again, but I had no need to worry. My winner squealed with delight, and you could almost see her jumping up and down.
A great post from Christopher England today on his England’s England blog – http://www.christopherengland.com/2011/05/background-radio-v-foreground-radio.html
Chris talks about music radio audience, and why niche market stations can sometimes drive their listener figures in the wrong direction when they try to apply “accepted wisdom” to their programming philosophy. I won’t quote him here – you should head over and read the full thing – but I will say that there is more than one station in my own market, Dublin, that could do with following his advice.
You may not have come across Christopher England before, but you may well have listened to stations that used him behind the scenes.
Chris has always been a bright kid, ahead of the pack, and with a special interest in talk radio he always has something to say, and it’s usually worth listening to. From the landbased pirates in London in the early 80s, through Caroline offshore and on to stations such as TalkSport, Chris has worked at the sharp end long enough to know what’s what, and his career includes launching and running his own satellite radio station - Euronet – with a mixture of speech and music programming that was a little ahead of its time in 1992.
People sometimes talk about their “fantasy radio lineup” and if I ever win the lottery and buy my own radio station, Chris will be on mine twice – once with his unique brand of talk show, and again as creative director for evening/overnight 7pm-7am output.
Chris’s daily updates will have you laughing, thinking, and occasionally spitting, but they are always worth reading, even those that I disagree with.
His columns on mass-market radio should be printed out and pinned up on the programme directors wallboard.
I’m now halfway through my week on board the Ross Revenge at Tilbury Port in Essex as part of the 11 days of live ship- based broadcasting to celebrate Radio Caroline’s 47th birthday.
I’m having a great time on board, along with other ex-offshore folk such as Dave Foster, Bob Lawrence, Cliff Osbourne, Jeremy Chartham and others. And we are joined by a new generation of people who have come to Caroline in the post-offshore years, including an amazingly talented presenter and engineer called Ollie, who is about the age that I was when I joined Caroline, and keen as mustard.
Caroline has been on Sky for 12 years, and these days gets a huge proportion of listeners online through streams and apps, and we have emails coming in from all around the world.
So why keep the ship? What purpose does it fill when we are no longer required to be in international waters in order to reach out and touch our audience? Those are questions that would be asked in the business world, where the upkeep of the Ross Revenge would be an “opex” problem.
Well, ignore for a moment the fact that this ship, and the others that preceeded it are to an extent hardwired into the DNA of Radio Caroline. Ignore the fact that every room, every corridor and every nut and bolt on the ship is infused with our history, our memories, and our dreams. Ignore these things, as although they are substantial and important, that could be said to be based on emotion and sentiment.
Even without tear things, returning to the ship to broadcast brings a unique benefit to the station which translates into better programmes and a better “buzz” for the audience.
Living on board during a broadcast, presenters who never normally see each other are forced into close proximity and develop a bond that dies wonders for the overall sound of the station. We wake together, breakfast together, work alongside each other all day, listen to each other’s shows and spend evenings laughing and debating in the record library, where old tall tales and new music releases are swapped in equal measure.
We bounce off each other musically, emotionally, technically. We share our passion and as we share it, that passion grows. A passion for music, for radio, for communication.
The ship is the soul of Radio Caroline, and the ship-based broadcasts let us get in touch with that soul, and drink deep at the well of friendship and creativity.
There are some thing that never appear in the financial entries of a corporate spreadsheet, but which are beyond value nonetheless.
As I write this, Cliff Osbourne is playing “Goin’ Back”
“A little bit of freedom is all we lack
So catch me if you can, I’m going back”
M.V. Ross Revenge
I never knew him as anything other than “Fran from Balbriggan”, and I only ever met him once, but he was a constant presence over the last 8 years that I’ve been on Phantom.
Fran was a regular texter to the breakfast show in 2000-2002, and was one of the first to welcome me back when we launched as a licenced station in 2006. It was always good to see his familiar name popping up on the text list every few shows – one of those texters who has been around for so long that they seem more like a friend.
Fran passed away over the weekend at the very young age of 24.
I know from mutual friends how much he is missed in Balbriggan, and he’s missed at Phantom towers too.
Rest in Peace Fran.