Listen up!

17th March, 2008

I spent Wednesday afternoon last week in the company of those good people down at Atlantic FM. For one afternoon only I was given access to the airwaves as a business expert to comment on our expectations for, and feelings about, the results of Chancellor Alistair Darling’s first Budget. Fortunately for the listeners, I wasn’t alone: Peter McGahan from Worldwide Financial Planning, a real financial expert, was also there to give some proper insight into what was going on!

I’ve been into Atlantic FM a few times and you can’t help but get caught up in the buzz and I do follow the station’s progress with more than just a passing interest.

Because if there’s one industry that is obsessed with statistics and market research, it’s radio. Nearly all of us “use” radio; in fact (officially) 9 out of 10 of us listen in each week. Four times a year shareholders, stakeholders and station managers, BBC and commercial networks alike, eagerly await the latest figures from RAJAR.

I’ve been musing over the latest set of data for the period ended December 2007, seeing how our own local stations (Pirate, Atlantic and BBC Radio Cornwall) have been doing.

I must admit that I’m fascinated by it – and commend the industry for having this running benchmark of its performance, with all of us able to see who’s made gains and who’s lost out. Though I do wonder how many realise they’re sitting on a fantastic source of market intelligence. Often the headline results are trotted out only to bash the opposition or to lever a sales pitch.

My business is tainted by that old maxim, “lies, damn lies and statistics” especially when data are used inappropriately or in absence of a genuine argument. On the other hand, sometimes you just need a stark statistic to get people to sit up and listen.

Which, of course, is exactly what Atlantic FM and co. would like you to do!