What’s in a name? Absolutely everything if today’s Rajars are anything to go by
Absolute Radio’s programme and operations director Clive Dickens will be testing his international diplomacy skills today, as he tries to explain away listening drops of more than a fifth to his new bosses in India.
One of the few surprises in today’s radio listening figures for the last quarter of 2008 is the dramatic loss of audience recorded by the former Virgin Radio station following its rebrand to Absolute in September.
Led by nearly 100,000 falls for Christian O’Connell’s Breakfast show – from 554,000 to 466,000 listeners – the station, acquired by Times of India group last year, has posted an annual 23.6% decline in reach to just 2.2 million.
A defensive Dickens says the drops were expected and can be largley explained by confusion caused by the name change among the listeners completing the Rajar diaries.
His argument will not be helped if someone in India gets their hands on one of these diary forms – which clearly states (was Virgin Radio) next to each mention of Absolute.
He insists the station remains on track to hit its audience target of 3.5m listeners by the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011, although where this confidence is coming from remains a mystery.
Virgin Radio was already losing listeners before the takeover, and the loss of its 15 year brand heritage appears to have only speeded up the exodus. And this despite a £5m advertising campaign pushing the strapline “Discover real music”.
Could it be the station’s wider playlist which now incorporates more “classic” rock from yesteryear is not hitting the spot?