RAJAR Q4/2019

Sadly the day job, and a super early flight for Thursday has somewhat got in the way of writing a RAJAR blog post tonight. Apologies!

However, one quick thing, and then I’ll try and get into some more analysis when I have a little more time this week.

There were quite a few articles about children’s declining radio habit and many connecting it to the rise in smart speaker use. Here’s the normally excellent Matthew Moore’s piece in The Times. It’s based on Ofcom’s study: Children and parents: media use and attitudes.

The line in the report states:

“Of all the devices children aged 5-15 use, however, the smart speaker has seen the largest increase in use – from 15% in 2018 to 27% in 2019. As such, smart speakers have now overtaken use of radios, which declined from 26% to 22% over the same period.”

Of course, the interpretation is wrong, whilst the data is accurate. The use of a device may be dropping, but that doesn’t mean the consumption of the product is. Live radio remains the most used thing on a smart-speaker, so just because someone’s unplugged a radio set and replaced it with an illuminated blue puck, doesn’t mean that radio consumption has dropped. Indeed, it may mean that radio use has increased as children start to use a device better suited to them to listen to the radio.

In my day job of running a children’s radio station, I often speak at conferences and talk about the status of the radio in kids’ lives. In the car the radio is at the front, where parents sit, a child has to negotiate to get something played on it. In a kitchen, the radio is high up on a work-top, again it requires negotiation for a re-tune. In the lounge, it may be part of an expensive DO NOT TOUCH Sonos system.

The smart-speaker on the other hand, needs no hands. Any child can demand of it what they like, and, according to some research I watched, when I child leaned in to the researcher and whispered conspiratorially “it never says no”.

Growth in smart speaker use is something we’ve seen hugely at Fun Kids. On the 25th December in 2018 and 2019 our daily stream starts doubled and this then remained (and grew steadily) over the year. Smart speakers provide the bulk of hours to our internet listening now.

It’s also perhaps a contributing reason to why Fun Kids has had its best ever RAJAR results. Regular readers will know that RAJAR is an oddity for Fun Kids, you need to be a part of it to be seen as a ‘proper’ radio station, but it only measures 10 plusses – which is a bit annoying for us as our station is for under 10s! Therefore though we’re national we just measure our London audience.

So, according to the latest data, we now have 120,000 listeners in London and that’s outside our core demo! Just think what it would be if it actually measured all of our little listeners and we surveyed the whole of the UK.

I always like to do a sort of all the radio stations audible in London, by 10+ reach and see where we rank. This book’s been a good one to do that. In my list of 69 stations we’re the 39th. This means we’re bigger than (deep breath) the new Hearts (Heart 70s, Heart 90s and Heart Dance), Capital XTRA Reloaded, Magic Chilled, the Hits Radios (Hits Radio, Greatest Hits and Country Hits), in fact all the country stations (Smooth Radio Country and Chris Country Radio), Smooth’s other spin-offs Smooth Radio Chill and Extra, Heat, Kerrang!, talkRADIO and talkSPORT2, three of the Absolute digital stations (Absolute Radio 60s, Absolute Radio 70s and Absolute Radio 00s, Scala Radio, the Jacks (JACK Radio and Union JACK) and Virgin Radio’s current RAJAR’d spin-offs Virgin Anthems and Virgin Chilled.

So well done to our little team who works so hard.

It’s also perhaps an answer to the often mentioned, and frequently misinterepreted “but kids don’t listen to the radio”. Well, there might be fewer of them listening to a radio, but and more and more seem to be finding what we’re doing every day.

if you’re after a more comprehensive RAJAR round up, Radio Today has a great piece here and Adam Bowie some excellent analysis here.