Archive | July, 2011

Joining the Rajar league – voting with your ears

5 Jul

Firstly, apologies for the gulf between posts. a) It’s been a bit crazy at home and work and b) I’m a slacker. Highlights of the past few weeks have included a memorable holiday in France (yes, the playlist – see previous post – was a hit with the The Toy Story 3 theme song in Spanish demanded every 5 minutes by Reuben) and catching Fleet Foxes doing a Glastonbury ‘warm up’ in front of 3,000 people at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. We only bought tickets for the youthful-but-bearded American folksters six days before the show, so it was an unexpected surprise, and they were fantastic. Glastonbury weekend also saw me and friend Paul ‘perform’ a bunch of wonky covers in front of a sweltering but, thankfully, not-entirely-concentrating crowd at our church’s 50th birthday party.

Anyway, another distraction has been the sheer (yet sad to the casual observer) joy that stirred in my loins when, for the first time ever, I was asked to fill in a RAJAR booklet about my weekly radio listening habits. It’s not every day that a kindly pensioner knocking at your front door asking you to complete a diary makes your weekend, but I am a bit of a radio fan.

Radio huddle

Now for the science… RAJAR stands for Radio Joint Audience Research (though it’s a mystery what the first ‘A’ represents – ‘anally retentive’?) and is the official body for finding out what the nation listens to. Random members of the public, like myself, spend seven days logging the stations they tune to, for how long, whether in the home, car or elsewhere and on what medium – AM/FM, DAB, web, hover mower etc.

About 100,000 of these diaries are filled in each year from which RAJAR extrapolate that, somehow, Chris Evans gets over 9 million listeners a week or that Manx Radio clocked up 500,000 ‘listener hours’ in the last year.

Tempting as it was to develop a fondness for some obscure jazz/dubstep internet station for the week to skew the stats, I tried to stick to my normal listening habits as closely as possible. This involved spending up to half an hour dozing through Radio 4’s Today programme from 6.30 each morning apart from when the sound of shrill church choristers startled me awake on the same station’s Sunday Service. Reluctantly, I had to admit I spent 20 minutes listening to Chris Moyles one day courtesy of my wife whose alarm clock kicks in with Radio 1 at 7am to prevent intellectual overload.

Other boxes ticked included an hour or so of Test Match Special on Five Live Sports Extra , some Wimbledon on Five Live and the Andrew Collins and Josie Long Saturday morning show on 6 Music. The latter was used to distract me as I set to pulling four acres of weeds from between our patio slabs – a job which was ably, and more speedily, completed by Lisa.

Two things I noticed were that my entire listening output was on the BBC and that most of it was speech-based. Another was that, even though there were hundreds of hours of radio silence in my log, I did tune in every day, something I couldn’t say for the TV. And that’s about it…

Apparently, listeners can now fill in the surveys online too. But I preferred the paper option. There was something satisfying about opening my A5 diary every evening and registering my day’s listening votes with an ‘x’ – even if Chris Evans will, ultimately, win.

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