TechCon 2016 – The Return

One of the casualties of the changes surrounding the Radio Academy was that TechCon, the one day conference about radio and audio technology, fell by the wayside.

Fortunately, it was gamely picked up by Ann Charles, Aradhna Tayal and Andy Buckingham, who took the conference independent.

Running a conference is not for the faint-hearted, with real costs incurred for things like the venue hire, kit, catering and dull things like insurance. These are largely upfront costs before you’ve sold any tickets. And of course the more specialist a conference is, the more limited your potential audience might be. In a media landscape that has seen a reduction in the number of sizeable radio players, that can mean that it’s challenging to sell tickets.

I spoke to a colleague recently who attended another specialist conference, and they noted that almost the entire audience was made up of speakers and panelists.

So congratulations to the team for filling the room with more than 150 people, and thanks too to the sponsors of the event – notably Broadcast Bionics, Arqiva, KTN and RCS.

By its very nature, TechCon can get technical – and so it did. But never so much that an interested layperson couldn’t understand what was being talked about. While I won’t list every session from the day, in no particular order, here are some of the great takeaways I came away with:

  • The science of acoustics and machine learning is utterly fascinating. This is the sort of work that allows Amazon Alexa, OK Google or Siri to work as well as they do. Cleopatra Pike and Amy Beeston from the Universities of St Andrews and Sheffield, talked about the science and some of the challenges of this kind of automation, and about how machine learning is driving a lot of this. And if we move to object based radio, as Dave Walters talked about, there’s the possibility of this becoming a little easier.
  • There is no definitive conclusion on the future of radio according to research conducted by Nicky Birch of Rosina Sounds for the British Library. The report interviewed a lot of people, and while change is clearly afoot, nobody really knows what that’ll mean who how fast it will happen.
  • Some van drivers have illegal gizmos that they plug into their vehicles to block GPS. This is primarily to prevent their employers being able to track them with built-in GPS trackers. But Simon Mason of Arqiva pointed out that this one of many problems they face when trying to keep transmitters like the national DAB network in sync with one another. More generally he talked about satellite navigation solutions – a timely talk since the European Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), Galileo, is due to begin operations by the end of this year. That brings three systems to European users, sitting alongside the American GPS and Russian GLONASS systems.
  • We heard lots about the development of in-car audio. One interesting perspective is how the likes of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are received by different car manufacturers. Because they essentially offer a single solution to every vehicle, a luxury car manufacturer is no longer able to differentiate themselves from a budget car manufacturer. Everybody gets the same experience. We also saw a potentially scary video of self-driving cars handling a junction autonomously (similar to this video). It’s going to take a little getting used to.
  • Nigel Fry of the BBC World Service, told us how hard it is to broadcast to countries where governments might prefer you not to broadcast.
  • It’s possible to broadcast a radio station making use only of the sun. Even in London! Issa Kassimu of Internews, who is powering such a station in South Sudan, ran us through some calculations. The key point is that you do have to factor in the wattage of your kettle. Everyone wants a cuppa after all!
  • Ofcom is looking forward to licencing more small-scale DAB licences – although it may be a few months before they start to invite applications.
  • To broadcast the (re) launch of Virgin Radio from a moving train, Phil Critchlow of TBI and colleagues from Vipranet used twelve different 3G and 4G connections from four network operators. That still doesn’t help for some cuttings and tunnels, and probably isn’t enough for you to stream Netflix either!
  • Everyone loves binaural. I know you know I know this, but Chris Pike of BBC R&D was able to demo this live with wireless headphones. He played some audio from one of the two binaural productions broadcast a year or so ago (you may recall I went to an event for one of these). We also got to hear some of the audio from the BBC’s VR “Taster” experiment, The Turning Forest, viewable in Google Daydream, Google’s VR application.

And that’s without me mentioning Software Defined Radio, making and broadcasting radio using only cheap phones, and building new studios in tight confines when you have a hatful of new national speech services to launch!

To anyone who attended and couldn’t ask a question because there was just so much to get through – apologies. That was probably my fault as I was doing my best to keep everything running to schedule. One of the downsides of running a conference in a theatre is that, at the end of the day, a production wants the theatre back to put on a show. So we had a very tight turnaround. (That’s also why I wasn’t live Tweeting as I ordinarily would)

I’m sure that the conference will be back next year, so head over to the TechCon website and add yourself to the list!

David Lloyd has a nice writeup of the day, Arqiva has also written about the event, and Trevor Dann features the conference in this week’s RadioToday Podcast.

See you there next year!

Getting Rid of Preinstalled Apps on an HTC 10

This is really just a short blog to explain one of the most annoying things on my otherwise excellent HTC 10.

The phone comes with a number of preinstalled apps, whether you want them or not. That’s not unusual for Android phones. Aside from Google’s own devices, it’s as common as the crapware you get on too many new Windows PCs.

Unfortunately, just “leaving them alone” isn’t always a solution. I’m finding more frequently that apps are “spamming” the Android notification bar, urging me to use them when I’m not interested in them. It really feels quite invasive.

Specifically, Facebook insists that you use its Messenger app. I refuse to use it for a number of reasons – not least already having lots of chat/messaging apps. I don’t need another one. But Facebook is notably aggressive in trying to get users onto its Messenger app, having removed access to messages within its own app, and not allowing users to read messages on the mobile web. Today if someone sends me a message, I can only read it in a desktop environment. Messenger is preinstalled on HTC 10s, and it was persistently trying to get me to upgrade it.

Meanwhile News Republic is a news aggregator app. I’m not interested, and am not a subscriber. But it was there in the background, and more recently has started serving me notifications I’m not interested in. As with Messenger, I can’t uninstall it. All I could do is remove updates.

Finally, for now, there’s the TouchPal keyboard. It’s a pre-installed alternative keyboard that you can use. I don’t use it, nor the dozens of language variants that sit on my phone. Again, I was happy for it to be in the background until it recently started spamming me in the notification bar of my phone. I can’t uninstall it as with the others.

Without rooting the phone, I’m unable to fully get rid of these apps.

So my solution to all of this is to “disable” the apps.

Go to Settings > Apps

Find the app you want to shut down, and select it in the list. Then choose Disable to stop the app running.

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I believe that this will stop apps seeking updates, and most importantly sending spam to my notification bar.

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Note that I had to install TouchPal updates to get it to appear in the Apps list at all, allowing me to then disable it. I fear the language packs may keep updating.

It’s also worth noting that you can go into Notifications and choose to Block All notifications without necessarily disabling the app altogether. But I choose to go nuclear on these apps.

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NFL on Twitter… in the UK

Earlier this year, Twitter signed a deal with the NFL to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games. They paid around $10m, and the NFL noted that theirs wasn’t the highest offer on the table.

I’m not going to get into the whys and wherefores of Twitter’s strategy. For the NFL, it’s about reaching harder to get audiences – “millennials.” Twitter was looking to grow its platform, and the NFL, in the US, might seem a sensible option.

Now it’s worth noting that the Thursday night games are perhaps the least desired packages, but that they’re also broadcast on the NFL Network, and shared between broadcast networks NBC and CBS. So these games are widely available over the air.

When the deal was announced, it was noted that Twitter had global rights to these games, and so, because I was up late last Thursday, I thought I’d see what was available. I use Twitter extensively, but I don’t consider it a video streaming platform. How would I go about watching the game?

Well it wasn’t at all obvious. The game was being shown by Sky Sports in the UK, but I wanted to see it on my phone. I went to Moments, the lightning bolt icon that I never normally touch (I’m afraid Moments is only marginally less useful than Facebook’s recently launched sub-sub-eBay Marketplace “feature.”)

There was no sign of the NFL, even under Sports which looked like was regionalised for UK tastes.

Perhaps it wasn’t really available?

Finally I searched “NFL” and that led me to a Tweet which seemed to have embedded video. After briefly being led in circles being redirected to a website, with the site then suggesting I open the Twitter app I’d just come from, I opened the stream and it seemed to work well. I was served with the straight NBC/NFL Network feed, and the coverage was good. But I was curious. What would happen in the ad breaks?

Well I didn’t get to see US ads. Instead, I got some promos for the NFL Shop, and some generic Twitter videos. And then I got them again. And again. It was awful. There were maybe five videos, and they looped and looped, often multiple times in the same break.

If you don’t watch NFL, then you won’t know quite how many breaks there are. But a game that’s played for an hour lasts a good three or more hours on TV. And much of that is commercial time.

One way or another, Twitter wasn’t serving UK specific ads, so we got the same cruddy filler endlessly. It was unbearable. It didn’t help that one of the videos featured Obama, Clinton and Cameron, and urged us to #Vote. For whom, or when was unclear. Post Trump’s win, I think I might have retired that video.

Anyway, the timings of evening games in the US means that worrying about watching live NFL coverage isn’t high on my European agenda. But if Twitter is going to get into video broadcasting seriously, then they need to work out a localisation strategy.

Girls on Trains

That sounds a bit creepy.

I’m actually talking about the phenomenon that is Paula Hawkins’ novel The Girl on the Train.

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It has been the book that everyone has been reading for the past year or so. Indeed, it if it weren’t for the fact that everyone watches iPlayer and reads Kindles, you’d have seen the book everywhere on public transport for the last year. I enjoyed it a great deal.

And earlier this year, it became a successful film.

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I’ve yet to see it, and although some were disappointed that the location was moved from the UK to the US, there were good reviews of Emily Blunt in the starring role.

But if you go looking for the book, you might just end with something else, particularly on sites like Amazon.

For example there’s Girl on a Train by A J Waines.

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Now to be clear, this was published before Hawkins’ book. But the fact that Amazon labels it a Bestseller, and that it is claimed that over 250,000 Kindle downloads have been sold, might suggest that the author is benefitting from a similar title. More than one reviewer also notes that it was purchased in error. Of course many may have read it and may not realise that they’ve read an entirely different book. Both are thrillers after all, and Paula Hawkins probably still isn’t a household name. The covers are different, and as Waines came first, the title can hardly be construed as cashing in. Just a happy coincidence.

What if you fancied catching the film? I was in a supermarket earlier this week and what did I see but this:

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This is actually a 2013 thriller starring Henry Ian Cusack. It’s an indie film that played a few festivals and got a very limited US release in 2014. Yet last month, it suddenly gets a UK DVD release, seeing it get shelf-space in supermarkets! The new cover art has been cynically designed to mirror that of the book.

Even though Amazon has very clearly labelled the film “The Girl on the Train (Not the Emily Blunt Movie)” and has a note to customers that says, “Please note that this is not the 2016 movie based on the novel by Paula Hawkins and starring Emily Blunt,” it’s clear from the one star reviews that many customers have mistakenly picked up this title by mistake.

(There’s also a similarly named 2009 French film starring Catherine Deneuvre, which is based on a horrifc true story.)

Generally speaking you can’t copyright film titles, although the major studios tend to stay clear of one another. There are plenty of books with the same titles – particularly when you get to one word thrillers. And of course, a simple phrase like “The Girl on the Train” might easily pitch up repeatedly. Indeed both the film and the book that I’ve noted here came before Hawkins’ bestseller. And when a book is a massive seller, you can expect others to try to replicate their success. So look out for lots of books with the word “Girl” in the title.

It’s just curious that this particular film and book have such notable similar titles, even if one is prospering more cynically than the other.

A Final Farewell to Demon

My first use of the internet was when I started university in 1988. We were all allocated an email address, but it was mostly used for sending around messages between ourselves, and gaining access to the mainframes that we conducted most of our work on. At least until I discovered the joy of news groups (this was pre websites kids!).

Sometime around 1996 I started a Demon subscription, with a personal email and some of my own webspace. But at the time I took the subscription out, I didn’t actually own a computer (indeed, for a short time before that, I’d also paid for Compuserve without actually owning a computer). I was using work computers out of hours access the internet. I think my first internet connected PC – a Gateway desktop was around 1997/8. I was on dial-up initially – 9,600, 14.4 and later 56k, with US Robotics modems.

Later I upgraded to ADSL. Speeds increased, and I was largely satisfied.

All the time I had that Demon account, although in due course I bought my own domain and transitioned all my email to that. However, email to my Demon domain would still make it through. Demon wasn’t the cheapest, but the service was good. But the company itself was changing hands pretty fast, and is now owned by Vodafone.

I finally closed my Demon account in August 2013. Fibre wasn’t coming any time soon, the current owners had seemed to have lost interest in developing it, and the BT Broadband with free BT Sport offer was too good to miss. But despite that transition, my Demon email account continued to work. I had Gmail poll it for any email that was still coming through to it. Yes – it was mostly spam, but there were emails from Arsenal and the New Scientist that were still making it through, and there was the possibility that someone I’d lost touch with still had that old email address. I wasn’t paying for this service, and the email domain still worked.

Sadly, this has now come to an end. A month ago, Vodafone announced they were finally removing Demon email services. They did provide details of a service that would let me continue to use the email account. But there’s no reason to pay for that service.

Over the last few days, Gmail has alerted me to the fact that my account no longer worked, and today, around 20 years after I first opened an account, I finally bit the bullet.

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The Salt Marshes of North Norfolk and the Supermoon

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I spent a few hours out in Blakeney and Cley next the Sea, flying my drone today, and shooting both some stills and video of the landscape there. The marshes remain busy in the winter with many birds either passing through or spending the winter months amongst the marshes. The colour of the salt marshes themselves is quite spectacular, and can really be appreciated from the air.

The marshes around Cley are home to tens of thousands of starlings during the winter, and although there are bigger and more spectacular displays elsewhere, it’s always impressive to see. When the starlings finally rest amongst the reeds, the sound is extraordinary. These are not quiet marshes. I also spotted a barn owl out hunting in the twilight.

I was waiting for the “SuperMoon” to appear beyond the windmill at Cley (The Photographer’s Ephemeris is your friend for this), and although I was strictly speaking a day early for the full moon, you can barely tell the difference and the weather was likely to be much better today. (To be completely honest, the effect wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped as I needed to be more distant from the windmill to make the moon look larger. It’s all an optical illusion when you see supposedly massive moons in photos and video.)

Salt Marshes from Adam Bowie on Vimeo.

A few more photos here, but the rest are over at Flickr.

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Diversity in Radio

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Yesterday, two things happened.

I got an email from Sound Women telling me that the organisation will be closing down at the end of next year.

And I went to a radio and audio conference in London.

I’ll explain the link in a minute. But let’s just say for the moment, that I learnt a new word yesterday too: manel.

It’s sad news that Sound Women is closing, because I think it’s fair to say that it has achieved a lot in the five years of its existence. As their blog explains, it’s a consequence of time (of their volunteers) and resources that has led to the decision.

What’s clear is that while the issues raised by Sound Women have been tackled to some extent, that does not mean that sexism in the radio and audio industry is over.

The medium still has a lack of diversity, and when I say this, I include sex, race and social background. I trust that their legacy will live on.

I received the email as I sat in a London radio and audio conference – the RAIN Summit Europe – in The British Museum. Overall I like this event, and there are a good range of speakers including some really excellent ones.

Notably Megan Lazovick of Edison Research gave a really good talk about in-car radio listening. It included some frighteningly dangerous footage of drivers explaining how they used their mobile phones to stream audio while in the car (coming in the week that a truck driver was imprisoned for ten years after killing a family while using his phone). But there was some really good insight into usage in the car.

Then in the afternoon we got entertaining presentations from David Cooper of Spotify and Sam Crowther of A Million Ads.

But there was also this.

Yes – that’s a NINE person panel for a session. And all nine, plus the moderator, are white men from around Europe. I’d tell you what it was about, but I practically fell asleep as it was as interesting as watching a supertanker conduct a turning procedure.

This size panel does not work. Panels are generally not great at conferences unless they’re incredibly well focused. You can’t have a meaningful discussion with this many people in the room.

And if you are going to have a massive panel, or even a small one, couldn’t you have at least found ONE woman?

My Twitter feed taught me a new word at this point: Manel.

I don’t think Sound Women’s job is quite yet done…

Dave Yates’ Framebuilding Course

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Earlier this summer, I spent a week in rural Lincolnshire building a bicycle frame, from scratch, starting with a box of steel tubes. The resulting frame was painted, and then I carefully assembled the bike from parts.

The bike you see above is the fruit of those labours, and I’ve written a much longer than usual piece, which is copiously illustrated.

Read lots more about this endeavour on this page, which will look much better on a large, high-resolution monitor.

There’s a full photoset on Flickr too, documenting the build.

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Six Day Cycling 2016

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I went to the inaugural Six Day London event last year, and wrote up my experiences (in a blog I oddly didn’t publish for a couple of months). From that blog:

Essentially a two-man team competition, it’s racing in a velodrome over six nights, with an overall winner determined from the cumulative results. In between events for the six-day competitors, there are other races so that entrants to the main competition aren’t actually on-track non-stop all night.

I enjoyed the night, but wasn’t quite bowled over. One of the things I noted was:

The crowd could have been larger though. I suspect it’s quite an uphill struggle to fill a velodrome on six consecutive nights. And I’m not sure that starting on a Sunday and finishing on a Friday is the best way to do things. I notice that in Ghent they start on Tuesday and finish on Sunday. At least that way you get big Friday and Saturday nights. On the night I went, they reallocated tickets to lower area for anyone who’d bought an upper level seat.

Well guess what. This year they started on a Tuesday and will finish on Sunday. What’s more, they’ve timed it for half-term which meant lots of families out without as much worry of getting home from an event that finishes at 10:30pm (although the venue was thinning out later in the evening).

This year, the event was completely sold out for the last four days, and fairly well sold for the first two as well. But there was a real draw this time out. Sir Bradley Wiggins would be appearing in his final competitive race before retirement. And to make things even more exciting, he was paired with Mark Cavendish. Part of me did wonder what the reaction would be to Wiggins given the recent revealing of his therapeutic exemptions earlier in his career. (I’ve written some of my early thoughts on this here, but there are clearly more questions to be answered.)

But as it turned out, this was not going to put off fans at this event, and in truth such thoughts were largely put behind us during the thick and fast action. Indeed if anything, the crowd was a bit too partisan. The teams were largely organised by countries and Britain had three teams in contention. But the crowd wanted one team and one team alone to win everything. This event is going to need a string of British stars to keep fans happy.

There were other improvements this year – the public address system seemed to have been improved so that you could actually hear most of the interviews. The organisers, Madison Sports Group, have put a lot of effort into this. Indeed this is the first of a series of Six Day events around Europe. It’s all a bit arbitrary of course, because Ghent is the real home of the sport these days, and that’s not part of the series.

I still wish that the track centre was less of a VIP area – it’s not as though it’s a cheap evening with beer at festival prices and so-so food at top prices. Indeed this was the first time I’d had a bag search at the velodrome, and the large bin behind the bag searchers was full of bottles of water and kids drinks which seems a shame. I know that selling food, drink and merchandise is part of the equation for these events, but at a family event it felt quite harsh.

A group of guys the night I was there came dressed as beefeaters, and I can see that the event could have more of a darts style atmosphere if it really tried. Going to the World Darts finals isn’t a cheap night out either however.

I suppose the only disappointment the night I was there was that there were no women racing. It seems that their competition was beginning on Friday, so I just timed it wrong.

The organisers also seem to have improved their media coverage this year, and it seems that near enough every UK cycling commentator was somehow involved with the event. Track side we had OJ Borg and Rob Hayles keeping the crowd entertained between races (along with a DJ), while Rob Hatch was the velodrome’s in-house commentator. For Eurosport Carlton Kirby and Tony Gibb were broadcasting live nightly, while I noticed that Sky Sports was also carrying highlights with Ned Boulting and Rob Hayles (who seems to be pulling some kind of double duty) providing coverage.

Did I take photos? Of course I did. Quite a few below, and many more on Flickr.

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RAJAR Q3 2016

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Once again, this post is brought to you in association with RALF from DP Software and Services. I’ve used RALF for the past 9 years, and it’s my favourite RAJAR analysis tool. So I continue to be delighted to be able to bring you this analysis in association with them. For more details on RALF, contact Deryck Pritchard via this link or phone 07545 425677.

All views here are clearly my own!

Just when you weren’t expecting it, along comes another RAJAR.

Overall, among all radio listeners, the quarter that includes much of the summer has seen a slight decrease, which is a regular seasonal thing. Reach has fallen 1.1% from last quarter’s record level but is still up 0.7% on last year. Hours are fairly stable too, down 0.7% on the quarter but up 0.4% on the year. Some – but notably not all – of the Brexit highs from last quarter have righted themselves, and we’ve got a second set of numbers from a whole host of new services.

National and Digital Services

Last quarter we saw a swathe of new services arrive on RAJAR, and indeed this quarter sees a first result for Heart Extra – a creditable 664,000 with nearly 3m listening hours.

But let’s have a look at the other newbies and see how they’re settling in after the flurry of activity around launch. TalkRadio has probably done the best, seeing some very solid numbers with a 36% increase in reach to 304,000 and a 63% increase in hours to close to 1.4m hours. Notably, the average number of hours spent listening to TalkRadio is up to 4.5 – not quite enough for it to be many people’s first choice station, but a solid secondary choice. I would expect this audience to continue to grow. I’m not sure to what extent News UK is promoting its services in its sister papers, but The Sun seems like a solid stablemate for the station.

TalkSport 2 hasn’t done so well, and is down 12.3% in reach (-3.0% in hours). While the football season began during this RAJAR period, it takes a little time to get up and running. So another quarter is needed to get a sense of where the station is at. Notably its older sibling had a poor performance this quarter, which only partly reflects that this period was post Euros. The station was down 13% in reach on the quarter, but 9% on the year. Hours were much more solid, down 1.3% on the quarter but up 2.7% on the year. The station has seen a couple of schedule changes recently with Colin Murray replaced by Jim White – although the latter hasn’t yet really been reflected in these figures. Virgin Radio is also probably a little disappointing, down 15.6% on the quarter in reach and 13.8% in hours.

Finally, Radio X saw a 6.4% increase in reach and a 14.4% increase in hours. I think the best you could probably say about that is solid, but the marketing and talent costs for the station surely need to warrant a larger audience than the current 1.265m reach that the station has.

Elsewhere, there will be some slightly tempered relief at Radio 1 where reach has increased 4.4% on the quarter (down 6.5% on the year), and up 5.0% in hours (down 7.4% on the year). It’s still just shy of the 10m mark though, which the station will be looking to return to.

Few will be too tearful that Radio 2 has lost a few more listeners down 1.0% in reach on the quarter and 3.5% down in hours. It’s still by far the biggest station in the UK, some 4m clear of the next biggest station Radio 4.

Radio 4 itself is down a little this quarter to 11.2m, but is up on last year at the same time. Coming in a period after the Brexit vote, that’s perhaps not surprising. Although it remains a busy time for politics, the same pattern seems to have been reflected in post Brexit newspaper ABC figures.

Radio 3 has had a bit of a fall this quarter, surprising in a Proms quarter. You may recall that they achieved some recent record figures in the last quarter, but now it’s below 2m again in reach.

Over at Five Live, they will probably be disappointed with a 6% decline in reach and 12% fall in hours during a quarter that included the Olympics. It should however be noted that year on year performance is relatively flat.

Classic FM has had a poor quarter too in reach terms, down 4.2% on the previous quarter and down 3.8% on the year. Hours are much more stable however.

Absolute Radio has had a strong quarter, up 21% in reach on the quarter and 24% on the year. In hours terms, it’s also a positive story with hours up 22% on the quarter and 17% on the year. Similarly, the Absolute Radio Network is net positive, with up in reach and hours on the quarter. But that slightly disguises the fact that Absolute 80s has fallen again. It’s reach is down to 1.458m (down 7.8% on the quarter and down 7.2% on the year), with hours down 1.4% on the quarter and 7.6% on the year. There has been a clear decline since the station moved from the Digital One to Sound Digital multiplex earlier this year. As a result, Kisstory (which is also carried on a range of local DAB multiplexes as well as Sound Digital) is now the largest commercial digital only service.

Kisstory has had some great results this quarter, up 4.6% in reach (23.3% on the year), and an essentially unbelievable 58.7% in hours (76% on the year). I’ve no idea quite what’s happened here, but I’d probably wait until next quarter before making too many pronouncements. Either way, these are both record results for the station. Kiss, on the other hand, has had a poor national result, down 10% in reach on the quarter (down 7.1% on the year), and down 6.7% in hours (down 8.4%) on the year.

[Updated] And 6 Music had yet another record quarter, up 3.4% to 2.342m. Hours were broadly flat, but well up on the year.

Magic has a mixed result with a slight increase in reach on the quarter (up 2.7%), but a fairly dramatic fall in listening hours (down 15%).

The Capital Network did well this quarter, growing its audience by 2.6% on the quarter and 8.1% on the year. It also saw growth in listening hours.

The Heart Network did OK too, up 1.6% in reach and 3.6% in hours. It was down on the year however.

Finally, LBC actually bucked the post-Brexit trend nationally, seeing its reach increase 4.2% and hours up 4.6%. Year on year these figures are remarkable – up 21.6% in reach and 32.7% in hours.

Along with Absolute Radio, I’d say that LBC had the standout set of results this quarter.

Breakfast

I won’t dwell on breakfast too much this time around except to note that Chris Evans saw his reach fall 4.4% this quarter (down 3.9% on the year) to 9.058m.

Over on Radio 1, it’s another disappointing set of results for Nick Grimshaw – his worst to date. He now has 5.249m listeners, down 3.4% on the quarter and down 9.1% on the year.

Meanwhile across the Absolute Radio Network, Christian O’Connell has just superseded his previous best ever results with a new record set of listeners – 1,949,000. That’s up 1.4% on the quarter and a massive 14.6% on the year. His is the largest commercial breakfast show in the country.

London

Last quarter there was something of a surge in London with a massive growth in listening. This quarter, that seems to have righted itself to a degree. All Radio listening was down 2.8% in reach but down 6.1% in hours in the capital. However, year on year, the reach is up 3.1% and down just 1.6%. So I would think of this as a correction.

The figures are similar for both BBC Radio and Commercial Radio, with the latter losing a little more reach. But in London, Commercial Radio continues to lead the BBC with 51.2% of listening compared with the BBC’s 42.5%.

One consequence of all of this is that Capital becomes the biggest commercial station in London in both reach, despite seeing an 11.2% fall in reach and a 12.2% fall in hours.

Kiss has had a poor result all around and that means that they lose they’re just pipped by Heart (9,179,000 v 9,177,000 hours!) who lost a relatively modest 2.4% in reach.

The biggest commercial station for hours is LBC, despite actually seeing a massive dip in both reach and hours on last quarter – down 23.3% in reach and down 27.6% in hours. I’d firmly put that as a consequence of Brexit however since year on year, they’re up on both measures.

Magic is also notable since it has bucked the London trend and grown 10.5% in reach (5.4% in hours). Hours are down on the quarter, but up on the year.

Radio X really is suffering in London. It’s at just 378,000 in reach, down 14.5% in reach (and 25.4% down year on year). Hours are steady.

Finally BBC London has had a poor result on the back of last quarter’s decent one, back down 17% in reach and 40% in hours.

Digital Listening

Digital listening has grown again, from 45.3% of all listening, to 45.5%. The chart below shows the extent to which this is driven by different platforms, with notably DAB accounting for nearly one in three hours of radio listened to.

More interesting perhaps is that among 15-24s, digital listening has now reached 50%! (It’s also reached 50.1% among 35-44s for the record).

While overall radio listening continues to fall among this age group, that listening that they’re now doing is much more likely to be digital, with internet streaming quickly approaching DAB as the preferred digital platform.

The following series of charts is perhaps useful.

While the digital/analogue chart above got close in 2013, this is a clear trend.

15-24s

It’s easy to become obsessed by youth listening, but as well as the behaviourals of how younger people listen (I hesitate to say “millennials” since that’s ill-defined, and a constantly moving goal), the volume of listening is important to consider.

This chart shows that while the overall proportion of radio listeners who are 15-24s has declined over time, the proportion of hours they account for has fallen even faster. So in Q2 2007, 15-24s accounted for 15.9% of all radio listeners and 13.3% of the time spent listening, in the most recent quarter this has fallen to 13.7% of all radio listeners and just 9.4% of listening hours. This is an increasingly hard audience to reach.

Here’s another worrying chart. It shows the proportion of 15-24s with no radios at all. Sure, they can stream or listen via digital television, but streaming sessions still seem to be much shorter – your phone or laptop can do so much more to entertain you after all.

While these aren’t stratospheric numbers, the rate of “no radio” ownership growth is large, and considering how trivial it is to own a single radio (e.g. your alarm clock), this is still a concerning trend. Even the much vaunted LG phone with DAB has done little to change things, and pretty much none of the flagship phones of 2016 have included any kind of working broadcast radio chip.

Station Repertoire

Radio listeners are remarkably loyal. In a world of an ever growing multiplicity of radio stations, the average radio listener listens to just 3.0 services. But this number varies by station, so the chart below has a select list of services and the number of stations listeners to each of those services listens to.

In other words, Radio 2 listeners are basically average, listening to on average 3.2 services (including Radio 2). At the other extreme, Virgin Radio listeners have a repertoire of 6.2 services.

As is perhaps understandable, it’s digital stations, who often act as “secondary” services who have the largest repertoires. In the industry vernacular, the station you listen most to is your first preference or “P1”, followed by your P2 and then P3 choices. Radio directors always want their listeners to be P1s.

Further Reading

For more RAJAR analysis, I’d recommend the following sites:

The official RAJAR site and their infographic is here
Radio Today for a digest of all the main news
Go to Media.Info for lots of numbers and charts
Paul Easton for more lots analysis including London charts
Matt Deegan will have some great analysis
Media Guardian for more news and coverage
The BBC Mediacentre for BBC Radio stats and findings
Bauer Media’s corporate site.
Global Radio’s corporate site.

Source: RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB, period ending 18 September 2016, Adults 15+.

[Updated to include 6 Music which I somehow overlooked!]

Disclaimer: These are my views alone and do not represent those of anyone else, including my employer. Any errors (I hope there aren’t any!) are mine alone. Drop me a note if you want clarifications on anything. Access to the RAJAR data is via RALF from DP Software as mentioned at the top of this post.