Written by Radio

Compare My Radio

I was in Sweden recently, presenting at Radio Days 2009, and letting a Swedish audience know what we’d been doing in the last 12 months as we morphed from Virgin Radio to Absolute Radio.
One of the things I noted was that Absolute Radio publishes its playlist online, and includes the number of plays the tracks got on both Absolute Radio and competitor stations.
After the presentation, I had a conversation with someone who expressed great surprise that we were giving out information about not only what we were playing, but how often we were playing it, as well as our competitors’ plays. You see, for a long time, this has been regarded as one of the dark secrets of radio programming. Although you might think that a certain track is getting a lot of airplay, it’s never been very easy for a listener to determine quite how much, and how that compares with other stations.
Radio professionals have always had access to this information though. You obviously know how much your own station plays a song, but you can also find out what your competitors are doing. At a very basic level, this might just be employing a work experience person to sit down with a pen and paper (or spreadsheet) and just jot them down as they hear them over the air. Once a song has aired on the radio, it’s no longer a secret.
But companies are out there have long provided this kind of service, for a fee to radio groups. As such, it’s remained out of the range of curious listeners.
Now the clever guys downstairs at work in our digital media team have launched a new product as part of the One Golden Square Labs initiative: CompareMyRadio.com allows you to see which stations are playing your favourite artists, how different stations compare, the frequency that they play tracks, the uniqueness (or similarity) between stations and so on.
Stations like Radio 2 have begun to make this kind of information very public anyway, with full tracklistings of all their programmes on their website. But others have been a little more “secretive” about it. The precise music mix of their station, they might consider to be akin to Coca-Cola’s secret recipe.
It’ll be interesting to see how the site develops. It’s obviously very much a beta product at the moment, and there are plenty of possibilities for developing it more – not least of which include getting more services on-board. But comparing stations during different timebands would be interesting: most stations play it much safer during daytime than in their evening programming when more specialist fare is allowed.
Anyway, do go and take a look, and then give feedback at the One Golden Square blog.
[Disclaimer: This is clearly a product created by my employer, but these views are my own]