Today is RAJAR day. To those who have never experienced it, welcome to the most stressful 24 hours in the life of a programmer. The weeks, months, perhaps even years of following a strategy may come down to this point. It rarely does in reality, but we think it does.
I have never liked RAJAR day. I always struggled to sleep beforehand, I even cried once when the numbers were so bad. The stress is often monumental because you care so much. It takes over your life. The family are concerned but only because they want to get back to some sort of normality.
Of course, once the numbers are in we are fine, especially when it is good or, at worst, static. If you are down then it’s not a good day at all and no kind words from some well meaning suit or friend is going to make you feel any better. We would rather they just left us alone. We will of course privately scan the data hoping for a flicker of good news that we can put in our press release, but you cannot hide from the truth. That is why the pressure is so great.
RAJAR can be a cruel. It is based on years of research that has had its critics but I have never shared those views as I believe it remains one of the leading pieces of research in the world. No system is fool proof, no system is totally accurate (are you telling me that the TV Barb figures are correct?) but what it provides is a public review of your programming health.
When you are up it is because you are brilliant. There can be no other reason for it so bask in your glory, but when it is bad, we desperately look for an explanation. This cannot be right surely? Who can I blame, what is the excuse for my chairman, how do I explain this to my team?. Are we at least up in share, hours, something? Please someone give me something. The reality is that you never win or lose on one quarters survey results; the right way to view these things is year-on-year or even longer than that. Successful stations grow slowly and those in decline do so at the same speed. Failure is rarely a shock, success is always a nice surprise.
The emotion of RAJAR day is mostly felt within commercial radio. I have never understood the apathy at the BBC when the numbers come in. It’s not that they don’t care about RAJAR day because they do, but they don’t sell airtime on the back of it. They can wait, we can’t.
Whatever the results show today can I ask you to adopt the following strategy:
Tell your staff the truth. Good or bad, be brutally honest. If it’s not as good as expected, tell them straight and then lift them for the challenge ahead. You are supposed to be a leader for gods sake.
Please Please Please – don’t issue a press release with dodgy information with worthless figures or facts that make you look ridiculous. If it’s bad just stay silent. You don’t have to say anything. If its good, try not to be too gloating. The next survey is just three months away remember. Social Media often has the facts on line quicker than you do anyway.
Remember your staff have worked hard so make sure you celebrate as a team regardless. Emotion is set at the top. So set the level high. The team want to be led so enjoy yourself while doing it. Oh and ring up or if you can, personally see all of your talent to tell them how they have done. Not telling the presenter their numbers, even the weekend jocks, is the act of an idiot and a careless one at that.
So yes, the numbers are important but let’s keep it all in perspective. We want to win, the drama is in the air, you can taste the emotion. All the hard work might just come good at last. However, there is one thing that is critical so please pass this blog on to your MD, Manager or whoever it is that is in charge.
The biggest insult any PD can receive is when the boss forgets it is RAJAR altogether. If that happens, you have my permission to smack ‘em.
From Everyone at The Radio Academy, I hope you get what you deserve.
PS. In the meantime, how about a short reply on your best and worst RAJAR moments?