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A RAJAR primer

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Paul Kennedy Paul Kennedy | 10:41 AM, Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A RAJAR radio listening diary

Editor's note: on the eve of the publication of the latest radio listening figures, Paul Kennedy, Research Director at RAJAR, explains how they're gathered - SB.

RAJAR, or 'Radio Joint Audience Research', is the official body in charge of radio audience measurement for the UK. RAJAR was established in 1992 to replace two other measurement systems operated separately by the BBC and Commercial Radio. Today RAJAR collects information on behalf of over 300 stations, ranging from very small local services to the national networks.

Each week interviewers from Ipsos-MORI (an audience research organisation) recruit over 2,000 people to complete a RAJAR diary. These people are chosen at random within carefully selected areas to ensure the survey is completely representative in terms of the type of people who participate and the areas where they live. The random selection process also ensures inclusivity as much as possible - non-listeners are recruited, while people with disabilities are encouraged to take part with the help of a family member or carer if necessary. Ethnicity is also carefully monitored, with specific quotas set in areas of disproportionate ethnic balance to maintain the correct representation. Recruitment usually takes place over the weekend, and on the following Monday the selected respondents begin keeping a diary of their week's listening.

RAJAR uses a paper diary because it is the system that works best for most people. However, RAJAR is testing an online version, and this could be introduced later in 2011. But it is seen as a complement to the paper diary and not a replacement for it because there are many people who still do not have online access. The diary has separate pages for each day, with the day divided into quarter-hour periods down the side of the page, and the respondent's selected stations across the top to form a matrix. The respondent simply has to draw a line from the quarter-hour when they start listening to a station until the time when they stop. In addition to the station and date/time, the diary also collects information on where the listening takes place (e.g. at home, or in the car) and the platform (e.g. AM/FM, DAB, Internet).

Close-up of a RAJAR radio listening diary.

At the end of the week, the interviewers collect the diaries and return them to Ipsos-MORI for processing. This is repeated weekly and, at the end of every 3-month period, the numbers are aggregated to produce results for each station. All stations use the information to plan programme schedules, while the commercial stations also use the statistics to sell advertising airtime, without which they would cease to exist.

More than 100,000 people participate in the RAJAR survey every year, making it one of the largest media studies in the world. The paper diary is the most common method of measuring radio audiences worldwide, although some countries use electronic devices called audiometers. RAJAR has tested several audiometers and continues to work with developers to find one at an affordable price that measures all stations equally, regardless of size, format or means of broadcasting.

Paul Kennedy is Research Director at RAJAR

  • The Rajars for Q4 of 2010 are published on Thursday morning. We'll publish details here on the blog.


  • Comment number 1.

    “In addition to the station and date/time, the diary also collects information on where the listening takes place (e.g. at home, or in the car) and the platform (e.g. AM/FM, DAB, Internet).”

    The RAJARs diary page Platform four choices are How: AM/FM Radio, DAB Digital Radio, Digital TV, The Internet. (Which is cropped from the right side of the smaller illustration and from the top center of the larger illustration above.)

    Isn’t FM, AM, and Internet listening on multi-standard DAB radios included with the DAB platform figures? Isn’t this intended, instructed, and trained? It seems unavoidable, to a great degree, with the current diary page and survey system design.

    Isn’t mobile listening—relatively small, but growing quickly—not included yet? With some separate measurements?

    The misunderstanding and confusion is accentuated by the prevalent Industry general use of non-specific “Digital Radio” and inaccurately in place of the correct, more specific “DAB Radio”. And, the prevalent Industry lack of using the accurate and more specific (and common) “Internet Radio”, rather than inaccurate and/or less specific Wi-Fi radio, connected radio, online radio.

    What is actual total DAB listening? What is actual total Internet listening—live, on-demand, podcasts, and personal tracklists? A more complete and accurate estimate results relatively equal now—perhaps both about 8-10%—not at all the 5-6X ratio reported and touted. With Internet radio growing much more rapidly than DAB. Propelled by the profusion of devices, services, and programming. And the additional benefits of location and time flexibility.

  • Comment number 2.

    I reckon I do at least 50% of my listening in non-live mode.

    What thoughts do the BBC have on a non-live mode version of the RAJARS? (Presumably the figures, down to per-programme level, are readily accessible through the iPlayer stats.)

    I think a comparison of the current 'live/linear' RAJARS and the non-live version would be illuminating.


  • Comment number 3.

    The BBC have an irritating habit of pontificating on the rise of "digital" and taking that to mean that DAB is somehow successful. I listen to the radio almost exclusively "digitally" these days, either through my Freeview box, (soon to be taken away from me here in Aberdeen as the BBC force through "BBC Alba" to replace *all* BBC radio channels) my wi-fi radio in the bedroom or streaming through my iPod. I tried DAB, but I can only get two channels in my house, and I absolutely *hate* one of them. Neither were BBC channels.

    My point is that every time the BBC put a "spokesperson" on, say, "You and Yours" and they get asked a question specifically about DAB they will always start quoting the figures for "digital". These are *not* the same thing. In the North of Scotland, where my Mother lives, they haven't got decent FM reception yet, but they're talking about shutting down FM. Why can't they finish rolling out one technology before they start with another?


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