How can this be unchallenged?

I have a very strong and consistent view that looking at, and making decisions on the basis of, one-off survey results is an effective way to destroy a radio station.

There are few meaningful conclusions that can be drawn from any stand-alone result, in fact any that are reached are often completely wrong and can lead to major damage being done.

Analysing medium and longer-term trends is the only effective way to measure how a station is performing. 

So how is it that as an industry we can allow the below to consistently go unchallenged:


This article was published in InPress magazine in Melbourne a few days ago, and they weren’t alone. A number of outlets, some in the mainstream media, reported phrases like ‘Smooth fails’ .

Even the influential Mumbrella website ran with the below headline:


In fairness, Mumbrella did go on to note that Smooth was only on the air for 3-weeks of the 10-week survey. However, the headline was misleading in that whether Smooth went up or down, it would be irrelevant in terms of judging the new format.

The InPress headline was ignorant and showed a lack of understanding. Certainly they acknowledged the 3-week factor, but it didn’t stop them printing a headline that bears absolutely no relation to the facts.

This has been going on for years.

Far too many journalists have no real comprehension of how the survey methodology works, therefore they misreport, or draw conclusions that are simply not supported in the figures they are reporting on.

Before some jump to the conclusion that given I worked for DMG for a long time, therefore of course I would defend them – that would miss the point.

Whilst Smooth is the catalyst, it is not the key point;

If the radio industry simply accepts that journalists will never completely understand the methodology, and therefore will misrepresent them, at some point every station will be on the receiving end of ignorant and misleading reporting such as InPress.

However instead of laying blame at their feet, surely the industry needs to take responsibility for educating journalists who report on surveys so they understand what they are reporting on, and how to analyse the figures?

Does Commercial Radio Australia have a role to play in providing a one or two page ‘how to guide’ for journalists? 

Or as an industry are we comfortable with headlines similar to that which InPress have published?


Dan Bradley is Executive Director of Kaizen Media; a boutique international radio consulting and artist management company, working with radio stations, media talent and music artists.

You can contact Dan here.


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