Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Reading the Rajars: Theakston Is Up, and the Archers Is Down. What Can It Mean?

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Reading the Rajars: Theakston Is Up, and the Archers Is Down. What Can It Mean?

Article excerpt

I think I'm turning native. I now look forward to the quarterly radio listening figures (the Rajars) more than is strictly healthy. No sooner have I read all the details than I rush up to my husband's office to tell him What It All Means. Naturally, I'm mostly bluffing. What does it all mean?

I'm damned if I know. It's obvious that radio is enjoying a boom--more people are listening, and to more stations--and clear that while the BBC remains dominant, commercial stations are reporting an upturn in revenues. Yet it is harder to fathom the minutiae. For instance, the news that Classic FM is losing listeners had me jumping up and down; the station is all lace and no knickers, and I loathe it. But then I noticed that TalkSport, home of George "Top Cat" Galloway and the Sun columnist Jon Gaunt, is growing its audience. How did this happen? (And, no, please don't write in to explain: I'm not sure I can take it.)

The most recent set of Rajars generated some big headlines. One of these was that Jamie Theakston's breakfast show on Heart 106.2 is now the most listened to in London, ahead of Johnny Vaughan on Capital and Chris Moyles on Radio 1. This is pleasing--anything that helps keep Fatty Moyles's ego in check is a good thing--but also mysterious. Who knew that mild-mannered Theakston had it in him?

Actually, I did, though my hunch had nothing to do with his abilities as a DJ. I happened to watch a DVD of Rock Profile, in which David Walliams and Matt Lucas pretend to be pop stars and Theakston, playing himself, interviews them. Somewhat to my astonishment, he made a really good straight guy. Even so, it is amazing that he can beat two old (and hugely well-paid) hands at their own game. Vaughan, with a fat new contract that will keep him at Capital for a while yet, must be feeling especially sheepish.

What is Theakston's secret? …

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