What’s in a name? Absolutely everything if today’s Rajars are anything to go by

Absolute Radio’sprogramme and operations director Clive Dickens will be testinghis international diplomacy skills today, as he tries to explain away listening drops of more than a fifthto his newbosses in India.

One of the few surprises in today’s radio listening figures forthe last quarter of 2008 is the dramatic loss ofaudience recorded bythe former Virgin Radio station following its rebrand to Absolutein September.

Led by nearly 100,000 falls for Christian O’Connell’s Breakfastshow – from 554,000to 466,000 listeners – the station, acquiredby Times of India group last year,has posted an annual23.6% decline in reach tojust 2.2 million.

A defensive Dickenssaysthe drops were expected and can belargley explainedby confusion caused bythe name change among the listenerscompletingthe Rajar diaries.

His argument will not behelped if someone in India gets their hands on one of these diary forms – which clearly states (was Virgin Radio) next to each mention of Absolute.

He insists the stationremains on track to hitits audience target of 3.5m listeners by the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011, although where this confidence is coming from remainsa mystery.

Virgin Radio was already losing listeners before the takeover, and the loss ofits 15 year brand heritage appears to have onlyspeeded upthe exodus. And this despite a £5m advertising campaign pushing the strapline “Discover real music”.

Could it be the station’swiderplaylist which now incorporates more “classic” rock from yesteryear is nothitting the spot?

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    I agree. Snowball’s chance in hell of hitting that. It is a crap station