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Sam FM Swindon to merge with Bristol

By James Martin
Posted 26 May 2016, 7.15pm edt
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RadioToday article here... http://radiotoday.co.uk/2016/05/sam-fm-swindon-to-merge-with-sam-fm-bristol/

Abother sad day in a decade of disaster at Lime Kiln.

The problem with the license, frankly, is it's been doomed from the start.

I think they were on their third, possibly fourth PD by the time it launched. The launch lineup all moved on within a year. TLRC then sold it to Laser and despite the flack I got on the forums at the time, everything I predicted came true. Not that I take any pleasure in being right.

Whilst Laser and its' various incarnations were tearing themselves apart, GWR FM became Heart and Global's marketing, research, focus, budget and general Jedi mastery at doing music radio frankly just blew it out the water. It was such damaged goods by that point that clearly even Celador couldn't save it.

A really sad end to a station I helped launch nearly ten years ago. I wonder though if with this news and Oak FM turning their back on the rocky male format under ATR Media, the wheels are falling off the "jukebox" format?

Comments

PRO1 year, 4 months ago

I don't think it's the jukebox format that is the issue with Swindon, more to do with it not being viable as a stand-alone station.

However, I still think rebranding from Jack was a big mistake with Celador's own Lidl brand.

1 year, 4 months ago

What does everybody else think?

1 year, 3 months ago

Clearly there's not much opinion on this. I'm not sure if that's just this forum being a very quiet place now, or that people basically don't care. If it's the latter, then fair play to Celador for doing what they're doing. If the industry professionals aren't bothered, why should the listener be?

In many ways the lack of reaction - not just on here, but over on DS too, is possibly a mark of just how drastically the industry has changed in the last ten years. The aforementioned Oak FM's sale to ATR, likewise, was completely ignored by DS; despite the new owners taking it in a direction that many on DS believe is the way radio should be done.

Compare that with when Bath FM was moved to Lime Kiln. That started some very protracted debate. It's not necessarily a criticism, but definitely an observation, that as the Internet has become more and more mainstream through the 21st Century and social media has become a way of life, discussion of what you might call "niche" subjects has eroded significantly.

PRO1 year, 3 months ago

I think the lack of reaction here is driven partially by "so what".

It's also driven by discussions now happening in Facebook and other areas, and forums like this being, essentially, dead. DS has a niche of bitter anonymous accounts bitching about things, but otherwise there are plenty of places to chat about things.

It's a shame, since it drives discussion underground; but that's the way of things.

PRO1 year, 3 months ago

It reminds me of the recent Yorkshire Coast Radio discussion where in their TSA, they have 50 (largely digital) stations in their patch, yet they have a staggering share for what is basically a bog standard AC station with local information and no real local competition. (BBC Radio York is the closest from York).

However Sam FM also has Heart Wiltshire in their patch, BBC Wiltshire and a community station. Sam did have a unique brand in Jack FM which did improve their reach, yet Celador in their wise wisdom to save money introduced their own diluted Jack brand, which as we've seen with The Breeze doesn't necessarily mean it's any good. If anything, the proof is in the pudding that you can dilute a successful brand, but if you don't get the formula right, it'll be a flop.

1 year, 3 months ago

OK I'll chip in. In response to that "not being viable" comment how about turning the frequency/power allocation over to Swindon 105.5 who seem to be doing alright in that market? I think even a slim potential of something like that happening might force some of these radio groups to think a bit harder on how to make their stations viable instead of just networking over wider and wider areas.... IMHO The majority of our FM resources are controlled by far too few organisations that tend to have "group-think" ways of operating. Some diversification and originality needed I think!
There we go!

1 year, 3 months ago

The license would be better playing it's local card rather than playing non stop music and adverts. A full service station like Brunel was would be far more viabe and deliver audience.

PRO1 year, 3 months ago

The license would be better playing it's local card rather than playing non stop music and adverts. A full service station like Brunel was would be far more viabe and deliver audience.

I fear your dislike of automated jukebox radio is clouding your judgement on this one. Jack has worked in Oxfordshire and even in Swindon where it raised the share higher than any of the full service formats on that licence.

Breezing it isn't the answer either as the format doesn't even work in their existing TSA's!

While Sam isn't even to my taste as a sub-standard Absolute Radio with an essense of Jack, at least that licence is still on-air, even if the split links will come from Bristol rather than Lime Kiln.

My personal preference would be for that licence to be Fire Radio for Swindon, yet they'd have to still provide those seven hours locally as Ofcom wouldn't allow for networking between Southampton and Swindon unless they can apply for a change in format allowing it to become specialist. This is how Radio X is allowed to network London output in Manchester with no local programming opts.

PRO1 year, 3 months ago

It's misunderstood that JACKfm (Oxford) is an automated jukebox. It's a radio station with a lot of well-produced local news, local features, award-winning breakfast presenters who live and breathe the station 24/7, and clever and witty ways to make you realise you're lstening to a local radio station. There's plenty of reasons why they're the most awarded brand in the UK. They happen not to have presenters after ten, but if you listen to it, you'll appreciate it isn't just an iPod on shuffle; quite the contrary.

My experiences listening to JACKfm Bristol was of a poorly-executed automated jukebox with no local information at all, and really crappy and unfunny liners from 'Jack'. (Celador shared no production with Oxford). For them to jettison the brand was as short-sighted as not actually understanding what the UK brand was about in the first place. In my humble opinion.

As a disclosure: I've worked for Oxis Media, who own the Jack brand in the UK these days; but I haven't actually worked for JACKfm in Oxford.

1 year, 3 months ago

If there was a "Like" button on your forum James, I would have hit it for that last post! Regarding Sam FM Bristol I prefer it during the automated periods, not live shows (which I suspect are voice tracked, not live). One of the presenters sounds like he's presenting whilst reading a script (badly) with a gun to his head!

PRO1 year, 3 months ago

My experiences listening to JACKfm Bristol was of a poorly-executed automated jukebox with no local information at all, and really crappy and unfunny liners from 'Jack'. (Celador shared no production with Oxford). For them to jettison the brand was as short-sighted as not actually understanding what the UK brand was about in the first place. In my humble opinion.

And yet Bristol, along with Swindon and Solent had their best Rajar's using the JACK brand than under Celador's current branding. They may not have had the best production, but the listeners liked it which reflected in the figures.

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