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Too Many Radio Stations?

By Art Grainger
Posted 1 March 2016, 7.42am est
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It's probably the wrong question to ask radio forumites but I can't help but think that we may be getting to a point in which some stations are being thrown out there and placed on platforms for the sake of it.

I did create another thread about how our European (and Irish) cousins are into vertical expansion, by offering streams that provide different slants on the music they play but are doing it under the same brand, thereby offering a bit more choice for the more discerning listener. I did wonder if we could be getting the same in the UK and if we did, would it go far enough?

So 75% of us now have access to another 18 radio stations (whilst Glasgow's 7 other stations, broadcasting on some kind of local MUX, are whimpering away to as many people as can hear them, whilst they try to get more people to hear them).

Some of those 18 stations are indeed offering more choice. We now have a near-national jazz station again, a Panjabi station, some kind of arty-farty station, a kids station and soon to be a talk station that actually talks about anything other than sport and news.

Also, we seem to have a wee bit more of that kind of vertical expansion I mentioned earlier, under single brands and possibly adding more listeners to the main stations portfolios. Magic Mellow and Magic Chilled seem to be distinctive enough from the main Magic channel, offering the kind of music 24/7 that would otherwise only be heard for a wee bit of the day on the main vanilla channel. Likewise we have Premier's anything goes as long as it's Christian channel paired up with Premier's non-stop hand-clapping and uplifting songs channel.

So it's all good, right?

I would agree about channels with distinctive slants - but why-oh-why do we have so many other new channels that are doing the same as same as channels that are already there? Worse still, what about those "extra" national channels that are in fact a slight playlist remix of their own selves on a local MUX that serves far more people than sheep.

I've seen the excuse that it's to get their brand out "nationally" and to reach areas that are un-served by their brand on a local basis. Fine. Except that those very places is where hardly anybody lives. As for it being "nationally" available ......er, Digital 1 covers far less landmass in Scotland than the amount of landmass (and islands) that can't actually get the signal.

Besides, is it a good idea for, say, Heart Extra to effectively be in competition with Heart "Scotland" when the pretending-to-be Scottish service has been having a poor record of falling audiences, with those who are still listening are doing so for less?

Or is there a game plan going on?

There are simply not enough hours in the day for most people to go out of their way and take full advantage of all these extra stations, not without sacrificing existing services. I can only think that whilst the vertical expansion is a sound idea in attracting new listeners that might not have otherwise bothered , the "Extra" stations are a crude attempt to kill off the local equivalents in the long term and then, finally, have a national station.

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Comments

1 year, 8 months ago

Ah, Heart Extra. Knew you'd be pleased about that. ;-)

Too much choice can be a bad thing. People say of DAB "would you prefer 10 stations in stereo or 20 in mono?." I'd take quality over quantity every time.

The music mix on Heart Extra is quite different from the main channel, slanting quite a bit older. If anything, it's like Heart was a few years ago before they skewed quite young to clear demographic room for Smooth

Now I really like the music on Heart Extra. However, the 80k mono feed is awful. It's muddy, and on my new van with DAB it sounds seriously dull and lifeless. Switching to Radioplayer's feed is like night and day - it sounds SO much cleaner!

It's so fustrating that I have DAB in car at last yet the majority of the additional stations are so unlistenable I have to go back to Radioplayer anyway.

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

some kind of arty-farty station

Eh? If there was a station like Resonance or NTS Radio on Sound Digital, then that would be a positive start.

The most negative decision out of this is the decision to place Absolute 80s and Planet Rock, which are two of Bauer's better performing digital stations (and acquisitions, rather than their own created brands) on SDL, which should represent a drop in share for both stations with the supposed 75% coverage compared to 90% on D1.

Still as long as Bauer can stick on their analogue rebroadcasts of Absolute, KISS and Magic on D1.

1 year, 8 months ago

Yes, which "arty farty" station is broadcasting on the new multiplex, Arthur??

1 year, 8 months ago

As I just said in another thread, I can imagine there are stations out there on DAB right now, as well as community stations on FM, that have some of their hours the equivalent of zero-rated, in other words, so few listeners at any one time that it would be impossible to accurately measure.

I think it's fair to say that individual presenters and programmes probably have large fanbases, whilst many others, maybe not so much.

Does this mean we have too many stations? If we haven't got too many, then we are close to that borderline I think. Community Radio probably has room to expand in terms of geographical areas, but other than that, I think we're close to capacity.

1 year, 8 months ago

Apologies. I saw a listing for Awesome Radio described as a "lifestyle and culture" station. The same listing completely missed out that it had anything to do with being specifically for an Asian audience, so I made an assumption. With reporting skills like that based on a complete lack of knowledge and background information to form an opinion, do you think I'd make a good journalist for the Daily Mail?

You know, this is now Thursday. Most of these new stations started on Monday. I haven't listened to them yet since their launch and have found myself rigidly stuck to the same stations I always listened to, especially Radio 5 and Radio 2. I tuned into the test transmissions of Jazz FM, as well as the two Magic stations when I was on a round trip to the nearest cinema to me and I haven't listened since that day.

Even when I said to my work colleagues that there was a whole batch of new stations available on their DAB radios, the response was one complete indifference, with comments along the lines that they'll still be listening to X station (the same station that they always listened to).

Whilst this is probably an extremely exciting time for grown-men with no girlfriends who collect jingles, as well as other types of radio fanatics, for the public its ...er.... well..... so what, big deal, it's nothing really. They're not that bothered, like!

1 year, 8 months ago

I thought Len Groat was married?

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

In Facebook, someone has said something like "It's all well and good running a campaign to get people to retune their radios, which I suspect few will do..." - and I think that might be the crux of the matter.

We listen to about three radio stations a week. Unless there is a reason to do so, I can't see people retuning their radio sets just because they have been told to. Iain Lee fans will retune to find talkRADIO, while jazz fans will retune to find Jazz FM. But I'm not sure that the BBC Radio 2 listener who occasionally retunes to Absolute Radio will bother to fiddle with their radio. Why should they? They'll still get their favourite radio stations. By definition, the new stations on SDL are nobody's favourite.

More and more, I think that radio has a marketing problem. It allows people to call their shitty internet jukebox "Radio"; it doesn't seem to care when tech journalists trot out another lazy Buggles headline; promote themselves on their music mix while being seemingly ignorant that Spotify's music mix is better; and assumes that just because they're broadcasting, they'll get listeners.

DAB's marketing - both to the public and to the radio industry - is appallingly bad. It's mainly because of the way Digital Radio UK is funded, I appreciate, but really...

1 year, 8 months ago

It could have been an interesting experience to include 'The Wireless' from Age UK as a DAB+ stereo service on Sound Digital!
'The Wireless' has a good programme mixture with some well known presenters including former ITN newreader Martyn Lewis, David Hamilton and Rob Jones from the old days of Radio Luxembourg. The channel could be a pleasing national alternative to BBC Radio 2 for people of a certain age (including me)!

1 year, 8 months ago

Well here's another indication.

In Scotland, a DAB station that had big backers closed down on Sunday. it took until Wednesday for ANYONE on Planet Radio Forum to even notice and comment on it. The station lasted less than 2 years and scored a mere 7,000 listeners on RAJAR (out of almost 3 MILLION potential listeners), offering a unique format of rock and sport. I like rock music - but I can't be arsed with the flow of rock songs being constantly interrupted with news of sport, so even I didn't bother with it.

Of course, some stations will inevitably do better than others, especially the ones aimed at particular demographics and ethnic sectors that were previously un-served (or at best were served on a very local basis).

Go Radio might do well because of the apparent mood of the people of Glasgow regarding the state of local radio in the area just now. Otherwise the local DAB MUX has become an extension for existing radio services and one or two other online adventures.

As for me, although I might be in the mood to tune into Jazz FM several times a month, I can't see me breaking any of my current listening habits to any great extent to even make a point of listening to the rest. When I'm feeling much more discerning for, say, soul music or even punk rock, then Spotify is my first choice, followed by some small-scale soul stations (such as Sunset Radio) and as far as I'm aware there is no station dedicated to punk.

Vertical expansion is fine for the likes of Magic and people who like those styles of music but I am absolutely not feeling any enthusiasm for the likes of Virgin or the various Extra stations. Maybe the vertical expansions of other stations should have been considered first, especially those stations that already have specialist shows on their main service at some point in the week.

Why doesn't Heart offer a Heart Club Classics channel instead of another re-hash of its own self? James may have suggested that Heart Extra is skewed towards an older audience - but would the public realise that?

1 year, 8 months ago

I'm with you there - if I was Ashley I would have gone with Heart Club Classics. I'd have also probaby taken Gold slightly more ABC1 by "merging" it with Smooth Extra.

I like the Bauer brand extensions, but don't get why they've not extended those brands to their 1/2/3 portfolio and made 1 either Kiss or Heat depending on the TSA, 2 Magic and 3 The Hits.

1 year, 8 months ago

I like the extra choice. Here in East Yorkshire the postcode checker told me that I could not receive the new SDL National stations yet this morning I listened to a good film review programme on Share Radio just after 08.30 followed by great music on Jazz FM Stereo and then in the car I tuned into the test transmissions from Mellow Magic. Our part of the Yorkshire coast can now receive 50 stations on DAB/DAB+ and 13 on FM/LW/MW. Our local station Yorkshire Coast Radio is on FM only in Bridlington as they are on the North Yorkshire multiplex that covers Harrogate, Malton, Scarborough and York but not either Bridlington or Whitby.

1 year, 8 months ago

I would also like to comment on Art's matter of "Likewise we have Premier's anything goes as long as it's Christian channel paired up with Premier's non-stop hand-clapping and uplifting songs channel."

There are now four Christian stations broadcasting nationally to between 75-90% of the population - Premier Christian Radio, Premier Praise, UCB 1 and UCB 2. These stations have different formats and are therefore targeted at different listeners or listeners who may wish to listen to a speech programme on Premier Christian Radio and then tune in for music be it CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) on UCB 1 or up-tempo praise music on Premier Praise or inspirational music on UCB 2. All these four stations are listener-supported operations whether they are London or Stoke-on-Trent based.

This extra range of choice also applies across the stations targeted at the British Asian community be it Awesome Radio, Panjab or Sunrise.

Extending listener choice can only be a good thing.

1 year, 8 months ago

Let us be honest here though, how much choice really is there when it comes to certain types of programming, be it Christian, News, Sports or anything else.

Once you get outside of pop music, choice is extremely limited. If you want a choice of classical music listening other than Radio 3 or Classic FM, you have to look outside the UK for it. Smile Sussex is the only station in the UK and Ireland I know of that plays easy listening/adult standards. You have 6 services that provide Christian music from Cross Rhythms, UCB (3) and Premier (2). I have to look outside of the UK for a decent all-news station, and when it comes to sports, well other than the BBC and TalkSport these days, you're basically stuck with going to a league's official site and paying their price for coverage. It's not exactly wealth of choice.

Yes, there are individual programmes on community radio that help fill in the gaps musically, but that can only go so far. I just find the whole situation frustrating.

1 year, 8 months ago

How much choice do you need??

Yes, apart from 5 Live, Sports xtra, Talksport, Talksport 2 and BBC local radio coverage there's not much sport on the radio. But that's quite a lot of sport, isn't it??

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

I have to look outside of the UK for a decent all-news station.

While there are some decent rolling news stations in the US, they're all American centric as you'd expect them to be.

However, tune into the radio at 8am on a weekday and you have Radio 4, 5 Live, BBC World Service, LBC and LBC London News, plus your BBC local radio station providing some kind of a news service, some without a domestic agenda. That's before talkRADIO launches in a couple of weeks time.

For a small European country, we have breadth of choice. Admittedly, some areas such as London have more stations than others, but it's still broader than others.

1 year, 8 months ago

Michael Cook...

Yes, apart from 5 Live, Sports xtra, Talksport, Talksport 2 and BBC local radio coverage there's not much sport on the radio. But that's quite a lot of sport, isn't it??

Not really. Most of the coverage is soccer/football. Over half the coverage of sport on the radio is soccer. A significant proportion of the rest is Rugby, either Union or League. Cricket, Motor Racing and Horse Racing makes up most of the rest, and even the horse racing coverage is much more limited now than it used to be.

Look at Australia, where you have an entire radio station dedicated to horse racing. You could easily do something similar here as we have enough race courses and greyhound tracks to run an entire radio station from after breakfast until evening with not much else other than live coverage of horse and greyhound racing, non-stop music overnight and a breakfast show that could prepare you for the day's racing ahead, with maybe some music for spice.

And think about this; like the news, sport never stops. Around the world, there are sporting events of many different kinds going on, from Australia and New Zealand, all across the day until you get to the west coast of Canada and the US. Yet somehow we can't manage to come up with a sports radio station that could provide that kind of breadth of coverage?

I'm reserving judgment on TalkSport 2 until I actually hear it, as I can't pick up any of the test transmissions where I am, so I don't know whether TalkSport 2 is going to be that station or not. But right now, sports radio in this country so far, is surprisingly limited.

1 year, 8 months ago

Martin Philip...

While there are some decent rolling news stations in the US, they're all American centric as you'd expect them to be.

Of course, but that doesn't change our big problem with rolling news stations, which is simply we don't present them as well as the Americans and Canadians do.

The standard CBS Radio News format for stations like WCBS, WBZ and WBBM, is a good one. Network News at the top of the hour, followed by local news. Traffic and Weather every 10 minutes on the 8s, Sport at :15 and :45, Business at :25 & :55, and also at around :11 & :41 you get little 2-3 minute interviews or in depth segments that allow some stories to have a little more depth, otherwise, no story gets more than 60 seconds, and you can cover a lot of ground in just a few minutes. Where the format really excels is in major breaking news situations, where they can cover one story in all the news segments, but the weather and travel, sport & Business segments break up the monotony that would otherwise come from covering just one story in breaking news mode. They can even put in a roundup of other stories, usually in the slot at around :21 & :51 in those situations.

The whole idea of this is to keep it pacy and varied, and to my ears, most of the time, it works brilliantly.

By comparison listen to LBC London News, and just how boring that sounds compared to WCBS NewsRadio 880. They aren't even in the same league as each other, WCBS is so much better.

Even the Rogers-owned Camadian stations like 660 News in Toronto, 680 News in Ottawa, and News 1130 in Vancouver are better than LBC's effort.

However, tune into the radio at 8am on a weekday and you have Radio 4, 5 Live, BBC World Service, LBC and LBC London News, plus your BBC local radio station providing some kind of a news service, some without a domestic agenda. That's before talkRADIO launches in a couple of weeks time.

Whoop de doo! Any number of radio stations put out news bulletins at 8am, and generally the quality of most bulletins is excellent, but that's not the point. The point is that we don't do all news radio that well, and let's face it, our best examples, LBC London News at BBC Radio 5 Live, are so far behind the best examples of this, that it makes me wonder why they're so bad. Even DNN, which I did hear a bit of when it was around, was so awful, mainly because their 'updates' outside of the usual local bulletin times was non-existent, that it just couldn't survive. It almost makes me wonder if we do things like talk radio and all news radio so badly deliberately, because people in radio don't think a lot of them as formats.

1 year, 8 months ago

Sounds like Talksport 2 is pretty close to what you want, Ian.

1 year, 8 months ago

Who knows, Michael. It isn't even yet going to be available on DAB in my area, so as far as I'm concerned, it's the same as many of the American, Irish, Australian and Canadian stations that I listen to. Internet only in my area. I will have no facility to listen to it on my DAB radio, and that's a shame.

Same with TalkRadio, which I have a lot of interest in, and Virgin Radio, which also intrigues me. Same with Magic Mellow, which also sounds good, and Jazz FM, which I enjoyed when it was on D1.

So to my mind, this whole second digital multiplex, which has waxed and waned from the start back in 2006, now almost 10 years later, it's turned really into a damp squib, and it's only just launched, and not everything is on it yet, but still, with a quarter of the country not able to pick it up, it's a real let down.

1 year, 8 months ago

It's frustrating when that happens, but it does mean that something like Talksport 2 can launch, which sounds exactly the kind of station you were calling for, and which you'll be able to listen to online.

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

The standard CBS Radio News format for stations like WCBS, WBZ and WBBM, is a good one. Network News at the top of the hour, followed by local news.

It's not a good one. It's a cop-out. If you can't adequately order one bulletin including local and national stories, you're operating on the cheap.

1 year, 8 months ago

Isn't that how ILR operated here in the old days?

1 year, 8 months ago

James Cridland...

It's not a good one. It's a cop-out. If you can't adequately order one bulletin including local and national stories, you're operating on the cheap.

In normal news bulletins, I would completely agree, but here, I think I get what is going on.

1) The hour is broken up into various bite-size segments that make it easy to listen to. So, having the network newscast at the top of the hour just helps keep that segmentation and the flow that that the whole segmentation effect produces going rather nicely.

2) The network newscast also includes a 1 minute national advertising slot, and those advertising slots are often the only national adverts in an hour that is mostly locally sold.

3) On the practical side, it makes changeovers between presenters a little easier, and also allows for the anchors to receive and pre-read updated scripts before air. It's the longest uninterrupted slot where they can do that.

In many other situations, I wouldn't like it, but here, it works so well, that I would look at a similar idea for an UK-based news radio service.

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

News Direct was based on the WINS format, it was an excellent service, but nobody listened to it.

LBC London News may be "boring" according to Ian, but it does the job of being able to dip into the station, get the essential information and then tune out again. The station's Rajar is also respectable for what is a part-time service.

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

LBC London News's RAJAR is better than BBC Radio London. That's not just respectable, that shows that a mostly-automated service is doing better than what should be the BBC's flagship local radio station. (It's actually, I believe, LBC's best-kept secret. I wrote about it once.)

News Direct, on the other hand, was dull and tedious. If it was based on the WINS1010 format, it was a special kind of version of that format where they'd taken any of the excitement and power out of it, painted the rest a nice beige colour, and then turned the volume down. An awful waste of an FM frequency, and an embarrassment to commercial radio at the time.

1 year, 8 months ago

Interesting discussion about sport, especially football.

I remember during the last World Cup that I mentioned to one of the outright radical feminists in my office that Scotland played extremely well the previous night, having beat Ireland. She looked quite confused and then said, "But Scotland are not in the World Cup!"

I was astounded!!!

She - of all people - did not realise that women also play football in their own World Cup championships and it just so happened that Scotland performed very well indeed.

Then again, how much coverage does women's football get? I've heard brief mentions on Radio 5 but apart from that, there usually almost nothing.

So there is a lot more to sport than 22 blokes having a game of kick-a-ball-about.

I also know of people who go out of their way to listen to American football. There are L-RSL stations in Scotland devoted to racing cars. What about horses? What about those other sports that get mentioned as after-thoughts when they deserve bigger amounts of coverage on more than just a token sports station with a number 2 after it?

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

LBC London News's RAJAR is better than BBC Radio London. That's not just respectable, that shows that a mostly-automated service is doing better than what should be the BBC's flagship local radio station.

LBC London News is no longer partially automated. The station is now fully live for the whole of their part time broadcasting hours. They even moved into a new purpose built studio recently. Global have invested in the station, reversing changes of a few years ago.

1 year, 8 months ago

Anyway, this is my thread and I want to take charge of it again before it goes off on a tangent.

So we do have some good examples of vertical expansion on our new multiplex, with Magic's two other stations, Premier providing another channel, UCB providing a second channel and calling it 2 (naming stations with 1's and 2's - how's that ever going to work???!!!! Isn't that a bad idea, according to the English inhabitants of Planet Radio Forum).

Maybe all the Absolute decades channels should be in the one place, instead of the inconsistencies of one or two being available nationally and the rest are either on some or even just one local MUX. I still reckon that Absolute (or another station) could provide specific music genres on DAB+ channels, such as a punk channel, an indie-rock channel, a hard rock channel and so on, all under the same brand of the main station. It could be just a computer in a cupboard churning out nothing but songs, ID's and ads but perhaps with some specialist shows at nights and weekends.

More to the point - now that we have TWO near national MUX's, maybe the local MUX's should be kept purely for local stations, as well as the quasi's - until they finally decide to be rid of their local stations and go national - which is their ultimate intention, isn't it? Some DAB+ capacity could be provide on the local MUX's to allow for, say, student and ethnic/specialist community channels that would benefit from broadcasting across a larger area, whilst the small-scale MUX's could be solely for small-scale stations and geographic community stations.

1 year, 8 months ago

James Cridland;

LBC London News's RAJAR is better than BBC Radio London. That's not just respectable, that shows that a mostly-automated service is doing better than what should be the BBC's flagship local radio station.

I'm dubious about whether BBC London should be the flagship BBC local radio station, as I think other stations have been, shall we say, nearer to being flagships than the BBC London local service has ever been.

But again, RAJARs only tell us how popular something is, not whether the product is any good, or how much people actually like it, there's no scale of satisfaction with RAJAR.

Having had another listen to LBC London News, I think I was being a little unkind to it, by calling it 'boring', but I really think that it's lacking some energy and pace. Compared to WCBS where a story lasts usually no more than 60 seconds before moving on, and mostly a bit shorter than that, LBC London News is spending 75-90 seconds (rough judgment, not timed) on stories, and compared to a standard commercial radio news bulletin, which fits in usually about 5 stories in 2 minutes, this feels painfully slow, where as WCBS feels a little deeper than a normal US radio network newscast, but still reasonably pacy.

I have to say, that I don't like, and have never liked the 'travel on the 1s' idea. I know it's basically exactly the same as 'travel on the 8s', but I just think the '1s' is the wrong place for it, whereas the '8s' is much better.

1 year, 8 months ago

I do wish you'd stop using the phrase "Planet Radio Forum". It's most condescending, especially when you use it to look down your nose at the English.

1 year, 8 months ago

I don't care if it sounds condescending, it's meant to because all too often the people who post on radio forums have opinions that are so far removed from what the public think of radio.

As for referring to English people, well, that is because a lot of English radio forumites came onto radio forums telling the rest of us how 1's, 2's (and even 3's) after station names is a terrible idea and will never work. It's so terrible, in fact, that Scotland has successfully used the principle on some of the UK's mots listened to radio stations for more than quarter of a century.

1 year, 8 months ago

"I don't care if it sounds condescending, it's meant to because all too often the people who post on radio forums have opinions that are so far removed from what the public think of radio."

Oh the irony.

1 year, 8 months ago

Best to keep quiet about stations with a "3" after the name.

1 year, 8 months ago

And why would that be, Simon Rushton?

If you're going to make a statement like that one, then give us some form of reasoning for the statement.

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

One of the Bauer '3' stations, Tay 3 when in Rajar had a pitiful 1,000 listeners.

1 year, 8 months ago

And why would that be? Because it's on DAB only? Because the audience demographic the station is going after is too limited in that area? Because the programming is bad?

I have never liked the idea of 'not talking' about something because it makes somebody uncomfortable. If there's a problem with it, then what can be done to improve it? What does it do well? Commercial stations not being registered with RAJAR is becoming a code for 'it's not got many listeners', which I think is more damning than being registered and only having 1000 listeners across the week.

For community radio, it's a different ball game, as they don't have the budget to spend that much money on ratings data.

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

The localiasation of The Hits was a bad move from Bauer, they had a coherent brand for their younger skewed CHR format, yet instantly took away what was attractive about the brand by adding archaic heritage ILR brands to the branding
.
Also, does the company want young people to listen to the '1' or the '3' station?

1 year, 8 months ago

Martin Philip;

The localiasation of The Hits was a bad move from Bauer, they had a coherent brand for their younger skewed CHR format, yet instantly took away what was attractive about the brand by adding archaic heritage ILR brands to the branding

I read that and was about to reply quickly about the fact that "The Hits" has always been meaningless and then I stopped, and started thinking about that.

"The Hits" was a brand that was created both for radio and TV, by EMAP back in 2002. The TV channel later became 4music but the radio station carried on, and as long as it has been around, "The Hits" has never rally been a coherent brand in its entire existence. After all, what does "The Hits" really mean? Today's hits? The greatest hits of all time? After all, they could be referred to as "The Hits".

No, I never liked "The Hits" as a brand, and I still don't. It just doesn't carry the kind of image that it needed to.

I think that Bauer were simply trying to capitalise on the fact that BBC3 was a young person's station, and they thought they could use that idea to make their 3's young person's stations. I also think that by localising "The Hits", they thought they could basically end up copying the 'Capital' model used so successfully by Global.

And yes, I know the same argument could be made for Capital and Kiss as young persons brands, and it would carry some weight with it.

I think the idea behind the move was a solid one, but not being even a semi regular listener, I can't really claim any real knowledge about how it's been executed.

All I do know was that "The Hits" was always the most meaningless brand, long before The Breeze and Heart knocked it off the top spot.

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

All I do know was that "The Hits" was always the most meaningless brand, long before The Breeze and Heart knocked it off the top spot.

Not as meaningless as "Radio ILR Brand 3" which has no brand meaning of what it provides. The Hits was a simple 'does as it says on the tin' brand.

I know there's a supposed 'romance' about having a heritage name next to a station name, but it doesn't mean jack to 15-24's who the industry should be ensuring that they continue listening to the medium. Global to an extent get it with Capital, the BBC with Radio 1/Xtra, yet all we get from Bauer is ILR 3.

On a national level, Bauer's brands work, yet this misguided 1, 2, 3 nonsense which may work in Scotland which is a different market to England, is another feeble attempt of putting off networked brands on a local level.

1 year, 8 months ago

Oh boy! You try to give a considered opinion, yet back comes a reply that shows absolutely no comprehension of what I just said. Exhibit A...

The Hits was a simple 'does as it says on the tin' brand.

And what exactly does it say on the tin? What is "The Hits"? Are they today's hits? Are they yesterday's hits? Are they Britain's Hits? Are they America's Hits? Are they Europe's Hits? Are they Australia's hits? Are they Saturn's Hits? Are they hits from just around the corner from the local pub that always has live artists on a Saturday night??? "The Hits" means absolutely nothing. It's meaningless twoddle.

Not as meaningless as "Radio ILR Brand 3" which has no brand meaning of what it provides.

In the same way that BBC3 doesn't, right? But that's what I think they were trying to evoke. I just said that, and it didn't even register with you, that that might even have been a consideration, or you just dismissed it without even a second thought, maybe not even a first thought.

I know there's a supposed 'romance' about having a heritage name next to a station name...

Stop right there!

There's no romance about these heritage names. These heritage names have worked because for most of them, apart from Key, they have identification in their local area, they're either a name of a river, or a local landmark or something similar. Just because Global were so willing to drop names like Plymouth Sound, which had a strong local connection to the area it was broadcasting to, doesn't mean local names are a bad thing.

Global to an extent get it with Capital, the BBC with Radio 1/Xtra, yet all we get from Bauer is ILR 3.

Err, you do realise that Capital is a heritage name...

Jeez, it's like talking to a politician...

1 year, 8 months ago

I think that Bauer were simply trying to capitalise on the fact that BBC3 was a young person's station

In which case, bad choice, as 3 doesn't consisrently mean youth. (Think of ITV3 or BBC Radio 3.)

1 year, 8 months ago

Rock FM 3. How is a new listener supposed to decode that? Does it play Rock? Is it on FM? What does 3 mean?

1 year, 8 months ago

Michael Cook...

In which case, bad choice, as 3 doesn't consisrently mean youth. (Think of ITV3 or BBC Radio 3.)

Quite correct, and I'd already weighed that in my mind.

I'm not saying that the logic isn't flawed, cos it is. I'm not saying that the current branding is any better than "The Hits", because clearly, you demonstrated a great example of how flawed the branding can be...

Rock FM 3. How is a new listener supposed to decode that? Does it play Rock? Is it on FM? What does 3 mean?

3 only really means it's the 3rd "Rock FM" station, but that's no crazier than Rock FM 2 which is on AM and DAB, not FM.

At least in areas with names like Hallam, and Aire and Tay, they have a branding that strongly connects to the local area. So in those instances, keeping it local works better than not, but again, if anybody actually thinks "The Hits" was a better brand in any way, that it had any kind of meaning at all, then I suggest they're living in cloud cuckoo land.

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

Err, you do realise that Capital is a heritage name...

Indeed, but Global transformed the brand from an 80s relic which had lost direction under GCap to a strong youth orientated national brand.

At least in areas with names like Hallam, and Aire and Tay, they have a branding that strongly connects to the local area.

Radio Aire hasn't ever connected well with it's audience, this was a station when the FM/AM stations split was outperformed by Magic 828! Even now, Capital which has a mix of national and regional programming has stronger brand awareness in Yorkshire than the Bauer local.

then I suggest they're living in cloud cuckoo land.

Pot, kettle Ian.

1 year, 8 months ago

Because Ian, the 3 stations hardly break the surface of RAJAR. And I suspect some of them have been rounded up to give a 1% figure. Are any of them making enough money to pay transmission fees, music licencing etc or being propped up by their older siblings? Advertising wise they are being "thrown in for free" if you hear many ads on them atall. They feel a bit like bookmarks.

1 year, 8 months ago

Martin Philip;

Indeed, but Global transformed the brand from an 80s relic which had lost direction under GCap to a strong youth orientated national brand.

You're way off base. Capital prior to the merger with GWR was quite a strong youth orientated brand. Plus, they had their 'Life' station which was their equivalent of BBC Radio 2, where Capital was equivalent to Radio 1. Post the merger with GWR, I got the sense that Capital had lost its sense of direction, and wasn't really functioning well. In the Global era, it nearly didn't get itself back together, but it took a minor intervention from Ofcom, which acted as somewhat of a wake up call, and it's gotten itself back to something like itself. It's stronger than it was under GCrap, but I think it still needs some minor work, to make it really strong.

Radio Aire hasn't ever connected well with it's audience...

That's not what I said. Pay attention. I said...

they have a branding that strongly connects to the local area.

You do realise that Leeds is on the River Aire, which makes the name Radio Aire a brand that has a strong local connection.

God, give me strength...

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

You're way off base. Capital prior to the merger with GWR was quite a strong youth orientated brand.

So that's why Chris Tarrant was allowed to play Springsteen and Chris Rea until 2004?

GCrap

Mature Ian.

You do realise that Leeds is on the River Aire, which makes the name Radio Aire a brand that has a strong local connection.

Just because it has a local name, doesn't mean it has a connection with the local audience. This is a station which has underperformed, despite having the heritage of being the longest running radio station in Leeds. Galaxy/Capital and even Magic had the pulse of the audience than a local FM'er which until recent years had reception problems even in Leeds City Centre.

1 year, 8 months ago

Martin Philip...

So that's why Chris Tarrant was allowed to play Springsteen and Chris Rea until 2004?

And how is that any different to what Chris Moyles was doing on Radio 1? You have a star talent, who is intensely popular on your station, are you going to strait-jacket him and possibly lose him to another station, or are you going to allow him some creative freedom, and let him keep doing what is working? If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

You do realise the more you argue this, the sillier you sound.

Just because it has a local name, doesn't mean it has a connection with the local audience.

Err, why do you keep making the same mistake here? A strong local connection, is not the same as connecting with the local audience. Apples over here, Oranges over there. You're sounding like a cracked record. Take the needle off the record.

1 year, 8 months ago

Is there a reason you are so objectionably rude, Ian? There's really no need to be.

1 year, 8 months ago

Does it not anger you when people try to claim black is white? When they try to spin something against all the evidence that exists to the contrary?

To me, that's like losing a football game 5-2, and yet claiming you won.

I find that 100 times more objectionable than any supposed rudeness on my part.

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

And how is that any different to what Chris Moyles was doing on Radio 1? You have a star talent, who is intensely popular on your station, are you going to strait-jacket him and possibly lose him to another station, or are you going to allow him some creative freedom, and let him keep doing what is working? If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

So that's why when Chris Tarrant moved to GMG for a show on Real Radio and the Smooth stations in the Midlands and London where he was given full creative control, it was panned due to the fact that it was woefully off-target.

There are some stations within reason where you can be creative with your music playlisting, yet the only reason why CT was allowed to play off-target music was because he was bringing in the majority of the Capital Group's revenue. It had nothing to do with giving him the freedom to do what he liked.

You're sounding like a cracked record. Take the needle off the record.

Pot, kettle Ian. You once again have to have the last word as if your opinion is the only one that counts, even when it's wrong. It's standard Digital Spy Global bashing fodder.

1 year, 8 months ago

Martin Philip;

There are some stations within reason where you can be creative with your music playlisting, yet the only reason why CT was allowed to play off-target music was because he was bringing in the majority of the Capital Group's revenue. It had nothing to do with giving him the freedom to do what he liked.

That's what I was saying. He was making money for Capital, and because of that they gave him more creative control over Breakfast. Honestly, it's like you think I'm talking in French or Swahili or something...

And it didn't work at another station? Big deal, not. He hadn't made any money yet for GMG. So there was no reservoir of goodwill for him to do what he did.

You once again have to have the last word as if your opinion is the only one that counts, even when it's wrong. It's standard Digital Spy Global bashing fodder.

And that just proves you haven't one single piece of attention to anything I've ever said. I don't bash Global all the time, but you are so full of their rubbish, that you don't even realise how you sound. You sound like a typical forumite who I've seen before at DS and TVF, who thinks you know far more about the subject than you actually do. Perhaps if you actually listened and learned from people who have opinions other than the Global-loving crowd, you might actually learn something.

But I'm not expecting that miracle to happen.

1 year, 8 months ago

Does it not anger you when people try to claim black is white? When they try to spin something against all the evidence that exists to the contrary?

I manage to control my fury by reminding myself:

1) just because somewhere has a different opinion to mine doesn't mean they're 'spinning'

2) when the subject under discussion is as significant as the naming of Radio Aire, it's probably not worth acting like a dick about.

1 year, 8 months ago

It depends if it's opinion or 'opinion'. The second one is something that drives me crazy. It's the often false facts that someone tries to spin as opinion, such as trying to say that Barack Obama being born in Kenya is opinion. No it isn't, it's a damned lie.

Same as the supposed 'romance' over heritage names, the use of the term 'anorak' as an insult, and saying "The Hits" was a 'does what it says on the tin' brand, all of those should be consigned to the largest file of them all, the WPB.

It's a trend we're seeing in real life right now. Throw away facts, and embrace lies and propaganda that happens to fit your thinking. I'm a big believer in the Sherlock Holmes idea of theorising from real data, and instead of twisting facts to suit theories, twisting theories to suit facts. Facts are stubborn things, and I will be equally stubborn in standing up for them, and will go after anybody who spreads false facts on anything.

The reason why is simple. I believe in truth and facts as being the building blocks of democracy, and that lies and propaganda are the wrecking balls of democracy. And we in the media, are supposed to be the voice of the voiceless, a defender of democracy. Unfortunately, lots of media are now part of the problem, not part of the solution.

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

Ian: for the intended target audience, "The Hits" played the hits. (The hits of today, exemplified by the modern branding, lest I need to spell it out).

And we in the media, are supposed to be the voice of the voiceless, a defender of democracy.

We're not. We're supposed to produce something that entertains, informs and educates - in a proportion that align with our commercial and community goals. We're not here to "give a voice to the voiceless", unless of course you believe that a self-indulgent hour of James Bond songs in some way gives a voice to some section of our community.

Anyone who ever says "GCrap", incidentally, loses all credibility in any of his increasingly pointless argument. As the most successful UK commercial radio company, with more money, listeners and talent than any other, they deserve your respect. Leave the childish name-calling to Digital Spy.

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

Martin: Radio Aire is a peculiar basket-case. You're right to say that it has consistently under-performed.

Partially, fault might be lain at the door of the 94.6/96.3 Tingley transmitter. 94.6, the original frequency until 1986, was much easier to receive in North Yorkshire than 96.3, incidentally. Unsure why. They must have used the same power output on both?

But I think the reasons are also related to BBC Radio 1's power: 98.9 (98.8 as was) from Holme Moss was so high power it was almost impossible not to get it; and when you have a much better user experience playing the same kind of music, that better user experience wins.

The reasons are also less technical. Radio Aire used to include Wakefield in its TSA: yet, Wakefield and Leeds don't really share much with each other. Much like Pennine FM trying to cover Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield - three towns that never visited the others. I'm not convinced that Radio Aire's transmission area ever really matched what anyone could have called a community. But you could say the same about Magic 828, a station which did amazingly well.

During the Aire FM days, once it had jettisoned a thirty-minute news round-up at drivetime, the station sounded amazing. It was the only station I ever applied to work at, and got a rejection letter from. It sounded ballsy and proud to be the voice of Leeds. So its continued poor audience figures surprised me, really.

1 year, 8 months ago

Simon Rushton said

"Because Ian, the 3 stations hardly break the surface of RAJAR. And I suspect some of them have been rounded up to give a 1% figure. Are any of them making enough money to pay transmission fees, music licencing etc or being propped up by their older siblings? Advertising wise they are being "thrown in for free" if you hear many ads on them at all. They feel a bit like bookmarks."

Actually - I think you may need to look at some maths.

In Q4 of 2014 when we only had The Hits and no '3' stations, the channel had 814,000 listeners, which is not bad for a DAB only service that barely promotes itself and is at competition with other stations, even within the company's own portfolio.

By Q4 of 2015, The Hits was part of The Hits Network, which now has all of those '3' stations included - but using the same presenters and clever drop-ins of the local brand names. They haven't gone as far as doing the Global thing of dropping in token local links yet but the '3' stations still carry local adverts and local/regional news bulletins.

If you add up all of the listeners to the '3' stations, then add the number of listeners to The Hits as it broadcasts to non-Bauer areas, you can see a difference. The '3' stations collectively achieved 162,000 listeners and were less than a year old by Q4 if last year. The Hits had 812,000. The total is therefore 974,000. So, year-on-year, The Hits vs The Hits Network had given them 160,000 extra listeners at very minimal cost because the '3' channels occupy space previously occupied by The Hits and use almost no extra staff (its the same presenters and the news bulletins are already made in the local news hubs for the '1' and '2' stations) - but with potentially additional advertising revenue by providing slots for local adverts.

1 year, 8 months ago

So how angry should I be about this statement of yours, Ian?

At least in areas with names like Hallam, and Aire and Tay, they have a branding that strongly connects to the local area. So in those instances, keeping it local works better than not,

It's demonstrably inaccurate. Aire (geographical name) has consistently lower audiences than Metro (non-geographical name).

Are you spinning here, Ian, or mistaken, or do we have two different interpretations of what you are trying to say? All are possibilities.

1 year, 8 months ago

Point of order Michael.

The word "Metro" does actually have a lot to do with the Newcastle area. It has one of the UK's first light-rail systems called The Metro. There is a shopping centre called that as well - and none of them have any connection with the radio station.

1 year, 8 months ago

Funnily enough, I've always connected Metro to Newcastle, because of the light rail service. I do realise that it could be considered to be non-geographical, as it could be equally used for any metropolitan area, (hence Metro also as a Newspaper in many cities in the UK), but to my mind, Metro as a radio station had a specific connection to Newcastle.

1 year, 8 months ago

There you go - between three of us, we have three slightly different takes on the local significance of the Metro name, but I don't think any of us are lying or spinning. (I'd forgotten about the Metro Centre...)

Meanwhile, the point remains about geographical names. If not Metro, compare Signal or The Pulse with Aire.

1 year, 8 months ago

James Cridland;

As the most successful UK commercial radio company, with more money, listeners and talent than any other, they deserve your respect.

What a load of tripe!

Yes, so successful that they were both losing money and listeners, left right and centre. They tried unsuccessfully to sell off 9 stations that had become a proverbial noose round their neck, and they almost completely ruined the entire radio industry, and the entire company had to be sold in order for it to survive. GWR, later GCap, was the worst thing to come out of the commercial radio industry in this country. Global is only a minor improvement on that basic model, it's version 3.0 of GWR, still carrying many of the worst aspects of the GWR company, but at least in Gold and Smooth and Classic FM, they have some of the best produced commercial radio in the country, and have actually managed to improve Gold over it's GWR/GCap incarnation, and the same with Smooth over its GMG incarnation, which wasn't a bad station at all.

What you call name calling, was actually accurate descriptions of the company.

We're supposed to produce something that entertains, informs and educates - in a proportion that align with our commercial and community goals.

And if you don't think that includes standing up and saying when things are wrong, and our democratic freedoms are being taken away from right under our noses, then I'm sorry, but I don't agree. The UK right now is imperilled by a government that wants to remove parts of our human rights, by stepping away from the European Charter on Human Rights. They have said as much, countless times, and if you don't think that's worth standing up and defending on public airwaves, then I truly don't think your vision of the media has any place in this world. Being objective means being able to verify objective identifiable facts, not to give equal weight to facts and propaganda. Propaganda should have no weight to it at all, where as facts should have all the weight in their favour. It's really that simple.

PRO1 year, 8 months ago

Ian, I look forward to you reading comments aimed at you and considering them before replying. Being simply deaf and unwilling to listen to any other point of view is a poor trait for anyone in radio.

1 year, 8 months ago

Michael Cook;

There you go - between three of us, we have three slightly different takes on the local significance of the Metro name, but I don't think any of us are lying or spinning.

No exactly, because that's real opinions. Things like that are not things I generally get angry over.

What I get angry over is the kind of revisionist nonsense like what James Cridland just spouted, and gets presented as 'opinion' when it isn't, or worse, as facts, when they aren't.

That's what gets me angry.

Meanwhile, the point remains about geographical names. If not Metro, compare Signal or The Pulse with Aire.

Okay, challenge accepted. Based upon the last set of RAJARs, let's compare Radio Aire with Signal 1 and Pulse 1, as they are known now. Metrics for this will be reach percentage and share percentage.

Radio Aire: Pop 637k; Reach 17%; Share 7.5%
Signal One: Pop 796k; Reach 33%; Share 16.6%
Pulse 1: Pop 883k; Reach 12%; Share 4.1%

Signal One is better, Pulse 1 is worse. That's not definitive by any stretch.

My impression over studying these RAJARs over the years is that on average, radio stations that have names that have connections to the local areas they are serving, perform about 20-25% better ratings wise, than non-local names. I could be underestimating, I could be overestimating, or I could even be wrong, but over the years, that is my distinct impression from reading the RAJARs.

1 year, 8 months ago

James Cridland;

Ian, I look forward to you reading comments aimed at you and considering them before replying. Being simply deaf and unwilling to listen to any other point of view is a poor trait for anyone in radio.

Points of view based on facts are always welcome. Points of view based upon revisionist history, or propaganda, are as useless to us in the media as a bicycle is to a fish. Please, learn the difference.

1 year, 8 months ago

Point taken James. But to a local advertiser in Edinburgh the maths (8k weekly reach) would be a difficult sell. Especially to an age group that is probably not AS interested in double glazing or patio furniture. So I imagine it's only sold as an "add on" locally. (I know that equity have agreed a £0 charge when you pay the VO for a "1" or "2" ad.
Great on the national figures! Would you have any rough ideas of cost per listener (including all the transmission fees, licencing, cost of staff (proportion if shared) and ad revenue per listener? That would be interesting.

1 year, 8 months ago

Ian Beaumont; "Radio Aire: Pop 637k; Reach 17%; Share 7.5%
Signal One: Pop 796k; Reach 33%; Share 16.6%
Pulse 1: Pop 883k; Reach 12%; Share 4.1%
Signal One is better, Pulse 1 is worse. That's not definitive by any stretch.
My impression over studying these RAJARs over the years is that on average, radio stations that have names that have connections to the local areas they are serving, perform about 20-25% better ratings wise, than non-local names. I could be underestimating, I could be overestimating, or I could even be wrong, but over the years, that is my distinct impression from reading the RAJARs."

I'm not sure you're comparing eggs with eggs. I've worked at 2 of those stations mentioned. Signal sat in an area that had very little competition, no strong commercial competition, except far to the North or the South of their footprint. Both Aire and Pulse were among heavy competition, against each other, against other good commercial stations. If only we had Walter Christaller's isotropic plain.

1 year, 8 months ago

Sorry I was on the popcorn run.

GCap didn't get everything right to be fair, the merger should have bought together the showbiz and marketing excellence at Capital and the excellent technology and infastructure at GWR. Instead though it seemed to bring the worst of both companies to the top rather than the best. It wasn't until Global we got the combination of skills I mention at the forefront. I genuinely think in a desperate attempt not to make it look like Capital was taken over by GWR (which it kind of was) Ralph and Steve didn't make the tough calls Ashley was prepared to make a few years later, which is what ultimately did 'em in.

1 year, 8 months ago

On the subject of Bauer, I do admit to being surprised by their decision to keep heritage names and roll them out even further when they've got such strong multimedia brands already in their portfolio.

1 year, 8 months ago

Signal One is better, Pulse 1 is worse. That's not definitive by any stretch.

Exactly. And your contention was that

keeping it local works better than not.

I reckon that you don't know that (the figures aren't definitive, as you say) and you can't know that (it's impossible to untangle all the other factors that operate in any particular marketplace, as Simon says) .

In other words, you're presenting your opinion (your impression, as you call it) as fact - spinning, if you like. You even add a spurious figure to it for added authenticity, but I suggest your figure is 90-95% made up.

1 year, 8 months ago

Michael Cook, I suggest you try a larger data sample, like maybe every RAJAR data release you can find, and all local radio stations. Do your own analysis, see what you think. I've done mine.

I feel far more confident in my own analysis, which may indeed have some flaws in it, than I do in some other people's facts, which I often find aren't facts at all. You're trying to poke holes like a bad defence lawyer at a trial he's losing, and it just makes your argument less convincing in my eyes.

1 year, 8 months ago

No - you made the contentious assertion, so it's up to you to back it up.

If I say it's my impression that radio stations launched on a Tuesday perform 20-25% better than those that don't, no-one's going to believe me unless I give them evidence for it. The same hold true for you.

1 year, 8 months ago

Contentious? Contentious?? Contentious???

I really find your statement almost completely objectionable. I contend that the margin might be off, either way, it might be more, it might be less, but I don't think the basic idea, that local brands perform better generally than non-local brands on local transmitters, is anything other than 100% accurate.

I'm quite happy to sit down and actually work it out, mathematically, though that will take some time, but I'm prepared to do that.

But seriously, the idea that something that has many years of evidence to back it up is somehow contentious, and an unproven idea like the Heart Network, which seems to only gain significant numbers of listeners when it actually adds stations to the network, and generally seems to lose listeners at other times, is somehow the new normal and what we should be aspiring to, is palpable nonsense.

1 year, 8 months ago

Gentlemen, please!!!!!! I would hate this argument to go on for as long as the amount of time I spent watching a documentary about an innocent man in Wisconsin.

Simon Rushton:-

"Point taken James. But to a local advertiser in Edinburgh the maths (8k weekly reach) would be a difficult sell. Especially to an age group that is probably not AS interested in double glazing or patio furniture. So I imagine it's only sold as an "add on" locally. (I know that equity have agreed a £0 charge when you pay the VO for a "1" or "2" ad.
Great on the national figures! Would you have any rough ideas of cost per listener (including all the transmission fees, licencing, cost of staff (proportion if shared) and ad revenue per listener? That would be interesting.
"

I think you mean me. I rustled up those figures over my porridge this morning.

You were keen to point out that Tay 3 only had 1,000 listeners, which is quite low for its service area. However, did The Hits have 1,000 listeners on that same MUX? I would suggest that it probably did not.

It's probably a mistake to assume that the station (Forth 3 or The Hits) would only be listened to by teenagers and under-25's. I know that if I want my occasional fix of current and pre-release CHR music, I tune into SIBC in Shetland or maybe even my local '3,' for which it has to be pointed out that the playlist is not as narrow as Capital's appears to be, especially since SIBC makes a point of not discriminating against any musical styles (just as long as its not much older than 6 months).

Besides, this could be a really good example of vertical expansion .... with a twist. Having 3 local sub brands could allow people to grow old through the parent brand. If you feel too old for '3' at some point, you might want to try '1' or '2'. Likewise if '1' still sounds a bit too old with all those hits from a time before you were born, try '3'. So it's not like people crossing over from one brand to another, like we may have Global's portfolio of stations (which could be harder work to promote).

Also, whereas Global's brands may have to grow old with their audience (which was detrimental to BBC Radio 1 during the 80's and early 90's), the '3' stations could always be youth orientated stations, whilst the '1's aim at twenty to forty-somethings, '2's aim at the middle-aged folk. They could keep that situation going for decades.

It's probably worth pointing out that UKRD also have a '3' station - and the BBC has an online channel with that number. Could '3' be the magic number for resonating with young people?

1 year, 8 months ago

Yes, sorry Art. I meant you.
Still think that they're running an empty bus service :-)

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