US invests in overnight radio as the UK turns it off

By James Cridland for
Posted 16 January 2017, 11.20pm est

As Europe's largest radio station BBC Radio 2 slowly retreats from live overnight radio programmes, despite a US $53m programming budget, the US's longest-running live overnight programme is going to be available to a brand new audience on Wednesday morning (Jan 18).

Red Eye Radio, produced by Westwood One, is on more than 240 stations nationwide in the US. Westwood One say it's focused on the needs of the trucking industry, third shift worker, insomnia and overnight traveler. It airs nightly.

This Wednesday, the programme will also be aired on C-SPAN, the not-for-profit cable television network, available in 100 million American homes. The full live show "and break banter" with presenters Gary McNamara and Eric Harley will be simulcast on the cable network.

Red Eye Radio is more than 45 years old, and provides its "national audience with up-to-the-minute news, information, and entertainment that engages overnighters on the road, at work, and at home", says a press release.

One neat thing on the show website - an automated station finder for overnight drivers. Text RER + the state code (like RERMA) to 68683, and you'll be sent texts with the local stations carrying the show.

As the loss of live radio to 900,000 overnight listeners to BBC Radio 2 is met by a collective shrugging of shoulders by BBC management, it's welcome to see the human connection from overnight radio reaching a wider audience in the US.

James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.


4 years, 3 months ago

It was interesting Helen Bowden talking about Radio 2 overnights as a cost cutting exercise... but surely it's not a massive saving? If you do it without 30 production support staff. And Sushi delivered at 4am.

4 years, 3 months ago

Agreed. They can't be saving that much in all honesty? They could probably work with fewer people elsewhere and still be able to keep overnights.

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