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Steve Penk: It's time to rebrand Key 103 and start again

Concern that the station's listening figures are the result of programming-by-committee

By Steve Penk
Posted 6 August 2015, 11.10am edt
Gene Hunt
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The latest set of UK radio industry listening figures were released today, and one set of figures in particular makes me very sad.

In terms of total audience, it is the worst set of listening figures in Key 103's history.

I will always remain passionate about Key 103 Manchester. Most people in radio feel exactly the same way about the radio station where they started their career.

Piccadilly Radio launched on April 2nd 1974 and rebranded as Key 103 almost exactly 27 years ago.

Piccadilly Radio/Key 103 was built on character.

Many amazing broadcasters started their career at this radio station - Chris Evans, Timmy Mallett, Geoff Lloyd, Susie Mathis, Dave Ward, Mike Sweeney, Mark Radcliffe, Gary King, Scott Mills... the list of unique talented broadcasters that have worked for this great radio station is very impressive.

It always dominated the great City of Manchester, and for many many years was the number 1 choice for hit music radio listeners in Greater Manchester. There are many talented people who still work there, but in recent years the radio station has totally lost its way. The fall in recent years is not a blip, it's a spectacular depressing fall for this once great radio station. Commercially, Key 103 remains one of Bauer's cash cows, but with this huge audience decline, it won't stay that way for long. Urgent action is required.

Programming is where it's all gone wrong and without naming names, I believe it's currently the blind leading the partially sighted. Nobody can defend the Key 103 decline and if they do, they shouldn't be working in radio. There is a major crisis at Key and it urgently needs fixing.

To remain dominant in any industry you have to keep the product exciting for the consumer, but Key 103 has become stale and characterless. It's become the comfy pair of slippers radio station, the radio station that your Mum and Dad used to listen to. I now no longer know what Key 103 is and I work in the industry, so imagine how the listeners feel, whereas across the road, Key's main hit music competitor, Capital FM, sounds exciting, fresh, and connects brilliantly with its target audience in 2015.

In my opinion, Key's owners, Bauer Media, now face the single greatest crisis in the radio stations history. Major changes are needed urgently.

Key 103 listening figures Key 103 listening figures Source: RAJAR / Ipsos MORI / RSMB

To start with, the name needs changing. The name is awful. Key 103 doesn't mean anything anymore, it never really did. When Piccadilly Radio launched, it launched in Piccadilly Manchester, next to Piccadilly Gardens, and so the name made sense. Key 103 is just a name: and in my opinion it's now a damaged brand.

If I was Bauer, I would rebrand all their hit music stations as Kiss FM. Kiss 103 Manchester would sound fresh, new, exciting and sexy. Kiss is a great name, and it would allow Bauer to take on Global's Capital brand, head to head. Advertising agencies would love it, they could sell the brand nationally and Kiss could also advertise on TV nationally, in the same way Capital does. The "Key 103", "Key 2", "Key 3" brands are confusing nonsense and whoever came up with the idea should be fired, they have no place working for the country's second biggest Commercial Radio operator. It was a stupid idea, with a name that no longer has any real connection with its target audience.

Key's entire programme schedule needs ripping up. Key needs a new Programme Director to put this right, someone who is creative, driven, ruthless and fearless, plus it needs to be someone currently outside of Bauer, so they come in with their own fresh ideas, not corporate brainwashed nonsense, and they need to be given total freedom.They should NOT appoint the next Key 103 Programme Director from within. This needs to be done immediately.

Part of Bauer's problem is the layer upon layer of programming management. Key 103 should be a stand alone station (it used to be) where the PD only answers to Bauer's MD, Dee Ford.

All programme decisions regarding Key should NOT be made by committee, they should be made by one person, the Programme Director of Key 103, period. Programming policy and decisions for Key should be stand alone. You can not run a successful radio station making decisions by committee, and that has been one of the major factors in Key's recent spectacular downfall, especially in the Manchester market. Manchester is unlike any other radio market in the UK, and unless you understand that and get the area, the public, and the humour, you will fail.

Too many presenters on the air these days think that if you talk a lot this equates to having a personality. Wrong. Humour, warmth, creativity and 'relate-ability' that's what makes great radio broadcasters. Just talking on the radio doesn't mean you have a personality that listeners want to listen to, and for me there are far to many characterless morons on the air talking rubbish, and Key 103 currently has its fair share. Get rid of them. Key should be the number 1, single best hit music radio station Bauer has. It used to be.

Manchester is the second most important market in the Bauer stable of stations, it is a crucial market for advertisers, and it needs to be right. Capital FM is now the clear hit music leader in Manchester, and if Dee Ford and Bauer don't act immediately, they may never get the crown back.

I wanted to write this today, after hearing the latest Rajar news, because I genuinely feel sad and concerned for this once great radio station.

I love this radio station for many reasons. Come on Bauer, sort it... NOW.

More information

Key 103
Greater Manchester
Steve Penk — Manchester-born Steve Penk has worked for national and local radio stations, and is renowned for his wind-up calls. He started his career in Manchester in 1978.
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Comments

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

I love this passion. It's what the industry needs more of.

And, lest we forget, Bauer has a good track record in doing what Steve's proposing. Wave 105 is left alone to programme itself, and has prospered - which makes Key 103's demise even more sad.

(Disclosure: I worked at Key 103 for five months.)

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

Wave 105 appears to be a one-off with their Place brands in England in a competitive market. The rest are shocking.

The whole 1, 2, 3 rebrand is a nightmare. On the 3's, it shows how low listenership is of stations formerly known as The Hits. Tay 3 in Dundee has 1,000 listeners for example.

I rarely agree with Penky, however I agree that the FM'ers should be Kiss which is basically Rhythmic CHR to go against Capital with the exception of those with exclusive FM commercial coverage and a large share, such as Borders or West Sound FM (a 2 network station).

As for 2, while it had to rebrand after Magic London went national, it needs a national brand in England at least to replace the old branding

2 years, 2 months ago

I think Penky does identify some of the main issues, but his solutions also highlight how complex the market is now.

He talks about the need for personality presenters (not "characterless morons"), but then highlights the success a (predominantly personality-ness) Capital has. He talks about the importance of local (and need to reflect the unique Manchester) but recommends opting them into a national brand - Kiss. Plus, again, Capital doesn't entirely scream Manchester in it's programming either.

Key suffers from the same problem many heritage stations have faced. When there was limited supply of radio stations, you could be successful by finding the mainstream middle ground and spending some money on talent and promotions. Different people did it in different ways - Capital Group used a talent/cash-led approach, GWR used a music-science strategy they both 'worked' from a profit/audience perspective.

The issue now is that appealing to a mainstream audience with something that satisfies most people in your target market no longer works to the same degree. The branded networks - Capital, Heart, Smooth, Kiss - are low-passion stations. They deliver their product perfectly - they are taps that people can turn on when they want something delivered - but they have low average hours because people are being the own programmer flitting around stations to create their own perfect mix. It generates high cume and are very understandable stations for audiences.

High passion stations - Radio 2, 4 etc - are able to deliver a full-service proposition. High budgets, great talent, no ads and excellent distribution unsurprisingly makes something quite successful!

The issue for heritage pop stations - Key, Free, Hallam, Forth 1 etc is that they are challenged from the bottom end and the top end with the branded stations. Lots of people don't need a station to be a the best of Heart/Capital etc, they manage that themselves with flicking the preset button.

The heritage stations are just that. They're unlikely to return to number one as a mainstream offer. To me they have three options:

  1. Rebrand/re-position. Global's junking of local ILR for Heart got them out of many of these heritage problems. They junked the baggage, lowered the costs and marketed heavily. The stations audiences are okay. Some better than others. But it's a very profitable operation, much more than in the GWR days. There's no reason Bauer couldn't do that - they have enough brands to do that with - whether that's young young with Kiss or something like Heat etc.
  2. Embrace the heritage - it will mean abandoning the 25-34 end of the audience, but if Key has resonance with people that grew up with it, then perhaps it should be a 40+ station. Nowadays this needn't sound 'old' at all but it's probably an area that could win at. It's also an audience more likely to be loyal and give you significant hours.
  3. Stay as they are. Recognise that they're not going to be a number one station any more, and reorganise so that it remains a profitable business and can still seem a local mainstream station.

2 years, 2 months ago

I would rebrand all the FM stations SMASH HITS. Does what it says on the tin and they appear to just be wasting the name in my opinion.

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

Or, indeed, The Hits.

"The Hits for Manchester"... " Greatest Hits for Manchester"..."Fresh Hits for Manchester". That's all three stations rebranded. Job done.

2 years, 2 months ago

Cos that wouldn't be confusing at all?!

2 years, 2 months ago

Ditto James! Love the passion too... very sad to see great heritage stations slip like this... and agree with much of what both STEVE and MATT have noted. Particularly MATT's "option 1".
And yes, WAVE 105, Bauer's other "cash cow" has managed to runs it's own race to a large degree in the "south" with a terrific team under the excellent direction and tenure of MD MARTIN BALL... just posting their best cume and hours ever.

(Disclosure: Was WAVE 105 launch PD and Programmer; and returned some years later to re-launch WAVE under it's current guise of "South's best variety of hits"... again with MARTIN!)

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

Smash Hits is the least likely brand to be used for the '1's' as the branding sticks out as "kiddy pop."

Heat and Kiss are the most likely brands that could be used as part of a national rebrand and are recognised by London based advertising agencies with clearly defined demographics.

2 years, 2 months ago

I'd avoid smash hits. The younger audience won't know it, and for those that do it either sounds kiddy or past it (as a young-focussed brand that is no longer used).

I'd also avoid the phrase fresh hits - it's too easy to make it sound completely different: fre shhits.

Kiss would make sense, but if you do that you can't have an independent music policy as you've then got a network brand to protect.

2 years, 2 months ago

I think Steve is making a lot of sense although I don't agree with everything he says. I don't think you need to ditch the Key name. If some of his suggestions were implemented you could make the Key name great again. Capital was once on it's arse in London remember.

I do though laugh to myself when people say "is unlike any other radio market in the UK, and unless you understand that and get the area, the public, and the humour, you will fail".

That's been said about every market I've ever worked in and it's usually bollocks. The same kind of programming strategy and techniques generally work well in most markets if they're implemented properly and delivered by the right people. The success of a station in any market depends on having the right talent on the air and in the right place. A good broadcaster who can relate to people and has a personality is all that's required. By working in a market you get to know local people and the local area but in my experience very few uk markets are unique. Of course the size of the market and number of stations can be very different.

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

Capital was once on its arse in London remember

95.8 Capital FM is currently on its third worst-ever 'hours' figures. Total audience has been in decline since December 2011. Hours per listener is the worst ever.

Yep, I rember when Capital was "on its arse".

You might compare Capital's performance to KISS. Their graphs go in rather a different direction.

Kiss would make sense, but if you do that you can't have an independent music policy as you've then got a network brand to protect.

While I don't think rebranding it as KISS makes much sense, there is a world of difference between a coherent music position and a dictated playlist.

As just one example: when I was on a Metro Radio Group radio station, we had a dictated music playlist from Newcastle. But the station I was on was in Bradford. Nevertheless, we had lots of Sting, Chris Rea, Gazza'n'Lindisfarne, and other Tyneside favourites; and not much Tasmin Archer, New Model Army, and Terrorvision. (I note Gareth Gates and Zayn Malik are from there too these days.)

To assume your local programmers have no brain, to not give them any leeway when it comes to music choice or programming content, is idiotic in my view. What the hell are they Content Directors of?

2 years, 2 months ago

I must admit I don't understand the Bauer strategy, especially the "2" and "3" networks. This is because they have some excellent brands and, unlike Global, they have the advantage of print also.

I would use Heat or Kiss for the "1" stations, depending largely on formats, the competition and demographics of the current audience and the TSA in general. I'd use Magic for the "2" stations but it would follow the London format rather than a golden oldies format. I'm not sure if I'd keep the "3" stations, it would probably make more sense to roll out Kisstory, particularly where Kiss is on FM.

I'd also convert Wave 105 to Magic.

The Scottish stations I don't understand as well as I do the English network, but I don't see why these couldn't come into the fold also.

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

It's not easy for the heritage stations, they've been squashed by the Capital and Kiss formats at one end and by Heart at the other which has left those Bauer stations sounding lost where they don't have a virtual monopoly.

Free Radio is another example of not knowing where exactly to target where the specialist or regional formats have put them into a corner.

The Scottish Bauer's can at least use their heritage to an extent still and some have a virtual monopoly (Borders, West Sound FM, MFR), but if you look at Original 106 in Aberdeen, a slightly different format can work against those stations.

2 years, 2 months ago

Free is a different beast. It's a brand but I couldn't tell you what it stands for. Whereas Heat and Kiss are well-defined brands with other media outlets already up and running to support them. Heat is crying out to play in the same league as Heart. Local versions of Kiss could really "own" the local music scene, filling the gap vacated by Galaxy. If they did it right they could blow Capital out of the water.

2 years, 2 months ago

Free Radio is another example of not knowing where exactly to target where the specialist or regional formats have put them into a corner.

I was thinking exactly that listening of a few recent jaunts to the Midlands.

Question - where can we find station-specific RAJAR stats? I could only find generic stuff on the website - did nationals and a few big stations, but lumped most commercials into a single figure.

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

Question - where can we find station-specific RAJAR stats?

Easy, go to the directory page for each station.

2 years, 2 months ago

Easy, go to the directory page for each station

Doh - I'd clocked the topline figurebut not clicked below that! Thanks. Very easy and very interesting. I love seeing the trend - much more informative than a single figure.

But if I wanted to do a more meta-analyis, where could I find the source data without having to click 101 links?

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

There's no more analysis possible with the public data. Literally, we publish everything RAJAR lets us.

2 years, 2 months ago

Going back to Martin's point about Original, could local/regional versions of Absolute follow? Obviously the West Midlands is getting it, but putting Absolute on FM in areas where Global's brands dominate could be just the gap in the market. I know it's a bold, bold move but surely possible under the newly-relaxed rules on music?

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

That's a very interesting point. I think that there's no requirement for a local version at all: Absolute is a national radio station, and thus could simply be simulcast.

It isn't a clever long term plan, though. Bauer is already ensuring it's leading digital, and any gain from putting Absolute on FM will be eroded in 2020 when (as is depressingly likely) FM switchoff may happen. Better to ensure robust local services, following the Heart/Capital/BCN1 model.

2 years, 2 months ago

Surely the national Absolute can't be simulcast on local licences like Key and Metro, but only on regional ones like Planet Rock's??

2 years, 2 months ago

That's what I believed. In any case, I wouldn't be worried about the "threat" of an FM switch-off; I'm still wholly convinced it won't happen, at least not in my lifetime.

Putting local versions or otherwise of Absolute on FM would grow the brand, and allow Bauer to shut down the AM transmitter network.

2 years, 2 months ago

at least not in my lifetime

Blimey, James, never had you down as that old!

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

Bauer can shut down the AM network now if it wants. The issue is that Ofcom might readvertise it; that they will have a long-term contract with Arqiva, and an INR licence offers some marginal benefits.

2 years, 2 months ago

Depends on cost-benefit I guess.

Michael - I'm 30, but I genuinely believe it won't happen. If there was a market on it down the bookies I would put everything I own on 2020 not happening.

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

So called specialist formats can apply for full networking on local licences within a nation in return for an increase of local news hours if I recall?

This would allow Xfm Manchester to fully network with Xfm London, while Scotland (Paisley) would still have to provide 7 hours of local programming.

Bauer in Liverpool have decided to target Absolute's male skewed demographic by relaunching CityTalk on City 2's AM frequency instead of applying for an Absolute simulcast on 105.9.

2 years, 2 months ago

That's interesting. Just diverting off-topic, does this mean that if this Moyles/XFM thing is indeed true, he can go on-air in Manchester at least, and potentially Scotland if daytime and/or drive are local?

2 years, 2 months ago

There's no more analysis possible with the public data

James - could you point me to the source data? It's not that I don't believe your great charts, its more I'd like to be able to take more of a macro look across all stations to see the risers and fallers (or is the historic data stored locally on your databases?). Easier than clicking through every station on your website...
Alternatively maybe an additional feature for your site - a list of biggest winners or losers over a given time period by metric.

2 years, 2 months ago

Very funny - I must use that sometime. My Google search (.co.uk) only found figures that did not list all the individual stations.

2 years, 2 months ago

Oh God, the last thing radio needs is Steve Penk. [Three paragraphs of off-topic moaning about Steve Penk deleted, because it's off topic and it adds nothing to the discussion.]

As for current radio in general, it's all very tired. Lots of talking over songs, with DJs sounding like they think they're more important than the music.

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

A reminder that our posting policy says that we'll remove personal insult, particularly when it isn't connected with anything else in a thread, and particularly when the next paragraph bears an uncanny resemblance to the very argument Steve was making: "Just talking on the radio doesn't mean you have a personality that listeners want to listen to, and for me there are far to many characterless morons on the air talking rubbish, and Key 103 currently has its fair share."

2 years, 2 months ago

James, just deleting my comment is not addressing the issue. Please just answer my question.

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

Hi, Dom. You're welcome to mail me. james@cridland.net - but hijacking a thread to add bitter whinges against someone's broadcasting style is rude to the original poster, and rude to others who use this site since that's not why they're here. Note that any further messages you post here will be removed.

2 years, 2 months ago

So we can only post things that praise Steve Penk here?

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

What a shame. We were going really well here until you came in, Dom. You're now refusing to take this to email; and disrupting the entire thread, repeatedly posting messages, just as I feared you would. I'll have to stop deleting them now, I've not got time to play this game. How disappointing. And we wonder why discussion forums online are full of nutters and idiots, since they're the only ones who'll deal with this kind of behaviour. How sad.

I was hoping we could focus on the ideas in this article - both Steve's original thoughts and those of the commenter above, many of which have been thoughtful and have raised some good points. However, you have decided that you don't like wind-up calls, and because you don't like wind-up calls, everything Steve says is somehow null and void. Not only is it off-topic, it is also disruptive to this entire thread, which has been one of the most intelligent conversations for a while.

But, you've ruined it now. Go on, rant away, and watch any intelligent discussion disappear. Ruin this site, and make it an also-ran Digital Spy clone. Ignore and argue with those trying to make this a better place for everyone; don't take any notice of how we'd like this site to be, and instead use it to have some kind of petty whinge about something you heard Steve do on a different radio station six years ago that you thought wasn't very funny.

Sometimes, I genuinely wonder about people. But how depressing that tomorrow one of my main tasks will be writing admin tools to deal with disruptive behaviour like this instead of improving things for everyone.

sigh

2 years, 2 months ago

No James, it says more about you making a mountain out of not even a molehill, especially with your disgraceful "nutter" and "idiots" remark. How sad if that's the best you can manage.

I had a valid point, and was not trying to derail the thread in any way whatsoever. In stating my case about Penk, I had to state why this post of his carries no weight because of his recent BBC rant. His star is long on the wane and if anyone's having a long moan about things, it's him!!

My earlier post (which you deleted) is below, which I'm reprinting here since it sounds like you're now allowing it. And that's how discussions work. if others disagree with me, please feel free to comment, but censorship gets us nowhere.

Oh God, the last thing radio needs is Steve Penk. We had far too many years of his tired supposed wind-ups - funny at first but long in the tooth soon after. After a while, he clearly got bored and just sat back as one member of a family attempted to wind-up another, live on air. It NEVER worked. It was NEVER funny.

Seeing his recent rant about the BBC, I thought he'd lost his mind!

As for current radio in general, it's very tired. There's too much talking over songs, with DJs sounding like they think they're more important than the music.

2 years, 2 months ago

Dom, the first two paragraphs you have quoted above are basically just your opinion of Steve Penk and have nothing to do with the thread topic. Would you have posted that in this thread if Steve's name wasn't attached?

Your final paragraph is on topic, if a little unimaginative.

2 years, 2 months ago

There you go again. They have everything to do with this. He's posted about Key 103, and he's posted about the BBC before, so there's the link. Which station will get it in the neck next?

And my first paragraph is there to show how little weight his name now carries. He's a radio dinosaur.

As for Key 103, I haven't listened to that in a long time, but I hear Capital (which he mentions by comparison) in the gym and that's a terrible station. Alas, I don't get to change the station in the gym.

Radio stations come and go. I'm listening more to Classic FM. Why? Because there's no chit-chat over the music. If only other stations took note, then perhaps they wouldn't be losing listeners hand over fist.

2 years, 2 months ago

I wrote:

Kiss would make sense, but if you do that you can't have an independent music policy as you've then got a network brand to protect.

James Cridland wrote:

While I don't think rebranding it as KISS makes much sense, there is a world of difference between a coherent music position and a dictated playlist.

I was responding to Steve's comment about programming by committee. If you have multiple stations with a coherent music position then you are either going to have playlists dictated from a single place & person, or you are going to have multiple people involved in building the playlist. I've seen the value you can get from having one person in charge, I'm not sure how much that applies to radio programming and playlists.

2 years, 2 months ago

Dom - it's great you have an opinion, we all do too.

The difference is lots of people don't equate their opinion with something that is absolutely right. Capital isn't 'terrible' - you might not like it for a number of reasons (none of which you have told us). If it was 'terrible' 7million people wouldn't listen to it.

You make a statement that Classic's no chit chat is the right way to run radio. It may be, however it's figures don't prove that (in decline) whilst the more chatty Radio 2 has been steadily increasing.

I don't have any reason to believe that your insights are always correct. However by explaining your views, with evidence and I might be persuaded.

Penky may not have the right experience to give his opinion on the BBC, however I don't think that experience is connected to whether you did or didn't like his wind ups.

2 years, 2 months ago

There you go again.

Huh? It's my first response to you (I'm not James). I try not to pay too much attention to who has said something, but rather what they have said.

You might not like Capital, but its figures in Manchester are trending up, while Key 103 and Classic FM are trending down. The rebrand to Capital should also have reduced their costs and improved their ad revenues.
https://media.info/radio/stations/key-103/listening-figures
https://media.info/radio/stations/classic-fm/listening-figures
https://media.info/radio/stations/102-capital-fm/listening-figures

2 years, 2 months ago

I'm happy for people to disagree with me, since they've at least seen what I posted earlier. About the comparisons, based on those graphs Classic FM is losing listeners, but at around 36m hours, it's still more than Capital's rising to 4m hours.

About overly chatty presenters, even if Radio 2 are on the rise, I'd rather hear music than Chris Evans, Steve Wright and Tony Blackburn babbling over the music. Dermot O'Leary is good for their output.

2 years, 2 months ago

It's not particularly meaningful to compare figures in the way - of course Classic FM has more hours, it also has about 50 million more potential listeners! (the link above was for Capital Manchester, not network, so you can make more direct comparisons with Key). In terms of programming there is only so much you can do - you might be able to get people to switch between Capital and Key, but Key are unlike to make a big dent in Classic FMs figures due to the differing geography and music policies.

2 years, 2 months ago

Rebranding a station is in my view a pretty useless exercise if you don't change anything else. I almost never hear anyone say that a station needs to change its branding, but I have heard things like 'changing their music mix', 'more local information', 'less showbiz crap', 'less waffle' and so on, and if all you change is the name, listeners are going to see through that and see that all you did was rearrange deckchairs on the Titanic.

I do agree with him on one point though. Key has no meaning, nothing to connect the audience with the station, as a name. Maybe this is one of the very few occasions where a change of name might help. A return to "Piccadilly" might be the best thing they can do. But if they do that, then they should re-emphasise the localness of Piccadilly in their links, their branding, their marketing, and really go for it.

2 years, 2 months ago

Ian. This doesn't happen often but bloody hell, I agree with your first paragraph word for word. I recall back to Orion launching Free Radio and making a huge deal out of the fact that only the name would change. I believed then, as I do now, that the programming was what was holding the group back. Not the branding. If you're going to change the name, you have to jettison the baggage and change the programming. If it's just BRMB by another name, or even Real Radio by another name, people will see through it in this day and age.

PRO2 years, 2 months ago

I think the Bauer way of 'One size fits all' doesn't work for what they're trying to do for their local heritage brands.

What works in Scotland, which is a different marketplace to England clearly doesn't work in their northern heritage heartlands.

They've been left behind by Global turning their local and regional stations into quasi-national brands, while maintaining peak local output and sub-local advertising slots.

As much as I'm not a fan of UKRD programming, they at least have a model where they have a central music playlist with uber local output which works for their group on a smaller level.

2 years, 2 months ago

Indeed. Having spent some time in York and being able to receive the West Yorkshire multiplex, I am astounded at how many Scottish accents I hear on the Big City stations. I also couldn't help but notice that the 2 and 3 brands don't seem to attach themselves onto the existing heritage brands as well as they seem to in Scotland, where the 1 and 2 brands have had decades to bed in but always sounded natural.

I also couldn't help but notice that John Leslie broadcasting live from the Edinburgh festival made Radio Aire 2 sound more like an ordinary day of local broadcasting on Forth 2, sounding utterly alien to audiences in West Yorkshire.

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