On Monday I mentioned Capital Radio’s decline in the London market but completely missed the comment piece by Paul Robinson on The Guardian’s site. He notes that slashing commercial hours could ‘knock about £7m off Capital’s top-line revenue in 2006’. This I find interesting. Reducing commercial clutter (as it’s called) will hopefully drive bigger audiences. Reduced commercial airtime also makes those ads that are aired stand out more. Won’t advertisers end up paying a premium for this? Maybe not in the short term but I would have thought that in the long run it could work. But then again, what do I know?
I noted some newsworthy stories about the radio industry yesterday but forgot to mention another from last week. When I was a child, my favourite radio station was Manchester’s Piccadilly Radio. To me, it was the most exciting station in the world. Pete and Geoff, who I mentioned yesterday, started their award-winning partnership on that station. It’s now Key 103 and last week was fined the biggest ever financial penalty imposed by a regulator on a UK radio station [source]. Nothing really to add to that but I wanted to note it.
When I first came to London, everybody listened to Capital Radio. Everybody talked about whatever Chris Tarrant did in the morning. That was a very different radio world with much less competition in the London market. Right now, I don’t know anybody who listens. Last week, GCap Media – which own Capital FM (as it’s now known)- announced a slump in profits and has promised a radical overhaul of the station. The new management are blaming the old management for the slump. Well, I guess they would, wouldn’t they?
Saturday morning and, for some reason, I was up early so I decided to do a little bit of work. In the background I’ve had the radio on. Listening to Vanessa Feltz on BBC London and then Wendy Lloyd on LBC. I guess the topics must have been interesting (why do we seek to impress our parents and why don’t kids do enough around the home – to name but two) but, regardless, I thought both programmes were presented in an intelligent and thoughtful way. And that’s not what you always expect from talk radio. I read earlier in the week that David Prever had left LBC to be the new breakfast host on Smooth FM. That might make the London breakfast market interesting.
According to the press, ‘BBC London 94.9FM has recorded its second highest audience figures ever, with 561,000 tuning in every week, according to the latest RAJAR figures covering July to September’. As I have mentioned several times, I love BBC London right now. It was sad when Danny Baker left – his was one of the most innovative mornings shows – but JoAnne Good and the team have been excellent. I am very worried about Jono Coleman as I am not very keen on him as a broadcaster but I guess we’ll just have to see what the rest of the year brings.
BBC London might not be too happy that Jono Coleman can’t start the new breakfast show until mid-October (BBC in tug-of-war over breakfast DJ) but I have to admit I am over-the-moon. Mr Coleman is probably a fine music DJ but he’s not the one for me in a morning yet BBC London is my station! Nevertheless, even if I was a fan, JoAnne Good has been doing a fab job at breakfast and I don’t want her to go anywhere.
So, I get back from my vacation and try to settle into my regular routine. Firstly, it’s disrupted by a strike by BBC journalists although I was amused that somebody quipped you could hardly tell and thus proving they’re over-staffed anyway.
The ebullient presenter is taking what the station described as “an extended summer holiday” after three years on the show, during which he will work on a film script for channel Five.
He told listeners: “We will reform and come back in another shape one day. People thought we were crying wolf … we were just crying. We’ve been saying it for a while now. We’ve been doing it for three years. We’re packing up the tree house at the end of the month.”
Now that’s going to mess up my morning routine something rotten – there’s nobody else on air anything like Danny Baker. It’s not just the fact that he is the only speech-driven presenter that’s not news-based it’s because he is bloody entertaining. Ahhh. I think a paragraph from another article in The Independent says it all,
Such confidence that radio requires unique skills will always make Sony award-winning breakfast presenters highly sought after. But they have to be carefully looked after when they arrive. Getting up in the middle of the night to sound fresh at the microphone can become gruelling for even the most dynamic broadcasters. BBC London’s breakfast ace, Danny Baker, proved it with his response to Sony Awards triumph. Named DJ of the year, beating O’Connell, Baker announced his departure from the airwaves within the day. He is going to write a film script for Five. Radio executives searching the market for proven breakfast talent are hoping it flops
At last somebody in the commercial radio business has noted that one of biggest reasons to turn off isn’t poor music policy, crap jokes or bad station identity – it’s annoying and repetive radio commercials. Somebody in the UK should take on board the Clear Channel approach of trying to make better radio ads and brodcast fewer of them:
Radio is the most difficult medium because there are fewer senses to work with. For the most part, radio ads are a yawn [source].
With online catching radio in terms of advertising spend (Britain’s Online advertising market will surpass the Â£500-million mark this year – Independent Online) radio’s revenues may be in for a rocky time. In the UK the online industry may well surpass radio during the next 12 months so it’s important that the industry wakes up and does something to ensure that the recent history of growth and development can be sustained.