Helen Zaltzman

Funding Radio

I like radio. You may have noticed.

I like it because a small number of people can put effort into something that a lot of people can then hear.

Clearly the content has to be good, it needs to be relevant to a group of people and they then all need to know about it, but still… it’s something that’s very achievable.

I also like ‘digital’. You may have noticed.

Digital has democratised most things that it’s touched. A great deal of old media’s success came from big barriers to entry. You couldn’t be on television unless they agreed. Or newspapers. Or radio.

With digital, distribution becomes much easier. Yes, you’re now competing with the world, but digital’s also democratised marketing. Twitter, blogs, email has allowed a new generation of media (both amateur and professional) to flourish.

Fun Kids, our digital radio station, can only exist because a digital platform, for us mainly DAB (but also the internet) allows us to reach a large number of people. Also, handily, it’s much easier (and cheaper) to acquire digital space than it would an FM licence. To be honest, if I had and FM licence I wouldn’t put a kids format on it, I’d probably so something more mainstream.

Digital has also meant that content creation is quicker, cheaper and faster and allows us to make audio, video and web content as well as market it, all at a fraction of the traditional cost. In other words we need less money to be able to create something brilliant that about 300k kids consume. Plus we get to pay people (some) money too.

Podcasts

Similar to digital radio, podcasting has grown steadily over the past ten years. It’s definitely democratised the production, for want of a better word, radio shows.

A good idea, some skill, some marketing and some luck means that there’s been a flood of new entrants. Many of which have created new types of radio format (see Serial).

The funding of these is as variable as the content. Podcasting is generally free at the point of use. So people have to be more creative. There’s been tip jars, pay-for specials, attempts at subscription as well as advertising and sponsorship.

In the US quite a few podcasts have been crowdfunded using Kickstarter. In the UK, er, not so much.

I think fundamentally we’re less used to paying for audio content than they are in the States. The concept of pledging is also deeply lodged in the up-market psyche of NPR listeners who hear the regular pledge drives. Here, we pay for the BBC and then forget about it, and then they make excellent speech radio programmes. We’re not used to paying for quality radio, we just get it for free. Therefore when a podcast, even one we really like, pops up, as we get it for free I think we’re more reluctant to put our hands in our pockets.

This is why its so pleasing to see one of our own home-grown podcasters – Helen Zaltzman – be part of a successful crowdfunding drive.

Radiotopia is a podcast network that has great, unique podcasts. It’s a bit of a collective of podcasters and they’ve just raised $250k to support the shows for another year. Their Kickstarter is still going and if they hit a stretch goal of $400k it will allow them to fund some new shows, including one from Helen.

Helen writes about the process here.

I think if you’re a fan of radio it’s worth supporting. Even if you’re not, at the moment, a consumer of those shows.

I think radio is far more than just what’s on Capital or Radio 4. It’s about being a medium that has an amazing relationship with listeners. And there should always be more of it. Whether that’s commercial FM, community radio, DAB stations, podcasts or something else. The more radio there is and the more it’s enjoyed the better it is for all of us.

I also think it’s important that there are lots of different ways for people to get paid to do it.  After all, people who aren’t hungry make better radio programmes!

Moyles Video

YouTube, Moyles and Radio

Peter Robinson picked up on Chris Moyles’ YouTube channel last week, giving it a not entirely positive review. However, it was definitely more positive than the ripped off versions that the Mail and Mirror then followed up with.

The crux of the feedback is “Oh the mighty have fallen, he used to have 8million listeners and now he’s only got 10,000 subscribers”. I think fundamentally they have all missed the point and we should be celebrating what Moyles is doing rather than slagging it off.

Views & Subscribers

A lot of people’s understanding of YouTube is watching viral content, slip ups, cute animals or rips of performances/TV show segments. These, because they are viral hits, tend to have large numbers of views. What you’re watching is the hits.  But that is very much just one side of YouTube.

To me, the interesting part of YouTube is the material that’s being created specifically for the platform. Rather than just using it to host some videos that you want to point to.

YouTube’s core aim is to make people consume more minutes of video content on the site. It wants people to keep returning to consume regular material rather than just the latest 1D video or see that lion jump into the arms of that man.

To get there, it’s funded quite a lot of channels from a variety of sources, to see what ends up being popular. That’s ranged from Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube to ITN’s Truth Loader and All3Media’s Daily Mix. At the same time, more naturally, kids with cameras have put themselves and their lives on the internet and become ‘YouTubers’.

Both types of content work for YouTube, the branded content working for slightly older audiences whilst YouTubers are providing a reach of 13 to 19 year old bigger than any traditional media platform.

YouTube’s focus on ‘subscribing’ to these channels encourages the content to more easily flow to fans and thus drives up the minutes consumed. You may have seen YouTube’s outdoor advertising currently pushing Zoella, Slow Mo Guys and Vice News. All native YouTube content.

YouTubers

The YouTubers phenomenon, in particular, is fascinating. Fresh faced attractive youngsters in their teens/early 20s create light, fun videos that have massive resonance with teenagers. The number of subscribers people like Zoella, Alfie and Marcus have are in the millions with videos getting 1m plus views.

What was telling at Radio 1’s Teen Awards last weekend was that the YouTubers on show – Dan/Phil, Zoella, Alfie, Tyler – were getting much bigger cheers than many of the popstars and pretty much all of the Radio 1 presenters.

To be honest, this isn’t really surprising. Teens have pretty much no traditional media targeting at them any more. Kiss/Capital/R1 is broader and needs people in their 20s to listen, CBBC doesn’t appeal to 13+, there’s no T4 any more and E4/BBC Three/MTV again need to be broader propositions. For a mobile generation with laptops in their bedrooms, YouTubers are people like them. Funnier, more attractive people, granted. But they’re much more representative of a desirable teenage life than anything traditional media gives them.

Radio 1 has dipped its toe in the water with Dan and Phil on Sunday and now its weekly one-hour YouTuber show, which is more than anyone else has bothered with. However I think we’ll start to see that ghettoising them in a 1 hour show is like early 90s Radio 1 just playing a few hours of dance a week, at a time when it was a huge part of young people’s lives.

Mass Media and YouTube

Anyway, as the people who write the Moyles knocking articles use YouTube for viral hits rather than subscribing to content themselves, they misunderstand what it takes to make native YouTube content really work.

Indeed, you can tell the media organisations that are driven by one-offs vs regular subscribers by looking at the stats.

If we take Key 103 in Manchester, they have around 3,000 subscribers, which is alright for something that clearly not a huge amount of effort is put into. Their YouTube homepage is, er, a little bare. If we nip into the video section, view counts range from 30 to 30,000. It, like many radio stations, give an incredibly confusing ‘subscriber-led’ experience. It veers from news, to breakfast show bits, to Esther Rantzen, to auditions for their girl band and from The Vamps to vandalised graves!

YouTube subscriptions and the ability to grow views for channels comes from consistency. Pretty much every radio station fails at delivering it and it’s no surprise that view and subscriber counts for the majority of radio stations are low.

One of their successes is an interview with The Vamps with over 10,000 views. I’d wager that pretty much all of that came from Vamps fans unconnected with the radio station.

YouTube should not be a dumping ground for station video of massively variable quality, with uploaders hoping that something will be a viral hit. For Key (and stations like it) just do the celebrity stuff and brilliant things like their Surprisal video – just be consistent. AND LESS VANDALISED GRAVES!

At the other end of the spectrum, Radio 1 are very proud of their 1.6m subscribers. They almost suffer a problem at the other end of the spectrum. The content they make is great and there’s lots of it. Amazing live lounge performances, viral stunts, interviews, features like Fire in the Booth and Innuendo Bingo. But I think they suffer from a consistency problem too.

They’ve worked hard to make sure that 1.6m people see their new videos in users’ feeds, but there seems to be very few views generated from this massive advantage. Of course not everyone’s going to like everything, but 6-7k views for film reviews or even 40k for a decent guest on Innuendo Bingo seems a low engagement rate when you think about the number of subscribers.

Live Lounges look and sound great with amazing stars, but like Key 103’s Vamps video how many of Taylor Swift’s 150k views for a performance of Love Story and 1.5m for her Vance Joy cover come from R1 fans rather Taylor’s own searching out that video on whoever’s channel it happens to be.

Now don’t get me wrong, viral reach is great. For radio it’s got the potential to be a great reach builder for a station, but it has very little to do with that ‘subscriber’ number – or what that subscriber number has the potential to deliver. Also – if you know a video has good viral potential because it’s with a celeb with a strong fan base – PLEASE remember to use it to plug your radio station. When’s the Live Lounge on? What station is it on? Who’s up next?

On this Taylor Swift video the branding in the performance is all Live Lounge – there’s no BBC or Radio 1 mentions. No one in the video says it’s part of Fearne’s show or how to tune in. There’s top and tail R1 branding, but with no radio call to action – the only CTA is to subscribe. BUT WHY? Surely one of the central purposes of growing subscribers has to be so that more teens then listen to the radio station?

To me, if I was trying to prove that my videos were working I would be looking at the view counts of non-viral videos. What is the content that people are coming to me for? How can I make them return regularly. It should be the same thing you think about with your radio content.

I’d also see success as the percentage of subscribers who go on to watch a video.

Thinking

I wish I could point to my radio station, Fun Kids, as having the answer. We definitely don’t. We need to be better at growing our subscribers and recently we’re trying to be better at focusing content on music-based entertainment (that is after all what we do on the radio). We’re also experimenting with additional channels that do different types of content – so we can maintain a core experience but still have the room to try new things. However, sometimes we still forget to plug the radio station properly.

Presenters’ Own Media

I’m always stunned how little of their own media radio presenters have. DJs build a relationship with their audiences on-air. If I wanted people to listen to me on that radio station more,  I’d be doing all I could to continue that relationship on other media, so I could cross-promote back. Twitter is a good start of that, but it isn’t the be all and end all. Where are their YouTube channels, their blogs, their newsletters? If they owned more of a relationship with their audience they would become more employable and get a better deal come contract renewal time.

I’m particularly surprised why no DJs really do YouTube. Especially the younger end. If I was on Kiss, Capital, Radio 1 or The Hits I’d be spending significant time on weekly videos growing my relationship with a core part of the audience.

[update: A commenter points out the success of Westwood with WestwoodTV on YouTube]

YouTuber Zoella has 6million subscribers and each of her videos get around 1.5-2m views. They are also mainly watching for her. She doesn’t have, or need, a viral video collaboration with The Vamps or Taylor Swift to drag their audience in. She is consistent, entertaining and audience-focused. She delivers what they like and expect and she does it once a week so as not to overload their feeds.

Back to Moyles

This is why I’m a fan of what Moyles is doing.

He does not need to do YouTube videos. If he wanted to be back on the radio he could be there right away. If he wanted to wait a while for something perfect to come up he could easily do that, quietly. If he wanted to be in the public eye, he’d be on Strictly!

I hope what he’s trying to do is to turn some of his large, passive broadcast audience into fans.

Our relationships with listeners is a funnel. So for Moyles he had 8million listeners. They consumed him through a passive device – the radio. Super low effort. Lower down the funnel are his Twitter followers – 3m of them. A little more effort – pressing follow – and not all of his audience will be on Twitter, so of course it’s smaller. Of those Twitter followers, how many see his tweets in a week? Maybe 300k or 400k? You would need to be a regular Twitter to see them pop up occasionally. How many of the follower accounts are bots or dormant? Probably quite a few.

Then you take the ones who see it and count how many then click through to something. 20% perhaps? How many then do the next action – donate, read something, watch a video? How many links do you flick through in Twitter each day and ignore? Even from people you really like?

However, each person who does click through and watch? Well that’s engagement.

I care much more about people at the bottom of the funnel than I do at the top. They’re the valuable ones.

In radio it’s your biggest fans who give you the bulk of your hours. As a station your job should be to create fans, to take them through radio’s funnel – awareness, sample, light listener, regular listener, fan.

Moyles’ YouTube

Moyles is getting 15 to 20k views per video from a percentage of his 10k subscribers and tweets/Facebook etc. I think this is great. His job is to entice people to watch videos for the first time and then get them to subscribe. Those subscribers should then be the base for a larger number of views of future videos.

He’s also encouraging subscription for an audience – 25+ – who aren’t native subscribers like the teens are. They’re the viral consumers rather than today’s subscribing ones.

It is not an easy task to do. But can you name any other radio presenters who have bothered to try?

The other thing I like is that he’s clearly making and editing it himself. One of the reason Moyles was so good on the radio was that he was a brilliant producer. He understood the theory, he was a brilliant technical practitioner and he was funny and  creative – a perfect combination. I think he’ll have a much better chance of success with his videos as he better understands what works and how to put it together.

So far, he’s nine videos in, he’s experimenting with form and content and that’s going to keep evolving. The hardest part is keeping up the enthusiasm to keep going.

14,000 people watched last week’s Innuendo Bingo on the R1 Channel, something supported by a broadcast radio station and 1.6m subscribers. 15,600 watched this week’s Moyles vlog on a channel with 10k subscribers and just some Twitter for promotion. I think he’s doing alright.

 

 

 

 

 

Adam's RAJAR Pic

RAJAR Q3/2014

Where most radio programmers go wrong is that they forget they have different types of listeners who listen to their station in different ways.

If you want to increase your RAJAR figures, I’m sorry, but one size does not fit all.

If you don’t have any light listeners it probably means they don’t know about  you, so you’ll probably need some reach-building mechanics and some external marketing wouldn’t go a miss. You also probably need to be explaining what you do better and (light) listeners need to know when to sample. Fixed benchmarks, travel every 20 minutes, 30 minutes non-stop – whatever – anything you can do to give them reasons to stop by. Light listeners are unlikely to be attracted by changing elements in a programme – they’re not even there in the first place!

But these tactics won’t support growing hours for existing listeners. For that you’ll need to give opportunities to listen in other day-parts, have an hours-building promotion and perhaps change how often your currents come around.

For many stations they’ll need to do both those sets of things. At the same time. Your listeners are subsets of different groups and they need to be looked after in different ways.

The other mistake is the assumption that they’re ‘your’ listeners. They’re not. You share them with other people. You are in a war for their attention.

As stations’ figures fluctuate ever more, it’s easy to refer to RAJAR blips, I’d also argue whilst of course that happens, you’re also programming in the most competitive radio market ever. Your figures may be going down because what you’re doing on the air just isn’t as good as what else is on the dial.

But if you combine fluctuation, competition and detail about different groups of listeners you get Heart London.

Heart London

Top line for Heart London is pretty grim. Reach down to 1.4m (Q2 was 1.8m, Q3/13 1.7m). Hours down to 7.9m (Q2 was 11.5m and Q3/13 8.7m).

But when you dig in it’s harder to lay the blame entirely at Heart’s door. The chart below takes all of Heart London’s Reach and then looks at ALL of their hours – both their listening to Heart and to other stations.

It shows that listening to Heart accounts for a quarter of its listeners’ listening (down from 30% in the previous quarter). But the real thing is that Heart listeners have consumed a fifth less radio in total. Now, Heart’s borne the brunt of that (seeing a 31.1% drop) but their listening to Magic, Kiss and R1 is pretty down too.

What’s changed? Listening to Capital’s grown a bit and Radio 2 and LBC are pretty solid.

Q3 includes July, August and September – a key holiday period with loads of changes in behaviour – not going to work, no school run etc. Now this will affect many stations, but perhaps Heart’s market has become an audience  who’s radio habits really do shift around in Q3.

Q2 2014

Q3 2014

Change – ‘000s

Change – %

Heart Listeners’ All Radio

39,947

31,556.5

-8,391

-21.0%

Heart London

11,565.4

7,962.9

-3,603

-31.1%

Magic 105.4 (London)

3,596.2

2,965.6

-631

-17.5%

Capital London

2,543.8

2,764.6

221

8.7%

Kiss 100 FM

2,790.2

1,989.5

-801

-28.7%

BBC Radio 2

1,951.7

1,903.3

-48

-2.5%

BBC Radio 4

1,545.5

1,293.4

-252

-16.3%

LBC 97.3

1,040.3

1,045.3

5

0.5%

BBC Radio 1

1,481.1

886.2

-595

-40.2%

Smooth Radio London

910.8

781.7

-129

-14.2%

BBC Radio 5 live

1,084.1

711.1

-373

-34.4%

Classic FM

1,525.3

543.9

-981

-64.3%

talkSPORT

1,250

426.8

-823

-65.9%

BBC London 94.9

545.5

410.6

-135

-24.7%

BBC 6 Music

145.7

378.3

233

159.6%

Gold London

775

361.4

-414

-53.4%

Sunrise Radio

96.3

345.7

249

259.0%

Absolute Radio London

512.2

281

-231

-45.1%

Premier Christian Radio

58.4

276.3

218

373.1%

Heat

306.8

267.8

-39

-12.7%

1Xtra from the BBC

66.7

266.7

200

299.9%

Absolute 80s

314.3

242.5

-72

-22.8%

Planet Rock UK

14.8

226.2

211

1,428.4%

Jazz FM

100.9

225

124

123.0%

Capital XTRA (London)

292.2

188.1

-104

-35.6%

XFM London

255.8

146.2

-110

-42.8%

BBC World Service

83.6

139.8

56

67.2%

Kisstory

431.7

135.3

-296

-68.7%

LBC News 1152

205.2

116.1

-89

-43.4%

Kerrang!

174.9

107.3

-68

-38.7%

BBC Asian Network UK

63.2

89.5

26

41.6%

BBC Radio 4 Extra

74.9

87.5

13

16.8%

Kiss Fresh (Was Smash Hits)

90.5

83.1

-7

-8.2%

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

114.1

75

-39

-34.3%

Absolute Radio Classic Rock

74.4

67.5

-7

-9.3%

The Hits

103.4

52.8

-51

-48.9%

BBC Radio 3

102.3

41.3

-61

-59.6%

Absolute Radio 90s

53.3

31.5

-22

-40.9%

Absolute Radio 70s

61.4

25.3

-36

-58.8%

Radio 1035 AM

18.1

21.7

4

19.9%

Absolute Radio 00s

90.4

15.2

-75

-83.2%

Radio 1458 AM

82.3

10.2

-72

-87.6%

Absolute Radio 60s

10.1

2.9

-7

-71.3%

Other Radio

1,344.5

1,877.1

533

39.6%

 

Share

Commercial audience share in London is always a hot button. Everyone’s very keen to fight over being Number 1. This quarter it’s: 1. Capital, 2. Magic, 3. Kiss, 4. Heart, 5. Absolute, 6. Smooth.

But when looking at the full list of stations below (below) you can also see the power of the national and specialist stations. Indeed, Sunrise and Premier Christian Radio are doing better than Capital Xtra and digital stations like Jazz FM and Kisstory have the same market share as XFM.

Share %
BBC Radio 4

15

BBC Radio 2

11.3

Capital London

5.3

LBC 97.3

5.1

Magic 105.4 (London)

5.1

BBC Radio 1

4.5

Kiss 100 FM

4.5

Classic FM

4.3

Heart London

3.9

BBC Radio 5 Live

3.7

BBC 6 Music

2.6

talkSPORT

2.6

Absolute Radio

2.1

Smooth Radio

2.1

BBC Radio 3

1.5

Sunrise Radio

1.4

Gold London

1.3

Absolute Radio London

1.1

BBC London 94.9

1.1

Premier Christian Radio

1

BBC Radio 4 Extra

0.9

BBC World Service

0.9

LBC News 1152

0.9

Capital XTRA (London)

0.8

Jazz FM

0.7

Kisstory

0.7

XFM London

0.7

Absolute 80s

0.5

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

0.5

Planet Rock UK

0.5

1Xtra from the BBC

0.4

Heat

0.3

Kerrang!

0.3

Radio 1458 AM

0.3

Absolute Radio 60s

0.2

Absolute Radio 70s

0.2

Absolute Radio 90s

0.2

Absolute Radio Classic Rock

0.2

BBC Asian Network UK

0.2

Absolute Radio 00s

0.1

Kiss Fresh (Was Smash Hits)

0.1

Radio 1035 AM

0.1

The Hits

0.1

London is a market with lots of digital choice and a high degree of digital consumption – what’s happening here will eventually happen everywhere else.

If Jazz and Kisstory can get the same share as XFM, then what real value does its FM licence have?

Digital

There’s actually lots of good digital stories in this book.

  • Digital’s share of listening is at a record high of 38%
  • DAB now accounts for a quarter of all radio’s hours
  • Over half the country (51.2%) listen to some form of digital radio each week.
  • 6 Music’s had a reach increase to 1.99m
  • Absolute 80s is at a record reach of 1.4m

Absolute 80s also has record breakfast figures with 462k tuning into the 80s version of the OC. I think its first figures since ‘Project Banana’ allowed Christian’s Absolute Radio Breakfast show to be broadcast live, but with 80s music.

Heat

Heat Radio’s also had a very good book, it’s best ever. They’re  now larger than The Hits with 965k listeners. These figures have come from good growth over the past few quarters and it’s nice to see its average hours are up too.

I think there’s a number of reasons that Heat’s done so well. Firstly it’s a great brand – you can guess what you’re going to get before you tune in. Secondly – it sounds like the brand. It’s a rhythmic AC station with values that give it permission to play the odd guilty pleasure. It’s also got a great on-brand presenter in Ryan Seacrest (and his syndicated show).

Finally, it’s a fun, active station with speech and music content that reflects today. This afternoon James Barr had a Glee promotion, interviewed Nick Jonas and then played 30mins of S Club 7 songs. I bet not many AC/CHR analogue stations had an afternoon that was as engaging.

p.s. Sorry Adam for stealing your picture. So, why not read his RAJAR blog post!

Choice FM

Ofcom backs Capital Xtra’s Choices

Ofcom’s Broadcast Bulletins are always an interesting read. Well, for radio bods like me they are. They detail Ofcom’s decisions on major complaints and for people who want to understand the regulator a little better it gives quite a bit of background into their thinking.

Issue 264 has just come out and in amongst slapping Radio 1 down for Lily Allen’s swearing and resolving similar naughtiness on The Wright Stuff it also talks about the complaints Global Radio’s had over Choice’s rebranding to Capital Xtra.

Many original Choice listeners have been unhappy about the shift to Capital Xtra away from its Afro-Carribean roots and complained to Ofcom that it was deviating from its analogue formats:

A targeted music, news and information service primarily for listeners of African and Afro-Caribbean origin in the Brixton [or North London] area but with crossover appeal to other listeners who appreciate urban contemporary black music. The service includes 21 hours per week of complementary specialist music.

There were three issues that came up:

  1. Was the daytime music in format; and
  2. Was the specialist music in format; and
  3. Was it delivering a satisfactory news, community news and information service for listeners of African and Afro-Caribbean origin in the Brixton and North London areas

You can read Ofcom’s full response here (PDF), but here are the main bits:

With regard to the station’s music policy, as set out above, we acknowledged that a greater ‘dance’ component had been injected into the station’s music mix. However, taking an overall view of the music output across both monitoring periods, and also taking into account the increasing overlaps between urban and dance music, it was our view that Capital Xtra’s music output remained compliant with the requirements of the Format. Nevertheless, we have reminded the Licensee that the Formats continue to refer explicitly to, “urban contemporary black music”. We consider that such music, including genres such as rap, hip hop and R&B, must remain the station’s core music offer.

In terms of local and community news, we noted that a separate London news feed is provided for the two FM licences which is different from the news bulletins broadcast on the (national) Capital Xtra DAB service. Consequently, a range of local London stories were aired, including some that would have been of particular interest to the African and Afro-Caribbean community. We noted that the local news bulletins broadcast by Capital Xtra were also compliant with the Format requirement to provide local news bulletins at least hourly at peak-times (which Ofcom defines as being weekday breakfast and drivetime, and weekend late breakfast).

We recognised that, in sharing most of the output with the national Capital Xtra DAB service, some of the previous local ‘feel’ of Choice FM has inevitably been lost. However, it was ultimately our view that the station’s news and information provision was sufficient to remain compliant with the requirements of the two London FM Formats, and was consistent with Ofcom’s localness guidelines

The output of Capital Xtra has changed in some respects in comparison to that of the former Choice FM, and we acknowledged complainants’ concerns about these changes. However, on balance, we did not consider that the changes meant that the station had ceased to be targeted primarily at listeners of African and Afro-Caribbean origin in the areas of London stated (as the Formats require). We therefore concluded that Licence Condition 2(4) had not been breached.

Some would argue that this is another example of Global riding rough shod over people’s radio stations and that Ofcom is weak. I’m sorry but I don’t really agree with that narrative. There’s no question that these stations have changed over the time, they were licensed in 1990 and 2000 so no real surprises there.

And that’s the nub of it really. Should radio stations be preserved in aspic? When the first station was licensed in 1990, there was no internet, no multi-channel TV, no digital radio, no mobile phones. Should, 24 years later, we be judging it the same way?

Have the Afro-Carribean community been ‘let down’ by the regulator? I don’t think so. Have they been ‘let down’ by business? Potentially more likely.

However, there has never been more opportunities for stations to be on-air. Licensed community radio, DAB across London, DTV, the Internet – they’re all options. Big ones. In Q1 of this year Capital Xtra’s share was 0.8 and 1Xtra’s was 0.7%. The idea that an FM licence is the only way to cater for audiences is no longer true.

102.2FM in London was licensed as a Jazz station, Smooth is very much not one now. Radio 2 used to play Mantovani. It doesn’t so much any more. Asian talk now comes out of radio tuned to 1035AM, it used to be Country.

The world moves on. It is a shame if you like the old. But there’s never been a better, and easier time, to build the new.

Challenge Radio

More Free Form Radio

I’ve spent a lot of time listening to Challenge Radio today. It’s the Radio Festival’s pop-up radio station. It ran from 8am to 8pm and had a whole host of radio presenters from BBC, commercial and student radio, hosting shows together.

It was a bit of fun. Something nice to do whilst the Radio Festival is on and everyone is together. It was on FM and DAB around Manchester/Salford and some of the shows were simulcast on BBC Radio 2 and Fun Kids too.

With my Fun Kids hat on, that’s why I was listening to a lot of it. Interestingly it was our first ever live show on Fun Kids – which er, somewhat added to the Fun…

Anyway, listening along to it made me think about radio a bit. Sometimes you need to hear something different to remind you of what you know, or perhaps don’t know.

Fun

Firstly, it was a fun listen. The people doing it didn’t need to do it. They all have much bigger and better shows. They did it because they wanted to and as there was no real pressure they were relaxed and had fun.

Other than Ofcom ones there were no real rules. But that didn’t stop the presenters being presenters. They generally didn’t ramble on and they did ‘radioy’ things – teased ahead, reset and explained where they were are etc.

It certainly helped there were no ads to play (as it does the BBC) as it gave the presenters the room not to worry about hitting speed links etc. There were some lovely naturally paced stories and anecdotes and still room for plenty of tunes.

We live in an imperfect world, competition and ease of switching means that formatting is a necessary evil. Total free rein would make it harder to gain audience and traction. R1/R2’s success comes from heritage, high value talent and no ads. Being Radio 2+ads (and slightly weaker talent) would sadly be suicide for any station. Sorry anoraks.

However, the trick is how you can create the flow in an hour that allows the format to hit but gives the presenters confidence to be relaxed and funny. It’s something that commercial radio particularly manages in Breakfast, it would be interesting to take the level of production – particularly around break and song placement in traditionally more music intensive hours.

In 10mins-of-ads-an-hour commercial radio it’s probably still  going to be difficult. However, if you’re on, or run, a station with a spot load of less than five mins – maybe a digital station – I think it’d be possible to win on music+personality (providing, of course, you have the right people and the right scheduling). Plus if you’re a more specialist station you’re closer to being replaced by Spotify – you might as well add something to your armoury. Perhaps that’s chat.

Anyway, back to Challenge Radio…

Chemistry

Quite a few of the shows had people thrown together – for fun! Some of these worked, others didn’t. The ones that didn’t weren’t because they hadn’t met – some of those were actually great – they didn’t work because the people doing them didn’t understand what they needed to do.

So much good chemistry comes from generosity. Enabling others to be fantastic. There’s also the improv trick of ‘Yes and‘ to move things forward. You don’t need to know your co-host, you just need to know the skill. Lots of stations, especially those who want to prep people for bigger shows should teach these skills – rather than “hoping they all get on”.

Visualisation enhances

The pictures are better on the radio blah blah blah. Yes, of course the benefit of radio is that it’s a multi-tasking medium and you don’t need to look at something. However, when there’s something you can look at, make it available. Challenge Radio had high value talent, guests, chat – this made it something I would occasionally lean forward to consume.

It didn’t need pop videos (especially crappy ones pulled off of YouTube), just having some camera swapping based on mic levels and a smaller window showing metadata when songs were on was great. Streamed on YouTube, which I’m comfortable using on multiple platforms, was perfect. I think Challenge Radio had a Broadcast Bionics solution. It seemed to work fine!

Why bother? My hunch is visualisation like this would be hours enhancing. I think I’m more likely to keep something on ‘in the background’ if I can occasionally foreground it.

Different can be exciting

Like Radio 2’s learned with 2DAY, what can you do to your existing station that rejuvenates the presenters and provides something that’s fun for listeners.

At Challenge Radio they broadcast from a sort-of Crystal Maze type studio. It was a talking point. It was engaging, you wanted to see what it looked like. What can be a surprise? What can be intriguing? What can be fun?

Anywho, well done to the people who worked on Challenge Radio, particularly Chris North who had to wrangle all the presenters to be on it and then find all the people to support it and broadcast it. It was fun to listen to and made me think. So hurrah for that.

Internet Radio

The Business of Internet Radio

Occasionally I stumble over people who are vociferously in favour of Internet Radio as the future, to the detriment of all other radio platforms. I think this is somewhat platformist. From my point of view, a pair of ears is a pair of ears. I don’t mind whether they’re listening on DAB, FM, Internet or a piece of string.

Radio is multi-platform and that’s brilliant. Each platform has its pros and cons and it’s our job (as radio folk) to use the advantages of each of the platforms to help us grow our businesses and serve listeners better.

Internet Radio hasn’t seen as sustained growth in the UK as it has in other places around the world. I think this is probably a combination of the music rights situation, plus the strength of the brands (BBC and Commercial) on DAB and Digital TV – they often scratch people’s choice itch. In many markets if you don’t like what’s on analogue radio you have to use the internet, here that’s not the case.

However listening on the Internet provides many positives and with everyone toting an internet-connected mobile phone it means we can bring our stations closer to listeners when they’re on the move. At home, apps like Radioplayer for the iPad give great discovery tools where, wi-fi connected, listeners can discover and sample our new radio stations.

Up to now what Internet Radio in the UK has failed to deliver is a killer commercial product. The versatility of a two way connection, and the ability to geo and demo target has been around for a while, but there’s been little way to take advantage of it. Selling geo/demo-targeted inventory is actually harder than one-size-fits-all and whilst target demos might be very much more profitable, you’ve still got the other ones to fill too.

For me, the big shift is the introduction of Global Radio’s DAX platform, built on much of the great AdsWizz technology. This allows ‘publishers’ be that radio stations or music streaming services to pool their internet radio inventory and let Global’s (and AdsWizz around the world’s) sales teams to do the selling and for stations to concentrate on content.

The idea is that they combine this large inventory pool with access to ad teams around the world to get good rates for spots. Providing they can fill the inventory this provides a brilliant new opportunity for radio stations – suddenly more internet listening equals more money. Having this formula will encourage stations to innovate in the Internet Radio space and do fun new things with streaming.

These opportunities are part of a wider discussion of Internet Radio, something the guys from US website RAIN have been having for decades. As well as making a great news website, they’ve also been creating conferences talking about it – and now they’re coming to London.

They’ve created an event in London – RAIN Summit Europe – that has a great line-up of speakers and to me, is a perfect primer if you want to understand the opportunities for Internet Radio in the UK.

It’s £199 , with £25 off if you use the code FMRSE when registering.

Bauer’s Network Changes

An interesting bunch of changes are about to happen to Bauer’s network of radio stations.

At the national level they have two types of national radio station.

In the Premier league they’re pointing to Absolute Radio, Kiss and Magic. With Absolute Radio and Kiss already broadcast nationally on DAB, they’re going to be adding Magic to Digital One in January 2015.

Absolute 90s will provide the capacity to make this happen, though will still remain on in London and some other areas.

Alongside Kiss, Kisstory will join DAB in London and a selection of local multiplexes and Kiss Fresh will be in London on DAB.

In the second division nationally they’re still supporting Heat Radio, Planet Rock and Kerrang.

At a local level where there’s a Place network station on FM, eg Radio City -that stays the same – simulcast on FM and DAB. However, what was Magic AM becomes Radio City 2 on AM and DAB. And then a third station launches in each market on DAB targeting 15 to24s – Radio City 3.

The stations that get a ‘2’ are: Clyde 2, Key 2, Metro Radio 2, Hallam 2, Radio City 2, Forth 2, Rock 2, Viking 2, TFM 2, Tay 2, Northsound 2, Radio Aire 2, MFR 2 and Westsound 2. The ‘3’s go to all of those stations except Northsound and Westsound.

Updated: The Hits, it seems, will cease in those areas to become the 3 service. It’ll carry on, as is, on DAB in London and Freeview as The Hits – clever network splits ahoy!

These changes happen in January 2015 too.

This is quite an interesting shift. It means nationally they’ve got three strong national brands – Absolute, Magic and Kiss.

Then locally with 1, 2 and 3, it’s an aim to cover off the local market with services targeting 15-24s (Radio City 3), 25-44 (Radio City) and 45-64 (Radio City 2).

There’s then some more niche national development brands in there with Heat, Kerrang and Planet Rock.

For Bauer,  Global is the big competitor and this is a solid strategy to try and dominate locally and nationally. To be a real success locally though, they’ll need to give proper cross-promotion and marketing to 2 and 3.

 

Shit Social

Radio stations with the most social network listeners

“When did they add social to RAJAR”, I semi-screamed at Dave on Friday afternoon. “Er last quarter I think”.

I was creating a demographic group when I’d noticed that Dave had added a whole social section to Octagon CrossTab (the excellent software from Hallett Arendt that I use to do RAJAR things). The nuts and bolts of RAJAR are, of course, radio listening – but it also asks lots of other questions from the newspaper people read to how much TV they watch. Octagon CrossTab allows me to create demographic groups which are usually things like ‘people aged 20 to 39′ or ‘Guardian readers’ but now I could create demos based on people’s use of social media.

It allows me too look at social networks including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, MySpace, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr and Vine and sort use by listeners from ‘never’ through to ‘several times a day’.

So, I thought it might be interesting to have a look at stations with the most active Twitter and Facebook users in Q2/2014.

This doesn’t look at active users of a station’s Facebook/Twitter account, but the listeners who state they use the social networks AND listen to each of the stations. Why bother with this when you can look at the follower/like numbers? Well, I think this is more interesting it shows the radio stations that have really engaged social media users. If your station is high up the list then by concentrating on your social output you could actually start to have a meaningful effect on reach and hours.

Now, I can cut this a number of ways. Firstly we’re going to look at Heavy Twitter use and sort it by the total number of people per station who state they use it ‘a few times a week’ or ‘several times a day/daily’. In other words a list of the stations with the highest Heavy Twitter users. For this I’ve stripped out corporate groupings but left in networks.

Heavy Twitter Users (‘000)

BBC Radio 1

2,831

BBC Radio 2

1,872

Capital Network

1,725

Heart Network

1,368

BBC Radio 4

1,187

Kiss UK

1,136

BBC Radio 5 live

1,088

talkSPORT

801

BBC 6 Music 

562

Capital London

547

Now I’m going to look at Heavy Twitter use as a percentage of reach. So this shows the percentage of a radio station’s reach that are Heavy Twitter users.

% Heavy Twitter Use

Kisstory

36.0%

1Xtra

31.9%

Kiss Fresh

31.6%

BBC 6 Music

29.7%

Capital XTRA (London)

29.5%

XFM London

29.0%

107.6 Juice FM

27.5%

City Talk 105.9

27.4%

Capital South Wales

27.3%

Kiss West

27.2%

 

Up next is good old Facebook. Again, I’ve removed corporate groupings and ranked by the number of listeners who use Facebook ‘a few times a week’ or ‘several times a day/daily’.

% Heavy Facebook Users (‘000)

BBC Radio 1

7,219

BBC Radio 2

6,739

Heart Network

5,164

Capital Network

4,736

BBC Radio 4

3,320

Kiss UK

3,114

BBC Radio 5 live

2,404

Smooth Radio Network

2,003

Magic UK

1,951

Classic FM

1,779

 

And then by percentage of total reach…

% Heavy Facebook Users

XFM Manchester

73.9%

96.3 Radio Aire

71.8%

Kiss Fresh

71.7%

Kisstory

71.4%

Key 103

71.2%

Kiss East

71.2%

Kerrang!

70.7%

Capital South Wales

70.6%

Heat

70.2%

The Hits

70.0%

 

The North West clearly loves a bit of FB!

I think this may be the first of a few posts looking at social. But if you want to investigate it yourself, and your station is an Octagon CrossTab customer – just add a bespoke demo in the ‘Demographics Editor’ and then you can use it in any column, row or layer in any type of analysis.

Radios

RAJAR Q2/2014

RAJAR has always been about trends. Snapshots of quarters don’t really tell much of a story, it’s the direction of travel that’s really interesting. This happens at both a macro and micro level – of course what’s happening to Station FM is interesting, but we’re also blessed in the UK that because we measure where people listen and how they listen, we’ve able to understand much more about the changing behaviour of the listener.

If you’re just concentrating on the reach and share of a single station, then you’re missing out on the true shifts in the market.

For me ‘digital’ is more than just a particular platform. To me it means people choosing stations based on strength of the brand and the content rather than just what they happen to be able to pick up on their analogue radio.

6Music now has more listeners (just) than BBC Radio 3. It does not need an analogue outlet to be successful. Absolute 80s has 70% of the reach of the main Absolute Radio. Heat Radio, a well-targeted magazine spin off is on the way to a million listeners. Kisstory, on-air for around a year, is bigger than Planet Rock (age: 15). Eagle Radio’s been on DAB for a couple of quarters and its already generating 15% of its hours from that platform.

As a radio industry we should celebrate, we’re being freed from our FM shackles. How much better to compete on content rather than rely on happening to have 2million watts of music power.

Bauer

I think Bauer gets more of my attention now than it (or EMAP before it) ever has. It does however seem to be a fundamentally boring company that happens to have some interesting assets.

Over the past 18 months there’s no arguing though that they seem to have got their shit together. Grabbing Planet Rock and Absolute has given them hours – to fight Global Radio – and has also given them some interesting people. You only have to look at the rise of the Absolute team in the Bauer structure to show they were lacking in quite a few areas.

In the UK, Bauer is smaller than Global Radio. Global have more licences, more audience and more hours. There’s also limited growth for Bauer – there are less and less prime assets around. The last big one is probably talkSPORT. With its radio/mag/digital output it would be a sensible fit for Bauer.

The one thing Bauer does have over Global, is digital radio clout. Their press release tells me that 50.8% of their business is now made up of digital hours. The acquisition of Absolute has helped this no end – as an amazing 82% of Absolute’s hours come from digital listening. With those kind of numbers you’d definitely be looking at the AM and FM costs…

Looking at all listening, Global’s sales division has 209m hours, Bauer’s 144m. But just concentrating on the digital hours for the groups, Global is on 65m but Bauer’s on 70m. Bauer will be trying to keep that lead over Global as the UK gradually transitions to a predominantly digital country. It’ll mean that they don’t have to worry about complex warehousing arrangements or OFT negotiations – they’ll be growing their business through attracting listeners to their brands.

The two things that will get in the way of this dream are Global, of course, but also themselves.

Even with this digital drive, I worry that it fails to pay much attention to its digital siblings. If you treat Heat, Absolute 80s, Absolute Radio 90s, Kisstory, Kiss Fresh and Planet Rock as a network – it’d be one that delivers 5m listeners and 27m hours. This compares to Kiss UK (26m hours), Bauer Scotland (16m hours) and Magic UK (19m hours). Bauer’s English Place network’s reach is only a little higher than the new station combo at 5.4m.

For me, something like The Hits shows the dichotomy. I think The Hits is a great little station. It sounds good, it’s got a good on-air team who come over as being young and in touch. It should be seeing great growth – but this quarter its reach and hours have dropped nearly 20%. It was a station regularly around a million but now is at 774k. I think it’s almost criminal to have a station punching those sort of numbers with, what looks like, pretty much no marketing, its online activity built on good will and, I believe, not even paying all of their presenters.

I know other stations are looking at The Hits – and plucking talent from it – it’s a shame it’s not as well supported by the Bauer guys.

Radio 1

Someone I’m sure that’s over the moon that The Hits is sidelined is Radio 1, who continue their task to keep the station young and to try and take it younger. Radio 1’s average age (looking 15+) is 34. It’s been 34 (with rounding to the nearest whole number) since Q1/2010. If you look at 10+ it’s 32 (again with rounding). Which it’s been since Q2/2010. Contrary to the visible evidence though,  I still believe making Radio 1 younger is an achievable aim.

On the face of it Nicks’ had a good book, up quarter on quarter and year on year to 5.9m listeners (up from 5.8m for both). However, his 15 to 24s have dropped 190k, whilst he’s added 338k 25 to 64s. The share of 15 to 24s who are tuning in has dropped to 22.5%, not his lowest ever, but still a disappointing number for the team. And also probably not helping those average age numbers either.

Global Radio

In other news – Global’s execution of Smooth is really paying off. It’s doing well pretty much everywhere, but especially in London where it’s reaching 781k and has a market share of 2.6%. It’s the biggest audience it’s had since at least Q3/05. The rest of the Smooth regionals have also seen increases plus it also seems to be doing better on many of the old Gold’s it replaced on AM.

The new Hearts have done pretty well too with NE, NW, Yorks and S. Wales seeing growth, whilst Scotland, which will always probably be a difficult nut to crack,  having dropped back.

I think it’s still early days for LBC and Capital Xtra. LBC’s racking up about 150k outside of London which is solid, if unremarkable. Capital Xtra’s really taken a hit in London post-Choice at 358k reach (when it was previously doing 470, 550), however, outside of London it’s seeing more growth – no doubt aided by being in Digital One. Overall compared to the old Choice UK figures – it’s about the same.

And finally…

Thank the Lord that Radio 2 didn’t add any more listeners, even if their drop was so marginal it’s recorded as a 0% change.

Other bloggers on RAJAR night:

 

Seize

Radio 1’s Seize Summer

I quite like Radio 1’s new promo trail series – ‘Seize Summer’. Now showing on TV and YouTube pre-rolls etc.

I think brand campaigns like this are a difficult sell for a Public Service Broadcaster. It’s easy to mark them as unnecessary as surely everyone knows about Radio 1 as it is. I don’t entirely disagree, but I think for stations that continually have to renew themselves to attract a young audience it is something that’s important to do.

Also, I think so much of Radio 1’s positioning is around ‘new music’ that actually that can be seen as a negative for some of the audience. Not all young people are into ‘new music’ they’d rather you just banged out 5SOS and The Vamps. Now, that isn’t Radio 1’s job, so something like this reminds them Radio 1 is also the home of fun, for people like them.

The creative is that Radio 1 asked listeners to tweet in suggesting ways they could “Seize Summer”, they then brought it to live.

Behind the scenes:

An example of the execution:

Posts about radio, digital, media and the future