The Danger of Communities

I was reading Robert Scoble’s post where he talked about the need to measure ‘engagement’ more than just hits or downloads and it made me think about Chill. You might be aware that i’ve helped out with Chill, it’s one of our new digital stations. Chill’s still a very small operation with Bern (one of our programme controllers) mainly looking after it. As it’s small i’ve given him a hand with it, pushing the creation of some of it’s community elements and maximising broadcast coverage where we can.

I have no doubt that Chill is going to be a huge success over the next few years (already it has half a million listening hours) . One of the reasons its gained some ‘traction’, to use a horrible term, is that we’ve concentrated on servicing a community at MySpace. As well as all the usual friends and comments guff we’ve also used the blog as the main channel to talk about the station’s development and repsond to listeners’ queries.

However, starting with an open standpoint means that you have to continue being open through all of your communications. And as we’re seen to be quite approachable online we get a lot of email. We get much more email than we should get for the size of station we are, but it keeps coming. Relentlessly. This means that we have to respond to it. Even the one that says: “Hi, I know this is very very vague. But I’ve been trying to find out details about one of your tracks that you were playing quite regularly a couple of weeks ago… I would love to know what it is! It was a female vocalist, and the lyrics included something about lighthouse. Thanks”. There’s a lots like this.

What we do know is that it’s important to reply, because the people who communicate with us are our core audience. They’re the people who will spread the good word of Chill to others and build the station for us. They’ll also be the people who listen longer and drive our hours and they’re the people who will buy our branded CDs and come to our concerts. If done right that’s the deal you make when you start any kind of ‘community’. If you want something, you have to give something, and keep giving it. That’s a new part of your full-time job. And while it can be annoying, it can be rewarding – Bern can’t stop raving about the new material that he’s been sent by listeners (usually through MySpace) that he’s directly put on the radio station.

In this case i’m not really worried about growing Chill’s page impressions, or listening hours I just know that will be the end result of building a proper community.

Torchwood Drinking Game

An irregular feature here, we’ll be starting the Torchwood drinking game to make watching the show more interesting. So…

1. Every time there’s an unnecessary aerial shot of Cardiff, take a drink.

2. Every time Jack refuses to reveal any background information, take a drink.

3. Every time there’s some sex and/or violence that’s been seemingly randomly added on, take a drink.

4. Every time you look at Owen and think “his face looks a bit odd”, take a drink.

5. Whenever there’s some bisexuality, take a drink.

6. Whenever Gwen thinks she’s not good enough to be in Torchwood, take a drink.

Lottery Woe

I have been known to spend a few quid on the National Lottery. Yes, I know it’s a tax, that my chances of winning are infinitesimaly small and that it’s a waste of money. However, i’d still like to win £75m without doing much work.

Now, as a child of the internet, I am au fait with using the information super highway to make my purchase. That’s if the bloody security measures on the website weren’t tighter than Guantanamo Bay. I logged into the site, it then told me that my card had run out and prompted me to replace it, which I tried to do. It, however, wouldn’t let me do this replacement thing as I had a 30p credit on my account. Therfore changing the card was against their rules. It didn’t, of course, tell me why this was the case, but instead told me that I had to call their call centre to cancel the card before I could re-add my new one.
I then battled with the automated system which explained to me, slowly, that I would have to log-in to change my details, unless of course I had a remaining cash balance. In that case i’d have to speak to one of their operators. This I KNEW AS I WAS ONLY CALLING BECAUSE THEIR BLOODY WEBSITE TOLD ME TO. Surely it wouldn’t be difficult to give me a different number that bounced me through to the right place.

I then spoke to an operator who asked me my postcode and name, after a couple of suggestions (of postcodes – i’ve moved a bit) she could then talk to me. And ask me some more security questions including my birth place, date of birth and then for the 4th and 9th digit of my password. As my password has to be a mixture of letters and numbers (and over eight letters) it’s quite hard to work that our on the fly, but I got through it. She then asked what I liked to do. I explained that I needed to transfer the balance of my account – the 30p – back to my bank account to allow me to add a new card, that is after all, what the website had told me to do. She said this wasn’t neccessary and that she could just ‘delete’ my expired account and then I could login and add my new card. They didn’t even ask me to update my card on the phone – at least that would of given me some actual customer benefit from having to call their hotline.

Also, is there any particular reason why I couldn’t do all of this online? They just asked me stuff the National Lottery site knows and i’m already logged into the thing. Why do I have to call a poor woman who’s stuck working on a Sunday night to do this?

Deal or no Deal

Everyone loves a bit of Deal or No Deal. Opening boxes according to your own private ‘system’ and then walking away with £1. Marvellous stuff. The great thing about the UK version is that the contestants all stay together creating an odd bond which then makes the show even more interesting to watch.

Jon Ronson’s been behind the scenes and has written about it for the Guardian.

Media Blogging

Will’s posting over at The Lock In has encouraged me to update my blogroll – see the links to the right. Just going through the 100+ feeds that i’m susbscribed to in Google Reader has been interesting in itself as there’s loads of people who i’ve read that have stopped blogging in the last six months. However, there’s always new people, like the Chrises – Evans and Moyles, as well as organisations getting with it too – Radio Academy and Chill being current favourites.

Are there any blogs that you’re reading, that I should be? Leave them in the comments and then I can add them to my reading list.

Busy Thursday

Thusday was an odd day. Being an ex-student radio type i’ve become the person that looks after the relationship between GCap and the student radio massive. As part of this year’s support of the Student Radio Awards our stations around the country have helped out with a local training day and provided (where we could) presenters to read out the nominations.

In London, Chris Suckling, Classic FM’s Newsnight producer and XFM’s Marsha did two excellent training sessions. Then in the evening Marsha and Capital Radio’s Lucio read out the nominations.

After Marsha provided some great tips on how to schmooze, structure a show and speak (don’t talk in a poo voice), we decamped to the pub for a bit of a catch-up. One of the things that Marsha was very good at in her speech was talking about her passion for music and how brilliant it is that she can now see loads of bands and generally indulge her passion. We picked a random pub to have a beer and who was there already, but three quarters of Oasis. You see, radio is just showbiz, showbiz, showbiz.

In the evening after the talent read the noms, we stuck around for a bit drinking and chatting. It was good to speak to some people who are keen to get into radio, but it is a bit odd. At the beginning everyone leaves you alone but then gradually through the night they close in and gradually corner you. Which is a bit strange. Nice people though are relatively easy to spot because they’re the one’s who aren’t overly friendly, have some good questions and are interested in what they can do next to get on in the industry. I’ve got a lot of time for people who’ve got that drive and it makes it easier to give them a hand with contacts and stuff. Someone also remarked upon the talk that I gave in Edinburgh last year, which was really nice and makes you happy to do more stuff in the future.

Anyway, once we’d ditched the students we headed off to the Paulo Nutini after-show party at Centrepoint. We finally got there after we’d persuaded Marsha that it wasn’t actually in the snooker hall but in the bar round the corner. We didn’t spot Paulo, though we did see James (previously of Busted ) and Lemar. James looked exactly like he always does, about 12, but Lemar looked quite stocky. Lemar also has the oddest website, where the header has a video of him moving, it’s hard to explain, but it’s got the look of the pictures/newspapers in Harry Potter. Go and have a look.