7.5/10

7.5 out of ten then for my guess about 4Radio’s digital line-up. The one’s I got right were Sunrise, Original, talkRadio, Female Virgin Radio, Closer, C4 Younger, C4 Older and a half for Gaydar taking part in their podcast thing. Oh, I guessed that too.

The ones I didn’t get were Sky News Radio – a service that makes sense. Radio Disney – i’m suprised that they went for a full station and Pure 4, which I guess is sort of More4 radio (but a bit distinct from a populist Radio 4). Huh. Too many fours.

Interesting to see National Grid’s line-up, it’s much better than I thought and they’ve even stolen some of my old London 3 tricks. Oi, Jason!

I’m going to do a full-review later on, after i’ve left GCap, which will give me a chance to read all the docs properly and make a balanced view.

(Declared interest: the station I co-created, Fun Radio, is part of NGW’s line-up. I didn’t have anything to do with that, though, and wasn’t privvy to any stuff on their bid until today).

Digital 2 Predictions

Well, here I am writing my bid for the Herts, Beds and Bucks multiplex, which goes in on Wednesday, the same day as the bids for the new national multiplex arrive at Ofcom towers. This means that my extending of listening choice for the good bergers of Herts, Beds and Bucks might be somewhat overshadowed by the shouty nature of the pitch battle between Channel 4 and National Grid Wireless in who gets to pump out a load more, automated jukebo… err, national re-broadcasts of existing digital stati….errr innovative new radio stations. Oh, yes, that’s it. Innovative new radio stations.

So, I only thought it right that I try and predict the multiplex line-up for one of the bidders – C4. This is made much easier by the fact information is seemingly pouring out of the Channel 4 building. They just all seem far too excited to keep a secret.

So my tip-top predictions for Natalie and Gill’s 4Radio Digital 2 Multiplex Experience is…

1. Sunrise Radio (Sunrise Radio Group)
This will be a service based on the London Sunrise that they broadcast in some different areas. Or, it might be their youth service Yaar. I think they’ll plump for the grandaddy service though and provide some well-deserved competition for the Asian Nework.

2. Gaydar (QSoft consulting)
Nice and niche. An under-represented group in broadcast media, well the listeners are anyway.

3. Original UK (Canwest)
A UK version of Original 106, no doubt taking the best of output from the South Coast, Bristol and Aberdeen and shoving some voice-tracking on too.

4. talkRADIO (UTV)
Back from the dead, talkSPORT without the sport. A new and exciting speech based service (like they one they launched in the 90s) with some stuff simulcast from UTV stations in Edinburgh and Belfast.

5. Female-Orientated Thing (from Virgin Radio/SMG)
It’s the gap in the Virgin portfolio, a station younger than Groove, with lots of Leona Graham. This is my biggest punt.

6. Closer (from EMAP)
Another guess, but fits into EMAP trying to push their magazines. It’ll be interesting to see how they say it’s different from Core or Life. Maybe they’ll just go “at least it’ll have presenters”. Boom boom.

7. Channel 4 Younger (T4 radio?)
A station for young folk with a load of content from Disney, Popworld, NME, TWI and any other indies they can pull stuff out of.

8. Channel 4 Older (More4 radio?)
A station for older, not old people. Radio 2 with an edge or a funky Radio 4. Will also bash together some content from other people – Channel 4 News, FT, Penguin etc)

Plus and on-demand data thingy
You, know, sexy data stuff delivered to imaginary devices. I think it will be a podcast-a-tron type service with, once again, a load of old service providers sello-taped together with a music partner like Universal.

Ta-da. There you go. Place your own bets in the comments.

Meanwhile NGW will pick up any other operator left.

Media Consumption

Changing media consumption, by our consumers, generally results in two responses. Either people worry about it, or they ignore it. I’m more of a third way kind-of-a-guy and think it’s a great opportunity to look again at what we (in the media) do on a day to day basis and maybe question it a bit more.

In the video below a 22-month old is playing tennis on the Wii, he’s rubbish and I could easily beat him. But anyway, I think the most interesting thing is that he’s already learned to skip the annoying replays. He wants instant gratification dammit.

Which to me says that if you’re in the interruption business, rather than the content business, then there’s definitely going to be some trouble for you…

(picked up from Centripetal Notion, Ze Frank and Gamedrift)

Excellent Eurovision Cock-Up

It’s the big show that decides which UK entry won’t win the Eurovision song contest – it’s Making Your Mind Up! Anyway, we’re down to the two finalists ready for the big reveal (insert reality TV show pause) and the winner is…. At which point the two hosts – Terry and Fearne – say different names. Marvelous. God bless Sir Terry….

Complaints

This is going to be an occassional series here at mattdeegan.com – “Things I No Longer Care About”.

1. Premium-rate ‘scandals’

There has been some shocking revelations recently that apparently sometimes TV stations make-up winners and occassionally make questions to premium-rate games a bit hard to encourage more people to repeat play.

Now there’s the shocking news in today’s MediaGuardian that apparently some text votes to Dancing on Ice didn’t get through. Well hold the bloody presses, we’ve got a scoop on our hands here, yes sireee bob. Vodafone had what’s known in shady media circles as ‘a problem’ which meant 13,000 text votes (out of 85,000 from the network and 1.5m votes cast) didn’t get through to ITV. This drastically affected the winning te… Oh, hang on a minute, it didn’t. The same team would have won anyway.

In other words the MediaGuardian are running a story that a technical error made no difference to anything. Arrrggggghhhhhhh.

Twitter – Fad or the Future?

Lots of the blogs are posting stories about Twitter, Evan William‘s new SMS-based start-up. If you haven’t heard of it, basically people can subscribe to your messages and they then receive them as a (free) SMS, IM or on a web page/RSS feed. You can also post messages from SMS/IM or the web. It’s designed for micro-blogging, stating your presence/feelings to a lot of people. If you’re on Facebook, it’s a bit like having your ‘status’ automatically sent to all of your friends.

The US has only really just got behind SMS, so they’re all very enamoured with anything to do with it. Us Europeans on the other hand have been texting for over a decade so it’s not very new. I use Twitter for a pub-mob mailing list, when i’m desperate for a beer I message my list and my friends can come and join me for a pint. I use it because it saves me the cost (and hassle) of 30 text messages to a load of different people.

Jason Calcanis makes a point that he thinks that Twitter’s about to explode and become a conduit to send lots of media to people’s mobile devices. He may be right, but i’m not so sure. I would hate it if my mobile device got pushed to it all of my friends on-the-move content. I can barely keep up with my blog feeds and Facebook friends let alone having my phone beep at me all the time. I’m already being interrupted by James’ tea-rota and blog posts updates and Nick’s drunken musings, I can’t cope with much more stuff.

Now with Twitter you can, of course, opt to have things sent only to IM/Web, which is useful, but that then merely replicates functionality of other services that do the job better.

Whilst I do agree with is that the mobile is going to be a hub of on-the-move activity and i’ll be catching up on feeds and emails and content on the move, I think its the established apps that are migrate over and be able in mobile form. Ubiquitious internet will merely flow to mobile devices at no cost to consumers.

For example, i’ve just signed up to a new mobile package from Three. For a fixed fee of £27.50/month ($45) i’m getting unlimited data transfer, email, Skype, Slingbox, MSN/Google Talk as well as 750mins and 150 texts over 3G. Basically broadband internet on the move. To succeed Twitter’s going to have to beat all the existing social application’s functionality – just having a headstart through SMS isn’t going to be enough.

Great applications have a good central position. Twitter’s is that it get send multiple messages to people for free.  If it can deliver the right message, at the right time, to people who want to receive it then it’ll do alright.

The One Before the Post Bashing Commercial Radio

After the attempted comedy post below, Frankie posted a comment with, I guess, his reasons why commercial radio is rubbish. Which is a shame. As it’s forced me to respond to his points, when actually I was going to make some points about where commercial radio should make some improvements. Right, that’s delayed again, here goes the rebuttal…

1. Adverts are annoying, interruptive and repetitive.

I have to declare an interest though, the reason I and many of my friends can eat and pay the rent is down to radio commercials, many, i’m shocked to reveal are for double-glazing firms.

Given the choice, listeners, viewers, whoever, would rather there weren’t any adverts on radio, television and online. They do however understand why they exist – and that’s to pay for the content.

I’ve been trying to find online some research that was presented to me by Arbitron. Arbitron do the radio ratings for many countries and they’ve recently been testing a people-meter, a device that measures per second consumption – something that’s perfect to see when people turn over (and what to). What was presented was that there was a far greater turn-off when the station played songs people didn’t like than there was for ad-breaks.

Indeed, if ads were such a turn-off, Capital’s reduction down to two ads in a row would have instantly transformed its output. Indeed the same thing would have happened to the ClearChannel stations who halved their ads. Did it? No.

2. DJs are mostly annoying, don’t care about the music (‘that was, this is’), and chat inane shit. 

Everyone’s very passionate about the radio. It’s not surprising really. Radio as a medium is consumed by 90% of the UK population and together listeners consume 1billion hours of it a week. That’s an average of 24 hours each week per person. Keep that in mind

In the UK we’re lucky to have a good selection of radio stations that provide a wide variety of different formats. Are there more opportunities to provide niches? Absolutely. Do we have analogue and DAB spectrum to cater for them all? Sadly not. So, lets have a look at what is consumed at the moment.

For simplicity, i’ve not-very-scientifically created three categories – BBC Pop, Commercial Pop and Speech. BBC Pop is quite simple and combines Radios 1 and 2. Commercial Masintream combines all the stations that take the network charts i.e. Hit40UK, The A List and Fresh 40. This would combine Kiss, Capital, local heritage FM stations, Heart etc. It’s not a perfect combination but they’re basically the local mainstream radio stations (youth to adult-contemporary). Speech combines Radio 4, Five Live, talkSPORT and all the BBC Locals. Now, I know these aren’t perfect combinations, some commercial stations are different and BBC locals have a lot of music shows too. However, it’s not a bad representation and together these groupings represent 87% of all radio listening.

  • Speech (28% share)
  • Radios 1 and 2 (26% share)
  • Commercial Mainstream (24% share)

What this crow-barring is also designed to prove is that, guess what, people like different types of radio. The three main groupings are quite close to each other in the number of hours generated, so to decry one grouping as being rubbish is a little unfair and insulting to the people who consume it.

Generally the ‘Commercial Mainstream’ group are the stations that Frankie’s referring to They’re the ones where the DJs are “mostly annoying, don’t care about the music (‘that was, this is’), and chat inane shit”. They’re also the ones where the “music comes from a restrictive playlist which is designed to give a predictable mix for anyone tuning in for an hour, but will drive anyone insane who listens all day long”.

There’s nothing wrong, of course, with Frankie’s opinion, it’s just that it’s not shared by a big chunk of radio listeners. There’s a group of people who love to hear music with chat, something that Radios 1 and 2 do very well. They also have the scale to get (and pay for) the best talent. Moyles, Edith, Mills, Zane Lowe and Chris Evans are all great talent, they’re expensive and they’re all people who worked first in commercial radio. Anyway, part of the reason that commercial stations don’t have much chat and the “that was, that is” style is to provide a different choice to its main competitor. It’s also because many commercial radio stations have to squeeze in ten minutes of speech an hour in the form of adverts. Ads and R1/R2-style ‘chatter’ would mean the music would only make up about 35mins a hour, something that wouldn’t go down very well with most listeners. Massive chunks of listeners want ‘more music’ from their stations and that’s not a bad group to try and own.

3. Music comes from a restrictive playlist which is designed to give a predictable mix for anyone tuning in for an hour, but will drive anyone insane who listens all day long.

Restrictive playlists are a pretty standard criticism of mainstream stations and for heavy listeners that can absolutely be a problem. However, as the audience figures say, on average people listen to about three hours a day of the radio and that’s mostly when they get up and then when they’re on the way home – that’s about an hour and half each way. And, you know what? When lots of people tune into the radio they want to hear their favourite songs. Which is why this week you’ll hear a lot of Take That’s Shine, Mika’s Grace Kelly, Kaiser Chief’s Ruby, Razorlight’s America and Kelis’ Little Star on commercial radio.

Once again there’s nothing wrong if you don’t like those songs or think they’re overplayed, but for a lot of people they’re the embodiment of current. They’re their favourite songs and they want to hear them on their favourite radio station.

4. Local traffic reports all the fucking time.

It’s a brave man that takes on travel news. It consistently ranks as one of the most important parts of any local radio station. It’s a key thing that makes people tune back as it provides essential information for huge amounts of people. As a Londoner your relationship with travel news is very different. The size of the coverage area for the main London stations (10m+) and the large public transport network make London travel reporting a very different kettle of fish. Escape to the local areas though and it’s very different. ‘Timely traffic’, for example, beat ‘best music’ and ‘best presenter’ for the reasons people tuned to breakfast radio in a market I recently looked at.

5. Crrraaazzzy competitions where the dj tries desperately to get the contestant to scream when they’ve won

When you’ve been plugging away getting listeners to guess the sound of a fence opening for eight days, you’ll want the buggers to scream their heads off when they’ve won.

Radio 1 – BBC Trust

According to the BBC Trust, the remit of Radio 1 is to:

“…entertain and engage a broad range of young listeners with a distinctive mix of contemporary music and speech. It should reflect the lives and interests of 15-29 year olds but also embrace others who share similar tastes.

It should offer the best new music, support emerging artists – especially those from the UK – and provide a platform for live music. News, documentaries and advice campaigns should cover areas of relevance to young adults.

It should seek to support and increase the appreciation of live music through its emphasis on live performance.

Hmmm…..

All you need is Smiley Miley and we’re back to 1989!

I’ve been a little harsh on the BBC in the past few posts. In the interest of fairness i’ll have a commercial radio bash next.