Traffic Radio

Last week a new service, Traffic Radio, went on-air across most of England’s local DAB multiplexes. Traffic Radio is operated by the Highways Agency with Trafficlink providing the content. It’s a very simple idea, a rolling speech-only traffic news service.

I was quite dismayed to read on the anoraky radio newsgroups almost a total slagging off for the service. Now, having been a target of these geeko’s in the past, I always try to take any discussion with a pinch of salt. But I just found their views really disheartening.

You see, I think a station like Traffic Radio is perfect for DAB. Yes, it’s niche, but it’s brilliantly targeted at filling a functional need for radio listeners. Rather than wait for Station FM to give you a speedy bulletin before they’re back to the music… this service with a short rotation of news is almost traffic on demand.

Some people think Traffic Radio’s a rubbish idea because there aren’t many DAB radios in cars. Well, if we thought like that there wouldn’t have been any DAB radio stations at all, as in 1999 there were hardly any DAB radios under a grand. Content stimulates take-up, and a nationwide traffic service is actually something that is likely to encourage car manufacturers to put DAB in more cars.

I think DAB content is going the right way at the moment. In the beginning all the group’s wanted to occupy the centre ground in Pop and AC and target the BBC on a national scale. However, they seemed to have realised that actually even with a great mix of music and no ads it’s hard to pull people away from Radio 1 and 2 or even stations like Heart, Century and Real all of which have strong loyalty from their listeners.

By going a little more niche, with formats like Chill, Christian and even Traffic, collectively there’s a better chance to pick off different aspects of large station’s audiences. An hour here or an hour there will add up and begin to eat away at the BBC’s dominance.

2 thoughts on “Traffic Radio”

  1. Having dedicated two years to this project and expended more energy on it than I care to review at this point, all I can say that it is easy to knock something down, it is far more difficult – but also more rewarding to build something up. I think it is a great service.

  2. These are probably the same people who continually slag-off the existence of ‘automated jukeboxes’ on DAB and then say how wonderful Chill is – which, unless I’m very mistaken, is an ‘automated jukebox’ – or complain about networking on GCap and then suggest Pat Sharp’s drivetime on Q103 should be networked!

    As one friend of mine (a top radio chief) once said about internet forums: “The level of contribution there, and the industry knowledge behind it, has always seemed depressingly low.”

    Just ignore them.

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