Conference Fun

I’ve had a busy few weeks so have been somewhat neglecting my blogging. Apologies reader.

At the moment i’m just on the train back from Bradford where i’ve been speaking at the National Media Museum’s MediaFest08 event. I’m a very occasional speaker at things like this, but it’s actually the 2nd such appointment in a matter of weeks.

The first was at the BBC’s Audio and Music Festival. It’s a great event, a sort of internal Radio Festival for the staff who work in the radio and music departments. By the looks of it they have  a mixture of sessions with a cross-section of internal and external people.  I was asked to appear  on the ‘You’re Breaking Up’ a session that looked at “how new technology is being used to interact with people and what boundaries need to be crossed to make sure the BBC’s output remains relevant and accessible to increasingly fragmented audiences.”

The panel consisted of the BBC’s Controller of Multiplatform and Interactive, Mark Friend, technology critic Bill Thompson and me. We were quizzed by the always brilliant Julian Worricker. I think a key part of my role was to give ‘commercial radio’s’ view of the BBC and their take on technology change. Whilst it’s very hard to give a definitive view, my broad opinion was that commercial radio’s got enough to worry about without trying to second guess the BBC and that it’s basically in such a bad place and that everyone at the BBC should feel lucky, relived and pleased where they are.

I also talked a little about the danger that the BBC can inadvertently crush smaller players as it bounds off to its next success. Whilst Bill made some excellent points that the BBC should be less hung up on control as it’s basically already been taken from them , my view was slightly different. I’m much less bothered about BBC content appearing on bittorent than I am about the BBC building themselves a system that ruthlessly promotes BBC content to the detriment of commercial operators who are locked out of an ad-free, high quality audio-visual portal. If iPlayer suggests other rock shows for licence fee payers to discover, why shouldn’t these be ones from XFM and Kerrang!?

There was a question from a producer asking whether all of this talk of platforms got in the way of doing the main thing –creating great content. My view is that content is King providing that there’s perfect information in the market (something that rarely happens). If you make some amazing content surely it needs to be accessible by the audience (i’m sure there’s an analogy about if a tree falls an no one is there does it make a noise).

One of the things i’m getting passionate with our clients about is ‘awareness’ for new stations. How do you create relationships with potential and new listeners and leverage this to grow audiences.  I think this is as relevant to BBC6Music as it is NME Radio or Planet Rock.

In the conference in Bradford I was speaking with Ofcom’s Head of English Region’s Damian Radcliffe where we merely had to cover the last 25 years of radio and the next 25 years too. Eeek. This different angle, however, promoted a different type of radio discussion to many of the existing conferences and perhaps there’s something in doing it that way for the more established events

The Media Museum has also just opened an exhibition of 50 years of Blue Peter, so I got to spend the evening before the conference with Biddy Baxter and the current and recent Editor of Blue Peter, something that was very interesting and a bit different.

In other conference news, if you like the stuff that I write about you’d really like the Radio Academy’s Radio at the Edge conference, next month. It’s got a great line up, is good value and i’m sure you’ll learn something. I’m also on the committee so you can look at my endorsement either way!

So Long C4 Radio, We Never Knew You…

So, Channel 4 to pull out of radio. It’s a shame. Their entry into radio, and digital radio specifically would have been a good thing. New content from a new operator would have been good news for consumers and some promotional firepower for DAB on C4 properties would have been good too. However, it’s not the end of the world.

Through Folder we help stations find a berth on digital radio and we’ve never had as many queries from new operators. Larger groups are developing stations as well and this year we’ve already seen the development of NME Radio, Q and Jazz FM. We, ourselves, have bought Fun Radio as we think there’s a solid opportunity to make money (primarily from its DAB coverage in London).

What I do think is a shame is that C4 have messed everyone around for the last two years. Looking back it’s been a distraction that’s wasted the time of the real radio industry who could of got on with their own radio and digital radio projects.

DAB listening still represents 11% of all UK radio listening (over double digital television and internet listening combined) and we’re nearing 10m sets sold. And what’s important to remember is that this is all based on what’s on air today. Lets not get distracted from the consumer story by the apparent industry story.

Emails to Listeners

Trent Mailer

At Folder, we do quite a bit of Listener Marketing for radio stations. I’m therefore subscribed to lots of listener emails from radio stations. The one above, from Trent FM, I also received from GWR Bristol and i’m sure it probably went to the rest of the One Network as well.

If you can’t read the text it says:

Hi Matt,

Feel Good is one of those albums that does exactly what it says on the box, even the cover makes you smile.

Sample Tracks and Pre-Order

To celebrate the launch of the new Feel Good album from Classic FM, we are offering one lucky winner a years Family Membership to the National Trust.

Win Family National Trust Membership

Have the fantastic new Feel Good album delivered direct to your door this Autumn.

Trent FM

So, let me get this straight. Trent FM is celebrating the launch of Classic FM’s Feel Good CD buy giving away a year’s membership of the National Trust. Huh?  This makes hardly any sense to me, so god only knows what a listener thinks?

Now, Classic and Trent are the same group, so it’s unsurprising that the latter is told to plug the former. However the email could of been written so much better. How about:

Hi Matt,

Our mates at Classic FM are really proud of their new CD, Feel Good. They sent us an early copy and it certainly does what it says on the box, even the cover made me smile. And you know how hard that is.

Well, they’re very keen that we tell you about it and have encouraged us by throwing in some National Trust Family Memberships to give away.

You can enter the competition and find out more about the brilliant Feel Good album on our website.

See you tomorrow morning from 6am!


It’s still got the clunky mechanic, but it’s got a bit of context about Classic FM’s relationship with Trent. It takes away the ‘Sample Tracks’ reference – what does that mean? You can’t listen to the tracks on their website anyway. It also holds the listeners’ hand by stating that all the activity can be done on Trent’s website – something they should be familiar with. Also i’d write the email as if it was from a presenter (again, that trust thing), in their style and connect it to programming by mentioning the show that they’re on. Surely that’s better than sending generic marketing coming from an anonymous ‘Trent FM’?

There was, however, a really good email from XFM (a different part of the same group) that I received this morning. Look at the difference -it’s personable, short and even adds a bit of jeopardy – a short time to enter. It would be fascinating to see the difference in click thru rates, as I bet the one from XFM is off the scale.