I haven’t written much about my little radio station. If you didn’t know, a few months ago, my company bought Fun Radio – a children’s radio station – from Global Radio/Hit Entertainment and some smaller shareholders. We’d been quite heavily involved with Fun Radio when we were at GCap and always felt it was a great radio format. Other than a little bit of programming on BBC7 there’s no kids content on mainstream UK radio and it targets a very large, supposedly niche, audience.
The programming on Fun Radio is solid. There’s a great mix of music and some brilliant stories from big stars like Thomas and Friends and Horrid Henry and it’s presenter-led at breakfast, hometime and on the weekends. Its listening figures are okay with about 100,000 kids and adults listening every week .
Buying a radio station in these credit crunch times might seem a little crazy. And it probably is a little bit. However, what we felt with Fun was that it had been relatively successful with no marketing and little thought of medium term strategy. If we could give it a little of both and put some effort into sales then we could change it from the small loss it makes to generating a small profit. A great start to then grow the business further.
The station’s now run in an interesting way. Folder provides sales, marketing, distribution, online, strategy and direction whilst production is handled by Global Radio’s Content and Podcast Team. They ensure that the station is scheduled, audio is loaded, presenters are briefed, production is made and content is sourced. They, in effect, deliver a product that we design.
Dividing the production end from the business end works surprisingly well. The danger with all radio stations (and especially digital ones) is that everyone gets drawn into production and you forget the other things like money, marketing and strategy, the thing that if you mess up means that the station won’t exist for very long. Anyway, since we bought it, there hasn’t noticeably been much of a change as we’ve been concentrating on building towards the post-Christmas period. However’s that’s now starting to change.
The first thing that’s become visible is a tweak to the station’s name as we’re changing it from Fun Radio to Fun Kids. The main reason we’re changing is that having the word ‘kids’ in the title allows us to ronseal up the station a bit, and as people flip through the channels on their DAB radio, TV EPG or wi-fi channel list they’ll be able to realise that we’re a children’s radio station, rather than just one that might be a bit fun!
It’s an interesting change for the listeners as we’re keeping the ‘Fun’ and providing the addition of a new on-air word – ‘Kids’. We’re transitioning (or is the approved technical term now cross-fading? ) by calling the station Fun Radio Kids for a little while and by promoting the new web address – www.funkidslive.com – this will hopefully mean there’s less of surprise when it’s only called Fun Kids when we switch properly at the end of the year.
The new website is also an important transition for the radio station. Internally I refer to this as the ‘interim’ website. Fun Radio had a very ‘fun’ old website with lots of Flash and cartoon graphics, unfortunately it was very difficult to get new content into it and the navigation did not encourage people to look at multiple pages at all. Our new site is designed to be easy to update and navigate and probably more importantly, has three advertising slots (a leaderboard, MPU and banner). It’s not as flash-y and ‘designed’ as we’d like at the moment, but the current structure allows us to expand to develop that over time (and when there’s more cash to pay for it). We’ve also highlighted the ‘listen live’ player with a floating button on every page. I’m not sure whether this is a brilliant innovation or deeply annoying and i’d be interested in your views.
Around Christmas, when we’ve got lots of new listeners with their new DAB radios, we’ll be changing the programming a little to make the music a little more consistent and we’ll be strengthening some of the programme segments to give them a stronger voice.
We’re also supporting the station with some targeted marketing in kids magazines from characters like Thomas and Friends and Fireman, the parent targeted Jump magazine from Bounty and some online bits and pieces too.
I’ll try and post some more updates about our little children’s radio station over the coming months.