Radio has always had a bit of trouble with the internet. Or more accurately, the people behind radio stations have some difficulty in getting their online editorial right.
The birth of the web saw radio jump into this medium at the turn of the century. At that point local stations, the predominant form of the wireless, tried to replicate their local credentials by booting up a local portal. I spent most of 2001 sitting in the head office of koko.com, GWR’s attempt to create a hybrid national/local site. It was a good idea, though ahead of its time – in both the tech that ran it didn’t really work, and the audience probably wasn’t quite ready either (a crap name didn’t help). It also had a lot of trouble replicating the content feel of the successful local radio stations. The teams were good at creating compelling audio but no one had taught them how to create compelling text.
Ofcom’s Media Nations report is an excellent analysis of media consumption and trends, with a great section on radio and audio.
One of the opening paragraphs is a good overall analysis of the sector
Consumers continue to listen to radio and audio content on a wide range of devices. Although listening to live radio on a radio set has been in decline for the past few years, for adults overall it continues to account for much of their audio consumption. Conversely, consumption of digital audio services, including online live radio, music streaming services and podcasts, has grown over time, especially among adults aged 15-34 for whom live radio on a radio set now accounts for less than a quarter of listening.
iHeartMedia is the biggest US radio operator – nearly a thousand radio stations, a well marketed app – iHeartRadio, and a strong podcast network. It’s also one of the big players in podcast consolidation, having snaffled up Voxnest, Triton and Spreaker.
As a big player, if run well, all these parts make the sum stronger. Cross-promotion, talent and technology all working together, giving them a strong competitive advantage.
The promo tie-ups of all your different activities are relatively easy to do. Some good media planning can generate real dividends, and if the tech stack’s good, it isn’t that hard to do. What’s more complicated, but potentially very profitable, is where you can use your large work force to help grow the business in new areas.
That’s why I was taken with their announcement last week that they’ve done a deal with TuneIn “the world’s leading live streaming audio service”.
I don’t wish to be rude, but I think your radio station is pretty boring.
I can be pretty broad with that comment because there’s very little on-air at the moment that makes me excited as a listener and especially very little that would encourage me to change radio station more permanently.
Perhaps my miserableness comes from the fact I’ve just finished my (er, 5th?) re-read of The Nation’s Favourite by Simon Garfield. Easily the best book about radio. It follows Radio 1 when Matthew Bannister came in and shook it up – and all hell broke lose. It covers the end of the dinosaur DJs (DLT etc), the Chris Evans/Jo Wiley/Pete Tongs joining through to the early days of Moyles.
On Saturday it was the ceremony for the British Podcast Awards. This year we did it live as a massive outdoor festival in Brockwell Park. This is the fifth year of the Awards and it’s been an interesting journey from deciding in a pub with Matt Hill that maybe we should put on some awards for podcasting, to standing in a park with a team of 70 making busy preparations, as I looked up hoping for no rain.
There wasn’t any rain, which was fortunate as 650 people showed up to celebrate a sector that’s seen huge growth.
We decided to do the Awards mainly because no one else was, and we felt it would be a good way for the general public to discover new podcasts. Even then we knew that everyone loves a good list.
In retrospect the problems Radio 1 and Channel 4 faced were pretty prosaic – from being the challenger (to the pirates and BBC/ITV respectively) to being the challenged (the rise of commercial radio and the growth of multi-platform television). They were both trying to maintain as much of the status quo as possible – broadly audience share and revenue (for C4) – without having to change too much.
On the radio consolidation front there isn’t a lot left to buy up. The majority of UK FM licences are owned by Bauer and Global, with the other two last remaining groups heavily aligned to one, or the other. Bauer provide advertising and services to the Nation Radio stations and Communicorp (other than a single station in Manchester) operate stations under brand licence from Global. In effect, both of these groups operate the local radio bit (local ads and programming) and everything else comes from their partner.
There’s some confusion about whether it’s going to be a feed of the TV channel, or something more. My take is that whilst ‘the TV feed’ will make up a decent part of it, I’d expect there to be some radio specific programming in time too.