"Most commercial radio sucks at the moment" - Robin BanksFollow @mediaukdiscuss
I was sent a press release today on behalf of Robin Banks (crazy name, crazy guy) who says:
“Frankly, most commercial radio sucks at the moment – it’s lost its creative edge, its being drained of its lifeblood. I walk into radio stations and some are so dull they don’t even have their own station playing!!!”
“Radio bosses have a choice, they can either opt for repetitive juke-box style playlists with safe and dull presenters or they can inject a bit of fun into their formats, take some risks and make radio unpredictable again.
“We all have more choice these days – if radio wants to win over listeners from the Spotify generation – one of its biggest challenges at the moment – it needs to grab them by the ears and command their attention.
“But it means taking risks – you don’t get rewards without risk. Beryl and Betty were a risk, but they are now one of the best known radio double acts in the UK; the X-Factor was a massive risk for peak-time Saturday night telly, but it has paid off in spades for SYCO and ITV, boosting ratings and coining in huge advertising revenues.
Not sure I entirely agree with Beryl and Betty being “one of the best known double-acts in the UK”, and nor that the X Factor was much of a risk for ITV, but I see the point he’s trying to make.
I’m not sure most commercial radio “sucks”. It’s certainly the case that “edgy” radio presenters are mostly currently not on the air – Mr Banks included. And I find it disappointing and unhelpful that he feels the need to slag off the radio industry to promote his fledgling consultant career.
He does, however, make the point that we need to be doing more than simply playing “today’s best mix”. For me, last.fm does that rather better, with the useful addition of no shouty commercials and a skip button. It’s a continued source of slight wonderment that the radio industry hasn’t done something similar (until I remind myself that the music rates would make this impossible to run as a business).
But do you think most commercial radio “sucks” because they don’t have any DJs with ‘personalidee’ and made-up names on-air any more? Or is BBC Radio 2’s continued success simply proof that we’d much rather have decent, quality, albeit slightly safe radio?
Finally: if radio wants to win over listeners from the Spotify generation – one of its biggest challenges at the moment is pure and simple scare-consultant bollocks. The “Spotify generation” are men of 45, since only they can afford it, but if he means younger audiences, they’re still listening to the radio – only not just as long.
Or the younger people are listening on their i-pods or watching YouTube.
I refer all readers to a point I made on another thread. Across the UK and more especially in England, loads of commercial stations, especially the smaller ones, have so many “presenters” talking between songs but saying no more than links that go along like thus:-
“(name of station) playing such and such and so and so. Good morning(afternoon or evening), I’m (name of presenter), playing the best mix of (blah blah) between now and (insert end time of “program”) and coming up we have such and such and so-n-so, right here …. on (name of station).”
It gets tedious after so long. Give me Jack FM anytime – more songs back to back and no presenters repeatedly telling me the name of the station on top of the amount of times that the jingles are doing it. Better still, I’ll listen to my i-pod … whilst I await that golden moment that some station, somewhere, actually gives me a presenter that is a compulsive listen, though I might stick with Radio 2 where much of that is already happening and commercial stations are not bothering.
As for the latest stunt that some stations are using just now of hiring z-list celebrities to present shows or hiring a supposed golden team of ex-Radio 1 jocks from about 200 years ago who haven’t reached retirement age yet, that’s all good and well … except that I don’t care very much because they are not entertaining enough. They are no more than gobs-on-sticks behind a microphone, telling me the songs they’ve played and what the radio station is called.
The debate about personality radio is absolutely nothing new and has been going on for at least the last 20 years. We had all this with the GWR ‘better music mix’ in the early 90s. For me, breakfast shows in particular on larger commercial radio are much more focused and better researched than I ever remember. They are much better at instant interaction, helped by social media and email. Audiences are more part of programmes than they ever were. Personality presenters can be as much of a turn off than a turn on. For me, what is more important is having a presenter that the audience can relate to.
As for Beryl and Betty being a risk, I think not. They are in a weekend evening slot which is hardly high profile. With 20,000 listeners, only 10 percent of the station’s weekly audience tune in to them. It would be interesting to know whether they are listeners who normally listen to other parts of the output. The only reason they are well known (at least for now) is because it was a nice story for the media at the Sony’s and a welcome change from the usual suspects winning a prize.
Different things appeal to different people. More music is fine for some and personality is great for others. There’s room for it all.
Both Today on Radio 4 and Moyles on Radio 1 do well. I wouldn’t argue that Moyles should be all news and I don’t think Today should add Comedy Dave to their line-up.
Or the younger people are listening on their i-pods or watching YouTube.
YouTube is possibly the main method by which young people intently consume music now. You just have to look at the number of views (or plays, as a lot of young people ignore the video portion) for any even moderately popular song to see that.
As an example, “Primadonna” by Marina and the Diamonds has almost six million YouTube plays. Worldwide of course, but that’s still a large number for a song that isn’t the hit of the moment and is unlikely to ever be. That’s discounting listens before the official account added the video, too, or any mirror uploads.
I think Robin has a point. Commercial radio though is about results. Ratings, revenue, and credibility. Most radio stations have seen ratings slowly slide over the long term. Some stations just never took off at all, and their replacements are finding it equally tough going.
But when all you do is bland, uninteresting, uninformed radio, you are not going to get the kind of results that fun, interesting, informed radio gets.
Personality DJs will either get the best results, or the worst. The minimalist DJs, who we mostly have on commercial radio, will do okay but will never do spectacular. The knowledgable DJ will do better than the minimalist, but can never achieve the heights of the personality.
The best thing is to combine all three into one. Have a bit of personality, research your music well, and don’t get unnecessarily in the way of it. Even if you are not knowledgeable on the music, just adding a bit of personality to the mix is going to get more listeners.
Add to this making sure that you correctly front promote and have some decent content, results should be much improved. But commercial radio seems to have lost its backbone. It’s unwilling to risk losing even one listener to gain 10 or more.
I just want to say that I agree with your previous caller.