Loyal fans give power to 6 Music

When the BBC announced cost-cutting plans to axe 6 Music in February, it did not anticipate the resulting high-profile campaign to save the radio station by music journalists, loyal listeners and celebrities such as David Bowie, Lily Allen and Jarvis Cocker.

At the time, music site Popjustice predicted that, because the station's listeners were prolific tweeters, music journalists and other 30-something media 'taste-makey' people, the public would 'be hearing a lot of people upset that their favourite radio station might be taken off the air'.

The prediction was accurate, so it is perhaps unsurprising that this month The BBC Trust rejected proposals to scrap the station. Its influential audience should mean 6 Music is firmly on PROs' media radar and some reports have suggested the station's marketing budget is to be increased.

Bite Communications' content and creativity consultant Matt Wright says the BBC's decision demonstrates the power of well-argued public opinion. In contrast the BBC's Asian Network, put up for review at the same time but lacking the same level of public support, is facing the axe. 'It's hard to ignore people when they stand up in their thousands to tell you you've got something wrong, especially when they are as articulate, impassioned and downright reasonable as the fans of 6 Music,' says Wright.

According to The BBC Trust, during the campaign figures rose from 600,000 to one million listeners. The editor of the station Paul Rodgers says 'there's no doubt the campaign generated a lot of publicity and increased listening figures', although he says these have both been on the rise for some time.

But why all the fuss about this relatively unknown station? Among its loyal listeners, it is considered a unique alternative to the other options, championing music acts not found on other BBC stations or commercial radio.

For PROs, this loyalty makes the station a powerful target. The Outside Organisation's music director Chris Goodman, who was behind David Bowie's involvement in the campaign, says: 'The BBC 6 Music team talk about things if they enjoy them but they have a very loyal following who will go and check something out if it is mentioned.'

DawBell's co-founder Stuart Bell says the journalists at the station are easy to deal with: 'They have such a love of music and are pretty approachable.'

Rodgers says PROs should concentrate mainly on the daytime shows. He warns BBC guidelines dictate that all trade names, brand names and slogans must be clearly editorially justified, but advises PROs to get to know the station before pitching in: 'We are looking for relevant, newsworthy editorial content. But specific topics differ per show. Understanding the individual shows is crucial to placing your stories and ideas.'

 

QUICK FACTS

Listening figures: 1.02 million weekly reach (Rajar Q1)

Age of listeners: 25-44 years

Presenters include: Jarvis Cocker, Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq, Huey Morgan and Guy Garvey

Contact: 020 8743 8000

firstname.lastname@bbc.co.uk

 

A MINUTE WITH ... PAUL RODGERS, EDITOR, BBC 6 MUSIC


Describe the station and your listeners We aim to present an intelligent look at popular culture through our presenters via the music we play, the discussion topics we cover and our in-depth approach to music journalism. Our listeners have discerning ears. They expect our content to be relevant, interesting and thought-provoking. We want to provide context to the music played on the network, and provide trusted guides in a busy music landscape.

How should PROs get in touch? In the first instance, email is the best way to approach the show's producers, but PR professionals need to understand the style and tone of 6 Music. As producers are very busy, randomly targeted approaches will not engender a response. Building a relationship with a producer is key as they will come to trust you and know that you are offering great guests/ideas that will work specifically for their show.

What are your deadlines? The deadlines vary for each show but as a rule, the further in advance the better. However, if there is a relevant breaking news story to which your client is connected, do get in contact.

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