Radio stations take drastic steps to woo listeners

Classic FM is about to reinstate music instead of chat at lunchtimes in a bid to finally make some profits. Radio 4’s new controller is reviewing every slot in its hallowed, but stale line-up. Virgin Radio is losing audiences, as is Atlantic 252.

Classic FM is about to reinstate music instead of chat at

lunchtimes in a bid to finally make some profits. Radio 4’s new

controller is reviewing every slot in its hallowed, but stale line-up.

Virgin Radio is losing audiences, as is Atlantic 252.



Talk Radio’s relaunches are working, but the station has yet to become

talked about as the station to tune to. Everyone is waiting to see how

damaging Chris Evans’ stormy exit from Radio 1 will be, and which rivals

will benefit.



Study the audience and even advertising data covering the sector and it

becomes clear that radio, whether the commercial variety, or the BBC

version, is hardly a cosy place to be these days, except perhaps if you

work for Radio 5 Live’s sports department, or for slick ’grey power’

station Radio 2, which has emerged with the largest audience share of

all.



There is a lot of rethinking of formats going on at last, and it is

being done out of sheer necessity. The basic point is that all operators

are uncomfortably aware that despite the stream of new licences issued

by the Radio Authority the sector is losing listeners, rather than

adding to them.



The most recent RAJAR figures published this month showed weekly reach

down by around half a million people compared with the year before. In

contrast TV is having a much easier time. Further, there is a stubborn

set of people, some 15 per cent of the population who simply don’t

listen.



This is because they choose to do other things: listen to CDs in the

car, watch MTV at home, play computer games or surf the Internet.



These factors affect both the BBC and commercial radio, but the

Corporation’s five national stations, increasingly targeted, are helping

it sustain a clear majority - 49.6 per cent of audiences, compared to

commercial radio’s 48.3 per cent. There is no sign of commercial radio

reaching for the 60 per cent share until recently thought easily

achievable. Its best news is that it has the major share of listening

among working professionals under 40.



Even the explosive rise in advertising is slowing - after three years of

annual income growth at well over 20 per cent, 1996 settled down to a 14

per cent increase. Radio is still the fastest growing sector, but it is

getting tougher by the day. Is there an answer? Well, the sector could

market itself far better. Have you ever received a direct mail letter

from a commercial station?



Second, practical audience research needs to be stepped up. Ralph

Bernard, chief executive running Classic FM, spent months researching in

fine detail what audiences want. Conclusions range from a reduction in

commercial minutage to a schedule which flows, rather than provoking you

to switch off.



He has emerged an optimist. It will be interesting to see if 1997 proves

him right.



Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

Hit or Miss? EasyJet backs Shakespeare Day campaign with world record attempt

Hit or Miss? EasyJet backs Shakespeare Day campaign with world record attempt

EasyJet aimed to break the world record for the highest ever theatrical performance for Shakespeare's 450th birthday yesterday with the Reduced Shakespeare Company performing on a flight from Gatwick to Verona.

Top PRs to gather in Barcelona for inaugural PRWeek Global Congress

Top PRs to gather in Barcelona for inaugural PRWeek Global Congress

Senior executives from IBM, Nestlé, Vedanta, GE, Cargill, Philips and Allianz will be among the speakers at PRWeek's first Global Congress.

Max Clifford trial jury reconvenes with majority verdicts direction

Max Clifford trial jury reconvenes with majority verdicts direction

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford on 11 charges of indecent assault has reconvened after being told by the judge yesterday afternoon that he will now accept majority verdicts.

The latest social media fail case study: #myNYPD

The latest social media fail case study: #myNYPD

The New York Police Department's Twitter fail offers another social media lesson for organisations.