Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
THE U.K. COMMERCIAL RADIO
INDUSTRY: WHAT A
DIFFERENCE A DECADE MAKES
by
GRANT GODDARD

www.grantgoddard.co.uk
August 2001
Two seemingly random events collided last week that made me understand
just how much the commercial radio industry in the ...
WHAT LONDON IS experiencing now will arrive soon in the rest of the
country..... You have to know the audience, know their...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

'The UK Commercial Radio Industry: What A Difference A Decade Makes' by Grant Goddard

132 views

Published on

A reflection on the changing objectives of the maturing commercial radio industry in the UK during the previous decade, written by Grant Goddard in August 2001.

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

'The UK Commercial Radio Industry: What A Difference A Decade Makes' by Grant Goddard

  1. 1. THE U.K. COMMERCIAL RADIO INDUSTRY: WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DECADE MAKES by GRANT GODDARD www.grantgoddard.co.uk August 2001
  2. 2. Two seemingly random events collided last week that made me understand just how much the commercial radio industry in the UK has matured during the last decade. EVENT ONE: When the latest RAJAR radio ratings figures were released, a flurry of press releases quickly followed from all the major players in the radio industry, trumpeting their positive results. Many stations wanted to inform us about their achievements in a specific age group or with a specific sex. BBC Radio One told us that it now reaches 54% of all 15-24 year olds. Classic FM proclaimed that "children's listening has reached an all-time high." TalkSport announced an "improving" audience profile of 75.1% male listeners. Atlantic 252 realised a 12% increase in the 15-24 year old market. KISS FM in London became the "first time ever market leader for 15-34 men." And Magic FM "consolidates its position as most popular station for 35-44 year olds." EVENT TWO: Last week, whilst packing my possessions into boxes for another move, I found an unlabelled file of photocopied papers from ten years ago. Back then, I had just successfully launched KISS FM in London as the UK's first youth-orientated radio station. An innovative programming strategy and a young, energetic team catapulted the audience from zero to more than one million per week in the station's first six months on-air, a full half-year ahead of the target promised to advertisers. KISS FM was the UK's first station to capture the youth market, and it immediately reached 36% of all 1519 year olds in London on a weekly basis. But building success in the radio industry is a surefire way for an innovative programme maker to lose their job, and I was no exception. The papers I found last week were part of my search for a new job after clearing my desk at KISS FM. I had sent presentation packs to commercial stations around the country, explaining how I had built a huge audience at KISS by focusing on a hitherto ignored demographic. The sudden success of KISS FM had shaken up the radio industry in London. I predicted that existing radio stations across the rest of the country would be forced to face similar changes in the near future. My pitch for work proclaimed: "RADIO IN THE 1990s is facing increased competition. Not only from new media crowding into the marketplace. But as much from newly licensed local and national radio services. MORE THAN EVER, successful radio programming needs to hit home firmly with a specific audience – an audience grouped by age, lifestyle, class, music taste, or even daypart availability. SCATTERSHOT RADIO PROGRAMMING is dead. Hoping that someone somewhere likes your format is a surefire ticket to oblivion. Tightly targeted programming is in. TO MAKE A radio station a success in London, it's gotta be sh*t hot, it's gotta be totally confident of what it's doing, and it's gotta hit its target audience right over their heads. The U.K. Commercial Radio Industry: What A Difference A Decade Makes ©2001 Grant Goddard page 2
  3. 3. WHAT LONDON IS experiencing now will arrive soon in the rest of the country..... You have to know the audience, know their viewpoints, understand their tastes. You have to know the marketplace, perceive the gaps, and place your product precisely in the right spot. And you always have to deliver what you promise your audience you will." My pitch for work was a dismal failure. I made follow-up phone calls to stations about my presentation, but senior radio managers I spoke to seemed totally baffled by the concept of a 'target' audience. All they were concerned about was the total number of listeners to their station. The bigger that number was, the higher the rate they could charge their advertisers. As far as they were concerned, any advertisers would suit them just fine – whatever their product, whatever their market. The whole concept of targeted demographics was beyond their horizons. The only ratings figure that station managers understood then was 'weekly reach' – the aggregate number of listeners across seven days. It was irrelevant to them how long those listeners tuned in to their station. The concept of 'market share' was totally unknown in radio, despite having been used by the television industry for years. During that same period, I compiled the UK's first radio station league tables on a city-by-city basis for publication in the (now defunct) trade magazine 'rpm'. The data was derived from RAJAR market share data and the resultant charts looked similar to radio ratings that Arbitron had been publishing in the US for decades. I soon received irate phone calls from radio managers of provincial commercial stations who threatened to sue because I had published 'false' figures. Those managers had absolutely no knowledge of their own station's 'share' figures and accused me of inventing the statistics. Last week's press releases made me realise just how much the UK radio industry has grown up in the intervening years. 'Share' is now the most important figure in radio. Targeting young people, targeting men, targeting older people – all have now become accepted and proven ways of creating successful radio stations. Somewhere along the way, the BBC noticed the success of KISS FM in London and re-invented Radio One as its own 'youth station' for 15-24 year olds, employing many of the same staff. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it has also proven to be Radio One's surest route to ratings disaster. A formula that worked for us in London in 1990 is not the same one that will work in 2001 for the whole UK. But that is a whole different story........ Grant Goddard is a media analyst / radio specialist / radio consultant with thirty years of experience in the broadcasting industry, having held senior management and consultancy roles within the commercial media sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. Details at http://www.grantgoddard.co.uk The U.K. Commercial Radio Industry: What A Difference A Decade Makes ©2001 Grant Goddard page 3

×