Friday, 23 March 2007

Have Radio... Will Travel

I was travelling around the UK last week and got to do quite a bit of listening to a whole stack of stations.

There were some really good things I heard…. And some not so good things too!

Let’s start with one really good thing - Radio City’s “sense of place”.

Here’s a station that loves Liverpool and loves the North West. You can hear it pouring out of the speakers every time you turn on.

Liverpool will be the European Capital of Culture in 2008, and Radio City are a main media partner for this. And they own it big time on air. Promos, liners, news elements, adverts. It’s all there. It gives the station a real connection with the city and you feel like this is a station really made with its listeners in mind.

Their news is first rate and the local pride is tangible. They manage to sound like a contemporary radio station, but with all those “old fashioned” elements of traditional ILR presented in a modern and dynamic way.

If you want an example of how to do “local” really well – tune in to Radio City for the day. It reminded me again of the importance of localness and when done well, how it can still sound really good, whatever the format. Big thumbs up guys!

Newton’s Third Law applies to radio too. “For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction”. So there were a few dodgy things I heard on the dial as well.

In no particular order…

There are still too many clich├ęd DJ’s. They don’t talk to us, the listeners.… they bark, shout, and sing-song, and over project their way through shows. They start sentences with phrases like “All this week, we’ve teamed up with…”. They make you want to rip the radio out of the dashboard and then head butt the steering wheel repeatedly. Please stop!!

Listening to them this week, it’s shown me how there’s a huge opportunity for decent, honest, well-spoken communicators to shine through.

Century 105.4 have an OB from Caribbean hosted by Darren Parks currently on mid-mornings. It really blurred the line between programming and advertising for me. It was just one long ad for the resort he was staying in. It was really a case of massively over delivering for the client, and not really being focused on the listeners back home.

Darren’s a great presenter but there was a bit of a “I’m here having so much fun here on the beach… while you’re all freezing your arses off back home and queuing on the M6 at the Thelwall Viaduct. Ha Ha!” feel to the show.

Here’s the question. Foreign OB’s – Can they be interesting and relevant to listeners or are they just a money making exercise for the station?

Finally, Back to Radio City. Kev Seed, the breakfast show host does, this thing called a “Seedy Hug”. It was the strangest thing I’ve heard on the radio for quite some time!

Imagine a radio DJ equivalent of Baz Lurman’s “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen”… delivered live! That’s the nearest I can get to describing this... this "thing".

It’s kind of like a feature that designed to make you feel good on a Monday morning. There are stories will morals and happy endings. Rules for how to live your life, how to be good to others etc. It has a pseudo religious feel about it, and the one I heard this week felt like Kev was delivering a sermon from the pulpit of “The Church of Seed”. Just odd.

Just to give you a flavour, it ended with the lines…

“Remember, each of us is a vital thread in another person’s tapestry. Our lives are woven together for a reason. One of the best things to hold on to is a friend”

… and then it went into some mawkish song. All this at 8:20 on a Monday Morning!!

It was so bizarre!!

Kev’s been doing the show for ages and is very successful in Liverpool. He has a really good rapport with his listeners and is obviously still popular, but I just didn’t get this at all.

Judge for yourself by all means, (there are text versions here for you to read on the Radio City website) but it was the strangest bit of radio I’ve heard in a long while!

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