It was good news to hear that 3 stations belonging to the Wireless Group are getting local programming again.
Years ago, back in the days when radio stations had listeners and were an important part of daily life, the localness and relevance of a radio station was part of the hook. Strangely, once they stopped doing all that and got carried away with concentrating on the technicalities of split commercial breaks, networking, generic pre-recorded voicetracks, and the dumbing down of ‘personality’, well, that’s when music radio all went very wrong and pushed away the audiences.
Dumbing down of personality? Actually it was worse than that. It was the removing of humanity.
Bauer Media recently started the trend of providing local programming on Radio City as its tactic against the arrival of London’s Capital Radio in Liverpool after local station Juice FM was closed down. RAJAR, the audience research thingy, seems to be reporting this is actually a successful ploy. So far.
So, at Wireless Group’s various quite small locations across the North-West, Wish FM, Wire FM and Tower FM now have exclusive daytime presenters. Yay! But will they just be playing exactly the same generic songs or will they adjust the playlists according to the specific likes and interests of the local listeners? Naaah.
More importantly, will they try to welcome listeners by stopping radio’s biggest killer … the segue?
Oh gawd, the segue. Talk about pushing listeners away. The fecking segue. That’s when songs play one after the other with no interaction apart from a constipated sounding pre-recorded voice (why do they always sound like they were recorded whilst straining on the toilet?) saying the station name, frequency or other pointless strapline.
Then after 3 or 4 songs have played nearly back to back, the presenter speaks, but not to tell any listeners what songs have just played, or what song is coming. It’s as if they are scared of the songs.
Even independent stations like Radio Jackie (an oldies station in Surrey) seem to think this is what listeners want.
Listeners want radio stations to imitate an iPod or other random streaming service? I don’t think so! How does that give music radio any kind of USP? Well, it doesn’t, which is why music radio audiences keep on the low side of unacceptable compared to how they once were.
So, the next stage in bringing music radio back to the listener might be to stop the bloody segue.
Tony Blackburn (ffs, why has this man not been given an OBE?) has a show on the Greatest Hits Network across North England and bits of Scotland. In his show he interacts with the songs. His genuine enthusiasm for the songs is infectious. There’s not a segue in sight. Listeners feel they are in the company of a friend selecting and sharing songs with them. You know, like radio used to sound. And judging by the text traffic of dedications compared to the other shows on the network, this certainly is exactly what they want.
Maybe in a year or two of the return to local presenters, we’ll finally get away from the lonely segue and they’ll be allowed to enthuse about the music. Naaah!