Tuesday 14 September 2010

The Destruction of Local Radio - The Final Phase

So Global Radio have announced that the remaining legacy stations in their group, as well as the 'Galaxy' network are to become 'Capital'   This will leave the company with 2 quasi-national networks (Heart and Capital) and is maybe the final nail in the coffin for local commercial radio.

It is, of course, just a back door way of getting national commercial music radio in the UK.  After the commercials were originally denied a 'pop' music station back in the days when the licences for Classic and (eventually) Virgin were offered, the commercial sector has been trying every method under the sun to get national stations to 'compete' with the BBC.  This is just the latest attempt.  Will it succeed?  Well, I really don't know, despite the vocal opposition to the 'Heart'ification by Global in the last year, nothing has happened, and it doesn't appear that stations have been deserted by listeners in their droves.  So I guess that's why Global now feels able to proceed.

But a few random points:

"Capital" was (and still is) a fantastic brand name for a music station covering the capital of this country (ie London). It did what it said in the brand.  Capital (Oldham) doesn't have the same appeal and just sounds plain stupid.

"Heart" again was a superb brand for the Heart of the UK (The Midlands) and the Heart of London - again extending it to 'Heart Sussex' sounds plain daft.

I doubt whether quality and diversity wise the new networks will be able to compete with the BBC.  They insist on filling the schedules with 'personalities' who know little about radio and are really just names.  If you look at Radio 1 and 2, Chris Moyles, Ken Bruce, Chris Evans, Jeremy Vine etc are all radio people.  They know all about the medium and how to exploit it.  On the Heart/Capital side you have the likes of Jason Donovan (actor/singer), Emma Bunton (singer) etc.. all great in their field, but not radio presenters.  

So all the people in the local areas formerly served by the legacy stations will be disenfranchised and effectively have nothing local, looking at local issues, making people feel special because they live in 'Sutton' or 'Barnoldswick' and get their names and towns mentioned regularly.  And of course local advertising will become more expensive and out of reach and will advertisers want to spend the rapidly dwindling money to use a station that rarely acknowledges its service area on air?  We'll see.

All this should mean that the small number of true independents left in 'ILR' should be able to CAPITALise (sorry!) on this, and the third sector, Community radio, start to fill the void.  From all the negativity, maybe something better will emerge.  

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