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Ofcom radio report confirms youngsters listen less

Ofcom’s Communications Report confirms younger people are spending less time listening to live radio.

They now divide their time between live radio, personal digital music and streaming but weekly reach remains strong, suggesting an adjustment for radio rather than any structural decline. But time spent listening each week by 15-24s has fallen by five hours in the past ten years.

Over two-fifths of radio listening is through a digital device but between 2014 and 2016 average listening on a radio set
grew by seven minutes per day, listening to other audio grew by two minutes, and listening to radio on another device (e.g. smartphone) by one minute per day.

More people in Wales listen to radio, and they listen for longer, than in the UK as a whole. In 2015, radio services reached 93.6% of the adult population in Wales. This is 4pp higher than the UK average, and the highest reach of any UK nation. Listeners in Wales also listened to radio for the longest compared to the UK as a whole, at 22.1 hours per week on average.

Total UK radio industry revenue remained stable at £1.2bn, and some 89.6% tuned into the radio in 2015 and spent just over three hours listening each day.

Commercial radio revenues were up £8.0m on the year, with most of that being national. The two largest commercial radio groups, Global and Bauer, together reach over 39 million listeners every week. Five of the seven leading commercial radio groups increased the number of listeners they reached, with Global and Bauer gaining 1.4 million more listeners between them, reaching a total of 38.7 million listeners.

At the BBC, the corporation cut £8m from radio content expenditure. BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and 4 Extra had the largest expenditure cuts in percentage terms (-10.6%, -25.8% and -20.5% respectively, 2014/15 to 2015/16). Other services had annual cuts in the range of -1.3% to -7.3%. The exceptions were Radio 5 live Sports Extra, which had no cuts at all, while two stations had increased expenditure: BBC Asian Network, up by 6.5% and Radio 4, up by 0.9%. Overall, the 40 BBC local radio services had an annual
increase of 3.6%.

In monetary terms, the 25.8% cut for 1Xtra equated to £1.6m, as did the 3.5% cut for Radio 2. Local radio received an extra £4.2m.

Looking at community radio, the report says in 2015, average expenditure per community radio service was £54,800, an increase of 2.3%. We also see that the average expenditure per station is greater than average income per station, a difference of £1,300.

See the full report from Ofcom’s website here.

05 August, 2016 more
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Interview: 30 Under 30 winner Tim Johns

Previous ReelWorld Radio Academy 30 Under 30 winner Tim Johns talks about the initiative ahead of this year’s launch.

The search for the industry’s top talent is taking place on Tuesday 24th May at Under the Bridge, home of Chelsea Football Club.

Tim Johns is a producer and reporter for the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2. Sometimes he edits the show and once even presented it (when Jeremy lost his voice halfway through!). Tim’s background is in producing and presenting in BBC Local Radio (in Lincolnshire and Humberside) and he has strong links with the student radio community after four years at the University of Edinburgh’s ‘Fresh Air’ and a year as Marketing Officer for the SRA.

What do you see as the value in recognition of this sort?

The radio industry is competitive, and ‘every little helps’. So…I struggle to see why anyone would not want to be on this list! 30 under 30 has grown in profile to the point where anyone who’s anyone in radio knows what it is and understands that people coming to them with it on their CV are worth taking a closer look at. Radio bosses are keen to have their staff represented on this list. It’s clearly the place to be.

How did being selected for the 30 under 30 help your career or profile within the business?

I was lucky enough to have the job I wanted when I got on the ’30’ list so not much changed there. But there’s no harm in everyone in the building knowing you got on the list; it all helps your professional profile.

Did you nominate yourself or were you nominated – if you put yourself forward, what was your motivation? If you were nominated – can you tell us why?

A mixture. Those who kindly nominated me told me first. I also asked a couple of people who I knew really rated me to add their voice to the mix. There’s no doubt that a few well-respected people writing very nice things about you gives you a better chance of being successful!

I vaguely attempt to be modest on occasion so I won’t guess why people nominated me!

What advice would you give the next generation trying to progress within the radio industry?

The majority of people I know who really wanted to work in the industry and persevered for long enough got a radio job in the end – and often not the one they first set out for. So persevere, and be open to the range of opportunities out there. Also…be good at what you do! Being ‘good’ is more important than how impressive your CV looks. If you need to rise above your competitors go for the DIY approach – start your own podcast, write your own blog, get vlogging – improve your skills and have an online presence and portfolio. If I Google your name with the word ‘radio’ and you don’t appear that’s not ideal if you’re just starting out.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Every job you go for is a campaign.” For the dream jobs out there you don’t just see an application form, fill it in, and get the job. Even once you’ve got a foot in the door you have to really persevere long-term to move on.

Do you think enough is done in the media industry to help young people progress up the career ladder?

Actually, I do. The BBC, the major commercial radio operators, the Radio Academy and SRA have – between them – a wealth of opportunities. The plain fact of it is that it’s a crowded and competitive industry where talent will often shine through. If you have too many schemes to help young people progress that’s also not fair because there simply aren’t enough jobs at the other end of the rainbow.

Have you had a mentor or somebody who has inspired you and/or helped positively influence your career?

Too many to mention! So many people have been so kind to me and I’ve been lucky to work with some wonderful folk. My boss at work is Phil Jones and he’s quite remarkable. I have a lot to thank him for. But let me mention William Wright who I worked with at Radio Lincolnshire. He’s fantastically creative, sharp, intelligent and a superbly talented all-round broadcaster (he presents Drivetime). Working with him I was able to spread my wings and do creative and fun work which got noticed.

For booking and more information on the 30 under 30 launch, see here.

16 May, 2016 more
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Opinion: Hillsborough – a view from 1989

Former BBC Radio Merseyside Manager Mick Ord writes: The decorating of my bathroom on Green Lane North remained unfinished after just a few hours of effort on the afternoon of Saturday 15 April,1989.

Such was, and is, my lack of painting skills that it was with a sense of relief I went downstairs to take a phone call from the newsroom, presuming to be told of a rota change or a story idea for Monday’s programme.

My job in 1989 was producing the Roger Phillips programme on BBC Radio Merseyside and I was called into work, along with so many others, because something serious was amiss at Hillsborough where Liverpool were playing. There were reports from our commentator that people were hurt.

Again.

The 1980s on Merseyside

Just a few years before, 39 Italian football fans had been crushed to death at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels where Liverpool had been playing Juventus in the European Cup Final. Liverpool FC, the club that for years had prided itself on having ‘the best behaved supporters in the land’, had had its name dragged through the mud because of violence among supporters at a ground unsafe to stage such a high-profile game.

I had been the main Radio Merseyside reporter covering the ensuing trial of the English fans accused of manslaughter and we’d continued to follow the progress of the case and its repercussions.

That disaster had resulted in English clubs being banned from European competition, with Liverpool FC sidelined for 10 years.

And now this.

Surely the horrors of Heysel weren’t being repeated? Surely not.

At the radio station the programme schedules were thrown into the bin and staff and listeners descended on the studios as they heard the news, both in person and over the phone.

A phone-in with the late presenter Bob Azurdia (who happened to be in the studio editing at the time) was immediately put on air with me as producer. Then, when Roger Phillips came in he took over presentation duties, as the number of reported dead increased minute by minute.

What had started as a football match turned into a tragedy. And a major news story. A turning point had been reached not only for the victims, the families and the football authorities but for policing and safety in the UK.

Our brief in 1989 was to stay in touch with every twist and turn of the enfolding story.

The power of local radio

In the days before the internet and social media, the airwaves provided an ever-present platform for listeners’ sadness and anger and, perhaps most importantly, the calling to account of the authorities – not an easy task to carry out objectively in a city where one was reminded every day of the hurt and injustice which people felt had been inflicted on them.

We extended the daily phone-in from 90 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes. Every day for three weeks the only phone calls we received were on the subject of the disaster and what had really happened.

Our job as a radio station was to reflect the anger but also to question the authorities and ask hard questions of people on all sides. As the story was developing there seemed to be in some media quarters an assumption that Liverpool fans were in some way guilty, or partly guilty, for what had happened.

A bit like Heysel.

A bit like Militant.

A bit like the Toxteth riots.

Well no, actually. But when you’re not reporting on a story on a daily basis, writing copy from another part of the country, it can be a bit too easy to make assumptions and feed your prejudices and pre-conceptions. And the cliche of bolshie scouse trouble-makers achieved mythic status among some of Wapping’s finest.

Liverpudlian exceptionalism?

John Morrish in The Tablet  a few years ago perceptively reviewed a documentary on Hillsborough: “At one point, the story slipped sideways into an account of Liverpool’s sufferings in the 1980s, when it was dubbed ‘the Bermuda Triangle of British capitalism’. This, it was suggested, led to the bad reputation of Liverpudlians, and to the blaming of the fans for their own deaths.

“All this came close to what you might call Liverpudlian exceptionalism: the idea that residents of that city are, on the one hand, particularly witty and talented and, on the other, particularly hard done by.

“Would football fans from any other city crushed to death on Saturday afternoon… really have been treated any differently? I doubt it.”

In some ways this ‘Liverpudlian exceptionalism’ came of age in the 1980s. From the inside it seemed that the city was never out of the front pages and in the national news. It seemed we were different – but not in a Beatley, ‘everyone’s-a-comedian’ kind of way.

In the 80s, the media spotlight seemed to be regularly on Liverpool in all sorts of ways. We’d had Alan Bleasdale’s ground-breaking tv drama Boys from the Blackstuff which inspired, horrified, brought despair and hope, all at once. Then there was Carla Lane’s hugely popular (outside Merseyside) comedy soap Bread, which lampooned the perceived lives of ‘typical’ scouse social security scroungers.

In the news bulletins, the Militant-led Labour council clashed with anyone who was up for a fight including Thatcher AND Kinnock, the latter memorably on our tv screens during the Labour party conference.

Throw all this into the mix and you have the makings of an exceptional media image.

Every Merseysider of a certain age can remember the headlines proclaiming ‘self-pity city’ and, of course the Sun’s infamous ‘The Truth’.

Indeed when you look at the long list of Liverpool-related news stories it’s not surprising that many of the city’s inhabitants adopted a siege mentality towards sections of the media, some of which continues today with the famous boycott of the Sun .

But it wasn’t just that paper, although it might seem like that now.

I recall the late and much-respected editor of the Daily Mirror, Richard Stott, coming on BBC Radio Merseyside to defend his paper’s front-page coverage of the tragedy when the crushed faces of fans against the railings were featured in graphic horror.

When asked what he would feel if his children’s faces had been featured in such a way he gave what our listeners deemed to be a feeble explanation.

The Radio Merseyside phone-in was extended to two and-a-half hours every lunchtime and for three weeks the only calls we received were about Hillsborough.

Then, at least for people who didn’t lose loved ones in the tragedy, or who weren’t involved in the fight for justice, the Hillsborough ‘story’ only resurfaced in public when the anniversary occurred or when there was a significant legal turning point.

The Hillsborough Panel’s ground-breaking report  in September 2012 helped to change the national perspective on the tragedy, albeit 23 years after the event.

If you want to call this long, rocky road ‘Liverpudlian exceptionalism’ then so be it. Indeed in 2006 an excellent book of essays was published about the history of scouse exceptionalism by history Professor John Belchem from the University of Liverpool.

But is the 27 year long battle for truth and justice a shining example of Liverpudlian exceptionalism?

The families and campaigners might accept that accolade. Ultimately though I think they would classify it as a struggle for justice and truth – which is still not over.

And that’s exceptional in anybody’s language.

[This blog is based on an article which I wrote for the BBC Academy in 2013. It has been substantially updated]

27 April, 2016 more