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The UK's worst radio stations


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Old 08-11-2013, 22:56
Musicman103
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Radio 2 cannot be replicated commercially. It gets a huge audience because it has every advantage going for it - total national FM coverage, multi-million pound budget, household name presenters, no commercials, cross-network and TV promotion for free etc. There's no denying it's a great station but it's a one off. It would very quickly change should it have to start making money.
We're going round in circles, we've already established that the BBC has an advantage and that is not the point I'm making. Radio 2 has a huge audience without following the formula of commercial radio. You might say it's bears a bit more of a resemblance to the ILR model of the 80's.

Yourself and one or two others on this thread have indicated that radio has "moved on". It may have done, but improved it certainly hasn't. What is cheaper and easier than playing top 40 hits or the tracklist of an 80's best of CD, with some voice tracked links?

In many (if not most) cases the old ILR model didn't make commercial sense even back then. Stations with 40% + reach couldn't make it viable because of the programming and inventory demands placed upon it by the IBA - who basically wanted an independent replica of the BBC. In some cases it wasn't all bad in terms of programming quality but if a business is to survive it has to cut its cloth accordingly and find a model which maximises both audience and revenue. The way that is now being achieved is by delivering formula programming. It's wallpaper radio for sure but that's how things have evolved. It's about creating brands and familiarity and, yes, making money. It seems to work. Here in Yorkshire for example Capital has a 26% reach. If you want to describe it as chav ipod music with ads then yes that's what the public are demanding! More people listen to Capital in Yorkshire than Radio 2. Gulp!
You keep saying that ILR couldn't make it viable. Let's look at the original stations like Capital, BRMB and Piccadilly. The were all born in the early to mid seventies and it was a good 15 years before they changed their formula (ie splitting AM and FM) and another several years after that until they descended into the homogenised swill that they are today.

This failing business model lasted an awful long time!
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:19
MSB
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You keep saying that ILR couldn't make it viable. Let's look at the original stations like Capital, BRMB and Piccadilly. The were all born in the early to mid seventies and it was a good 15 years before they changed their formula (ie splitting AM and FM) and another several years after that until they descended into the homogenised swill that they are today.

This failing business model lasted an awful long time!
Capital definitely was struggling to stay afloat in the late 70s, and that was due to its IBA-enforced full-service programme formula.

It was only in the early 80s when Capital ditched full-service for Top 40 that it turned itself around to become London's number one commercial station, well into the mid-90s.

Also, describing Invicta as tin-pot is stupid: it had at least 500k listeners which covered an area of 1million potential listeners.
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Old 09-11-2013, 08:54
Terry Purvis
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wasn't Invicta FM one of the "new breed" tinpot stations?
No it wasn't and it was originally known as Invicta Radio. After a bad start (poor management direction) it was not long before Invicta Radio became a major player and a benchmark for quality radio. The figures were excellent (over 40% reach in the late eighties).
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Old 09-11-2013, 14:17
Mark C
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Capital definitely was struggling to stay afloat in the late 70s, and that was due to its IBA-enforced full-service programme formula.

It was only in the early 80s when Capital ditched full-service for Top 40 that it turned itself around to become London's number one commercial station, well into the mid-90s.
Your memory is faulty, it started in a very shaky position in 1973, and then the three day week hit in 1974. That almost dragged it under, not really IBA programming policy. It used highly imaginative programming to comply with that. However by the end of the 1970s, it had a weekly reach of 5 million, and accounted for 50% of all UK radio advertising revenue. It was the number one station in London (I seem to recall number two was Radio 4) Which tells you how out of touch Radio 1 were at that time

It didn't start to abandon its upmarket feel until 84/85, and by the end of the 80s the rot was setting in, sowing the seeds for the homonogised crap that's it's sadly become today.
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Old 09-11-2013, 15:52
Passengers
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All of that when it had pretty much no commercial competition apart from LBC.

Does anyone honestly believe a diet of specialist music programmes, radio plays, classical music, community features and news documentaries would work as a commercial proposition in 2013?
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Old 09-11-2013, 16:53
Mark C
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All of that when it had pretty much no commercial competition apart from LBC.

Does anyone honestly believe a diet of specialist music programmes, radio plays, classical music, community features and news documentaries would work as a commercial proposition in 2013?
Well, LBC wasn't really competition for Capital, Radios 1 and 2 were, with a smattering of BBC Radio London.

Why do you say 'commercial competition', and not just 'competition' why do you think the Beeb weren't a factor then ?

I don't know how old you are, but actually today's Radio 2
has many similarities to the style of 1970s ILR, perhaps that's why it's so popular with the '40 and 50 something' listeners ?

Stations like BBC WM, Manchester, Devon and Berkshire have ex counterpart ILR station presenters in their line ups too.
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Old 09-11-2013, 17:24
Passengers
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I say commercial competition because that's where most of Capital's audience has gone if you think about the choice of stations in London now. I think Radios 1 and 2 have become more of a threat in the 80s and 90s/00s respectively as the BBC has turned more populist.

The style of Radio 2 may indeed be similar to early-ILR but, as has already been discussed, it just wouldn't work as a commercial operation. It may happen slowly but the things that make Radio 2 distinctive and different would be eroded by those pressures. Can you imagine 'Friday Night Is Music Night' being interrupted by ads?

In any case a return to ILR-style radio has been attempted with Century and then more recently Real Radio with football commentaries, lunchtime and late night phone-ins, strong news commitment etc with varying degrees of audience success but with undoubted haemorrhaging of money.

I'm just of the belief that full service radio, delivered in a commercial environment, is dead. For radio purists that may be a bad thing but Radio 2 exists so what's the problem? There are plenty of people happy enough with stations like today's Capital who like hearing slick top 40 radio.
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Old 09-11-2013, 17:34
Mark C
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I say commercial competition because that's where most of Capital's audience has gone if you think about the choice of stations in London now. I think Radios 1 and 2 have become more of a threat in the 80s and 90s/00s respectively as the BBC has turned more populist.

The style of Radio 2 may indeed be similar to early-ILR but, as has already been discussed, it just wouldn't work as a commercial operation. It may happen slowly but the things that make Radio 2 distinctive and different would be eroded by those pressures. Can you imagine 'Friday Night Is Music Night' being interrupted by ads?

In any case a return to ILR-style radio has been attempted with Century and then more recently Real Radio with football commentaries, lunchtime and late night phone-ins, strong news commitment etc with varying degrees of audience success but with undoubted haemorrhaging of money.

I'm just of the belief that full service radio, delivered in a commercial environment, is dead. For radio purists that may be a bad thing but Radio 2 exists so what's the problem? There are plenty of people happy enough with stations like today's Capital who like hearing slick top 40 radio.
Actually I agree with you, 'Radio 2' style broadcasting is best done, and can only be done today by a non commercial broadcaster. I'm actually amazed anybody can bear to listen to Classic FM, the ads, and the style of content, simply don't mix, but there you go, it does have a large audience.
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Old 09-11-2013, 17:44
SouthCity
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There was an interesting article by Roger Mosey the other day suggesting that some of the licence fee could be "top-sliced" to fund public service radio provided by an independent operator. He cites the aborted Channel 4 Radio as an example of this:

http://www.sel.cam.ac.uk/development...08-11-2013.pdf

The annual budget of BBC Radio 2 is 47 million so that could not be funded from commercial revenues.
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Old 09-11-2013, 19:00
Passengers
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The annual budget of BBC Radio 2 is 47 million
And there you have it.
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Old 09-11-2013, 19:02
reverse_diode
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I generally support the BBC, but 47 million is a ridiculous budget for a radio station. About 10 million for premises, technical and PPL and a another 10 million for talent would be ample. No wonder its chock a block with celebs
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Old 09-11-2013, 19:11
reverse_diode
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I generally support the BBC, but 47 million is a ridiculous budget for a radio station. About 10 million for premises, technical and PPL and a another 10 million for talent would be ample. No wonder its chock a block with celebs

indeed a quick Google shows it was 18m in 2012
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Old 10-11-2013, 00:25
scotorca
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Never mind the best...which ones are the worst?

I vote for Juice FM in Liverpool, a dreadful radio station that is never happy unless its playing a dance song & encouraging youngsters to get drunk etc...
Radio 1 takes a lot of beating. Inane chat and even worse "music". It should have been closed decades ago. What a waste of air space and vast amounts of licence money.
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Old 10-11-2013, 16:29
ledders
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Ledders, please. This is getting most tiresome.

While I have some sympathy with certain aspects of your sentiments, I really do think you're going about it the wrong way.

I really do think that you are either living in denial, and / or are deluded.

You are doing yourself, and the reputation of this forum, no favours.
William, can you please explain what you are finding "Most Tiresome"?

And what way should I be "going about it"? Going about what exactly? Expressing and opinion?

I am the one being called deluded in a reply such as this? How am I deluded? I am merely saying what I like and don't like.

And, in what way am I having an effect on the reputation of this forum? I have an opinion and as far as I can tell, have gone about expressing it in a clear and inoffensive manner. Could you please highlight where this has not been the case, or kindly retract the comment,
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Old 10-11-2013, 17:03
The Difference
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Real Radio Wales produced quality speech programmes for the first four years (including news and sport) to try and compete with BBC Radio Wales and they ran up huge losses, it can't be done.
I suspect you don't mean that local commercial radio can't produce any quality speech programmes, rather that they can't produce a such a level of programming that would be comparable to that of their local BBC counterparts, but I do think that many local commercials can and are at present producing strong speech programmes - especially when it comes to sport, especially among stations in the smaller groups where there is an element of networking.

I would cite Free Radio 80s' The Goalzone as a prime example of this, with long-serving presenter and commentator Tom Ross having anchored their coverage for over 20 years, with his football commentaries taking in the old BRMB, Beacon, Mercia, Xtra AM and Capital Gold Birmingham in previous years. Currently Tom has received his fair share of praise for covering the Birmingham City FC ownership situation in great detail, landing interviews with the key players involved in negotiations with the club ahead of the BBC - for my money, he and his station is doing a better job of covering off-field matters at St Andrew's than BBC WM are.

Another example would be the Welsh rugby union magazine show Rugby Nation with Jeff Collins and Sean Holley, which is networked across the stations in the Town and Country Broadcasting group in South and West Wales, which won one of the awards in the Sony category for Best Sports Programme this year, despite competing against some big hitters nationally from Radio 5 Live, talkSPORT and Absolute Radio. Switching codes, I don't follow rugby league but I am aware that the coverage of that sport on UTV Radio's local stations in the North-West of England is very highly regarded - both in terms of their weekly commentaries on games involving a multitude of clubs and their pan-region Gerr'um On Side magazine show. It seems to me that their rugby league coverage is at least on a par with that of BBC Local Radio in that part of the world. So I would argue that local commercial radio can and does produce quality speech programming, at least as far as local sports coverage is concerned. It's just a shame that the bigger local radio groups have almost entirely withdrawn from sports coverage.
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Old 10-11-2013, 17:19
SouthCity
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I suspect you don't mean that local commercial radio can't produce any quality speech programmes, rather that they can't produce a such a level of programming that would be comparable to that of their local BBC counterparts,
Yes, that's exactly what I mean - sorry I should have made that clear.

The presence of BBC local radio means that most commercial local radio stations have been priced out of the market for football commentary rights. The BBC sports coverage is good news for listeners but has led to a large-scale withdrawal of local commercial football coverage. The BBC stations are prepared to pay amounts for commentary rights that are not reasonable for commercial radio stations (as they cannot cover it with advertising revenue). Real Radio NE withdrew from Newcastle United commentary rights after the club doubled the price in 2011.

People can't blame Global's Heart network for everything - Bauer, UKRD & UTV stations don't offer many local football commentaries these days either.
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Old 10-11-2013, 17:29
The Difference
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People can't blame Global's Heart network for everything - Bauer, UKRD & UTV stations don't offer many local football commentaries these days either.
I agree with much of what you say, but I think it is unfair to lump UTV Radio in with Global, Bauer and UKRD here - the only league football clubs they don't and haven't covered in recent years that are local to their British local radio stations are Everton, Liverpool and Tranmere on Juice FM (the first two of whom are well served by Radio City, the only Bauer station that provides local sports coverage these days to the best of my knowledge), Wolves on Signal Wolverhampton (with Orion's Free Radio 80s covering them) and Blackpool on RadioWave.

UTV Radio's local stations provide regular commentaries on Stoke City, Swansea City, Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic and Bradford City, plus did so on Chesterfield and Huddersfield Town in the recent past, as well as a number of North-West-based Super League teams as mentioned in my previous post. UTV Radio's local radio stations are among those I'm thinking of who can justifiably claim to be providing strong local speech programmes.
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Old 10-11-2013, 17:36
SouthCity
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UTV Radio's local stations provide regular commentaries on Stoke City, Swansea City, Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic and Bradford City, plus did so on Chesterfield and Huddersfield Town in the recent past, as well as a number of North-West-based Super League teams as mentioned in my previous post. UTV Radio's local radio stations are among those I'm thinking of who can justifiably claim to be providing strong local speech programmes.
Fair point, I didn't realise that UTV stations did all of those commentaries, they deserve a lot of credit for this. I wonder if there are some economies of scale with UTV because they also own Talksport, and some resources can be shared.
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Old 10-11-2013, 20:29
ledders
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I agree with much of what you say, but I think it is unfair to lump UTV Radio in with Global, Bauer and UKRD here - the only league football clubs they don't and haven't covered in recent years that are local to their British local radio stations are Everton, Liverpool and Tranmere on Juice FM (the first two of whom are well served by Radio City, the only Bauer station that provides local sports coverage these days to the best of my knowledge), Wolves on Signal Wolverhampton (with Orion's Free Radio 80s covering them) and Blackpool on RadioWave.
In the case of Liverpool and Everton, I suspect the reason the commentary has never been on Juice is down to the fact City have been covering the teams for a lot longer, and it would be an opportunity to offer something different on a Saturday afternoon.

On Merseyside, you have got the BBC and Radio City / City Talk covering the football side, so Juice can then offer a more music type show.

As an aside, it surprised me a bit that the Marcher Group never went for the commentary of Tranmere when they had Buzz 97.1, before it became heart.
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Old 25-11-2013, 22:50
Lightning T5
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My one and only entry:

The Heart Network. Full stop.
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Old 29-11-2013, 11:22
Merseymike
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For me, all commercial radio is now terrible

and this is coming from someone who was a big ILR listener 20 + yrs ago

Also not sure why "more music variety" stations get any listeners. If you want to hear "Ain't Nobody" 10 times a day, stick it on your mp3 player. No gab, no ads, no chances to win tickets for a Z factor concert
Exactly

All lowest common denominator stuff - every station sounds the same
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Old 01-12-2013, 18:40
Funk You
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Heart is the worst station in my opinion purely because it plays the same tunes all day every day and the presents have no personality! I'd rather listen to a couple of dogs shagging each other than what Feart chunder out each time.
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Old 10-12-2013, 21:50
GRC
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Life's too short to find out.

I just listen to the ones I like.
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Old 10-12-2013, 23:37
Jason100
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I think radio 1 has become a lot worse since they were told to "act younger" There's a station in Hackney that caters for the 13-24 age group.
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Old 11-12-2013, 15:26
Passengers
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Heart is the worst station in my opinion purely because it plays the same tunes all day every day and the presents have no personality! I'd rather listen to a couple of dogs shagging each other than what Feart chunder out each time.
I think that says more about you than it does about them!
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