Van Gogh... or Rihanna ?
A short reply to a Blog by Dick Stone turned into an epic, so it's only fair to post it here.
You can read the preceding debate here :
THE DICK STONE BLOG: Past is past...
I read your posts carefully again, as they are intense; I did not want to be out of focus in this response.
YOU "It remains the case, just as it did "yesterday" that the level of importance and interest in things local is greater with older listeners than younger ones".
I think where we differ here is whether radio got less 'local' because people stopped listening to it or because it was cut back by new owners over the last 15 years to increase profits? Did the new, younger listeners since the mid-90s dictate the change, or was it controlled by the radio groups? I recall Trent Nottingham having a 34% reach in 1994; I thought it never went any higher, it was just the profits that went up? So the 'changes' were not listener-led.
Most of the syndicated groups now actually state in their promise of performance with OfCom that they are programmed primarily for under 30s. This change had nothing to do with the station's locality, it was dictated by demands of the advertising industry. My point about commercial radio 'putting up its hands' and saying 'we give in', relates directly to this. Faced with taking on Radio 2 for middle or older age listeners it opted out, even though this is the largest most affluent 'slice' of the population. It is cheaper to broadcast a mainly music 'pop' service from a central location than one with locally-based producers making local documentaries (except for Sony Awards) covering community or social issues (such as the Careline did in the East Midlands for many years).
The long list of examples you and another contributor posted of all the technical changes over the last few decades only prove there have been a lot of technical changes.
Regardless of HOW they hear it, RADIO is STILL about a broadcaster, a listener, and communication using words and music.
If the words are local, produced in the area, it will clearly hit home more than a dj in London reading scripts, a news bulletin padded-out with football manager's comments and national stories, or an interview in London with a pop star.
I believe, Radio should be ART.
My version of 'change': Vincent Van Gogh painted masterpieces in the last 10 years of his life that you could only have seen if you caught a boat and trains to France or Holland. Nowadays you can travel to a gallery with his works in a few hours, or in 1 second, browse them on Google. The fact there has been much change in HOW you might view his Art does not change its achievement, does not mean it has to BE changed? Van Gogh invented the Art 'wheel' 150 years ago; in the same way radio was pretty damn good in Britain as far back as the 1980s, and certainly better than much of the US radio it emulated. People hark back to it because it WAS good; if it had been 'bad' we'd not be having this debate?
Your post: "I do get annoyed when we try and reinvent the wheel when it really isn't required, and perhaps we should spend the time and energy working on what we will do with the wheel now we have it."
It was the newer radio groups who 'took the wheels off' local radio, confining it to a mainly London-based service, it is they who need to create some new local 'wheels' if they are to not fade away.... If they just peddle a narrow diet of music and showbiz news, these are far easier and quicker to get from YouTube, or all the big internet providers. Young people know they don't need to sit around waiting 42 minutes for the next time a syndicated station will play Rihanna ~ it's available every second of the day.
The only 'usp' local commercial radio had was it being LOCAL; Radio 1 and Radio 2 (with no ads and 'much more' of 'Today's Hit music' or a 'Bigger Music Mix') could even be badly programmed and STILL win in the ratings. Much of commercial radio has already 'thrown the baby out with the bath water'; it's the syndicated stations that will be forced to CHANGE in due course.
THE DICK STONE BLOG: Past is past...