Operation Bullseye: the adventures of Dave and Sue
Meet Dave and Sue. You’ve probably never heard of either of them, but I’ve discovered them this week on my work placement at the Beeb…and they’re apparently the most important couple in local radio.
Both in their mid fifties, Dave is a self employed plumber and Sue is a school secretary. They’re divorcees with grown up children, who shop at Asda and wear casual clothes. They’re not interested in high culture and politics; for them the world is a depressing place and when they listen to the radio they want to hear “something that will cheer them up and make them laugh.”
Dave and Sue are the result of “Operation Bullseye” launched by the BBC to focus their local radio output. Managers — in true BBC style — invented the couple to give their staff someone to picture in their head when they brainstorm; they’ve even produced photographs for producers to keep on their desks.
“This practice of targeting a profiled listener is lifted directly from commercial radio…For the BBC to follow suit is proof that its primary aim is success in a commercial market.”
In my first week with BBC local radio Dave and Sue crop up regularly in discussions; everyone I’ve spoken to there says that they’re a good thing. Personifying the target audience helps producers and reporters get to grips with who they’re supposed to be talking to and it means the stations output is more focussed.
And if you think that many of the people who work in BBC local radio – a large proportion young, mobile and ambitious – are not like Dave and Sue, personifying the audience is crucial…otherwise output would be all over the place.
Official photographs of Dave and Sue aren’t available online, but a quick google search digs up some of these truly scary characters. I wonder if the real Dave and Sue could be one of this lot…