Local radio: out come the knives
If you don’t follow the ins and outs of commercial radio in the UK (why would you?!) you probably won’t be familiar with one of the big trends which has upset the industry…
…merging and networking.
Where years ago there were dozens of radio companies running the 70+ local radio stations, now there are about five.
More radio is produced off-site and piped in. News is more increasingly being produced and read outside the local station, a system known as hubbing.
The most controversial bit of networking’s come from the company Global, who recently bought up dozens of local stations and, to save some cash, changed all their names to Heart.
Each station has a locally produced breakfast show, but the rest…well, you might as well be in London.
And that’s played into the hands of their rivals, who are keen to capitalise on the loss of local content.
Here’s a promo running on the alternative station Jack FM in Oxfordshire. It’s local rival Fox FM has recently joined the Global Network, with much content coming in from London (although it’s name hasn’t changed yet).
And they’re certainly cutting close to the bone – click here to listen.
On the flip side, according to this week’s listening figures, Fox FM have a 10% share of the audience. Jack FM have a 3.8% share.
A quick disclaimer: a couple of years ago I did a bit of freelancing at Jack FM’s sister station Oxford’s FM107.9 – they are a very talented group of people who serve their audience particularly well, and probably deserve to be a bit smug.