Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Saving radio station groups and the ignorance behind them

Summer 1998, Harvey Goldsmith sells his share of indie station Xfm London to the Capital Radio Group.  I was absolutely livid and Londoners set up 'Demonstration X' to combat Capital's takeover of the station.

A demonstration was held outside Leicester Square (along with a legendary rumour that the station was moved outside of London for the day, so was the fear that demonstrators would break in) where a brick was thrown into a window from the Charing Cross Road side of Capital Radio's HQ.

Later, a meeting was set up with the then programme controller, Richard Park which came to nothing.  However, Capital were caught after not complying with their format by providing a playlist of AOR (Adult Orientated Rock), the lack of a gig guide and specialist shows and were fined £4,000 by the Radio Authority.

This orchestrated campaign in the pre social media era worked because Capital had clearly not understood the spirit of the station and tried to implement the Virgin format they had when they tried to buy Virgin from Richard Branson.  This was blocked by the Competition Commission.  Eventually Xfm brought back a daily specialist show, the gig guides and a mainstream indie lite playlist during the day.

Step forward to May/June 2013.  Bauer Media announce that they're closing the new music skewed rock station Kerrang! Radio and replacing it with another rock brand Planet Rock which is skewed towards Classic Rock.

A Facebook group 'Hands off Kerrang Radio' was set up by a listener who wanted to share how frustrated he is with other listeners and even set up a farewell event at a nearby pub to the studios.  Fair enough.

The problem with these groups is when people with some knowledge of the station try to reason with people who are so blind to why it has to close.   Kerrang isn't Xfm circa 1998.  The radio industry has changed so much to the extent that the station has to flip format and network from London or die. 

Where this campaign could work is to ensure after the station flips on June 14th is to ensure they comply with the format agreed with Ofcom.   They have to play some modern rock and breakfast is speech heavy.  If they don't comply with it, orchestrate a campaign to ensure Bauer comply with Planet Rock's Kerrang legacy format.  

Using a group to say "Bauer is evil/shit" etc is not a good use of engaging listeners to be proactive and just leads to bickering and trolling.

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