Sunday, 16 February 2014

A retrospective look at LBC post going national

On the face of it, not much has changed since LBC became a national station after launching on the national Digital One DAB multiplex last Tuesday.   The usual tabloid skewed discussion topics remain, the presenting line-up is exactly the same as it was last week, the same advertisers are there, including the exaggerated production for a property firm and James O'Brien's Mystery Hour continues on a Thursday lunchtime, but under the hood, there have been some subtle changes.

A new jingle package has been commissioned, produced by David Arnold who produced LBC's jingles in the mid 1980s, which gives the station a more authoritative sound, the strapline is now "Leading Britain's Conversation" to reflect the national output.

There are some other changes which may only be recognisable by London listeners.   While topics on the London only station are of a national nature, the tendency to provide more London-centric topics has been lost.    During the storm on Friday night, the presenters turned the discussion into a national topic and even moved onto other topics, so that new listeners elsewhere in the country could still join in the conversation without it turning into a London-centric storm watch.

On DAB Digital Radio, the local feed of LBC has been switched off, listeners were asked to retune their receivers to the new national feed on Digital One.   The only problem with that is that the station provides a national travel news bulletin on DAB, so doesn't completely cover London.    

The only way to listen to the existing LBC output with London travel information is on 97.3 FM or online.   A retrograde option, however the bulk of listening is still via FM, so Global have balanced the inconvenience of the lack of travel on LBC DAB by having it on FM.   In addition between 0700-1900, LBC News 1152 which is still on London 1 provide travel news every ten minutes since the revamp to the main station as a compromise.  

LBC also no longer provide a detailed weather forecast solely for London, both FM and DAB provide either a London, then the rest of the country forecast.  On the half hourly headlines, there are is no weather forecast for London. 

As I mentioned at the start, LBC still provides an excellent forum for newstalk radio and it's easy to be hooked into the debate, so they're still doing a great job, however I feel the remaining London-centricity has been lost.  Whether Londoners care about that or not will be reflected by the Rajar for LBC in London and any increase in the share of BBC London 94.9.

However, Global and LBC appear to be no longer interested in the minnow BBC London, concentrating on 5 Live who in London at least are slightly higher in share than LBC and going for some of the 5 Live listeners outside London who don't like the sports output or the non phone-in elements of 5 Live.