Sunday, 11 September 2016

Union Jack Radio

I woke up on Friday morning to discover yet another radio station was about to launch later in the day.   These are largely bland affairs as the launch of Thames Radio in London was earlier in the summer with more generic AC fare.

However, Union Jack from the makers of Absolute Radio and Absolute 80s did make me think this would be yet another anally programmed station about 'real' music.

The station provides a wide mix of British music from the last six decades, there's no Madonna or Justin Bieber here being foreigners.

Like Absolute it's rock skewed, but also plays music from the likes of Shakin' Stevens and Cathy Dennis, not known for their 'real' music credentials which would have seen them not playlisted on Absolute or their spin-off stations.

I dipped in at lunchtime to the surprise there's an actual radio presenter on-air.  This station is a brand spin-off of JACK fm, a local radio station in Oxfordshire which outside breakfast has Paul Darrow from Blakes 7 with sarcastic one liners between songs.  However "Trev" was talking between the records and updating listeners about who should be the next song played.

Union Jack has an app where listeners can vote for songs to be played on the radio station and is truly interactive, I tested it out at 2.30am and changed the next played song which they played out, so it isn't a con in any sense of the word, although I suspect it works better overnight when only a few people are listening than during the day.

Later on Friday "Trev" than became "Rich" who was also enthusiastic about the interactive format, which leads me to think that if you're going to present on Union Jack, you have to be a man with a four letter name, so "Gary" may be the next presenter.

However "Gary" didn't materialise and Paul Darrow's sweepers became the norm along with voiceovers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure that this station celebrates the UK, rather than be another Londoncentric media outlet.

Overall, it's a decent background listen, despite the random new music showcased which doesn't detract from the fact you're never too far away from a Beatles or Genesis track.

Absolute's branding lead to the creators putting out a product which alienated listeners who didn't like Queen or Snow Patrol every five minutes.  Union Jack on the other hand is a much broader affair which celebrates a broader selection of British music without being up their own backside.

Oxis Media have found the right format for a national station.

The only downside is that the station is on DAB+ on the second national multiplex at 24kbps.   It's not a big deal for me listening on a pocket DAB radio, but listening on a hi-fi may be too distracting.   However they have a 320kbps AAC+ stream online which is excellent for audiophiles.

Outside of radio anoraks, I hope they have many more Trev's, Gary's and Jane's listening to this station.

Listen to Union Jack at or on DAB Digital Radio on the SDN multiplex nationally. (DAB+ receiver required)