Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Radio One's Mid Life Crisis
Having just turned 40, Radio 1 seems to be going through a grey ponytail and leather trousers period. It comes across as desperately needy for approval, self validation and determined to avoid showing any signs of middle aged maturity
But the station that was the once ‘Nation's Favourite' is fighting a losing battle. The target audience it’s trying to tap into have disparate distractions and other interests - internet radio, Youtube, Facebook, iPods, iTunes, mobile phones and MSN.
Add to this that singles sales are in free fall, the charts are a free for all and Top of The Pops is dead. The wheels are coming off the wagon and the stations days must be numbered.
By investing almost exclusively in a heavily formatted magpie eye view of music where only the new and shiny is atractive Radio One is constantly playing catch-up and doing itself and it’s listeners a massive disservice.
Heavily formatted shows playing short shelf life sugar rush Pop, Rock and Urban isn't a long term solution to the problem. Trying to be the Pied Piper of Pop teasing rat's back to the sinking flag ship isn't working.
One thing that seems forhead smackingly obvious to me is - limit your appeal and you limit your audience.
The sort of target audience Radio 1 is so keen to keep, are just as interested in old music as new music. They’ve grown up being groomed on their parents record collections. During a recent episode of 'University Challenge', a team of 18-20 year olds were played tunes by the Pistols, Jam, Clash and Damned and managed to name them all correctly.
So how many of the demographic they're desperate for are actually next door at radio 2? And getting new dogs to perform old tricks (as on the recent Established 1967 CD) gives the impression of someone knowingly past their prime announcing 'I was a bit of a looker when I was younger you know'
Radio 1 may like to think of itself as carrying on in the spirit and the tradition of John Peel (who couldn't have been less formatted and recognised the value of all music not just new music), but in reality it’s actually more of a 'Saxondale'
Recommend reading is Simon Garfield's The Nations Favourite
Written in the eye of the hurricane and during the media meltdown when Radio 1 was undergoing a self inflicted shake up and shoo’ing away it’s audience.
And also check out Radio Rewind for a look back at Radio One at the height of it’s pop picking powers