Monday, February 18, 2008

Never Mind The Quality Feel The Bandwidth

Do you remember the snappy slogan from pie in a tin people Fray Bentos? “No fat, lumps or gristle - guaranteed".

Digital Radio broadcasters should chew over that phrase or perhaps adopt it as a ‘Mission Statement’ before dishing up any new digital sizzlers and spectaculars. Marvellous as it is having untold channels and choice, what’s the point in lending an ear to something that’s all stodge and no substance.

I had a recent grumble about rubbish radio on Sunday mornings, but yesterday after rescanning the frequencies to weed out the dead DAB stations I came across a couple of broadcast crackers that prove the world really has gone inane.

Traffic Radio
A station that provides non stop traffic news! Given that most cars aren't fitted with DAB receivers, Traffic Radio broadcasts 24 Hour rolling road news that you can only hear at home. What genius came up with that one?

Yes – that’s it nothing but birdsong for 18 hours a day.

The delivery of DAB seems to have become clumsy and wrong footed. I was all for it initially (I've got 4 digital radios at home) but the pattern of promotion seems aimed at specialist stations all doomed to digital failure within a year. The majority seem to be made for the wrong demographic - the elderly (Oneword, BBC7, Ourkind, Primetime, Saga) never the first to take up any new technology, or hopeless stations that I wouldn't listen to on analogue or digital. Stations like...

Planet Rock
'The Greatest Driving Albums In The World Ever' on 24 hour rotation

The Jazz
Jazz Fm was constantly in flux on FM, why should it work on DAB.

The key to success, like most musical formats is portability. Why not bolt DAB onto iPods and MP3 players or manufacture reasonably priced pocket size units this would instantly increase the potential audience.

Then we just need something worth listening to.


Cocktails said...

Co-incidentally, I have just had a rant about one of the few good digital stations (6Music) over at Cocktails and Records this morning. Digital is such a wasted opportunity - it could be perfect for niche music programming but it's just failing (and I might have to go and check out that birdsong station if it gets any worse...)

Good idea about linking digital stations to ipods, but the current levels of competence within the industry don't give me much hope sadly.

Valentine Suicide said...

Isn't Birdsong the ghost of what used to be Oneword? When they put something niche out there, like Oneword, it can't seem to be sustained...

Planet Mondo said...

Cocktails you're right about
6 music - it's one of the only ones I regularly listen to, mainly Guy Garvey's excellent Sunday night show and the Craig Charles Soul and Funk thing on Saturdays which is an absolute thumper.

VS Exactly, why niche? Historically radio is most sucessful as a music medium. Someone should try A digital version of 'Jack FM' the no presenter and no format shuffle station popular in the US.

BLTP said...

finest hour is the only thing to listen to when you are doing your homework on sunday night

Planet Mondo said...

BLTP - you're right the Guy Garvey Sunday night show is perfect. I used to switch between David Jacobs (great intro, but a bit glum after a while) and Andy Kershaw, Until I discovered Finest hour

My fave ever Sunday night was the Annie Nightingale Radio 1 thing about a million years ago.

Have you tried the Craig Charles Soul and Funk show - Saturdays on 6 music? It's belters all the way.

Five-Centres said...

Not Fray Bentos, PM, but Tyne Brand.

Planet Mondo said...

Tyne Brand - forgotten all about that one thanks FC. Perhaps washed down with some R Whites or Cresta.

Matthew Rudd said...

Tyne Brand, previously known as Yeoman.

So, did you get on to on a Sunday morning then...?

Piley said...

The reception on the ol DAB is a bit creaky, move the set 2 ft or stand anywhere near it and the reception on mine fucks right off! I'm assuming this is why the 'portable' MP3 styley DAB is not a winner??

bleecher said...

Lets have a history lesson .. look at channel four? at the begining some of it was painful and total crap but its grown up and got good... the principle is the same with DAB it needs to get its voice broken before its starts on the up.. there is one chink in the curtain tho as i think we all agree 6music has a shining daytime lineup at the moment, PEEPS you really have to listen to George Lamb 10 to 1 weekdays.. hardly educational but stuffed full of belly laughs and non stop banter and energy, unlike the interlectual snore fest that is Gidion Coe who was his predessecor.
DAB? our kids will love it!!