It’s really disappointing to see BBC local radio reach fall once more. In just two years, they’ve lost a staggering half a million listeners and an incredible 11 million listening hours. All this at a time when their core demo is rising.
There are some success stories of course – I could name half a dozen programmes right now that are top notch, but the overall picture is gloomy. Don’t even look at the results for the present ‘station of the year’.
Listeners have stopped being ambassadors.
I know I go on about it but the numbers are on my side here. This crazy obsession with news is driving people out of the door. Rarely do I hear a single promo that says ‘tune in because we entertain’.
Management only seem interested in the breakfast show, they review the content for hours – for what reason, I have no idea. They show little interest in the rest of the output, it rarely gets a mention, never mind any focus.
The worst thing you can do is create a product to please yourself. So much of what they do remind me of Tesco, they have forgotten about the customer.
It’s time for the staff to get angry and demand answers about the strategy. They need to hold their leaders to account with the same skill and precision they use on local councillors. If not, they will sleep walk their way to redundancy.
This is not commercial radio, this is public radio and the public are saying they don’t like it.
Worse still, is the appalling drivel we get from their PR department:
‘Over six million people love what we do, we are proud of the service we provide blah blah blah
This is what they should be saying:
“We have a sensible level of funding, employ passionate and experienced people, use FM transmitters and house credible newsrooms, but it’s clear the strategy we are adopting is not working. Over a half million people have switched us off in two years and even those who remain, are tuning in for less. We have failed to deliver radio that people want to hear but from today, that will change.”
What to do next?
I say again. Kill the present news led strategy. It is important of course, so is sport but success is about the whole, not a few shiny parts. Understand that great communicators make great radio, review the music policy and let personalities return home. Oh, and mix it up a bit.
Someone asked me what the bottom line figure might be before Tony Hall considers local radio a failure. This is a tough one. It is currently 6.6m listeners. The BBC Trust (Yes- it’s still there) will certainly form a view next year but if I had to give a number – I would say 6million.
A good figure starts with a 7 and that is very achievable with a few tweaks. Change the strategy altogether? You could get something that starts with an 8. Hardly impossible!