Is a media degree worth £27,000?

Some people believe a media degree to be an ‘easy ride’ for students.

I’m not sure. In my experience, most industry-accredited courses these days demand high levels of student activity, especially around placements, internships and regular contributions to productions and publications. Hardly a walk in the park.

Some suspect media to be generalist subject. Big mistake! All the degrees are quite specific: Broadcast Journalist, Digital Film Production, Media Production (TV & Radio), etc

Nevertheless, there is a question of relevance. Is it worth spending £27,000 on a degree when some believe it’s much better to learn the job at the coalface?

Certainly, if I were entering the halls of education today, I would want to know a lot more about who’s doing the teaching. Who are you, what do you know, will you inspire me? Is the curriculum good enough?

The concern is that those who do the teaching are out of kilter with the modern world.

I explored this theory on twitter and was soon bombarded with woeful tales that might make any student ponder on the choice they’ve made. If true, it’s quite a damning indictment, so I spent the morning making a few calls.

Ben Cooper, controller of BBC Radio 1 suggests ‘on-air miles’ is much more important that A-levels or a degree. Their internship programme rarely asks for a CV, instead they seek evidence of a real desire to work within the industry. A video blog, podcast or a mix tape for example. Theory is of little interest here, personality, talent and passion are much more in demand.

R1 want communicators who are comfortable within a studio environment.

This is a key point.

It is why student radio stations are good places to be. They give you experience and confidence.

Over at ITV, a senior executive tells me that they are only after digitally savvy communicators.

Stuart Feather, a senior media executive in Scotland tweeted:

“Anyone who teaches and has been away from the front line for more than five years, knows next to nothing”.

A producer at The BBC emailed:

”far too many media students come unprepared for the modern workplace”.

Journalism courses remain highly valued with employers – which is good – and they want the focus to be on good writing skills and a solid understanding of the law.

Bauer, Global, BBC and UTV respectively have set up their own teaching academies. Many are working with Universities to ensure courses are relevant, but this is far from a universal approach. They prefer to champion people who’ve been through their own factories of learning, especially as they can control the teaching and spot the best talent early.

So is a media degree worthwhile?

Well, I don’t know. I bend to the yes vote but not entirely.

Yes, because many employers still operate a policy of ONLY hiring graduates. This means ambitious young people choose the university route as a stepping stone to employment. They want to be seen to be keen and going through the right doors at the right age. You have to play the game but it is nothing more than snobbery if you ask me.

No, because no paper whatsoever guarantees anyone a job. There are many, many routes into media. Most commercial radio programmers for example have no degree whatsoever. They’ve done OK.

My own son, Scott Myers, dropped out of University after the first year because what they were teaching him was years behind what he was actually learning on the job, at the then Galaxy radio in Leeds. It was absolutely the right choice.

The issue, for me at least, is the curriculum.

There will always be those who want to study the theory of media as a genuine intellectual and academic subject – studying the why of broadcasting as well as the how etc – but they are in the minority. Real experience is vital with much greater emphasis placed on outcomes rather than process.

Like everything else in life, some organisations do this better than others. They are well noted.

How do employers pick their employees from the vast numbers wanting a job?

Easy. They hire who they like – so like-ability is really, really important.

They seek someone with an opinion who can project their thoughts.

They look for good people skills and a terrific attitude. They also want those who can display a creative and confident swagger. That applies to every company by the way, not just media.

Above all, everyone is looking for the best communicators with the best ideas who can generate the best content – often to a tight deadline. Can you do that?

If you can, you’ve got it made!

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I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some very fine people over the years. A few were my mentors. Some of the time they would teach, most of the time I would just watch and learn.

“Give an item what it’s worth”

‘respect the ears of the listener’

“never abuse listeners by producing crap they don’t want or need to know”

“We are in the entertainment and information business, everything we do has to deliver on that”

All great comments from past masters.

News bulletins are interesting areas. David Lloyd has a good blog about them right now.

I’d often tell the team not to worry about duration for example and to focus more on the content. An hour clock may have a formal 3 or 5 minute slot scheduled within it, but it wasn’t rigid – well not until networking came in!

If it was a really big news day – especially locally – a minute or so longer was never an issue. After all, this is where we won as a station. The same was true in reverse of course, if it was a slow day, it was fine to be under. We could always play another record.

In all my years, I’ve never once had a complaint about too much local news or too much music.

Station promos are also interesting. Sadly, far too many have become boring, unimaginative and uncreative pieces of audio that the listener will ever have to endure. In my view, they are an advertisement of why NOT to listen. Breakfast show promos are the worst of the lot. I asked the question on Twitter:

Ear time is the new gold, abuse it and you are dead meat. Promos therefore have to reward me in some way. Tell, sell or entertain, make me ‘want’ to tune in. Above all, answer the basic question: Why should I care?

I would often point people towards the film industry for wonderful examples of how to do this sort of stuff well. Very often, the promo (trailer) is better than the movie itself. That’s because they take the art of promos seriously, spending an enormous amount of time hiring dedicated, creative and brilliant staff who are totally focused on making you care enough to buy a ticket. A call to action.

In radio, we seem to think of promos as hard work, often relegated to the last job of the day where you are desperate to find something to use. Very often, the bed is fixed, the tag is essential, the least creative person gets the job and the end result is, pure crap! It is much better not to do one at all than to waste my ear time with such dross.

Things that make these promos worse are:

* People forget about the sizzle.
* A fixed time slot. No freedom on duration through networking or multi-transmitters.
* Producer believe every promo must have a new audio clip – even though it’s not as
good as the last clip.
* A screaming woman winning a prize but no story of how.
* The promo fails to sell any benefits to the listener.
* No time to do it properly. Not enough skills around.
* No one writes a script anymore and thinks about what it is they are asking this
promo to achieve.
* Edit, edit and edit again is now a long lost skill.
* The promo fails the ‘so what” test?
* The sponsor demands it because the team has sold it.

BBC Local Radio promos are just as bad. Very few of them have any sizzle whatsoever and their production technique can be confusing at times. The best are usually their sports promos showcasing information, content and a call to action.

Radio is more than just breakfast in any case so why promote just that?

The next time you record a promo ask yourself this:

What is it for? What do you want it to do? Does it deliver entertainment or information? Will it enhance the listening experience? What is the benefit to the listener? Above all, who cares?

If you can’t answer these points, don’t bother. No one will ever ring your boss to complain you failed to deliver a crap promo!

PS. See this blog from Chris Stevens about how to position promos.

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Paddy McGuinness show on Bauer network

Regular readers will recall that I was the first to applaud Bauer Radio for hiring Paddy McGuinness. I like him but there is a big difference between performing in front of a live crowd, or on television, to the skills required on the radio.

I missed it last week so I got up early to listen today (yes 10am on a Sunday is early) and what I heard surprised me. Firstly, the news ended and it went straight into the music. There was no indication of the show whatsoever, no intro, no positioning statement, nothing. I sat there wondering if this was the Paddy show or not? Secondly, it would seem no one is coaching him, his opening words to the nation for example must be warmer in tone, more personal and easier on the ear. Why is this important you ask?

Look at it like this. Your son has invited a friend to stay at home. Imagine if this person refuses to say hello or offer any kind of warm greeting whatsoever as he walked through the door. The impression would not be a good one, especially if you later discovered they were a little brash too!

Listeners often have patience, but are quick to reject anyone who barges in like some kind of demented fool, especially if they are a little ‘shouty’ and weren’t invited in the first place. Reputations count for nothing which is why I advise anyone starting off in radio, particularly those who are making the transition from one medium to another, to see this as ground zero. Their success is directly linked to how quickly they can learn a very different set of skills.

For example, there is no need to shout. The mic picks up everything, especially nervousness. TV may have pictures, but radio is a movie, shown in glorious colour with a finely tuned soundtrack. This is why it’s the greatest medium in the world. Words, tone, inflection and story telling are the basic tools of the trade.

You have to earn the trust of the listener and this takes time. You get it by walking softly at first, perhaps injecting some short entertaining content and a little personality, all this is designed to raise a smile rather than a full blown belly laugh. When we trust you more, you can do more and we have months together to achieve that goal.

I lost count of the times Paddy said ‘welcome back’ after each break, which is something the shows producer must surely have noticed. Why was this not addressed?

I said in my previous blog that this show had to be live with an experienced producer on hand. I am not sure this was evident today. If it were, it was mute at best. First of all, there is no point being live if you don’t make ‘live’ work for you in some way. A time check is not the answer!

The speech segments have a pre-record feel about them and have been edited with nothing sharper than a rusty old blade. Getting into a segment is a radio skill all on its own. There were some clever moments which showed potential but some of it was questionable, especially for a Sunday morning audience.

I have never met Paddy, I have no idea what he’s like but whoever is in control needs to take control – and fast. Yes, it is early days but this show will fail without great production. If that happens, it won’t be Paddy’s fault, it will lay at the door of Bauer.

There is no point in having a show like this if you don’t have your very best production people on it. Who’s doing the coaching, who’s reviewing the clocks? What is the content criteria? Is Paddy listening and is he keen to learn? This stuff is important. This is Bauer’s big idea. A lot of good, local and keen presenters lost their slot on a weekend to bring this show to air, so it has to work.

Paddy is a personality, he’s funny with great potential. How content is delivered is the big issue. I didn’t hear all of it this morning but I heard enough to know the problems are not difficult to solve. Every week you focus on just one issue. The following week you focus on one more. 6 months later, you have a show to be proud of.

Production, topicality, content and mic technique should be the areas of concern right now.

If I were Paddy – I would be considering a showbiz strop if this continues much longer!

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Stephanie Hirst

As I was walked down Farringdon Road in London in the mid 90s, my mobile rang. It was our HR Director and she asked me where I was and if we could talk about an employee called Trevor. Why do we need to do that I asked? He wants to change his name. What’s that got to do with me? Well, he wants to change it from Trevor to Sarah. What? Yes, he’s leaving today for 2 weeks holiday and when he returns, he wants to be known by his new name.

As this was GMG Plc, which houses The Guardian, it was pleasing – although not totally surprising – to discover they had a policy for this kind of event. It was far from comprehensive but it was useful. Certainly, it was a first for me!

It was a major decision from Trevor, indeed a very brave one and as his employer we had a duty of care, both to him and to the rest of the team where he worked. There were lots of questions; one in particular came from a member of staff who demanded clarification on the toilet situation. She did not want ‘this man’ using the female toilets and the men were no longer keen on ‘this women’ using theirs either. To be fair to Trevor, he was both helpful and content to answer any questions, either privately or within a staff meeting. Thankfully, we have come a long way since then, Trevor is now Sarah and, as far as I’m aware, in a much happier place.

The news that my good friend Simon Hirst is going through the same situation and is, from this day forward, to be known as ‘Stephanie’ is perhaps less shocking than it was back then, but it will still be a surprise to many.

Simon decided to reveal his future plans on the Stephen Nolan programme on BBC 5LIVE last night; a great move as radio is such a personal medium and Stephen is perhaps one of the best in this kind of situation.

Let me tell you why.

Stephen is a top broadcaster who knows how to build an interview and is a careful listener, probing but not annoying and he enquires with sensitivity. He’s also got a knack of asking the right follow on question and never seems to be in a rush. More than anything, he’s at ease with allowing ‘dead air’ to float above the noise, instinctively knowing that this very action allows words to breath and in turn, the content has greater impact. The reaction was remarkable.

I cannot, for a single moment, understand what it must be like to be living a lie for so long or how I could find the bravery to come out so publicly. For this alone he deserves our respect, especially when there must have been deep concern and a raw nervousness about how his listeners and friends might react.

Simon is no longer on the air because the very act of transcending from a man to a woman is both mentally and physically exhausting, however to lose the microphone, a job you’ve loved all of your life, is tough for anyone to accept. I hope it’s not for long.

So, from today Simon is to be known as Stephanie. Good for her. She is still the same person, still has the talent in abundance and nothing has changed. Indeed, for many who heard the interview, there will only be greater admiration, pride and applause for the courage and honesty that has been shown. In any case, true friends never judge.

We all dream about living the life we want. Stephanie has done that, perhaps to the envy of us all.

Those that know Hirsty really well will be laughing today. It is so bloody typical of her to pick a new name that comes with three syllables – they always make for better jingles…!

Listen to the interview here

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Ed Richards, top banana!

Ed Richards is moving on, good on him. There is only so much you can take as a regulator and to be fair to the bloke, he’s done a good job.

We’ve often had a fractious relationship over the years, none more so after my speech at the Radio Festival in Nottingham where I attacked the regulator for their pathetic stance on regulation, and in particular their view on how they were going to monitor those who were out of format. In Ed’s smart office overlooking The Thames he shook my hand but didn’t look at my face or even offer me a coffee. I knew immediately that he was grumpy and so it turned out. We shared a sharp exchange of views I guess, but that’s all water under the bridge.

That said, I’ve always found him to be a decent guy, honest, hard working and practical and just because his robust view didn’t match my own, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t right, everything is about opinion and whenever I met him afterwards he was always courteous. He had a hell of a job and could never win, very few people were ever thrilled no matter what the regulators decision turned out to be.

When people review his time as top banana, it should be a favourable one. His track record overall is impressive, although I maintain that he could have done more for radio. The reality of course is that we are small beer, important but only just. People were rightly worried that any discussion about our industry would be relegated to a discussion in the lift on a Friday afternoon. He didn’t allow that to happen but I’m not sure he had the best advice or surrounded himself with the best people. We will never know.

Good luck to the man, whoever takes over the near £300,000 a year job may never be able to match him for his smart suits at least. He was nobody’s fool I can tell you that and truthfully, I liked him.

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When a news story is difficult to run…

As a Programmer you often get into scraps with others in management. I nearly came to blows once with a Sales Director who, without my knowledge, instructed our news team NOT to run a story about the stations biggest motoring client. The company in question spent a great deal of money with us but on this particular day they were busted for ‘clocking’ cars and the court had ruled. It was front page news and on local TV. Quite rightly, the News Editor came to me and I went to see the big boss. On the way, the Sales Director benefited from my very clear view of life!

The boss pondered for a few minutes, but both the Editor and myself successfully argued that it was impossible to ignore. Our listeners trusted us to provide them with news they should know and as such, this was right up there. A local business with a trusted name that was found to be conning people out of their hard earned cash was a major story and something that could not be hidden from the ears of our listeners. Our journalists would hit the roof if we blocked this and rightly so I claimed. Furthermore, my view was that the company was finished anyway and wouldn’t be advertising for much longer.

Pleasingly, the boss agreed with me but asked that we didn’t run it as the lead story and read it out with some sensitivity. That later point caused much amusement in the office I can tell you but news conflicts happen at times and Bauer were probably in the middle of one yesterday.

The arrest of Neil Fox at work would have caused a moment of pause internally and I suspect, quite a lot of debate. Do you run the story on the very station he presents the breakfast show on or not? For me, there was no other choice, although I can understand why pausing to make a considered decision would have been worthwhile. While it was not contained within the 6pm bulletin last night, I suspect (hope) that the delay was down to the fact that they were still discussing the how rather than the not. There would have been a number of views aired inside the camp with many debating the rights and wrongs of being named at all, especially in areas such as this, but news is news and Neil would understand that. Bottom line: Journalism wins and if not, management have to step in and make the right call.

Whatever happens, I hope this all gets resolved pretty quickly. There are no winners here.

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Bauer Bingo, it’s all about the numbers!

In the late 80s, the regulator forced commercial radio stations to split frequencies and offer more choice under a ‘use it or lose it’ policy. Many, including Red Rose, my former station in Preston, did just that and in those smoke filled studios of 1990, FM became Rock (it was going to be based in Blackpool) and AM became Gold. In 1990, nearly every car had AM as standard so this was no loss to anyone and Red Rose Gold remained number one on the dial for some time thereafter, partly due to the original name being retained.

There were some smart operators back then, none more so than the owners of Radio Clyde, led by Sir Jimmy Gordon and later on, the impressive Richard Findlay. I have no idea who came up with the idea but just re-naming their two services as Clyde 1 and Clyde 2 was simplistically brilliant. It kept the name alive and it was easy to understand. Nearly 35 years on and Bauer want to roll the same idea out across their UK operations.

One thing I know for sure is that the more you have to explain a strategy, the less chance there is of anyone understanding it. The PR was long and detailed but in summary, they are offering local heritage stations on 1, oldies on 2 and hits on 3. It kind of cleans up their portfolio after some recent acquisitions and you can see how they might package this up to agencies and such like – but insisting that all this is good for the listener is on much thinner ground.

They will lose audience on two counts. The first is confusion, audiences hate change. The HITS for example, is a good name, it does what it says on the tin, so changing this to (say) Metro 3 just because it forms part of a new strategy is hardly the sexiest proposition for a younger generation to accept. Secondly, we all know that because of the way RAJAR works, any newly named stations can often take years to register in the minds of those with a diary. The result will be less numbers officially tuning in so bang goes your audience growth plan, at least in the short term.

The national proposition is interesting but I wonder why they didn’t just follow the Global strategy and put Kiss and London Magic on all of their local multiplexes, that way local clients could buy a Kiss/Key/Magic combo like they can buy Capital/Heart/Smooth. It would have had the added benefit of making the most of any national marketing spend plus it came with a bonus that a Kiss/Magic combo could have had local and national revenue benefits. I accept that on this point, I may be a little dim.

What do listeners get out of this? The truth is, very little. There is nothing said about talent, presenters, engaging content or why listeners should give a damn. It’s about operating low cost, music driven radio services that hangs on the coat tails of the very good heritage stations they already own. I get that entirely – some of this is clever – but despite what the PR says, they will end up being nothing more than a service delivering minimum localness, mostly provided by local ads and indents using smart networking within a national framework. If you need any proof of this, just look at how all these Bauer local stations are doing nothing more than four hours of local programming on a weekend right now.

Corporately, I can see how they believe this to be a smart move but every strategy raises questions. For example, do younger listeners care about localness or heritage? I doubt it because these are the things grown ups talk about and therefore hardly a cool place to visit. I feel for listeners in Lancashire who will tune in to Rock 1, Rock 2 and Rock 3 only for them to discover that none of these stations play any rock music whatsoever. Elsewhere, KEY103 will now have KEY103-2 and another channel called Key103-3. Nothing about KEY103-1 because there isn’t one. In Teesside, TFM2 and TFM3 won’t be on FM at all, although I guess the latter is just a name to most people, not a statement of fact on where to find it.

Then there is the elephant in the room that is Radio Aire, a station widely accepted to be under performing in audience terms for many, many years. Today, less than 100,000 listeners tune in – perhaps a record low – and those that do can’t stand it for more than 5.7 average hours a week. If you accept the idea that these new stations are building on the success of their local heritage brands, I’m not sure Radio Aire fits into that category, despite it being a good profit centre. I wonder if they’ve missed a trick in Leeds by not re-badging the whole lot? Perhaps the hiring of Mike Cass, a proven programmer with a history of success in Yorkshire, will turn all this around. I hope so.

It’s a fact that the more you buy, the more you have to think about strategy. You can’t get everything right and there will always be a few casualties along the way. I can see why The Hits and the regional Magic stations may have to make way within a much larger strategy, but I’m not sure they can do this without a lot of pain.

This is a clever plan, but at some point radio groups have got to stop talking about music, strategy and branding and start promoting content, presenters and entertainment. Most of all, they have to make us WANT to listen by enticing us with what’s coming out of the speakers. It’s not as if Bauer don’t have anything to shout about. They are an exciting group housing some of the best talent in the business so let’s hear more about that. I wish them luck.

PS. A number of other people are blogging on this subject. James Cridland here.

Matt Deegan here

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Century Radio – North East remembered.

20 years ago today, the 1st September, 1994, Century Radio was launched in the North East. Exciting, emotional, fun and difficult – all rolled into one, but what an experience.

The format was woeful. 55% speech over a rolling four hour period from 6am to 7pm and yet, despite all that, somehow it worked. For those interested, there are quite a few pages in my book dedicated to the early years that include all the stories from the fights with Metro to the crazy publicity stunts, including some skirmishes over a bus at the Great North Run and the dangers of working with brand new technology called RCS.

Part of the programming included a 2 hour news programme from 5pm each weeknight, a format stolen from 1010 WINS in New York, albeit slightly altered so we could kind of rotate the news every 20 minutes. It was a way of us getting some music into the output across the day, but this was an all speech block that took some doing. Luckily, we had 13 people in the newsroom back then (yes just 13) who also had to provide local news of at least five minutes duration per hour, every hour, for 18 hours a day. The first day was a disaster, but that’s another story.

Metro complained about us playing too much music, we complained about them doing too much speech. It all got a bit messy and we were pulled into the regulators office for a bollocking. I declared war and marched the troops over the hill like some sort of demented leader. The truth is, I revelled in it.

Looking back, we made some mistakes although I suspect without that level of speech within the format, we would never have been as successful as we were. It meant we had to come up with new ways of making speech entertaining and we learned all of the tricks of the trade as we went along. Phone-ins, debate, discussions, gardening shows, news and business programmes were all sliced between the normal music shows and specialist output from Country to Classical. With the exception of about four hours a week, all of it came from the North East.

Anything was considered, everything was an opportunity. Above all, personality presenters were the key to success. John Simons and I occasionally chastised the team for NOT having enough complaints. We wanted them to push a bit more, be edgy, have more fun, take more chances. Some of the times, we were just trying to find out where the end of the line was, but we knew what good radio sounded like and always demanding high standards. When things went wrong, I blamed Simo, he in turn blamed me. We never blamed the team!

The staff were up for anything, Paul Gough, who later took over from me as the breakfast jock, did mad stuff like standing on the Tyne Bridge handing out sausages wearing nothing more than a Pink Pig outfit, all in an effort to promote a butcher! You would never get that promotion away on Heart, even back then.

However, it is what Century started that pleases me most. Brilliant careers for some, amazing radio experiences for all. Craziness was loved and personalities were adored but most of all, I learned about the value of content and the need for great communicators. Everything else is nothing more than window dressing.

I doubt Century would work today, the world has moved on, but for what it’s worth, we made our mark. I believe it’s the reason why the regulator gave us the licence in the North West. The rest, they say, is history!

The success to any business is down to the product you have, the people you employ and the atmosphere you create. There are far too many people to mention by name here but I will be toasting them all today in memory of a great station. The marketing campaign said it was ‘The Best Thing For Ears’….. ha. Fun times indeed

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Paddy McGuinness – I likey!

Despite my moans about their shady use of unpaid fresh-faced presenters, Bauer feature a lot in my recent blogs, mainly because they are doing some interesting things and that always gets my attention. The purchase and integration of Absolute Radio for example seems to have gone smoothly. It’s a fact of life that the acquiring company doesn’t always have the best staff and practices, so a smart operator looks, learns and integrates the best people and systems they find into the wider group, which is good to see.

The news this week that Paddy is to present a weekly show is an interesting development and something the old team at Absolute were very good at delivering. Comments on Radio Today suggest that this is another example of local radio’s demise, but there’s little local value in a jock who just bangs out the hits.

You could argue of course that Bauer should be doing more local – not less – after all they do run local stations, but what listeners need is better content and personality presenters are in short supply. Goodness knows I have moaned about this for some time, therefore I applaud anyone who values personality above liner card presentation and are bold enough to go out and employ them. We need more, not less and the courage to put these people on the air at at time when they can be enjoyed by the masses.

It’s a gamble though. Hiring a big name is just one part of the equation. You also need great support and the right formula. I expect they will still be doing local news but the format needs careful consideration and there is no point in having a big name if they are dead from the neck up or are restricted to working within a format devised for someone else. What we have here is a proven entertainer and therefore you need to give him room to do his thing. Sunday mornings? A good idea if you ask me. Look at the competition across the UK between 9am and 12. Even R2 is in automation with Steve Wright and most of the commercial networks are offering a limp listen at best. There is a big gap worth going for here and Paddy is in the right demo.

It is widely known that he was close to striking a deal to present the Heart breakfast show in the NW but for some reason that fell apart. I think it was the right decision and would probably have lasted no longer than a year or so, but a weekly show is another thing altogether. While the 9am to 12 slot on a Sunday has traditionally been a big time for local radio, if what we get is a personality who provides us with something new and fresh, then that must be better than jukebox radio surely? If, however, this turns out to be nothing more than a bland music show with the odd link thrown in, Bauer will have wasted a glorious opportunity. Please god, let it be live. A recorded show will always fail.

Let us not forget that for the first few years on Radio 2, Jonathan Ross’s weekend show was brilliant and drove millions to the network. He pushed the boundaries and made listeners laugh. McGuinness may be an unknown as far as the dark arts of radio is concerned, but he has a big Northern personality with a sharp wit who may just engage the masses and deliver something quite special. He’s also known to love radio as a medium.

I have some worries though. I cannot underline enough the importance of providing him with a top notch ‘radio’ producer and giving him room to breath, certainly Bauer must have the courage to cut back on the adverts (Three breaks Max – their current 12-14 mins per hour would be a disaster). They also need to manage complaints well and take a hit from time to time. The whole point of a personality is that you are asking people to like or dislike what they do. Both are useful when it comes to the overall success of a show. In any case, minor complaints will only drive up his popularity and for this you certainly can’t have a weak manager who buckles after the first negative email.

For weekend commercial radio, this is one of the best moves I’ve seen for some time and it is certainly one with potential. I only pray they don’t do it half cock. There is a lot at stake here because if this works, personality might be on the come back and that would be great for everyone. Is it local radio? If it delivers great entertaining content, I don’t care. I say yes, this is an idea I likey!

Footnote. Bauer has confirmed that the show will be LIVE each week.

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Bauer’s Magical Mystery

Bauer have changed the logo of Magic in London but not everywhere else because everywhere else is not like London. No, London is sophisticated and listeners in the North are not. One likes things to be soft, rounded and cuddly while the rest of the nation still prefers gritty edges and The Beatles! Who knew?

Anyway, don’t panic! For many years Heart in London was a little different to the output of Heart in Birmingham, Real Radio in Wales was always slightly different in tone and sound to Real Scotland and so on, but what they did have was a shared visual identity. What we see now is a differentiation in logo for the same brand. This flies in the face of normal practice so it is either completely bonkers or the efforts of a marketing genius. Or perhaps there is another reason entirely?


Moving a variety of stations to a single brand was a driver to maximise revenue, ease in a raft of network programmes and to cut down on marketing costs. Now what we have – and I assume we are asked to understand the logic behind it – is that these are two different types of radio stations who just so happen to share the same name. Ok, but why you would change one and not them all unless there was a more devious plan to drop the name on AM going forward? I suspect that is the plan, in the digital world Magic AM will morph into something very different. In London, this is about trying to appeal to those listeners who may have defected to Smooth. It screams we are still here, still progressing, still warm, cuddly and sophisticated and worth trying again because we play great music. Although they never actually say that anywhere!

Steve Parkinson has been explaining his thoughts to Radio Today:

“This new brand identity for Magic 105.4 is an evolution of our current logo and references the contemporary positioning of both the London station and TV channel, which is a different offering to our Magic AM stations in the North which broadcast a gold format,”

There you go – it is evolution not revolution! Fair enough, but I can’t help but smile knowing how many people and hours they will have been spent thinking about that new jazzy rounded dot on top of the I. The truth is no one will notice, very few people really care, there will be total apathy towards it all with the exception of people like myself and those within Bauer who’s job it is to worry about this sort of stuff. And the cost of this….. please. Don’t dare ask!

PS. I quite like it by the way!

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