General Article

Dutch frequency shake up

The Dutch cabinet has approved plans for a summer auction of commercial radio frequencies. This forms part of the reorganisation of all domestic broadcasting frequencies in The Netherlands which is scheduled to start taking effect from September 1st 2001. The new frequency scheme will allow for eight national commercial stations on FM, one of which will be a news station. In addition, there will be 59 licences for regional and local commercial radio on FM and also 14 AM licences. Applicants may receive no more than two national FM licences and it will also be possible to apply for an FM and AM licence.

Report: Mike Terry

Cracking up

An English radio station has been forced into making a public apology after an April Fool’s prank badly backfired. Southern FM announced on air that a full-sized replica of the Titanic would sail along the Sussex coast near Beachy Head. Hundreds of listeners rushed to the cliffs to witness the event causing a 5ft crack to appear in the rock face.

ICB being damned

Irish Christian Broadcasters (ICB) have addressed an Oireachtas committee for a third time in their attempt to secure a licence to broadcast their religious message legally over Ireland’s airwaves. Yesterday, the Joint Committee on Public Enterprise and Transport were addressed by the ICB, who claim that they have been given permission by the Russian Federation to utilise the radio frequencies of 549kHz and 846kHz, formerly used for Communist propoganda. The radio group told the committee that they had spent ten years talking to the authorities here and have become increasingly frustrated at their lack of progress.
The BCI granted a licence to Solas AM to broadcast a religious service from Dublin last year but the station have yet to start broadcasting.

Birmingham licences renewed

The Radio Authority has announced that it will be automatically renewing two Birmingham local licences which are currently held by BRMB and Capital Gold 1152 (AM). Both licences will run for a further eight years. This is due to the fact that Capital Radio, which owns Midlands Radio plc, is the provider of two digital sound programme services on the Birmingham local multiplex. Under the terms of the Broadcasting Act 1996, a local radio licence holder is entitled to apply for an automatic renewal of its licence, if it is providing a programme service on a ‘relevant’ digital radio multiplex. The Authority regards a ‘relevant’ multiplex as one which provides digital coverage of at least 25% of the population already covered by the analogue licence in question. The condition of these renewed local FM and AM licences will require Capital Radio to do all that it can to ensure the continued provision of the digital services.

Radio Tara assets sold

Ukbetting plc have announced the disposal of non-core assets (ie land and property holdings) associated with Radio Tara Ltd for £418,000. When the company bought TeamTalk 252 last year, they inherited an 80% interest in Radio Tara which had been bought by TeamTalk in December 2001. The name of the purchaser has not been revealed.

Two more for Radio Investments

Radio Investments has bought two more Czech radio stations – Radio Delta and Radio Jizera – bringing its total in that country to nine stations. Radio Investments is a subsidiary of Communicorp Group, whose media interests in Ireland include a major shareholding in Dublin’s 98FM, as well as shares in NewsTalk 106, East Coast FM & Spin 1038.

Bust-up on the air

Two Breakfast Show co-hosts on a local station in England fell out live on air on Thursday, prompting one of them to storm out of the studio. The row started during a discussion on their programme on Plymouth Sound about customer service. Martin Mills claimed that there was an obligation on shops to give refunds for undamaged goods. However, Vicky Compton was certain that there was none.

Two Breakfast Show co-hosts on a local station in England fell out live on air on Thursday, prompting one of them to storm out of the studio. The row started during a discussion on their programme on Plymouth Sound about customer service. Martin Mills claimed that there was an obligation on shops to give refunds for undamaged goods. However, Vicky Compton was certain that there was none.

A caller rang in to support the female presenter, prompting Mills to ask her if she was “another whinging woman” and then accused her of “spouting emotional crap”. Although a trading standards officer had already confirmed that Mills was right, Compton was enraged at his treatment of both her and the caller. She accused her co-host of being opinionated and “always having to be right”. She slammed down her headphones in disgust and left the studio, with Mills advising her to “put the kettle on while you’re out there.”

He carried on, continually making comments and refusing to apologise. At this point Gavin Marshall, the programme controller, took over, sending Mills home.
Although the pair haven’t been suspended, they refuse to make up and have been ordered to stay off the air until they cool down. Both have confirmed, however, that they will be back on air on Monday. She has admitted to being nervous about her return, but Mills continues to be outspoken.
He said: “I’m sorry I upset Vicky, but at the end of the day I was actually right. Someone accused me of not liking women — that’s rubbish, I love women. I’ve got five of them: one to do the cooking, one to do the cleaning, one to sleep with . . .”

On the Glasgow Beat

Glasgow’s Beat 106 are launching a new marketing campaign in an attempt to change the public’s perception about the station. Still considered a specialist dance music station by many, Beat 106 are hoping to ram home the message that their peak-time output is of a mainstream nature. The campaign, aimed at the 15-34 age group, is entitled “Demand Better Music Right Now’ and features taglines such as “I’m not doing any more work until I hear Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay & Pink” and “I’m not getting a round in unless I hear Eminem, the Red Hot Chili Peppers & Kylie”. Beat 106 runs specialist programming during off-peak hours

Tubs Hot

RTÉ 2FM breakfast show host Ryan Tubridy has been voted by radio programmers as the hottest talent on air – for now. Hot on his heels is Today FM’s mid-morning presenter Ray D’Arcy in second place, and Keith Cunningham, the ‘Red Rooster’ breakfast presenter for Red FM in Cork in third.
The Top 10 Talent Index was conducted by Digital Audio Productions and included programme directors and industry management nationwide. The poll will continue to be compiled monthly from nominations by radio professionals and judged by an independent panel of radio station programme directors and managers nationwide.
“It’s great to see there are so many local radio presenters on the list,” said Dusty Rhodes, former 2FM DJ and now MD of Digital Audio Productions. “The idea is to encourage and support presenters to be their best in an industry that rarely says thank you.”
Dusty continues: “It also shows the entire radio business not only who is hot, but also the new up and coming talent. I’m very sure that people on the Index will be poached over the coming months by big city stations and national radio.”
The rest of the Top Ten is as follows: 4th – Niall Power, who presents ‘Beat Talk’ on south-east regional station Beat 102-103; 5th -Brian McColl, who presents ‘The Home Run’ on Dublin’s 98FM; 6th – Steve Haze, who presents ‘Drivetime’ on Cork’s 96FM; 7th – Oliver Carroll, who presents WLR FM’s ‘All Request Lunch’; 8th – Pat Kenny, who presents ‘Today with Pat Kenny’ on RTÉ Radio 1; 9th – Paul Scanlon, who presents ‘Ocean Breeze’ on the north-west station Ocean FM; and in 10th place – Tom Dunne, who presents ‘Pet Sounds’ on national independent station Today FM.

Foley loses out to Moncrieff

Today FM’s Ray Foley has been knocked off his perch as the top radio talent in Ireland according to the latest ‘Top Ten Talent Index’ as voted by radio programmers and professionals nationwide for Digital Audio Productions. Top of the pile for the month of April is Seán Moncrieff who performs afternoon duties on Dublin’s NewsTalk 106. Foley, who presents late-night programme ‘The Blast’ for the national broadcaster, has slipped to third.
The other positions this month are as follows:
2nd: Donal Mahon who presents ‘The Evening Cruise’ on Galway Bay FM;
4th: Andy McCluskey for Beat 102-103;
5th: Colm Hayes who presents the ‘Strawberry Alarm Clock’ on Dublin’s FM104;
6th (down from 3rd): Keith Cunningham who presents ‘Red Rooster’ for Red FM;
7th: Paul Duffy of Wexford’s South East Radio;
8th: Shaun Doherty for Highland Radio in Donegal;
9th: Mark Whelan who presents ‘Late Night Love’ for Limerick’s Live 95FM;
10th: Mike D’Arcy for Shannonside FM.
The Digital Audio Productions Top Ten Talent Index is updated on the first of every month and published weekly in Digital Audio Productions’ prepsheet “The DAP Hand”.

SRA welcomes BCI announcement

The Specialist Radio Association have welcomed the advertisement placed in the national press by the BCI in relation to additional licensed radio services.
Speaking to Radiowaves News, SRA PRO Paul Shepherd said: “Unlike previous expressions of interest, this process will afford potential applicants an opportunity to give a detailed account of their proposals with a realistic chance of these being accepted by the BCI. The Association also particularly welcomes the BCI decision to host a briefing session on April 20th which marks a new departure in terms of the consultative process. As previously, we would urge the BCI to move forward with this process as quickly as possible and would also encourage all interested parties both large and small to fully participate in the process.”
The BCI are calling for expressions of interest in new services across the country.

Meteor Ray is happy, unlike Larry

Ray D’Arcy has been named the number 1 Irish radio presenter at this year’s Meteor Awards. He was presented with the award last night by Keith Duffy, who caused controversy by telling a packed audience at Dublin’s Point Theatre that the honour should have gone to Larry Gogan. This is the second time in a row that D’Arcy has received the award.

BBC Radio strike to hit shows

Some of the BBC’s popular radio programmes are under threat of being taken off air by strike action by up to 500 BBC radio production staff later this month. The strike, in protest over job cuts, will see staff walk out in London, Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester. 100 people are likely to lose their jobs thanks to a planned merger of production jobs. February 15th and 23rd are the dates for the planned walk-out.

Absolute for Bristol

Absolute Radio International Ltd (ARI) have joined forces with Town and Country Broadcasting Ltd (T&C) to jointly bid for the new Bristol FM radio licence to be advertised by industry regulator Ofcom. The new licence, broadcasting on 106.5MHz FM, will cover the city of Bristol and the surrounding area. It will be advertised by Ofcom in March and awarded in the late summer / early autumn of 2006, with a prospective on-air date of spring 2007. The relationship between the broadcasters combines ARI’s experience in competitive urban markets with T&C’s existing operations in South Wales and the West for a unique new approach to local radio in the west of England’s largest city. Bristol is currently served by local radio stations owned by GCap, UKRD, UBC and Emap, which mainly target the younger end of the market.
Clive Dickens – Programme & Operations Director of ARI says: “ARI has carried out initial analysis of the Bristol radio market and we have commissioned a full market consumer study to pinpoint the best new format for the market. Existing local commercial services achieve less than 30% of all listening in Bristol, with the BBC more dominant in the city than across similar markets in the UK. Our track record and expertise in competitive markets will serve us well in launching a successful new station for Bristol.”
Jason Bryant, CEO of Town & Country, says: “Audience figures confirm that radio in Bristol is owned by the BBC, which enjoys a mighty 63.5% share of all radio listening. This vibrant city deserves better from its local commercial radio stations. Fresh from our win in Swansea, and our commitment to better local radio, we look forward to bringing something new, distinctive and innovative to Bristol with our friends at Absolute Radio.”
Absolute Radio International is an independent, privately held, company that explores ownership, investment and management projects in Global Radio.
Town and Country Broadcasting is a private company and is the major shareholder in six UK commercial radio stations. It also offers a range of analogue and digital radio consultancy services to clients, including the UK’s leading rock and pop station Virgin Radio.

Good quarter for BBC London

BBC London 94.9 has leapt up the London listening tables in the latest Rajar figures, reaching more people than commercial competitors XFM and LBC for the first time. Latest figures (for 2005 quarter four) show BBC London 94.9 is seventh in the league of listeners – up four places from its 11th slot for the same period in 2004. This means that the station – which now has 546,000 listeners every week – has had the best six months in its history, after hitting the heights in 2005 quarter three with 561,000, its second highest figures ever. The latest figures are the third highest the station has recorded.
BBC London 94.9 Managing Editor David Robey said the figures were “great news coming in a period of major upheaval with the launch of an entirely new schedule in October with Jono Coleman and Jo Good at Breakfast, Vanessa Feltz moved to the mornings and Danny Baker – who won his Sony gold award when he was with us – back in the afternoons. This is the coming of age of BBC London 94.9 as London’s station of choice for big news and events. Hundreds of thousands of new listeners tuned in during the tragic events last July and they have stayed.”

A new station for Moscow

City-FM, a new 24-hour information radio station, began broadcasting in Moscow, the Russian capital, this week. The station plans to focus on news and events in the city itself, something it claims other stations in the area fail to do.

Newspaper: Listen to drive-time at any time

Irish Times
Listen to drive-time at any time

Irish Times – February 4th 2006

Listen to drive-time at any time

Podcasting allows listeners to shape the future of radio, writes Elaine Edwards.

Oh joy: the morning commute is no longer the hell it was thanks to podcasting, a simple technology that allows people to choose what they listen to and when, in their cars or on their music players. Podcasting is creating a minor revolution for radio listeners and probably causing alarm among those who use ear-splitting radio ads at 10-minute intervals to sell products and services.

There’s nothing especially new about the technology – essentially podcasts are just audio files with a fancy name. But downloading to a computer or a personal music player means you can tailor your listening to your lifestyle.

While not all podcasts are radio broadcasts, the majority of those that appear consistently in the top 10 downloads are. Other podcasts are diary-style offerings produced by individuals for online consumption. Even some newspapers and magazines such as the Washington Post and Newsweek offer podcasts.

In a way, podcasts are doing for broadcasting what the web did for information a decade ago – they’ve created a new broadcasting democracy, providing a platform for anyone with a microphone and a computer. But they’ve also opened a brave new world to purveyors of piffle, from the pointless through to weird, alarming and, potentially, illegal – as well as personal podcasts with stuff for geeks and specialists of every sort.

The most popular podcasts, according to Apple’s iTunes daily “chart”, are radio programmes or edited highlights of popular shows. This week’s top 25 podcasts included four of Dublin-based Newstalk 106’s programmes, two Today FM shows, two RTÉ shows and one each from the Dublin independent stations FM104 and 98FM.

JP Coakley, head of operations radio at RTÉ, believes there are exciting possibilities in podcasting, which can exist alongside traditional radio. At present, RTÉ offers about eight podcasts and he estimates the number of downloads to be in the thousands, rather than in the tens of thousands in which the station measures those who listen online to “streamed” audio of shows such as Morning Ireland.

“We are talking about a changing market over the next five years, but not a situation where on-demand overtakes day-to-day radio listening. “If you look at the markets, the box in the corner where sound is instant still has enormous appeal,” says Coakley. He cites the popularity of Joe Duffy’s Liveline show, which allows listeners to ring or text the show to give their tuppence worth on the hot issue of the day. “Radio still has that connection with the imagination and with the mind. But the technologies are there and we are competing for listeners and we have to rethink how we do things.”

The BBC, which doesn’t face the same commercial pressures as other broadcasters, offers an extensive range of radio podcasts and plans to increase the available downloads and podcasts to 50. Some 35 million programmes were downloaded from the BBC in the last quarter of 2005. According to Simon Nelson, controller of BBC radio and music interactive: “Podcasting enables us, if someone requests a programme, to send them that programme every time we broadcast it so we can keep that relationship going and that person can ensure they never miss an episode of their favourite programme. Of course, there are huge rights implications, technology implications and distribution implications for the BBC so we want to tread very carefully.

“. . . What we’d like to do is make a much wider range of content available but we recognise that if we’re going to do that, the current model where people can basically keep this stuff isn’t necessarily going to be one that’s very attractive to our rights partners. There are different models you can use to restrict them from being shared between people. But you can also create files that expire at the end of seven days,” says Nelson who, like Coakley, believes the new technologies will complement the radio industry: “I don’t believe they are going to cannibalise and destroy it,” he says.

© The Irish Times

IBI celebrate listenership figures

The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) had further cause for celebration with the publication of the latest JNLR figures which, they claim, clearly demonstrate the widening gap between listenership for independent radio and RTÉ. The listenership figures for the period January 2005 – December 2005* show that independent radio has a weekday (7am – 7pm) market share of 61.4%, 22.8% higher than RTÉ at 38.6%. Figures from January to June versus June to December indicate that some of RTÉ’s most popular broadcasters have lost listeners.
David Tighe, Chairman of the IBI, commented on the figures: “We have come a long way in under 20 years. Listeners are now opting for independent radio with its fresh, local angles, which are relevant to its audiences in comparison to the jaded formats of RTÉ. RTÉ used to be the predominant force in Irish broadcasting but it is now losing touch with its audiences. Our members are getting bigger by being better. As we continue to deliver to our listeners what they want to hear, we will continue to gain market share. These figures indicate that advertisers can also be assured that they are making the right move when they select local radio and Today FM as their mediums of choice.”
*JNLR/TNS mrbi January – December 2005

A Touche unlucky in love

A presenter on Coventry’s Touch FM was left red-faced after a romantic Valentine’s Day gesture backfired on him.

A presenter on Coventry's Touch FM was left red-faced after a romantic Valentine's Day gesture backfired on him. 29 year old Steffen La Touche read out a poem and proposed to his girlfriend of nine years live on air on Tuesday. The object of his affections, who also works at the station, was sitting in the studio but made a hasty exit after turning down the proposal, asking why he had done it on air. Listeners heard silence and then a travel bulletin before La Touche returned with the spoken hope that his listeners were having a better Valentine's Day than he was. He then played 'Unbreak My Heart' before making his own exit leaving his show in the hands of another presenter. He was back on air today for the first time since the incident telling listeners that he didn't want to discuss it.

29 year old Steffen La Touche read out a poem and proposed to his girlfriend of nine years live on air on Tuesday. The object of his affections, who also works at the station, was sitting in the studio but made a hasty exit after turning down the proposal, asking why he had done it on air. Listeners heard silence and then a travel bulletin before La Touche returned with the spoken hope that his listeners were having a better Valentine’s Day than he was. He then played ‘Unbreak My Heart’ before making his own exit leaving his show in the hands of another presenter. He was back on air today for the first time since the incident telling listeners that he didn’t want to discuss it.

Annual Media Futures event for students launches

MediaFutures2007, a new annual careers event for media students and school-leavers in the mid-west, will launch on Thursday, April 12th in Limerick. A day-long seminar and workshop will be held at the Clarion Hotel and will bring together guest speakers from the Irish radio, television and newspaper industries to share with aspiring media students the benefit of their wisdom.

Hosted by RTÉ 2FM presenter Ruth Scott, Media Futures 2007 will see presentations from key national, regional and local media figures including presenters from RTÉ, TV3 and Live 95FM with more still to be announced.

The event will also prove interesting to those anxious to learn more about Spin South-West’s plans – the new station’s CEO Aevann Upton has agreed to do a presentation on the day. Other guest speakers include RTÉ 2FM’s Will Leahy and Limerick’s Live 95FM CEO David Tighe.

Tickets for the event are limited and further details can be found at the website: MediaFutures2007.com

Chorus / ntl customers now have access to RTÉ Digital Radio

Cable TV customers now have access to five of RTÉ’s digital exclusive radio services. UPC subscribers will find RTÉ Junior (and RTÉ Chill), RTÉ 2XM, RTÉ Pulse and RTÉ Choice now on channels 941 to 944.

RTÉ Junior is Ireland’s first children’s only radio service. Aimed at children aged 2-12 the service includes music, fun and entertainment. RTÉ Junior plays chart music for older children and when they are at school the station plays nursery rhymes and story songs for children from 2-5 years of age. At 7pm there are bedtime stories and lullabies for younger radio listeners while at 8pm there are audio books for the ‘Not So Junior’ members of the family. At 9pm RTÉ Chill, a late night service of electronica, ambient and chill-out music, takes over from RTÉ Junior until 7am the next morning.

RTÉ 2XM is a sister station to RTÉ 2FM. Dave Fanning’s new RTÉ Two programme ‘The 11th Hour’ is broadcast on the service while RTÉ 2FM presenter Rick O’Shea, RTÉ Lyric FM’s John Kelly and RTÉ Sport’s John Kenny all join newer voices with shows on the station. The alternative, indie, rock station features eighteen live and pre-recorded, presenter-led programmes from Monday through to Sunday.

RTÉ Pulse is a 24 hour dance station featuring a playlist of commercial dance music during the day, aimed at anyone from gym-goers to parents at home to workers on the move. Louis Osborne, son of Ozzie and Sharon, has a show on the station once a week along with top Irish dance DJs including Al Redmond, Orla Feeney and Karl Davis. In the evenings twenty nine RTÉ Pulse DJs from across Ireland and from London play every genre of dance music aimed at dance music fans across the board.

RTÉ Choice is RTÉ Radio 1’s complimentary speech service. Ronan Kelly, the award-winning RTÉ Radio 1 producer behind the station, has tailored a schedule of international and vintage RTÉ Radio programmes to suit Irish listeners. The schedule includes current affairs, feature and documentary programming from eighteen international public service broadcasters including U.S. National Public Radio (NPR), the BBC World Service, Radio Canada, Radio Australia, Radio Czech Republic and UN Radio.

These digital radio stations are now available to over 85% of the population via UPC Ireland’s television platforms. The addition of these stations over UPC’s transmission networks means that the services are in most homes across Ireland and available on three platforms: DAB digital radio, online and UPC.