October, 2013

Radio 1 Listening by Age – A Closer Examination

One of the things that I noted in my Q3 2013 RAJAR summary was that Radio 1’s average age was just not shifting. And despite an overall fall in audience over recent quarters, notably following the departure of Chris Moyles, it just hasn’t fallen.

I thought that this was worth exploring some more, because I do think Ben Cooper, controller of Radio 1, has a fairly thankless task to completely shed those older listeners. Cooper has likened them to “festival dads” – those older listeners who just won’t stop acting like children (At Absolute Radio, we refer to them as reluctant adults, and make a virtue of marketing them).

First some facts. For the most part, any RAJAR analysis you see (including my own) will be based on adults 15+. That’s the accepted definition of adults in the radio world, and is really determined as much as anything by advertisers who want to target an audience of that age upwards. But in recent years RAJAR has actually measured everyone from 10 upwards. So rightly, Radio 1 prefer to use this as their baseline.

For the purposes of this analysis, I’ve also used 10+, since it includes the youngest of listeners that we can measure.

The two key measurements for RAJAR are weekly reach – the number of different people who listen to at least five minutes of a station in a given week – and hours – the cumulative amount of time those people spend listening to the station.

Anyway, the chart below shows listening by age for Q3 2013. A switch at the top lets you choose between reach and hours.

What both versions of the chart show is that although Radio 1 certainly does appeal to younger listeners, there’s a significant number of listeners outside its core target. The BBC Trust says that the station should target 15-29s. But as the chart shows, just over 50% of listeners are actually aged 30 upwards. And it’s not as if they’re lighter listeners either, since they contribute 52% of the station’s listening hours.

The BBC will rightly point out that average age – or mean age – can disguise the fact that the peak age group is much younger. Indeed if you consider the modal age (the single most popular age group), you can see that it’s 18 for reach (and 23 for hours). But the third “average” for those who remember their GCSE/”O” Level maths, is the median – or midpoint – and that’s 30 for reach.

Indeed, a full quarter of Radio 1’s listeners are aged 30-42. Which means that another quarter of Radio 1’s audience is 42+. And what’s more, they account for something like 23% of listening. Ironically, I fear that in part, this is because older listeners are more likely to listen to the radio anyway, whereas Radio 1’s target market is listening to less radio altogether.

That 25% of listeners aged 42+ are really messing up Radio 1’s average audience. If they disappeared tomorrow, the average age of a Radio 1 listener would immediately fall to 25 – much more nicely within the station’s target age group.

But I wonder if slicing an audience up by age is the right way to do things any longer?

Are artists or genres completely age dependent any longer? Or do we split our musical tastes in a different way?

If you look use Compare My Radio to look at the two (I compared the stations since the start of the year), there’s only a small crossover. But it’s significant. Radio 1 has, unsurprisingly, a smaller playlist than Radio 2. But over the course of 10 months, it has shared 9% of its playlist according to the site (Note: It’s not perfectly accurate). That’ll be artists like Jessie J, Adele and Coldplay (but not Robbie Williams!). Indeed, one of the most interesting sessions at this year’s Radio Festival covered this very point with BBC research identifying how musical genres are broken down in different ways.

It’s not really clear to me why older listeners are still listening to Radio 1. Are their children forcing them to listen at the breakfast table and in the car? Are they rejecting commercial stations? Have just not heard of 6 Music? Have they never listened to Radio 2? Or do they just feel that they want to stay relevant? I suspect that it’s a bit of all those things, as well as not wanting to grow up. Radio 1 is keeping them young.

Since Radio 1 can’t ban people from listening to the station, I’m not sure what the answer is beyond trying to continue to talk the language of their core audience. They could also go younger. Although their Trust commitment is to start with 15 year olds, I’m not sure that putting a slightly larger emphasis on teen-pop bands wouldn’t help a bit.

Whatever route Radio 1 follows, it’s not going to be easy. But I really hope they succeed for the sake of everyone who loves radio.

Note: I’ve tried using Datawrapper for presenting my data in charts this time, rather than my regular Google. I’m not sure if it’s any better or worse just yet.

Source: RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB, Individuals 10+.

Disclaimer: These are my own views, although they’re based on work I’ve done for Absolute Radio, and through whom I get access to the data. I also sit on the RAJAR Technical Management Group representing commercial radio. Just so you know.

RAJAR Q3 2013

In some ways, this quarter’s RAJAR results are a little disappointing – certainly if you’re comparing results with the previous quarter. But then this is a third quarter result, and RAJAR always dips a little during those periods with listening patterns changing in the summer months.

Commercial radio has closed the gap a little with the BBC, although the gap is still nearly 10%, with the BBC having 53.4% of listening compared with commercial radio’s 43.9%.

Digital listening has actually shown a dip this quarter, falling to 35.6%. But before anyone’s too fast on their keyboards in reporting the downfall of digital radio, it’s also likely to be a seasonal factor with listening falling in Q3 2012 too.

In terms of individual performances, one of the stronger results comes from LBC. Hot off celebrating their 40th birthday, they’ve also recorded their highest ever reach for the second quarter in a row – 1.1m listeners.

Nationally, everyone breathes a little easier as Radio loses over half a million listeners on the previous quarter. But that represents just 3.3% of their audience! Radio 1 has also experienced a modest fall, notably at breakfast where Nick Grimshaw is over 300,000 off last quarter and 1.1m off last year’s figures. Annoyingly for them, the average age of that show is still 34 and it just hasn’t really shifted. My figures, like all of the figures on this page, are based on 15+. RAJAR measures from 10+ and using that base would lower the average a little to 32. [Note – corrected Nick Grimshaw’s decline]

This is the first quarter that the new Kiss digital brands are being reported. Kiss Fresh takes over from Smash Hits, although it saw a 5% fall in reach in the quarter. Meanwhile, Q was retired as a station and Kisstory was launched. It’s first reach was just short of Kiss Fresh’s with 854,000 and a pretty decent 3.3m hours.

Meanwhile, this was the final quarter of the Choice brand before it re-branded as Capital Xtra. And although it fell in London, it of course went out with its best numbers for years – and probably ever – with a national reach of 839,000 and 4.3m hours. A benchmark for Capital Xtra next quarter, although the new station will be getting national coverage.

That also means it’s the last ever Smooth 70s result. The station did well over it’s short life, and, you guessed it, went out with its best ever reach figures: 771,000. In fairness, it’d had higher hours in the past. Global will of course be able to monetise Capital Xtra much better than either Choice or Smooth 70s, so even if the new station comes in with lower RAJAR, that doesn’t mean that it’ll be less valuable to the business.

What else is there to add? Classic FM had a disappointing quarter with drops in reach and hours, while Talksport saw an increase in hours but a fall in reach. A non-football summer would always be quiet for them, and only a couple of the Lions’ Tests falling into this period.

BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra had its best ever RAJAR figures in an Ashes summer. It increased its reach 61% in a single quarter, and now reaches 1.5m listeners. It should be noted that RAJAR doesn’t break out Radio 4 LW separately, so it’s a bit more complex to work out an overall cricket audience.

Absolute 80s recorded its best ever audience, and cemented its position as the biggest commercial digital station. It has a weekly reach of 1.2m, up 3.2% on the previous quarter. Absolute Radio 90s also saw a record reach, as did Absolute Radio 60s.

Capital and Heart have done pretty decently nationally, with increases in reach. But Planet Rock had a very disappointing quarter. Incidentally, TeamRock doesn’t report RAJAR numbers. It’ll be interesting to see if their business model ever calls for using RAJAR.

In London, there was a few too many negative signs on my spreadsheets at work. Capital maintains it’s position as the biggest commercial station in London, but elsewhere at Global they’ll be disappointed with Heart’s performance, down nearly 10% in reach and 20% in hours on the previous quarter (although not as bad on the year). However its hours are now its lowest ever.

Absolute Radio in London is disappointing too, with a 26% fall in reach on the previous quarter and a 10% fall in hours.

Kiss too has had a disappointing quarter losing 9% of its hours. And we should probably mention BBC London which is maintaining reach but has the fewest hours the station has had since 2002.

Anyway, that’s the topline as far as I can see. There’s always more to dig into. For example, Absolute Radio has seen a massive increase in internet listening. Is that because of its InStream offering? Or is it a one-off figure? Where are all those Radio 1 hours going? Other stations or leaving the market altogether? These questions and more for another day.

In the meantime, I’ll finish with my regular bubble charts.

Again, you’re better off using the larger versions of the national and London (which will be slow to load) charts. But even if you don’t, here I recommend you do the following:

– Change the left hand (x) axis to male % reach
– Change the bottom (y) axis to average age
– Change the size to hours
– Use the play button at the bottom to see the changes in the London marketplace

But there are lots more things you can do – especially with the London charts. And read the notes on other pages for provisos.

National

London

Note: Some browsers or computers may struggle with the London chart. There’s an awful lot of data being loaded into it. So try waiting, refreshing or using a modern browser (e.g. Chrome) if you’re struggling. And it probably won’t work well on some mobile devices. Sorry.

For more on RAJAR visit:
The official RAJAR site
Radio Today for a digest of all the main news
Media UK for lots of numbers and charts
One Golden Square for more Absolute Radio details
Paul Easton for analysis
Media Guardian for more news
Matt Deegan for more analysis
And there are always RAJAR Smilies
Source: RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB, period ending 15 September 2013, Adults 15+.
Disclaimer: These are my own views, although they’re based on work I’ve done for Absolute Radio, and through whom I get access to the data. I also sit on the RAJAR Technical Management Group representing commercial radio. Just so you know.

Saturday Night Primetime TV Pitches

Here’s a question: if it takes years of dedication and hours of practice to become decent at a particular activity or sport, why do we believe that a celebrity can become good at it in just 12 weeks? I mean, I know Malcolm Gladwell popularised the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to become really good. But we don’t need celebrities to be really good. And in any case, we only need to fill 12 hours of primetime, with perhaps a few more for a results show.

Look – I’ll admit it – Strictly can be a bit of a guilty pleasure. But over 12 weeks, a group of celebrities can get to a reasonable standard with hard work and a professional dance partner making them look good. At least as long as you know nothing about dance.

I’m pretty certain that’s not the case for Ice Skating. Hence the level reached by the end of the ITV show seems to be not dissimilar to some of the better kids on the local ice-rink. And if nothing else, after an episode of Splash, we realised that Tom Daley et al, must do an awful lot of work.

Today comes news that celebrity gymnastics is next up. A sport who’s contestants peak in their early to mid-twenties, and most of who’s participants have been practising since they were 6 or 7. We’re told that Let’s Get Ready to Tumble is just a working title. What could possibly go wrong with that?

But I don’t think we’re pushing the bar high enough for our Saturday night entertainment. Yes Helen Skelton has done some pretty remarkable stuff over the years for Blue Peter and Sports Relief. But she’s an exception. So let me humbly suggest a few more formats that might really test breakfast TV presenters, TV chefs, and ex-cast members of Hollyoaks:

Strictly Scalpels – Week by week contestants learn surgery, with the Christmas finale peaking with a heart transplant!

It Is Rocket Science – A bit like a celebrity version of Scrapheap Challenge. We put an Eastenders cast member into space!

Tuuuuune! – Competitive piano tuning!

‘Appening Live – Contestants build mobile apps. Early weeks concentrate on wireframes and UX before the coding really begins (it’ll be better than that App episode of The Apprentice).

The Great British Take Off – Celebrity contestants design and build the next passenger aircraft. Viewers can enter via a premium text for a lottery to fly on the maiden voyage.

Changing Homes – Two teams of celebrities build childrens’ homes, but the twist is that they have to design the buildings themselves, with no professional help! How hard can it be to be an architect anyway?

I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Down From Here – Contestants takeover London Air Traffic Control as they attempt to land planeloads of other celebrities. With hilarious consequences!

Feel free to drop me a comment if you’d like to licence one of these great formats!

Captain Phillips and Saving Mr Banks

Tom Hanks managed to somehow both open and close this year’s London Film Festival with a pair of very different films that I managed to see within twenty four hours of each other.

Some film-makers demand to be seen, whatever they do. And Paul Greengrass is one such film-maker. Captain Phillips opened this year’s London Film Festival, and now that it’s on release, it’s easy to see why.

It tells the true story of Richard Phillips, the captain of the Maersk Alabama, a container ship that was travelling down the Somali coast in 2009, which was attacked and boarded by pirates. While this was big news in the US, I must admit that I wasn’t aware of this particular story. Perhaps it’s the all too frequent nature of pirate attacks in that part of the world, with shipping lines seemingly powerless to do anything about it.

Greengrass shows the story from two sides. So we get a modicum of Phillips’ home life in the US before he sets off to Oman to board his vessel. And at the same time, we get a bit of background of the Somali village where the locals are expected (and indeed want) to work for the pirate gangs. Once things get going, they happen quickly. Greengrass employs his usual docudrama style, with handheld camera work, and a general feeling that we’re there for real events. The producers obviously shot the film on real container ship, and we also get views from the skiffs with their high-powered engines chasing down their prey.

The performances from Barkhad Abdi and the other actors of Somali origin are terrific – all the more so for being non-professional actors. You really understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, even though it’s also clear that although big ransoms are being paid, these guys are not the ones getting the cash.

As the tension is ratcheted up, I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. Events get bigger, and the performances are terrific. But I don’t want to say much more aside from suggesting that this is a superb film that you should see!

For a complete change in tone, there is Saving Mr Banks which, as I mentioned, also stars Tom Hanks as another real person – this time Walt Disney. But Saving Mr Banks is really a tour de force for Emma Thompson who plays P L Travers, author of the Mary Poppins books. The film tells the story of Disney trying to persuade Travers to sign on the dotted line and let him make the film. He’s been trying for twenty years to get her to sign over the rights, but Travers has some very particular views on what she will and won’t let happen to her characters.

Nonetheless, drawn to a beautifully captured sixties Los Angeles, she reluctantly works with Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), Richard and Robert Sherman (Jason Schwartzman and B J Novak) as they try to put a script and the songs together. All the while, Travers insists that everything is recorded on tape – because she’s convinced that she’ll be double-crossed by Disney or someone else.

Every character in the film is delightfully drawn, with Paul Giametti as her driver standing out.

The story is told via a series of flashbacks to Travers’ own youth living with her troubled father, and put-upon mother out in Australia – played by Colin Farrell and Ruth Wilson. This isn’t so much a framing device as an essential understanding of what made Travers tick.

I really enjoyed the film, and now certainly need to see Mary Poppins again – celebrating its 50th anniversary. A lovely film.

And for goodness sake, don’t leave the cinema early when the film ends – stay in your seat. As well as seeing photographs of the real characters, there’s a delightful Easter egg which I shan’t spoil now.

The Grandmaster

One of the fastest selling tickets at any London Film Festival is always the surprise film. As you’d imagine, it’s not a film that anyone knows about in advance. In the past I’ve seen Far From Heaven and Capitalism: A Love Story at the LFF. And I know that last year they showed Silver Linings Playbook.

So when we got an introduction from first Wong Kar Wai via a recorded video, and then an in-person introduction from Harvey Weinstein, I was quite excited. OK – I was a little rude about Weinstein the other day when I saw his credit in front of Kon Tiki. But this was a Wong Kai Wai film – a director who’s work I’ve loved ever since I saw Chungking Express. In The Mood For Love remains one of my favourite films of all time.

He’s a director who seems to have been quite for a while now, and while I’d heard that he an epic film in the works, it wasn’t until afterwards that I learnt a bit more about the background to The Grandmaster. But what was clear from the outset was that we were getting a Western version of the film.

The story is about Ip Man, a Wing Chun kung fu master, played by Tony Leung, an actor who has worked on many previous occasions with Wong. The film opens with a big action set piece as Ip takes on a multitude of attackers at once.

What follows isn’t the easiest thing to describe. We get a series of inter-titles which both help and hinder our understanding of the film. In broad terms, this is an unrequited love story spanning the years before and after the Second World War and Japanese occupation of China. It’s a tale of rivals taking on one another, as the north and south declare their own masters with the various houses of kung fu coming together.

Into this fray enters Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi) who ends up having to take on Ip.

The fight scenes are terrific, although heavily stylised. I’m not sure that they’re really referencing old Shaw Brothers films which I think is the idea. Indeed in “print” I saw, it sometimes felt that clear that it’d been shot of digital video, and it felt to me that there was overuse of slow motion.

The latter part of the film in particular, as the post-war action moves to Hong Kong, is beautiful. And the music is perfectly suited from Shigeru Umebayashi and Nathaniel Mechaly. And we get excerpts of Ennio Morricone at times.

While I enjoyed the film, I’m just not certain about its structure. And there are too many inter-titles to explain what we’re seeing. They really shouldn’t be necessary.

The version of the film we saw is shorter than the one that opened in China at the start of the year, and I wonder if the Chinese version might not be the one to see. It does feel like there are pieces missing.

I’d still always go and see a new Wong Kar Wai film, because he is an extraordinary film maker. This isn’t his best work however, and it’s structure is somehow wrong. The film may have been long in gestation, but it’s still not right. It’s not really clear to me why it was the surprise film, given that these are films that arrive “too late” to make the Festival programme. Yet this is a film that has been released in most territories around the world this year. So that doesn’t really hang together.

The Armstrong Lie

Motorola Team - Stage 16 1995 Tour de France

I’ve been watching the Tour de France for as long as I can remember. Back in the eighties, I readily adopted the new sports that Channel 4 brought to air – cycling, NFL, although perhaps not kabbadi. I certainly remember seeing Greg Lemond beat Lauren Fignon in a final stage time trial in 1989, to win the Tour by 8 seconds. But as I was watching Alex Gibney’s new film on Lance Armstrong last night I was trying to work out when I’d ever seen Armstrong in the flesh.

I came to the conclusion that despite all those “victories”, I’d only actually seen Armstrong once. I’d arrived in the French Pyranees on the day of the 15th stage of 1995’s Tour de France. It was the day that young Italian rider Fabio Casartelli died after crashing on a mountain descent.

The following day, I was in Pau as a neutralised race arrived at the finish line, Casartelli’s Motorola team-mates riding ahead of the peleton to salute their fellow rider. Lance Armstrong was one of those team-mates, alongside his good friend Frankie Andreu. That’s the picture you can see above.

So somehow I never managed to see Armstrong ride competitively live. But he’s a man who’s career I’ve always followed assiduously. While I might not have been a “Team Lance” advocate – never having read one of his best-selling books, or ever buying a Livestrong band, preferring to support charitable causes in different less overt ways – I still followed Armstrong assiduously. I wasn’t “inside cycling” enough to realise quite what a nasty piece of works he could be. I was of the belief – the Armstrong lie – that a cancer survivor like him surely wouldn’t mess around with his body after surviving that? How naïve. It was the slow ebbing out of information and admissions that saw me realise my mistake.

When I looked at IMDB to see Gibney’s prolific output, I wasn’t too sure how good The Armstrong Lie could be. Only last year he made the excellent Mea Maxima Culpa, and he’s been directing and producing several documentaries a year in recent years. Can one director maintain the quality with his volume of output?

And given the fact that Armstrong was far bigger than cycling in his homeland, was this documentary going to leave the cycling aspect behind?

I need not have worried.

Gibney presents a thoroughly engrossing two hours built around several interviews with his subject. He’d began making a film about the man back in 2009 when Armstrong had decided to come out of retirement and return to the Tour de France. Gibney’s cameras followed him that year, getting intimate behind the scenes access and the daily thoughts of Armstrong. At some stage though, that film began to fall apart as Armstrong faced mounting accusations from former team-mates like Floyd Landis. And so the film was never completed.

Gibney returned to the film when Armstrong, in the face of over-whelming evidence against him, decided to make a televisual confession with Oprah. Gibney got back in touch with his subject, and was alongside Oprah’s crew as he made his admission in January this year. Gibney interviewed Armstrong himself just after he’d recorded with Oprah. A couple of months later, he got another interview with his subject – probably the best of the bunch.

This documentary is built around this series of interviews as Gibney weaves through the claims and counter-claims, the lies and and the accusations. He doesn’t seem to be limited in the footage that he’s collated, with lots of Tour footage from US and UK coverage, as well as video testimony from Armstrong and others.

He also has extended interviews with former team-mates including George Hincapie and Frankie Andreu, as well the latter’s wife, Betsy Andreu. He even, remarkably, has an interview with Dr Michele Ferrari from 2009 before emails revealed that Armstrong was still secretly working with him. Of the major players who are talking, Tyler Hamilton is probably the obvious face that’s missing.

We also hear from the journalist David Walsh, who has faced legal action on multiple occasions over the years. Some of the unedited press conference footage in which we hear his voice, as well as that of fellow journalist Paul Kimmage, is very enlightening.

This is all beautifully weaved together with good use of graphics, and cross-cutting between participants. This isn’t an easy story to tell properly, and you could easily get bogged down in some of the detail, but Gibney keeps things moving.

And the closing line, which Gibney has caught in his January 2013 interview with Armstrong, is fascinating. I won’t spoil it here.

The film does leave question marks over Gibney’s own views. He’s quite self-critical during the film, particularly of the “Go Lance” attitude he was taking during the 2009 Tour. He’s aware that he was getting sucked into Armstrong’s narrative – that his film could be seen as extending the Lance myth. On the other hand, Gibney still thinks that in spite of everything Armstrong is an exceptional athlete. That’s probably true. He has the view that since everyone was doping at the time, the record books should read Armstrong* rather than being left blank.

I’m not sure that’s a viable answer. That’s expecially the case since the film includes the sequence during which Armstrong needlessly chases down Felippo Simeoni and explicitly gestures for him to zip it and maintain the omerta. Not every rider was on drugs. And Gibney hints that Armstrong did something even during the Tour he followed him on, when large parts of the sport had definitely cleaned up.

And Gibney is aware that he might still be helping perpetrate the Armstrong myth by making this film with the interviews that Armstrong has offered. Although revealingly, he says that he stopped staying in touch with Armstrong after telling him what he was calling the film. Armstrong has yet to see the film, although his “people” have seen it.

All told, a genuinely enlightening film that does add to what we know of the story. I’m not sure yet when the UK release date will be.

[Update] According to Empireonline its UK release is 31 January 2014. And there’s a nice picture from the set of a new Lance Armstrong drama directed by Stephen Frears.

Some Final Thoughts on Radio Festival 2013

The Lowry - Salford

Well it’s only been a little under twenty-four hours, but having essentially just published notes on what took place during the sessions I saw, I thought it was better to step back and have a more considered view.

First of all, there are a few things I missed, but have since caught up with. Charlotte Church’s John Peel Lecture made headlines and is worth catching up with on iPlayer (although I’m unclear as to why there’s a relatively short expiry date on catching it).

I also missed Helen Boaden’s speech on Monday, but that’s up at the BBC’s Media Centre.

And I hope that Simon Elme’s audio soundscape, recorded and edited during the Festival, gets uploaded somewhere. Due to an overrun at the John Lloyd session, I missed a chunk of it.

Over the last year or so, Sound Women, the organisation dedicated to raising the profile of women in the radio industry, has had a significant impact. I would be surprised if there’s a single radio executive who, when making an appointment hasn’t considered some of the issues that Sound Women has rightfully raised. Perhaps the organisation’s biggest success to date is the recent announcement from BBC Director General Tony Hall to aspire to have half of BBC Local Radio stations’ breakfast shows presented by women by the end of 2014. Well – I’ve used the word “aspire” but it’s not completely clear what the deadline really means. However, even without getting into the nitty-gritty of whether co-presenting counts, or what happens if current presenters have longer-term contracts, it’s clearly a fine aspiration. It’s not without its critics, with some wondering if men in some of those roles might be dropped through no fault of their own. While others wonder if there are enough high calibre candidates in place right now. Clearly there are “enough”, but the argument goes that if we agree that there has been an institutional bias against women in the past, it might need longer to get top quality candidates who are at the right level.

I’m not a programmer or a presenter. I don’t know.

But what I do know is that this year’s Festival was at the very least informed by Sound Women. There was a starkly noticeable increase in female speakers – quite deliberately so.

Fi Glover and Jane Garvey were brilliant hosts replacing Radcliffe and Maconie who’d been running things for the last couple of years. I should though note that in another reversal, Jon Holmes held the fort in room two, replacing Margherita Taylor who’s done the job superbly in the past.

And most panels or discussions had women on them. There was at least one short film (and may have been more that I missed) entitled the XX Factor which attempted to make us rethink some of our preconceptions. So we had a version of 5 Live’s 606 presented solely by women.

But perhaps most notably, former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith spoke at the Festival. I missed that session (as it clashed with a superb session from Laurence Grissell), but Smith said enough to generate press coverage. Smith called for positive discrimination for women in radio but in my view, I think that’d be a very dangerous precedent to set. If we set quotas for women, how about ethnic minorities (also likely to be under-represented), or those with disabilities? And just radio? Why not every industry? The Cabinet’s still quite male too.

I thought that Ashley Tabor hit the nail on the head when he explained that Global Radio hires people based solely on their skills:

“At Global we have a saying – good honest casting. By which we mean the right person gets the job at the right moment based on their skills and qualifications. It has absolutely nothing to do with their sex, race and creed. The person has to get the gig based on their credentials and skills and abilities.”

Of course, there clearly is an underrepresentation of women in radio – particularly in presenting. And the industry needs to make sure that there are the opportunities for women to learn the skills to mean that they can get that job when they apply.

That underrepresentation is especially notable in technical areas, where there’s a much broader issue of significantly fewer women working in those professions. In the IET’s 2012 Skills Survey just 8% of IT employees are female, and women represent just 6% of engineering employees.

Whereas it seems as though there’s a significantly better representation of women in the radio sales industry (I should note that the best figures I could find came from the IPA’s 2012 Census which reports 49% of the advertising industry is female – although it’s certainly a much lower figure in the senior roles).

But gender diversity is not nearly the only area that needs addressing in radio.

My own particular bête noire in the industry, is the lack of diversity in backgrounds of new entrants. Radio, I believe, is profoundly middle class. And while necessarily, it’s exclusionary on the basis of education – most roles requiring a certain skillset even in entry positions – I think that it actively discriminates against people joining from the industry from poorer backgrounds in the way people practically enter the business.

Again, Ashley Tabor was on the money when he pointed out that many people who find their way into radio, get into it via work experience and through people they know. The singularly best way to get entry into the industry is to work for no money and make yourself useful. I’m looking in particular at commercial radio here but I’ve heard stories about the BBC too.

And that’s profoundly exclusionary.

You almost certainly have to live in a big city – and quite probably have to come to London. You need to be able to support yourself, and have somewhere to live, perhaps for weeks, months or even years at a time before getting a paid position. And if you manage to jump through all those hoops, and you’re good, then with a fair wind, you’ll get in.

However if you live a long way from the big city, and don’t have a friend in London in whose flat you can crash, or have a ready means of income to support your own board and lodgings while you’re doing “work experience”, then you’re out of luck. In reality, that means you need parents who can afford to subsidise you as you seek that permanent job. And that means that we miss out on talent.

(The issue was recently raised on the Media Guardian podcast with an unnamed station accused of serially using unpaid staff for paid positions.)

I think it’s vital for the radio industry that a wider range of voices gets through our doors. So things like Global’s Academy are really important.

This isn’t a radio-only issue either. I’ve never worked in television sector, but from what I’ve read, the problem is much worse there with unpaid positions rampant.

Anyway, I only mention all of this because the women in radio issue was very overtly tackled in this year’s Festival. And I’d love to see some of these broader issues about the lifeblood of our industry tackled in a future Festival. To stay relevant, we need a broad church of voices and creativity.

Back to other thoughts that occur to me after this year’s Festival.

I still hate panels I’m afraid. That’s not to say that you can’t put several people on stage at once. It can work well. But the structure I particularly dislike is one where each person gets to speak for a few minutes, and there’s then a “discussion.”

More often than not, each speaker will overrun, the “discussion” can end up unfocused because the three speakers have been put together by committee, and before anything meaningful is reached, we’ve run out of time anyway. You’re also asking a great deal of your moderator to try to generate a genuine discussion in those circumstances.

But there were a few good debates – with the highlight perhaps being the Richard Bacon session on BBC Trust. It was rough and tumble stuff, and Bacon kept things moving bringing in audience members and panellists alike.

That said, I felt terribly sorry for Belinda Allen of Celador who was essentially silent throughout the discussion. She didn’t say a word for the first half an hour, and barely anything thereafter. As I say, it was clear that the organisers were trying to ensure most panels had female representation, but between Alan Yentob and Trevor Kavanagh, it’s always going to take an especially feisty individual to get their voice heard within that session.

What I would say though, is that she was the only real link to radio on the panel, since the discussion was actually about BBC management practices and BBC TV. It still made for an enjoyable session.

Nihal has a good future as an interviewer! I don’t know to what extent there had been a “pre-interview” with Jonathan Wall or Liam Fisher, but he was lobbing grenades into the conversation from the off. He’d be an interesting voice if he ever wanted to head in a current affairs direction.

I thought that TechCon was pretty good this year (Disclaimer: I’m on the committee), with really interesting discussions on quality and the how radio might be able to utilise 4G. Sadly, as I had ducked out into the main festival, I missed a session on Loudness which I do think is an important issue in radio today. There is an awful lot of poor quality being introduced into FM radio to make it “louder”.

It’s always great to get a live demo. And the highlight this year was surely the work done by Rashid Mustafa of Ofcom. It was a wonderful thing to be able to tune my pocket DAB radio into a digital service originating on a Raspberry Pi! Yes – you needed another PC and some other kit to make it all work, but it’s a terrific proof of concept and allied with his fantastic report into low-powered DAB, opens up lots of doors for stations that have hitherto felt left out by a digital switchover in radio.

I was very pleased to see far fewer videos this year. I’ve been critical in the past of videos which are really no more than sales videos selling your station or brand. This year, the videos that I did see were used well to illustrate points.

You can always tell the people who’ve practised their piece and those who are winging it. We did occasionally suffer a poorly prepared presenter, or more likely, someone with no understanding of time. But what I really like are focused presentations that deliver something specific. And as I mentioned, Laurence Grissell did that in spades with his piece on Storytelling.

The Radio Remembers sequence was once again excellent – and stern words from the host warned people not to try to leave (or enter) the room while it was playing. I do hope that a wider audience – including listeners – gets to hear and see the piece.

Scariest person at this year’s Festival was Millie Riley of We Are Grape and Radio 1. I don’t doubt for a second that her observations about how unimportant radio is in the lives of the young today were both unpalatable and accurate. It’s healthy to tell it as it is. Someone did mention in passing how bored they were of hearing about how youth is listening to less radio each year, but to ignore it would be to put your head in the sand. That’s why what Ben Cooper and Andy Roberts do with their brands is so important. And I had to laugh when Charlie Sloth (who I like, but I know leaves some people a bit cold) noted just how “old” the room was, and felt the need to explain that “sick” is actually quite good.

Perhaps the most interesting thing I saw at the Festival was a demo of iTunes Radio on an iPad that thought it was in the US. Yes – I know that there are instructions around, even in my inbox – but I don’t own any iOS devices so this was instructive.

I must say that I was actually quite underwhelmed. The service looks decent, but nothing special. Of course the massive strength they have is that millions of devices will automatically enable that button without owners doing anything on the day that Apple switches it on in the UK or elsewhere. Today, you have to proactively download Spotify, Deezer, Rdio or whatever. iTunes Radio will just be there. And that’s how they’ll get numbers.

And doing deals with the record labels to have personally curated playlists from stars like Katy Perry is very smart. Labels also have the space to plug their choice of acts. Time will tell how successful it becomes.

And here’s something I’ve noticed as an aside. iTunes has actually always had “radio” in it. But in recent years it has become a bit hidden and you’ve had to work harder to seek it out switching it “on” in the preferences of iTunes.

It’s also a horrible experience. To listen to Absolute Radio, for example, you need to know that the station is categorised as Top 40/Pop (!), and then find it in a long list of 798 similarly categorised stations.

In recent iterations “Radio” moved from the left hand bar to being a tab on top of Music – again, only if you turned it on in preferences.

In iTunes 11, “Radio” is now called “Internet Radio”. Whereas Apple’s new streaming product is called “Radio”.

That makes sense doesn’t it?

It’s one thing adopting an existing word for your new product. It’s another to rebrand the older product as something else!

Returning again to the Festival, I thought one of the missed opportunities was the session on causing offence. While it was an at times rambunctious session – and with Nick Ferrari on the panel, that perhaps wasn’t surprising – I’d have like the session to explore the disparity in rules between BBC and commercial radio a bit more. It always feels to me that commercial radio is treated unfairly – there being no radio equivalent of the watershed.

Also given the “explicit” nature of a lot of music today, there was a missed area to be explored. It’s interesting to read reports of student radio stations “banning” artists who use what they consider sexist material in their videos. Should we be glorifying artists like Rihanna or Robin Thicke as they race to the bottom with their rush to get views on YouTube?

The key missing element of this year’s Festival? Sales or advertising. There was a single session that properly tackled it, and not altogether successfully I felt. It’s a critical part of the mix for half the industry, and I’m always disappointed when I see so few attendees from agencies or clients. So I’d consider its inclusion could be an opportunity.

All things considered, I did enjoy this year’s Radio Festival. There will continue to be challenges as we contract as an industry. But it’s important that we have get togethers like this to learn from each other. You can research things online to your heart’s content, but it’s not the same as speaking with people and striking up thoughtful conversations.

It’ll be fascinating to see what direction Paul Robinson will take the Festival next year.

Radio Festival 2013 – Day 2

Fi Glover and Jane Garvey

Note: Again, these are uncorrected “notes” that I’m publishing live. Sorry for any typos or mistakes. I’ll try to tidy things up later. Day One’s notes are here.

And we’re back with day two of the Radio Festival. Jane Garvey and Fi Glover are still our hosts in the main auditorium.

Ashley Tabor with Torin Douglas

The first session is an interview with Global Radio’s Ashley Tabor conducted by Torin Douglas.

“Content, content, content,” is what is most important to Tabor. But you have to acknowledge that people are listening in different ways.

Then we get into the thorny issue of the GMG takeover. Tabor says that they cleared national advertising and programming. But it came down to local advertising. “We were very surprised,” he says. He puts the case that a local advertiser has a wide array of advertising options – local press, the internet, local TV, outdoor etc. They’re challenging on that basis.

They’re now awaiting the outcome of the appeal. There are many possible outcomes, and he’s limited in what he can say. But half of what they wanted, they have. But they “genuinely believe it’s wrong. But life goes on.”

He says it’s about great people, but yes, they have a brand-led strategy. However that doesn’t mean getting rid of local stations. He points out that a DJ can be in the local area but say nothing about the locality. What’s important to Tabor is what comes out of the speakers.

Asked if he’d like to own all of commercial radio, he says he’s not sure if the answer is “yes”!

He feels we’re much further along in a digital switchover, and it’s important to get a positive message from government at the end of this year. In that respect he’d echo what Helen Boaden and Dee Ford said yesterday. He’d like to hear government say that DAB will be the dominant listening platform going forward. Tabor says that he can’t currently say with confidence to someone that they can get their local station on DAB outside London at the moment. Once build-out happens, he can.

He talks about the importance of DAB in cars, and he’d like DCMS and DFT get together to help move things along.

Tabor sings the praises of Tim Davie in pulling the industry together. In general terms the BBC is good a thing. It’s well funded and occupies lots of space. As long as it makes distinctive programming then that’s good.

We watch a Nick Clegg video made for LBC’s recent 40th birthday. A good gag about the cabinet! Torin Douglas wants to know what plans Global has for LBC. Tabor is very happy especially with the shows that have politicians like Nick Clegg or Boris Johnson talking to the voters.

When asked if it’s a good example of local radio, Tabor questions that assumption and says that a lot of calls come from outside of London. (I wonder if that means LBC could properly go national?)

Turning to Capital, he thinks that as long as we keep innovating, radio can endure. Capital’s 10-19 numbers are up massively he says. He’s very excited about Capital Xtra, and these just show that you need to be proactive in today’s world.

Tabor believes that the big events like Summertime Ball and Jingle Bell Ball are important parts of making sure that the brand is relevant to young listeners. He also wants to mention other events from Classic FM to Xfm – they do a broad range of events at Global.

Visualisation is about bite-sized bits of content. It’s not about streaming your presenter “eating a sausage roll!”

Asked about the talent management side of the business, Tabor thinks that the two are linked. “The Wanted’s new album is out on November 14th,” he jokes.

Douglas tries to draw in what Charlotte Church talked about yesterday, and women in the business. Global employs people on the basis of skills and nothing more. He doesn’t like getting into numbers, and he wants to try to concentrate solely on skills. Global has an academy and wants to bring young people into the industry. They have some plans that they’re not ready to announce quite yet. He wants to create a path for those who don’t have a way into radio through knowing others and some of the other sideways routes.

Asked about his own habits, he says he likes to listen to lots of different stations – both his own and competitors. He chooses his radio based on mood. He says he’s immensely proud of the radio they produce and that drives him. He says that if he ever wakes up and doesn’t relish it, that’s the day he should stop!

Geoff Lloyd from Absolute Radio introduces a session called Deal or No Deal. To set the scene he points out that in the first half of this year the IAB said that £3bn was generated in the first half of this year, compared with £260m for radio.

Paul Davies of Microsoft, Kelvin Tillinghast of the Saga Group and Mick Style of MEC Manchester are on the stage.

Geoff Lloyd Deal or No Deal Session

Davies talks about the challenges that a company like Microsoft stand out with so many massive competitors. He says that they’ve moved away from spot advertising and towards deeper brand engagement. Tillinghast says that radio is one of the few places that a creative writer can ply their trade – copy elsewhere is getting shorter. But he says that radio has become a “dumping ground for business need.” There’s hardly any space in radio advertising now. He describes legal disclaimers as an “epileptic vomit.” Style says that radio is powerful medium for brand endorsement. He talks about Netflix’s sponsorship of afternoon drive on Capital. He’s really pleased with the way it can be so integrated into the fabric of the programming.

Lloyd wants to know if radio is able to provide the innovation. Davies says it can be. It’s not easy – but it’s the kind of stuff that cuts through. He highlights a recent MS Office campaign that got kids to use Office software to do a project on what they wanted to do. He thought it was interesting that you could use audio to emotionally drive something quite visual.

Why are almost all radio ads terrible Lloyd wants to know! Tillinghast says that traditionally TV and press were the primary media. He thinks that the briefing is wrong for radio creatives. Time is also an issue he says. Once upon a time, a creative could disappear for two weeks, whereas they’re lucky if they get a day nowadays.

Style says radio is unique in its flexibility to use branded content. It can be fast, and there is still plenty of potential.

Davies admits that traditionally you have started from a 30 second TV spot. But that’s changing and clients are waking up. Today you’re likely to get all disciplines in the room and you look for a big idea. If radio can get a seat at the table, and that’s how you can move on.

There does seem to be a consensus amongst the panel that you can’t think of single media alone, and social media can be the glue holding some of it together.

Lloyd wonders whether ad agencies are “wiser” spending money on services like Spotify because people want to hear that music. Style isn’t sure that’s true. There are benefits because of the real time response. But the scale is still much smaller than radio. He notes that their revenues are a fraction of overall commercial spend.

How do we inspire creatives to want to make good radio ads rather it being something they knock off before going to the pub. Tillinghast says that if you want to win awards, the easiest category to win awards in is radio. He judged a radio award category and got it down from ten hours to thirty minutes very quickly because there aren’t that many good radio ads. He notes that South African radio ads are really good because radio is more important.

But the problem, he says, is that at a dinner party, it’s the TV ads that people talk about. “That’s the ego of the creative.”

We need to “make them famous.”

Davies says that blockers for radio are “you can’t see it” and accountability. But it’s the same for TV where like all advertisers, they waste lots of money. But he notes Sky is launching their service. And if TV is figuring that out, then radio needs to.

Up to room two now for “The Art of Storytelling” with Laurence Grissell. He’s talking about stories and how humans react to stories.

Laurence Grissell - The Art of Storytelling

Good stories cast a spell – he says. He opens with a tease and acknowledges that we know we must have a structure that we know won’t reveal everything at the start. Newspapers or much of the internet doesn’t do this.

We don’t like the ending being given away. And in today’s age, that’s still the case.

“After food and before love, stories are vital for the survival of the species,” says an American feature maker who’s name I didn’t catch.

There’s also a nice audio clip with Steve Punt talking about the best selling postcards in the Tate – which led us on to “The Crying Boy“. It’s probably worth going away to listen to it, rather me trying to paraphrase it here.

He notes that the accompanying video has reached over 100,000 views on YouTube. It has spread to Russia and Brazil. Stories are universal.

Music is also an important part of the subtext. We hear the Jaws music. Grissell notes that when he watched the film again recently, you realise that the mechanical shark is the most disappointing part. The imagination is better. We hear a Jarvis Cocker clip that says the same thing.

In radio we can’t “Show the monster.”

But if you play by the rules of storytelling, the truth doesn’t always matter. We’re sometimes imposing narrative on sequential events.

For example, how much of something like Google’s success was luck? We attribute its success to its brilliant founders. But in reality there’s luck involved.

We hear a clip of German programme maker Jens Jarisch who talks about stories as a container.

When it comes to telling stories, we’re all experts. “We think carefully about the selection of details and the order of them.”

Fictional story rules set up by John Yorke are:

– a central character
– someone you empathise with
– who has a problem which they must solve
– then goes on a journey to solve the problem
– a moment near the end where all hope seems lost

And these rules work for radio stories.

Grissell uses La Traviata as an example of an ending. He draws on another of his series “Don’t Log Off” and illustrates endings.

Online and in papers, stories “dribble to an end.” But we can end them properly in radio. An audience wants a story with twists and turns, and if it’s a good one, they’ll stay the course. We don’t want to know the ending right at the start even in today’s world. We’re willing to wait.

A terrific session.

And I should mention that whoever made Jon Holmes “entry” video deserves credit!

And I’m looking forward to hearing the piece that Simon Elmes has been recording and editing during the Festival.

Back in the main room, it’s a session on youth with Charlie Sloth hosting the session.

Charlie Sloth "Playing" GTA V

He begins “playing” GTA V with some facts about youth listening on screen alongside.

Ben Cooper is first up in this session to talk about “Radio and the HD Generation”. He starts off wondering if the last thing we see at night is our phone?

The HD generation is the “head down generation” and he believes you have to win the battle of the mobile phone. They look at the day “from bed to bed.”

Bed to Bed

Everything Radio 1 is doing can be summarised as listen/watch/share.

In the last month 10 people clicked every second on some Radio 1 content on their YouTube channel. Bastille sessions – Kanye West interviews – Greg James version of the “Wrecking Ball” video. And Radio 1 has an iPlayer channel coming soon – but it’ll be for their home made content. It won’t have videos and be a competitor to Capital TV.

Radio 1 and 1 Xtra will have “Social Media DJs” to just look after their social media. So rather than asking programme teams to do it.

Cooper believes that this is how they’ll got onto that important screen and survive this HD generation.

Then Andy Roberts of Kiss joins Cooper on stage. Roberts says that “radio” is an old fashioned word for his audience. But it’s a challenge with commercial radio getting content onto the devices where people want them.

But commercially it’s less about spot advertising.

Sloth wonders why an advertiser would even use radio when it’s so cheap to advertise online. Roberts talks about the scale you can get. There are challenges, but that’s why ideas are important.

Cooper says radio isn’t broken and it’s still very successful, but there are indicators that the direction is changing. But there are still 11m people listening to Radio 1 every week. We get doom and gloom because the media is always interested in the next big thing.

Cooper concludes by saying that they’ll continue to sell their stories but do it on new platforms.

Back upstairs (I know, dear reader, that you want to know about the layout here) for a session called Ask the Audience with Lucie Cave, editor of Heat. On stage are Kim McNally and Patrick Collins from the BBC, Cliff Fluet of Lewis Silkin and Martyn Lee from Absolute 80s.

The session is about how we use and discover music today.

McNally and Collins are showing us some research findings about how music tastes and behaviours are changing. Today there is a lack of a dominant media for shaping popular music today. Music is a commodity with lots of choice and access.

There are some very different ways to discover new music from TV and Shazaam to YouTube. And there’s a greater need for shared live experiences. Amongst 35+ audiences, this could be without actually going to the live event. But there’s also a greater need for guidance – trusted gatekeepers. McNally says the this is an area that BBC Playlister can help out with.

The charts are also devalued these days. YouTube views are much more important for many young teenagers. It’s the young teens who really need to know who is actually number one (Has One Direction beaten Rihanna?).

The younger audience doesn’t specialise in a single genre. They’re less divided than audiences perhaps once more. 25-45s are more genre specific, but tastes broaden over time. The “Eclectic Mainstream” still enjoy discovering new artists. While the mainstream stick to more familiar fare. While the research didn’t measure size, the former group are likely to be smaller, although growing.

45+ audiences are divided into those who are more open and like being in touch, but could be more niche. People are experimenting later into their lives. You have to reach 70+ before people get really closed about their musical tastes.

We were shown a video of some younger and older listeners explaining some of these things.

Ask The Audience panel

Then Collins talks about the parent-child relationship. He talks about cross-generational artists like Adele, Jessie J, Elbow, Snow Patrol and Ed Sheeran.

There is some evidence of dissatisfaction about “samey” music. And people find it much harder to express what they like in terms of genres. There is so much crossover. Collins mentions in the past going to HMV and having to determine what category an artist might fall into.

Urban in particular is a genre that people can’t really explain. Another video expresses this more clearly.

But this can mean that it’s hard for radio stations to talk about their music if nobody’s clear about genres. However you can instead match moods and tlak about music in that way: uplifting, melodic, relaxed, dancey.

A nice chart that shows how different groups still find music (and it’s more than discovery).

Finding Music

He notes that a lot of people complain about algorithmic recommendation systems. They’re not good enough at the moment.

Martyn Lee is next up to talk a little about Absolute 80s and gives a bit of history surrounding the station. He explains how as time went on the playlist differentiated further from the kind of music that Absolute Radio would have played – you’ll get 80s cheese on a Saturday night.

He talks about defining the audience in terms of their musical interest rather than the commercial imperative of 25-44s. He also explains how they’re not trying to make it sound like a station would have sounded in the 80s. The presenters were not broadcasting in the 80s for example!

Cliff Fluet tells us that digital music services are audio and not radio – radio is a lean back medium while a jukebox isn’t radio – it leads to “the paradox of choice”.

But services are moving towards new models that claim to be more than algorithms. So beatsmusic is one to watch according to Fluet.

And data will be unlocked from companies like Pandora, iTunes (via Genius) and Spotify who have acquired Tunigo.

Then there are contextual experiences that can add things like the weather or determine playlists based on mood.

Last.fm sought to understand the wisdom of crowds and to try to surprise you.

We’re implored to download Swell which pulls down podcasts and it’ll programme a whole stream of radio. But it looks at how quickly you start listening and determine what you like. The idea is to make it easier to lean back.

Fluet is disappointed by how much radio has used Facebook and Twitter. He notes how its being adopted by TV.

Once you add all these elements together, and you start to become a lot like radio. So radio can still dominate in a world where we’re moving closer together. Online advertising has done so well because of knowing who we are.

Fluet like the BBC’s new Playlister – and he thinks it could do for radio what iPlayer did for TV.

Before the lunch break, we got an excellent Radio Remembers video.

After a break, we’re back and in the main hall where Richard Bacon is leading a discussion on Trust in the BBC. And it’s live right now on Five Live. So you might as well listen live rather than trust in the accuracy of my note-taking.

Richard Bacon and Trust in the BBC Panel

Alan Yentob, Trevor Kavenagh of The Sun and Belinda Allen of Celador Radio, are on the panel. There are also listeners in the room who’ve brought their opinions with them we’re told!

You’ll note I’ve not been attempting to summarise this session – but it is very lively and we’re going to run out of time. Worth a listen back on iPlayer if you missed it.

In summary, it was an entertaining hour well managed by Richard Bacon. To be honest – I thought that Belinda Allen was a little surplus to requirements as the she didn’t even get to say anything for half an hour. I guess – in reality the discussion wasn’t actually about radio. It was about TV and the management of the BBC. And I think that Kavanagh was sent home with his tail between his legs!

5 Live v Talksport

The next session is 5 Live v Talksport with Jonathan Wall of the former, and Liam Fisher of the latter. Nihal is in the chair.

Wall is asked about the point of 5 Live Sports Extra which he defends with particular respect to cricket. Then Nihal asks about Colin Murray and his recent move to Talksport. Wall claims it was down to him having a wealth of presenters and essentially Murray was third choice. So he had to move to get more work that he wanted.

Nihal’s next question is about the overlap between the two presenters on breakfast whereby one of them comes in early and does an hour on their own. Wall says it works for them.

Next Nihal asks about the lack of women on Talksport (there’s one). Fisher replies that he’s increased Georgie Bingham’s shows since he’s been there, and there are also people on Colin Murray’s new show. He also said that there are females both sides of the microphones on the station.

Nihal continues the tough line of questioning with the “openly misogynistic” presenters in Keyes and Gray, and Stan Collymore. What’s the message they’re sending out to their female listeners? Fisher replies that they’ll be judged by the content. They’ve made past mistakes, but not on their station. He thinks that Colin Murray’s programme is much more accessible to

Nihal is not pulling his punches: “Between you, there are more brown faces at an EDL rally.”

Wall says that he’s reflecting the country, and runs through having Ian Wright, Adil Ray, Phil Gayle and Aasmah Mir. He says that they do scout for talent. He says that they have a plan – although Nihal presses him on exactly what the plan.

Fisher says he doesn’t have a plan. He admits that there should be more black and Asian voices on the station. Roni Irani left the breakfast show. They will look for opportunities from ex-footballers. But Nihal wants to know why they don’t have a plan. Fisher says that 14% of their listeners are members of ethnic minorities. That’s beyond the national average.

Fisher is jealous of the BBC’s resources – they have to get every drop out of the resources they do have. He’d take Robbie Savage!

Wall thinks that Talksport can pay more. Fisher doesn’t agree. Nobody will talk figures though…

Wall is full of respect for Talksport for getting some of their new signings. He thinks that they could take the next creative step and work with indies. There’s a bit of jousting about indies, but Wall reckons that some of his top shows are from indies.

Fisher thinks that if he was running 5 Live, he’d shout more about the news elements of the station. Wall retorts with Question Time Extra Time, Sunday Politics, but he says that they’re trying to do more.

The controllers are then asked who their listeners are:

Talksport listeners are: passionate, engaged, interactive, male (Nihal), white… (ironically)
5 Live are: interested, engaged, open, bright

On sports rights, Wall said they can’t do everything. They have four of seven Premier League pacakges. Talksport had Lions rights. 5 Live dropped NFL which Absolute Radio picked up. They can’t do everything.

Nihal says Richard Park want’s to “bury” Kiss by starting Capital Xtra. Who does Fisher want to “bury”? Fisher says at times the BBC and himself will go head to head. They have to make sure they sound different. But they can push to the times outside the coverage. So tonight they don’t have the England game, but they can do programmes before and after it.

Can you “bury” your competition with rights? Fisher says that he has to be sure that he can monetise the rights.

Wall says that it can be about reputation. 5 Live want more football. Talksport can shout about phone-ins. When Absolute Radio gets in the game it’s a big spend.

Wall also says that they were complacent before they had competition. The biggest competition at the World Cup next summer will be getting under 35s to listen to football on the radio. Nihal says that Asian Network is doing quite well there!

Nihal is very disappointed that everyone really likes the pair of them!

One thing that does come out of this session is that Nihal can be a very punchy interviewer!

Caroline Allen interviews Gwyneth Williams

LBC’s 30 Under 30 winner Caroline Allen is interviewing Gwyneth Williams next. She tells us about how she listens to the radio through the day, and having grown up in South Africa, listened to a lot to get the news.

It might be a cliché but it is a privilege to work at Radio 4. The collection of talent is fantastic and hugely enjoyable she says.

Asked about getting another woman on the Today Programme, Williams says that they’ve known for a while that they needed someone else. And she’s thrilled to have her as well as being well timed. But it was a long discussion, because everything on Radio 4 is a long discussion.

She doesn’t think the audience is conservative. If it’s thoughtful then it works. She references Jim Al-Khalili’s show.

She misses being able to keep her hand in and make programmes.

The BBC Blue Room is here at the Festival and I had a nice look at both iTunes Radio (which I’ve not seen in the flesh) and the remarkable camera attached to the new PS4. There is some significant technology in both the new PlayStation and Xbox.

What the...

I came in late to a session called What the #$!? about what you can and can’t do on the radio. I came in with the discussion, led by Mark Lawson, talking about apologies. Nick Ferrari mentions some of the language he hears on the Afternoon Play!

Paul Smith talks about the general use of language can cause offence. If something is “schizophrenic” you will get complaints if it’s misused.

Shelagh Fogerty says that after the infamous Rage Against the Machine incident, they had more complaints about Fogerty telling people to vote Joe McEldry got more complaints.

The entertaining discussion turns to an apology that Robbie Fowler made about saying two players were “fighting like girls”, and in general the feeling was that he shouldn’t really have needed to apologise, and at another time, there’d have been no need.

Lawson wonders about some of the gags on I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue (e.g. “Countryside: The murder of Piers Morgan”). Smith says that people do know what to expect those programmes. SO people understand what the joke is.

The conversation turns to “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead” following the death of Margaret Thatcher. Ferrari thinks that they shouldn’t have even played the short excerpt that they did trying to put it in context. Fogerty also found it uncomfortable and would have not played it at all. Ferrari seems to think that the BBC is as full of lefties as Trevor Kavanagh did earlier.

Smith tries to explain that many of the younger listeners to Radio 1 wouldn’t have known who Thatcher was, so they had to try to explain it.

Lawson wonders if we’re always protecting the most sensitive. Smith says no – you’d play nothing. But you have to consider everything most of the time. And in particular you have to think of children.

Lawson finds it astonishing that the BBC thinks about what plays go out in the afternoon when it’s half-term! (I thought we all knew that).

Social Media Session

Upstairs Dan McQuillan is mid-way through a really good sounding talk on using social media on the radio. He’s telling us about some of the tools which do sound awesome. Otherwise I sadly missed Alison Winter and Tommy Sandhu’s pieces. Emma Barnett wraps it up!

John Lloyd and Jon Holmes

The final ssession see Jon Holmes interview John Lloyd. Another session I’m not going to attempt to summarise. Is it because I’m flagging at the end of two days of note-taking? Partially. Is it because it’s really hard. Yes. Is it because, the jokes would get lost? Yes.

So I’ll sign off now. Hope these notes have been useful.