Commercial Radio Should Shut Up

By its very nature Commercial Radio is a business and no business has a right to exist. It has to prove itself worthy of its customers. It has to show it provides something somebody wants.

In response to

A great considered piece. The points you make could be debated endlessly, and probably will as long as we have BBC radio which we all pay something towards.

Even as a commercial radio fanboy (because I think that’s what I am) I have ‘tweated’ many times along the same lines as Nicky Campbell this week (and the clock’s only just moved to Wednesday). But my reason to get the ‘bleaters’ to shut up is that the commercial radio industry is coming across so poorly it would be better saying nothing. Seriously, tell your colleagues to shut up.

It’s a shame I’m saying that because this much radio chatter hasn’t been in the news for years. But Commercial Radio is a commercial business and it’s killing itself every time it’s quoted somewhere. It doesn’t need the BBC, Wogan, Moyles or Evans to do it; it’s doing it to itself.

The week started with Richard Park effectively suggesting that he’d love to take Jamie & Harriet national at breakfast but can’t and that blasted BBC etc. etc. If you’re a listener to Heart in, say, Norwich, what did that suggest to you that the boss of your local radio station thinks about the shows he’s putting on for you? If you’re a local advertiser in Norwich what impression does it give of the radio station you’re thinking about spending some of your limited marketing budget on? If you’re an agency-type in London you now think you should stick your cash on Heart London and forget the network (because it’s not as good as the London programme, is it?). And if you’re The City aren’t you glad Global Radio isn’t traded because your investment might have just tanked.

Then we have the Moyles longest-innings, Wogan going, they-won’t-like Evans stories. Commercial Radio continues to complain about BBC salaries, changing targets of Radios 1 & 2 and how Moyles v Evans is bad for ‘the listener’. Nick Farrari sat on Newsnight last night moaning about the BBC; going as far as to suggest the BBC would show a promo for one of their stations after the programme which wasn’t very fair, competition wise. If I was any of those listeners, advertisers or agency people I would have come away thinking commercial radio can’t be very good can it? Ferrari’s a talk radio broadcaster used to twisting the point to say what he has to say and he had a prime(ish)-time national slot. He should have been championing the fantastic programming on commercial radio and how it was brilliant that all this great programming cost the listener nothing.

Now you may argue that this is really a lobbying exercise. Listeners & advertisers won’t take these words to heart (excuse the pun) but the government may hear. But Commercial Radio is leaving the impression (intended or otherwise) to 5 million Evans listeners and 7 million Moyles listeners that they shouldn’t have those shows. That could be 12 million people who don’t listen to Commercial Radio hearing somebody suggesting the programmes they love shouldn’t be there. Commercial Radio won’t be helped by alienating 12 million people, many of whom may come out saying to their MP – possibly in an election year – that Radios 1 & 2 should be kept as they are.

By its very nature Commercial Radio is a business and no business has a right to exist. It has to prove itself worthy of its customers. It has to show it provides something somebody wants. And, moreover, Commercial Radio is a media business. Any forward-thinking business, when faced with a glut of news about its industry would be spinning the positives; proving why we should be sampling their product and selling themselves. But, as Nicky Campbell said, Commercial Radio is bleating about how unfair the world is.

Lobby in private. In public shout about great Commercial Radio is.