In the week when Bauer released their style guide and the latest set of RAJAR figures got released, what does radio mean to you?

That’s a question I put to those who follow me on Twitter in a poll, with three options.

“Music, Presenters, Local”
– Radio to you means the music comes first, presentation second, with local relevance something you can probably go without.

“Presenters & Localness”
– It’s not about the music, it’s about the personalities that bring you the music, with a healthy wedge of local relevance.

“Music, Music, Music”
– You don’t care about being local, you don’t care about the presenters, you just want to hear the new single by Katy Perry or the classics from Take That. Everything else is just noise.

Out of 47 votes, 60% voted in favour of radio being the music first, presentation second. If we are to follow Bauer’s style guidelines for their BC1 stations, then they’ve effectively hit the nail on the head with that. Although you’ll have to be quick with those links.

Back in the 80s, 90s and even the early 00’s before networking and heritage stations were sold on to form the big brands we know of today, radio to me was all about being local, having a variety of music mixed in with personalities who could easily talk for longer than 10-15 seconds.

My local station used to be Fox FM in Oxford (It’s now a Heart). Fox was actually based about fifteen/twenty minutes away from where I live, based in the county it was broadcasting too. It had a wider mix of music and personality. It was local, it covered everything Oxfordshire, and Party at the Park was one of its success stories throughout the years. That to me, was radio.

Now, I tend to think of radio as a national entity, not least because I know how the industry works, working within the industry myself. But to the general, everyday, run of the mill listener – how do they consume radio, and who on earth fills out these RAJAR diaries?

We hear an awful lot about RAJAR every year. Chris Evans has x amount of listeners on BBC Radio 2, whilst Tom and Jackie at Breakfast on The Robin has less, year on year. I feel this is something for another blog, but worth a mention briefly here; I don’t know of anyone who has a RAJAR diary. So whenever I listen to Jack 2, Magic or Chris Moyles, how do I get accounted in all those figures? Personally, I think we need to rethink how we analyse who listens to the radio in the UK, in a digital world, surely there’s a better way than just filling out a listening diary.

The medium may have progressed in networking, advertising revenue and listenership overall across the UK, but has it really developed a true meaning, or has networking, group ownership and lack of personality made the commercial radio scene in the UK stale?

Of course, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller stations in the UK providing that personality driven radio we all know and love, ranging from smaller commercial groups, to community, hospital & student radio. If you hate the thought of networking, or quick 10-15 second links, I recommend you listen to those stations, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Your thoughts on the meaning of Radio:

All the Hits, All Day Long. Oh, don’t worry, I’ve passed the content of this blog to my Content Controller, who’s approved it. Pinnell FM.

Ian Pinnell

Ian Pinnell is an award winning broadcaster & creative from Oxfordshire. He currently serves as a Trustee for two charities, and Publicity Officer for Radio Cherwell, hospital radio in Oxford.

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