I’ve just come back from a week in France… where I took the opportunity to take advantage of my in-car radio.
I spent most of my time listening to Fun Radio – which is pretty much the same as Galaxy in the UK (being very dance/house music orientated with a smattering of urban music, though no R&B). Based on the advertising I could understand, I assume it’s targeting the male B/C1/C2/D demographic (my French is pretty abysmal but an advert for “Le premier chat sexy” using a female voice and giving out an SMS number is the giveaway…)
The one interesting thing I spotted though was the incredibly high rotation of the music – certain songs were being played every 2 hours or so, which continued into the late night schedule. It seems that the 9 hour “Party Fun” show from 9pm-6am is simply the same music as in the daytime schedule but with the tracks being mixed together (and not necessarily done nicely).
What’s really thrown me is that I’m talking about a very big national commercial station – which makes it a station playing the same music in a higher rotation than Galaxy but with national FM coverage.
So the idea… and something that Student radio can use to it’s advantage.
The one great benefit of the tracks being in such a high rotation was that it was fairly easy to work out which songs I liked and which I didn’t, as I knew that if I missed something it would be back on relatively quickly. It also meant there was no need to resort to a service like Shazzam or a visit to the station’s website.
It’s something I believe student radio should consider trying out – naturally, it won’t work for every station and I wouldn’t suggest trying such an idea during daytime – it’s better suited to overnights, particularly as the majority of student stations can’t access their studios overnight.
Fun Radio certainly takes this idea to the extreme but I can see some very good ways of making this work – local/unsigned music would benefit massively for such exposure, as would the more niche music genres of music.
I should say that the Fun Radio version is very polished – the music might be in a 2 hour rotation but, if it is voice-tracked, it doesn’t sound like it is. That’s a problem for student stations as you’d probably have to voice-track or pre-record the show but I don’t think it would impact too heavily in a negative way – and the extra exposure for the music you showcase is undoubtedly going to improve the profile of your station.
As an aside, it seems that France is not going with DAB – it’s using DMB instead. I suggest having a read of Grant Goddard’s Radio Blog, which was used as the weekly viewpoint in the Radio Today weekly email roundup sent last Monday. Grant talks about Germany deciding not to use more public funds for DAB and the impact it will have across Europe.
My own thoughts are more basic – it’s clear that even in Europe, different contries are using different standards and it’s a disappointment that we have such a variety of standards in the world – HD Radio (Hybrid Digital, not High Definition, as use in North America), DAB (and DAB +), DMB, DRM… just for starters. While FM can be bettered, it would be nice if we had one standard (FM is used pretty much globally, with Japan using slightly lower 76-90MHz range) rather than the multitude of competing standards… saying that, it’s pretty unlikely that’ll happen any time soon.
One final point – Radio 4 Long Wave is more than listenable to in northern France… during the day at least (thanks to signal and atmospheric conditions). But it’s surprising to me that the old analogue standards (LW/MW) are still going strong (at least until the targes in Digital Britain are met). Saying that, the TV transition to the current 625 line analogue standard lasted 21 years from the launch of BBC Two in 1964 until 1985. The current analogue 625 line standard will co-exist with DVB-T Digital in the UK for 10 years until the TV switchover to digital is completed in 2012. It makes me wonder just how long it will take for radio to go to one broadcast platform in the UK…