Blog closure

28 06 2010

A quick update to say that this Blog is no longer being updated and is officially closed. For the purposes of preservation of content, the posts on this blog will be left undeleted and in their original form.

To see my most recent blog posts, check out



Hearing Aid

18 08 2009

A quick post to announce that I’ve been appointed as the SRA’s first Hearing Aid co-ordinator.

For those of you who don’t know, Hearing Aid is a series of charity events held across the UK.  There’s more on the 2008 event at the official website.

Hearing Aid was created by Livewire1350.  In the winter of 2006 the station decided to expand the event nationally for spring 2007.  It was officially supported by the SRA in 2008 and became an internal part of the SRA in April 2009.

Until earlier this year, Hearing Aid was co-ordinated by Dave Bradshaw, formerly of Livewire 1350 until he stood down from the position in February.  I’m pleased to be taking on the position and am looking forward to working with SRA member stations on raising as much money as possible for a good cause.

Fun Radio France… and an idea

16 08 2009

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…

OFCOM Consultations and Digital Britain

16 06 2009

Having waited the majority of my year as Development Officer for some OFCOM consultations to respond to, two have come along at once.

Earlier this month, the consultation on Access and Inclusion closed: I’ve written a response on behalf of the SRA, which will be published shortly.

Yesterday, OFCOM launched a Broadcast Review: we’ll also be responding to it in due course.

Part of our response will be based on the Digital Britain final report, which was published earlier today. 

Our response for the Access and Inclusion consultation stated that we believe the 2Mbps broadband speed targeted as the minimum for 2012 is acceptable but requested that OFCOM clarify their position on Digital Radio.

To a large extent, that question was answered with the publication of the Digital Britain Final Report today.  The proposals indicate that commercial radio should move from both FM and MW solely to DAB, by a date no later than 2015, with at least 2 years notice and only if 50% of radio consumption is via DAB.

It also suggests that “ultra-local” commercial and community stations should be allowed to either retain existing spectrum, orto be provided with FM frequencies as they are vacated.  MW will be phased out.

I see this as very good news for student radio, as many stations have the necessary equipment to broadcast on FM, but can’t due to lack of available spectrum.  However, costs need to be limited for FM spectrum and I won’t be surprised if the number of pirate stations increases: that remains my main concern from the proposals.

The OFCOM Broadcasting Review is, I think, a very radical document from OFCOM.  It proposes allowing community radio to not be restricted by the current 50% limit of funding from any one source and suggests allowing Outside Broadcasts to be sponsored by the venue.

I’ll publish my thoughts in full once we’ve submitted our response.

As always, get in touch with any thoughts.

Winding down…

1 06 2009

As some of you may be aware, I’m standing down from my position as Development Officer of the Student Radio Association.

As of today, we’re entering the handover month: effectively I’ll be job sharing with my successor, Sejal Kansara, for the month. I’ll leave the post at the end of June.

It’s been a hugely productive year for the SRA: starting with a major rebrand and new website (which is now constantly being improved) to arguably the best awards night in the event’s 13 year history and the biggest student radio conference ever held.

For me, it brings to a close nearly 6 years of student radio and close to a quarter of my life working towards improving student radio in Birmingham and nationally… starting with a last minute (and drunken) decision to present a Sunday afternoon show on October 26th 2003, to the antics of Southampton, York and ending with the exhausting long weekend that was the Leeds conference.

I’d like to take the opportunity to wish the next executive the best of success for the coming year.

As for this blog, I’ll keep it open and updated as best as I can, though the focus and content will move away from my own work to my thoughts on how industry movements will affect student radio.


Student Radio Conference 2009

12 04 2009

A quick post about the conference in Leeds.

It’s been a mental week: starting on Friday with loads of non-radio based travelling to Cardiff, Bristol and finally Swansea…

…leading to the CMA conference in Leicester on Saturday: which provided some useful infomation, particularly with regards to grant funding which I’m sure will be of use to student radio.

Sunday was a massive trip up north to Leeds for the SRA conference… there’s far FAR too much that happened to explain in full here but it was arguably the best ever (so says our previous Secretary)!

Having said that, I wasn’t re-elected to my position of Development Officer: the only low-light of the last week. Therefore I’ll be leaving my position by the summer.

I’ll keep this blog open as there’s still plenty to talk about, so keep checking back for more info on the industry and how student radio can go forward and improve.

Also, thanks to Mark, Matt, Tim, Sarah and Kate for the last year: it’s been an immense privilege working with all of you, and a year I won’t forget.


Heartification: round 2

23 03 2009

I’ll cover this in more detail via this blog within the next week but thought it would be a good idea to do a quick update on Heartification, the name given to Global Radio’s major rebranding of the majority of it’s heritage stations to the Heart name and format.

At 6am today 12 heritage stations owned by Global Radio were rebranded using the Heart name and format, bringing the total to 24. There are a further 9 stations that will lose their heritage names and join the Heart network later this year.

Round 2 affects stations in the South and South West of England, roughly covering the M4/M5 corridor from Reading to Plymouth (the only South Wales station owned by Global Radio, Red Dragon FM, is retaining it’s heritage name).

You can find the full map that covers all affected stations here.

All Heart network stations promote the same website on-air: (with helpful links for finding the station by it’s former heritage name).

Expect more on this in the next few days…