Can video save the radio star?

The latest Rajar radio listening figures may not make for positive reading, but they should not come as a surprise to anybody.

It is not Nick Grimshaw’s fault that his BBC Radio 1 breakfast show now attracts over a million less listeners than his predecessor’s did. Sure, Grimshaw may not be universally popular, but Chris Moyles was hardly the nation’s sweetheart (meanwhile the current most popular breakfast DJ in the UK is Chris Evans – make of that what you will).

The problem facing Grimshaw and Radio 1 is not just the downward trend in radio listening in general, but also a generational shift that is seeing those who do still tune in shift their preference to other stations.

Those who enjoyed the Radio 1 breakfast show five or 10 years ago have moved on; maybe to Radio 2, possibly to 6Music, or perhaps even abandoning radio altogether.

This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, given that Radio 1 is a station aimed at the younger generation. But if the younger generation continue to shy away from radio, how can listening figures ever improve?

In a move that will bewilder any Buggles fans left in the world, the BBC is planning to increase collaboration between Radio 1 and BBC3 – yes, the television channel – as well as giving Radio 1 its own channel on BBC iPlayer.

Radio 1 and 1Xtra Controller, Ben Cooper, says that he is “very excited about transforming Radio 1 from being just a radio station into being a fill audio-visual channel”.

Excited he may be, and his plans may yet prove triumphant. Conversely, in years to come we could well find ourselves looking back at the day Radio 1 TV was launched as the beginning of the end for Radio 1 as we know it.

As a radio-lover I would like to think that it will always have a place in society, but that may be a case of heart ruling head.

Cooper acknowledges that today’s young audiences “don’t sit around the wireless listening with mother” as in days gone by. Soon they might not be listening at all.

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“Before we all sink into a slough of digital dystopian despair, it might be worth considering this: is this a sign of the strength, not weakness, of revelatory journalism in the digital age?”


Charlie Beckett, director of POLIS at the London School of Economics, reacts to news that the UK government forced the Guardian into destroying hard drives that contained information leaked by Edward Snowden.


(Source: POLIS)

 

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