Radio 1’s head of music, George Ergatoudis, has revealed the thinking behind the radio station that has no commercial worries: it is more concerned about sky-high audience figures than using the license fee to play a more diverse range of music.
Answering questions from NME readers, Ergatoudis claimed there was a “science” to programming Radio 1. “We carefully introduce new music mixed in with familiar hits and by doing so far more people get to discover something new and exciting.
“If we let our daytime DJs have more say in the music they play we would soon lose the level of control needed to pull off our balancing act. We’d rapidly lose listeners and Radio 1’s vital ability to break new music would be diminished considerably.”
Radio 1, which runs with the tagline “the best new music and entertainment”, is funded by the license fee and is therefore stripped of funding concerns commercial radio has to worry about. However, the station has been criticised for chasing audience figures by featuring a playlist heavy on commercial songs which, as the NME points out, can be heard on many other stations across the UK.
Last week the station let alternative DJs take over regular slots, which saw the likes of rock DJ Zane Lowe, and dubstep champion Annie Mac playing music from outside the usual commercial playlist. However, Ergatoudis insisted that such experimentation would not be viable for the station on a regular basis.
“It has been great to hear our amazing specialist DJs taking over daytime, but if we were to continue with this strategy we would probably lose 80 per cent of our audience,” he said.
Ergatoudis repeatedly pointed out that Radio 1’s mission was to play “a broad spectrum of music”, and explained the station’s playlist is dictated by “weekly music research with a large panel of 12 to 30-year olds, to really understand the songs, artists and trends in the market”.