Comment from Jen Seyderhelm
While I still think 2022 is the year for classic hits, it is not boding well for classic hits radio in Australia. 2CH has ceased to be and 4KQ only has a couple of weeks to go.
I’d like to wax lyrical about what both those stations meant to me like the very clever Trevor Sinclair from 2UE, but I’m not ready to as we have a far more serious problem on our hands.
I read Tim Webster’s comments about the outpouring of grief on the sudden news of the cessation of 2CH DAB, being much like losing a family member.
Tim is right.
Firstly, on the grief (which in my case is heading towards anger).
Secondly on the death analogy.
Bluntly, like a beloved family member, these stations aren’t coming back and won’t magically (pun intended) be resurrected. We’ve lost forever two heritage, capital city, classic hits radio stations and no real money or effort was put into saving them.
It’s here that I want to mention Kate Bush.
Only a month ago Season 4 of Netflix show Stranger Things was released. It’s targeted at 18–29-year-olds. One of the characters Max’s favourite song is Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush, which is used on several occasions and for one of the ultimate sequences of the series.
Running Up That Hill was released in 1985. In the last three weeks, via the repetitive use of the song in the series, it has gone top ten in the US and Australia and is currently the No 1 most listened to song on Spotify globally, knocking Harry Styles off the top spot.
That’s the power of money, repetitive exposure and a banger classic hit. Imagine what a well-run radio station could do with all that?
I’m a huge sports fan but tend to either watch it on TV, watch highlights on the internet or catch up on results in the news. Every weekday I do a ten-question pressure test on my classic hits station 2CA. Nine times out of ten the question that listeners get wrong is the sports question; and I put one in every morning. I’m not saying that every music station listener isn’t a sports fan, but I am certain that almost all of those who used to listen to 2CH and 4KQ aren’t going to switch to SEN.
When I was a newsreader, I learned the concept of preaching to the converted. By that I mean that when I read the sports update, I don’t need to elaborate on the details as I’m only speaking to those who already have an active knowledge. I might say,
“The Maroons beat the Blues 16-10 last night at Accor Stadium”
Every rugby league fan will know I’m talking QLD, NSW and a State of Origin result. If you’re not, you don’t and likely won’t care.
I was reminiscing with my co-host Paul Holmes about when we used to swing the dial of the radio at home or in the car to find which station was playing music and the best song.
While flicking the dial, if you’re not a sports fan, nothing is going make you pause on a SEN station. But a music fan might end up on any number of stations, digital or otherwise, who are playing something that catches your ear.
Radio used to be the place where you found new music, on stations like triple j and now CADA. For Classic Hits stations, we must remember that outside of our core listeners who know us and our music, there are whole new generations for whom stumbling across Queen, Elton John and David Bowie is a revelation.
A case in point is the lovely story about Jacinda Ardern and Anthony Albanese swapping vinyl. I’ve never heard of Flying Nun Records but that’s what Google and Spotify are for as I can no longer ring my radio station and ask them to play me some Aldous Harding. The radio request program, with genuine listener interaction, is dying too.
Despite working at a classic hits station that proudly looks backwards, I know I need to look forward, as much as youth-oriented stations do. All music stations need to. Immediately.
I’m a breakfast announcer with a focus on content and relatability. This matters, but equally, if not more important, is the music. Every song (at my station) must be a classic hit, whether you are a person who can quote trivia on the artist and song or someone who has stumbled across 2CA by accident or advertising. If they like the song they’ve discovered. they’d better like the next one too. Liking the announcers is an additional bonus.
SCA and ARN (who had to sell 4KQ) perhaps are not particularly worried about the loss of a couple of outdated classic hits stations. I think they should be. If you are a music station who are particularly focused on the content then you may as well be a talk station, or a podcast. The music on 4KQ and 2CH wasn’t just filler. It was what their listeners were tuning in for in the first place.
I’m so angry and disappointed.
2CA also just turned 90 and I’m not ready to see it join 2CH & 4KQ. They might not be your format or demographic but as long as people keep going to Spotify for music and podcasts for content, yours might be next in the firing line.
Radio itself might finally have met its match.
About the Author
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