Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland
I once sat at the end of a telephone line, helping people tune into their favourite radio station.
This was a real eye-opener. Many don’t even know the difference between AM and FM; and some sets are marked in strange ways to make it really hard to tune in. You probably know someone who has tuned in to their favourite radio station and never want you to touch their set in case they lose it forever.
Radio is, increasingly, available everywhere. But we don’t appear to be telling people where we are and how to tune in. And I find that curious.
For an FM/AM station, reminding people of the frequency you’re on is important: but many stations seem to not do that these days. I get it, localisation on network feeds is hard: but if you can manage it for adverts, you can manage it for station IDs.
For listeners on FM or AM, if they forget the frequency, they’ll forget how to find you. This is a bad thing. You don’t want bad things. So, while it might lessen the clutter to just say “on FM”, as some stations do in the UK – LBC, I’m looking at you – it may be actively harming your audience not to give a frequency out.
But also, it’s a good idea to remind people how you can listen on other devices, and how. Because – guess what – someone might not know you’re on a smart speaker. Or available through the telly. Or on DAB+. On on this different HD frequency somewhere.
“On 97.3 FM, on DAB Digital Radio, on the Global Player, on Radioplayer, on lbc.co.uk, on your smart speaker, on Freeview channel 732, on Freesat channel 734, on Sky channel 0124, on Virgin Media channel 919, and on TalkTalk TV channel 627” is clearly not going to fly every single time you want to mention how to tune in.
But one of those in rotation – perhaps alongside the FM frequency – might be a better way to remind listeners that, yes, you’re available that way too. Every hour would be nice.
In my home town of Brisbane, two large AM stations never mention their frequency; many never mention they’re available online; none – not one – mention DAB+. If your listeners don’t know they can listen that way, you’ll lose them.
We know that keeping things simple works on-air. We also know that we need to make it simpler to tune in to the radio. One day, we’ll put these two pieces of useful knowledge together.
About The Author
James Cridland, the radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website media.info and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes podnews.net, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at james.crid.land.