THE Bauer Media Scotland radio group has had a busy 2012 and it has paid off in its final quarter listening figures – as reported by RAJAR.
Its FM stations in the Central Belt have registered increases against the former GMG-owned Real Radio. The fact that much of this result is down to hard work at Forth and Clyde is borne out by a dent in Capital FM’s fortunes, indicating that they’re strong at either end of the demographic in a way they weren’t a couple of years ago.
Now the ‘ship has steadied’ and the evening programmes have really begun to demonstrate their worth as national shows, I predict further growth.
The promotional activity continues at Clyde 1 and Forth One, while Real sets plans for its next round of changes with an expected name change in the first part of this year.
The continued improvement of Bauer’s AM network is reminiscent of the very best ‘stealth-relaunches’ in UK radio. The music has acquired more focus while maintaining the ability to throw up gems that don’t show up on other stations and the line-up has settled into an assured and settled team.
The strong figures for the bulk of the network – recently rebranded ‘The Greatest Hits’, with the heritage name attached – demonstrate that their early travails are mostly behnd them.
That said, Forth 2’s reach is still down year-on-year. It’s difficult to tell whether that’s down to strong work at Kingdom FM who are clearly audible in the capital or that there’s more work needed to get more of Edinburgh’s heritage and uniqueness onto the station.
They’ll be cracking open the bubbly at Bailieston where Real XS – the rock brand formerly known as ‘Rock Radio’ has had a hugely successful year. Where XS surprises many is that many of its listeners aren’t middle-aged men. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that their approach is finding favour with younger listeners who don’t like pop. That attitude, combined with credible presentation and a determined music policy, make them a difficult act to compete against.
Spare a glass of champagne too for Central FM. They’ve moved to brand new studios in the last few months, which brings with it the danger of concentrating on things other than the audience. But they’ve posted a 22 per cent rise in reach.
This survey is too early to give a clean read of the football phone-in with Peter & Roughy (Peter Martin and Alan Rough), which debuted at the end of last year. But it’s the kind of brave move that deserves respect and audience success.
Taking on the team from Real Radio’s Football Phone-in is the kind of brave move that deserves respect and audience success. While the smaller transmission area and the poor transmitter coverage of Glasgow don’t help, the show serves up the kind of content that really makes the station stand out. But they need callers and there needs to be a lot of work done to alert people that don’t already listen to the station that they have the show.
We’ll know if they managed it in just 12 weeks – with the next set of RAJARs.
John Collins lectures in radio broadcasting at Reid Kerr College in Paisley, following a 25-year career on both sides of the microphone at both the BBC and in commercial radio in Scotland. He still pops up on the radio at Clyde 2 on a Sunday morning. Pic: Michele Dillon.