Some Thoughts On... The Global Radio Restructure
Hellooo! Radio giant Global recently announced plans to restructure the way their stations approach regional radio broadcasting. This announcement came in response to Ofcom changing guidelines for local radio with a reduction in the number of broadcast hours that need to be local programmes. BBC News summarised the changes across Capital FM, Heart and Smooth Radio in a post the day the changes were announced. Capital FM will broadcast their London breakfast show nationally, replacing fourteen regional breakfast shows and condense their fourteen regional drivetime shows down to nine. Heart will also reduce their twenty-two regional breakfast shows down to just one, along with compacting their twenty-three drivetime shows down to ten. Finally, Smooth Radio will replace six breakfast shows with a new national programme, while their drivetime shows will be reduced to seven programmes. These programme cuts will result in over one hundred jobs at risk across the UK.
So, what does that mean for listeners? They will lose the presenters they usually listen to and will lose the local aspect of these radio stations. With Capital FM, Heart and Smooth Radio all reducing their shows down to one single breakfast show each, it will be much harder for listeners to receive information on local issues such as road closures or heavy traffic which could see listeners turning to other stations. This would also be the case in situations where listeners would usually be able to contact the stations as part of competitions or for segments during the breakfast show. The issue here would be listeners losing the personal connection to the stations as it would become harder to be involved with the shows.
However, this announcement opens up opportunities for other local radio stations to gain popularity as listeners may choose to switch to a more accessible station. However, Capital FM, Heart and Smooth Radio all cater towards different target audiences and it's more likely that local stations would play a wider range of music to please all listeners rather than a more specific genre. An article from the BBC stated that Global's founder, Ashley Tabor, noted that the change would allow Global to "lead the commercial radio sector's next huge step, and to properly compete with BBC Radio 1 and 2 at breakfast time". The problem here is that listeners that enjoy the personal aspect of the local divisions of Capital FM, Heart and Smooth Radio may choose to listen to the local BBC stations rather than the nationalised Global stations.
Radio Today listed the Global sites that will be closing, resulting in over a hundred job losses. I think that was the part that was the biggest shock as the closures not only effect the presenters that listeners have grown to love, but also the rest of the team behind the scenes of the station. It's a huge shame and I hope everything works out for all the staff involved and although I can just about understand Global's perspective, they are risking losing loyal listeners to try and compete with BBC Radio 1 and 2 and I can't see it paying off from a commercial perspective. The local aspect of the regional Global breakfast also set it apart from the leading BBC stations and changing that means losing their unique selling point. It's going to be interesting to see what happens next.
Thanks for reading!