Thursday, 1 March 2012

A New Voice

British Public Radio is a proposed new online speech radio station, which says: "Speech radio should be accessible to all, and if it engages with a new generation of listeners, it will unlock a huge untapped market, both in terms of audience and money making potential."

Broadcaster Matt Hopper, one of the team behind the station explains: "We know there are a lot of good speech radio programmes which are either never made or never heard in Britain (or only heard in podcast form); we believe there is an untapped market for speech radio which is more accessible than that currently available in the UK; and we want to bring the two together."

Here in the UK we have, BBC Radio 4 as the main national speech-based station, as well as 5 Live; the latter, though, is primarily a news and sport station, rather than general speech. The commercial sector has talkSPORT, which “does what it says on the tin”, LBC 97.3 in London (and some other parts of the country on DAB, as well as nationally on Sky) and Liverpool’s City Talk; although no longer an all-talk station. Those commercial stations tend to concentrate their efforts on phone-in talk shows rather than 'produced' speech programmes, though.

BPR aims to tap into the wealth of speech-based programming being produced either by other broadcasters or currently existing and distributed as podcasts.

On a personal note I regularly listen to a number of well-produced, weekly podcasts, including the award-winning Answer Me This, Radio Talk from the Radio Academy and The Guardian's Media Talk, and there's a lot more out there catering for all sorts of interests; not just from the UK but also the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which should guarantee some good listening.

British Public Radio are interested in hearing from:
  • Radio production companies with archive material ready to air and/or ideas for new programmes
  • Podcasters who would like their podcasts to reach a wider audience
  • Producers or publishers of audio books and dramas with material ready to go
  • Media owners with content available for adaptation or syndication
  • Broadcasters and producers outside the UK with material suitable for the British market
  • Colleges and universities which run radio production courses
  • Like-minded media professionals who would like to lend their skills and experience to the project

The idea of offering airtime to students from radio/journalism courses is a good one. During several years as an 'Associate Lecturer' at the London College of Communication I often got to hear some good work by students doing the Postgraduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism which deserved a wider hearing and I'm sure it's the same for many other courses.

Being an online station the business model is going to be different to that of 'traditional' radio stations, as Matt explains: 

"The key is to broaden the commercial model away from the traditional advertising/sponsorship picture. Digital delivery offers income opportunities away from this. No, it’s not going to be cheap, but we believe there is enough material and ideas in the English speaking world to maintain a service. The project could also be of interest to strategic partners, i.e. publishers not yet in the audio domain seeking a new outlet."

It's always good to hear about new ideas so it'll be interesting to see how British Public Radio develops.

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