Tag: listen

Off air

The station that just faded awayIt’s not just the analogue television signal that disappeared from areas of Swindon yesterday. The forlorn radio station, Brunel FM also passed away. Since yesterday it’s programming has been suspended, replaced by it’s emergency recording repeating hour after hour: the recording’s strapline sadly ironic.

Brunel FM, home of the no repeat weekday.

For over a year there have been repeated rumours of unpaid wages and the station’s owners have struggled in-and-out of administration. The new owners hope to have the station up-and-running again — tho’ in reduced form — next week.

Orphaned radio

Not for the first time, Brunel FM finds itself orphaned. With the news that its latest parent company has gone into administration, the station stumbles on, as does the speech of some of its presenters. Its last owners have done the job of improving the station’s output, despite some of their sillier attempts at self-publicising — though to be honest it would have been difficult to be worse than it was. No doubt if the parent company hadn’t been so short of money and forced to spread its few good presenters around its stations, things might have been better still and the other presenters more eloquent.

What, of course, the station’s owners past or present can’t do is change the fact that there’s a limit to how much radio advertising one town can sustain. The regulator ofcom sets rules that allow holders of local radio licences to — after the first few years — ditch virtually all their local commitments and effectively become the local branch of a national station. They then let another licence, in an attempt to reintroduce some local element to the broadcasting, for the first few years of the licence…. And so the cycle continues.

Four ‘local’ stations — even if two of them aren’t dependent on advertising — seems to be more than Swindon can sustain.

Poor radio branding

What do you do if you’ve just bought a loss-making radio station, where things have got so dire that it’s almost down to just one presenter and has gone for long periods repeating the same tunes for hours on end? The South West Radio Limited approach seems to be to jump on the biggest passing media bandwagon.

THE new owners of Brunel FM are inviting comic Russell Brand to take a presenting role on the radio station…. Brunel FM is currently searching for a breakfast presenter and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of attempting to lure the witty motormouth to Swindon….
“Russell, give me a call,” said South West Radio director Paul Roberts, who hails from Wales. “We’ll sit down and discuss the possibilities.”

For a station that’s had the financial difficulties Brunel FM has experienced recently, those ‘possibilities’ could more accurately be described as Mr Robert’s fantasies.

We want the station to relate to the listener. It needs to be engaging listening. There has to be on-air personality. It shouldn’t be that you are just listening to a DJ, it should be like a chat in a pub or a conversation in a park.

In what way would recruiting Mr Brand help the station achieve that? The current breakfast show presenter, Kate Constance, may only be on that show as a temporary measure, but her presenting style is far closer to ‘a chat in the pub’. And neither Mr Brand nor anyone similar would attract the sort of listener that would bring in the best-paying advertisers — a significant factor for a hard-up station like Brunel FM.

We have been at the station a week now and the format hasn’t really changed. There should be no major internal changes.

Aah… some reality at last. With very little money to spare, big-name changes are unlikely soon.

Brunel FM’s all-repeat weekend

I suppose that as they’ve got rid of all their weekend presenters, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Brunel FM’s weekend output has been rather below par. For much of yesterday morning it was playing their emergency recording — which kicks in after about twenty seconds of silence — between the hourly news bulletins. The recording is a little dated: Haddaway can’t have had so much airplay for a long time!

At some point towards the end of the morning presumably someone corrected it, and a more up-to-date set of tracks was programmed, with adverts too Even then it wasn’t right, with the emergency recording kicking in at ten-to each hour. There was worse to come. Today has been nothing but the emergency recording, which lasts a little over an hour, on permanent loop. No news bulletins and no adverts either, which can’t be helping the station’s financial problems. Just to rub in the problem, the jingles are highlighting a programming policy from several years ago.

Brunel FM. Home of the no replay weekday…. We never play a song more than once during your workday.

They’ve certainly made up for that this weekend.

Radio decline

The decline of Brunel FM seems to have been rapid and tomorrow could well mark the end of its parent company. Since the Adver first reported the departure of Dan Chisholm from the station’s breakfast show, others have followed. The weekend presenters were the latest to go. In their place was automated programming, with for much of the time the beep-beep of the feed from the news bulletin supplier audible in the background behind the non-stop music. Not that this will be totally unfamiliar to regular listeners, but at least in the past this poor quality programming was restricted to late at night — now it’s happening in the middle of the day.

Now it seems the station has just one newsreader and one presenter left, Kate Constance having been moved from the evening show, to the evening drive-time show and now to the breakfast show, as other presenters have left… and apparently doubling as advertising salesperson too. The Lime Kiln studios must seem rather empty.