The (Welsh) Capital (FM)

So the long talked about rebranding of Red Dragon FM has finally happened. Pretty soon, Red Dragon FM will become another footnote in history.

As ever, people such  as Matt Deegan, James Cridland and Nik Goodman have analysed what it means for the business in ways far better than I can attempt.

My views on the “Globalisation” of commercial radio have been stated before. It makes sense for their business model. It makes sense for many large advertisers. And put simply, it makes it far easier for the company to only have to manage brands rather than stations. But that doesn’t make it any easier for another passionate team who now have an uncertain future in a rapidly shrinking radio jobs market.

Listening to Red Dragon FM a couple of weeks back, the station sounded great. It was however using the same jingles as Capital. And some of the same voices. And like Capital, it’s a great listen (if CHR format radio is your thing). But, it sounded truly local – with loads of local voices. So will this really change things?

There were rumours of Red Dragon becoming Capital FM back when I worked at Red Dragon back in 1998-2002 – (and to be honest, the name change works fine – it is a Capital city). But back then, we were allowed a big nod to sounding local. Our aspirations were as big as Capital in London. And the audience figures steadily rose.

However, the one key element we added (and which the guys at Leicester Square couldn’t give us) was a large dose of National Pride. It was (and from what I understand still is) pretty hard to persuade the guys in London what being Welsh actually meant. At the time, we played a far more localised playlist – with a bigger dose of the Manics, Stereophonics and Catatonia than was heard in London and Birmingham.

And one time it really worked well was during big Rugby matches.

If you’ve never stood on St Mary’s street in Cardiff during a Welsh Rugby International, then chances are, you have never felt a sense of pride like it. I guess it happens outside Murrayfield too. But there’s an intense passion. The sense of pride and emotion and excitement that lived on air during the 1999 Rugby World cup was immense. We owned the city – and the listeners loved it.

And we went big on it in all elements of production

From the news

And with listeners

When Capital launches in January, if they don’t keep some element of Welshness, I think they could be missing a trick.Does it matter? Will the listeners really care? Time will tell. But I guess Real Radio and Nation Radio will ramp up their Welshness a little bit more.

Still, there’s at least one part of Red Dragon FM’s name that will live on.

The centre they broadcast from was rebranded from Atlantic Wharf to The Red Dragon Centre a few years back.

Global might find it harder to change that to the Capital Centre – since one of those already exists.

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One thought on “The (Welsh) Capital (FM)

  1. Drew says:

    Such a clever news intro! Not just tinglingly-proud & beautifully functional but it also totally encapsulating the station sound.. the latter can often lose out when producers make special event versions of IDs.

    If Capital puts in the effort with localised pre-recorded links mentioning events/incidents across the regions and a keeps a facility for a London-only buss (or ideally a way to live-target any of the regions) they’ll be able to pull off some of the clever tricks Heart have been doing… which help massively, I think.

    I’d suggest they also need to consider a “major incident coverage” scenario for London where they could run the network and local output in parallel, since trying to do that with split links would probably make it unfeasible to get vital information across. If they were rolling the Galaxy network into London – say on another of the Global-owned frequencies – they’d have less of an issue, but the true heritage names Capital & LBC still seem to be considered key places people would expect to hear rolling coverage of “what’s going on” at such times.

    Unless… I’m stuck in old thinking and this really is the end of that heritage London brand and the start of a hit music station – a renamed Galaxy – which happens to be called Capital?

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