Moving the (audio) Furniture

What happens when your favourite station changes its furniture – be that it’s jingles, it format, it presenters or even its name?

Photo by @delrico http://yfrog.com/h8mvhegj

Photo by @delrico http://yfrog.com/h8mvhegj

This morning, BBC Radio 1 refreshed the sound of its news bulletins.  You can hear how it sounds on Newsbeat here. The previous package had been on air since around 2006, so a refresh was probably overdue. I’m sure there will be lots of discussion on some forums – but I think it works really well. It sounds fresh, contemporary and fits the current direction of the station.

The new sequence features the phrase “Listen, Watch, Share” – which itself received 30 minutes or so of discussion from Chris Moyles at the start of today’s show. The logic is simple – and fits with the strategy of Radio 1. It’s now as much about online as it is about radio. And there are opportunities to “share” all over the Radio 1 website. Though strangely, on the Radio 1 new pages you can only “Bookmark”.

Moving the “audio furniture” of any radio station is harder than you think. Listeners are used to familiarity and routine. Since a lot of radio listening is fairly passive/ in the background, when something changes, it doesn’t sound right. When stations change presenters, some listeners get annoyed. When stations rebrand or become part of a network, some feel like they have lost some local identity. And sometimes, when changes are proposed, the audience can get very vocal – such as when the Radio 4 controller decided to change the theme to a long running feature.

At some of my previous stations,  loads of thought was put into how any changes on air happened. And in some, the mantra was “get it on air – they’ll get used to it”. At Radio 1, I’m guessing the change will have been carefully considered, piloted and refined.

And if you want to “share” this – the buttons are below..

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