Per yesterday’s Sunday Tribune, management have decided that the station’s afternoon shows - ie Nikki Hayes and Rick O’Shea - are to be talk-free zones. Instead of the usual features and banter between the tunes, the DJs will now simply say “that was that” and “this is this”. Having spent a couple of years actually building, developing and maintaining audiences for these shows through listener interaction (something every single show on every single radio station tries to do), the 2FM grand poobahs (Michael Cahill is the lad credited in the piece as delivering this dastardly plan) have decided that the future will be a chit-chat-free one. Sure, we thought that was what digital radio was all about?It's bizarre. In a society reliant on MP3 players, web players like Blip.fm and last.fm, iPods, iTunes, CDs, downloads and so on, do people really listen to afternoon radio for the music?
Fine, I kind of know Rick off air as well, but I listened to his show before I'd met him. It's the crossover between the show and his blog, the show and his twitter and the rapport he has with his listeners that make it interesting. This is the show that got random people to wink at each other. It brought us the story of that lady who travelled from America to find her "one-night stand" guy. It brings single people together for cinema nights out and was very on the ball with movie reviews and interviews. It was a pop culture show and, in truth, one of my only links to what was happening in that world.
Even more he was one of the only "mainstream media" DJ's who took "advantage" of the followers he had who are bloggers and twitterers and fellow geeks. He catered towards us, mentioned our blogs, invited some on to talk about their projects and gave us a boost. It's quite sad he won't get the same opportunity to do that now.
We have a surfeit of radio stations for such a small country. 98FM and FM104 are just that bit too tabloid for me, Radio 1 that bit too staid, Newstalk is good but a bit too serious. Today FM is what I'd listen to for the morning presenters which made Rick's show such a pleasure to tune into, a break away from dull and dreary afternoons. To my mind, the songs were mostly requests, old familiars with the odd new number and with that element of comfortable listening that required no major involvement. Bubblegum for the ears almost.
It's bewildering that the decision was made by a former DJ, no matter what his reasons were. This seems a complete lack of regard for the audience - an audience, which as Jim pointed out, is built and maintained - and remarkably short sighted. Will I be tuning in to hear Rick play music? Possibly. Not probably but possibly.
Jim makes a great suggestion about Mark McCabe being in a far better position to direct 2FM:
... a confident pair of hands who would be quite happy and determined to make the changes necessary for the station to survive. That's what the station needs if it stands any chance of still maintaining any kind of relevance in the next 10 years. It can’t be just more continuation of the old order on the grounds that G Ryan is such a great advertising magnet.Why is it that 2FM management can't seem to cop on to the needs of their audience. Or maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm too online. Maybe people do listen to afternoon shows for the music. Do you?