Stephen Miron, who is in charge of Global Radio, talks to the Guardian today, in which he explains where he sees commercial radio heading in the future:
"Our challenge as an industry is to make sure we provide absolutely compelling reasons why listeners should go from analogue to digital," Miron says. "That means making sure listeners can get everything they get on today's FM radio as a minimum, and creating compelling new ones that will attract listeners."
Oddly, Miron's Global has been busily cutting back the range of services available on FM, to the point where Ofcom has been clearing its throat about it. If you can't deliver on FM what audiences are used to on FM, how are you going to be able to do so on digital?
Miron's idea is to get the government to pay for it:
Discussions are at a sensitive stage, but Miron is adamant the government must hand operators an incentive to invest. "As an industry we have already invested £180m in DAB with very little return," he says. "That's a lot of money."
Is it? Global spent £370m on buying Capital - part of a half-billion acquisition spree- so it's not like £180 million across an industry across the best part of a decade is such an awful lot of money. And given that there's precious little to show for it, an outsider might wonder if handing tax quids to a bunch of companies whose brightest contribution to DAB so far has been recording of birdsongs would be the wisest way to spend the money.
James P also sent some observations about his attitude to his network of formerly local stations:
It's all fairly bemusing stuff (particularly his comment that the Heart rebranding happened because "There are lots of itty-bitty stations all over the place" - Apparently simultaneously frustrated by and dismissive of those pesky local stations with their irritatingly different markets and locations), but the strangest claims come at the end. He says "We have advertisers who say, we wish we could advertise on Radio 2. Well now you can - it's called Heart". I can't work out if he's optimistically trying to plug his stations, or if he genuinely believes Heart stations are a rival to Radio 2, and hasn't realised that one of the main reasons people listen to Radio 2 is because those advertisers *can't* advertise there. (That and the more interesting playlist, better presenters, lack of 'speedlinks' instructing you not to miss tomorrow's Breakfast with Jez and Mel for your chance to win £50 with Scruttocks Windows and Conservatories, etc).
At the moment, Radio 2 is doing Big Band Special, which will be followed by Viva Latino. On Heart, Simon Beale is playing a Jamelia record on Heartbreakers. The two networks are virtually impossible to tell apart, aren't they?