Monday, February 15, 2010

BBC Trust report: Radio 2 must better serve older people

So, alongside the report from the BBC Trust which was heartening about 6Music there was a separate report (well, a connected one) into Radio 2. This one, in short, agreed with complaints of commercial radio that Radio 2 isn't doing enough to serve older listeners.

Naturally, commercial radio doesn't really give a honk on the traffic helicopter's horn about whether older people find stuff on radio which they like or not. If commercial radio was bothered about that, it would make programmes for people over the age of ten. But it does feel that the more time Radio 2 is tending to the 65+ age group, the less time it will be playing newer music, and thus the less competition there will be for Heart.

This does sort-of fall down a bit in the assumption that you lose interest in new music as you get older - as if it vanishes with your hair.

Still, the BBC Trust has bought the argument:

Radio 2's under-35 audience had "grown significantly over the last 10 years, albeit from a low base, but since 2004 this growth has stabilised", the trust report added, with 82% of Radio 2's listeners now aged over 35 and an average audience age of 50.

But the report warned that the number of over-65 and "in particular" over-75 listeners had fallen. "Radio 2 should investigate the reasons for the decline" and "consider whether its range of music continues to meet this audience's expectations", the trust concluded.

There is a possibility that, since people who are 75 now would have been 18 just as rock and roll was bursting out, and so might be more likely to listen to the Beatles and Stones of Gold networks than be found gathering round a bunch of old 78s. Radio 2 might have a lower percentage of over 75 year-olds than they had a decade ago because over 75 year-olds are more confident at moving between media outlets and less easy to pigeonhole than their parents were.


4 comments:

Robin Carmody said...

In terms of how long ago music is - and thus how old its core audience is likely to be - Radio 2 is working at pretty much the same rate as it did twenty years ago. It probably plays about as much music from 1978 as it played music from 1958 in 1990, perhaps more of it. And it would be entirely justified in playing more music from 1968 than it played music from 1948 in 1990 - which it quite possibly does - because the music of 1968 is still culturally recognised by multiple generations whereas twenty years ago the music of 1948 had long ceased to culturally exist outside Frances Line's netherworld.

The days of Mantovani etc. were already gone, at least from regular daytime output, well before Jim Moir's arrival - it was all American MOR of the 70s fifteen years ago, from what I can sorrowfully remember.

simon h b said...

I think you're right, Robin.

If any of the BBC networks have changed their attitude to older music, it's Radio One. I can remember that in the 80s, Simon Bates would sometimes do a 1950s year as the Golden Hour. I doubt if Fearne Cotton is programming half an hour of thirty year old tunes these days...

Robin Carmody said...

And Pick of the Pops was regularly featuring the late 50s / early 60s right up to 1992. Its predecessor, Jimmy Savile's Old Record Club, had stopped going back before the late 60s towards the end of its run, and I think Radio 1 in the early 90s was going back further than it probably should have done as a result of the pressure being put on it by Frances Line's Radio 2, which had largely ceased to evolve. All that being said, it is a myth that Radio 2 was still playing hours of Mantovani in its regular daytime schedule in 1995, although what it did play was hardly any more likely to appeal to the "Radio 1 and a half" audience which commercial radio then monopolised.

lehman kartojo said...

Thank you, your article is very good

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