For a comparison with the Radio One playlist-by-social-media-stats approach, it's worth reading what happened when Saga magazine met Jeff Smith, head of music at Radio 2, last month.
Radio 2's approach is a little different:
The sound of the station is defined and refined on a weekly basis at its crucial ‘playlist’ meeting every Wednesday. Here the producers of the station’s daytime shows pitch about 20 new songs from a list of around 70. In turn, each is assigned to the A (15-20 plays a week), B (7-10 plays) or C (2-5 plays) list.That's not so very different to what happens at Radio 1. But the basis for decision making? That is:
Each DJ’s show producer has an input. Exceptions can be made: for example, if a particular musician is a guest on a show, then more of their music will be played. But, in the main, Jeff and his team decide on 99% of what is played on Radio 2 during the daytime.
While Radio 1 increasingly looks to social media and online popularity (YouTube, SoundCloud, Twitter) to help to decide which new acts to back, Jeff says Radio 2’s choices still stem from gut instinct. ‘We don’t need to have that sort of data to deliver what we’re doing,’ he says. ‘We don’t do any formal audience research.’Understanding the audience, and knowing what works for them, rather than using YouTube views? Why, that's a recipe for, erm, ever-growing and happy listenership.
Radio 2’s audience is not rigidly segmented into ‘buckets’ in the way that most demographic-based audience research tends to be (55-64 over here, 65-74 over there and so on).