Your music selection defines your station

So you have your streaming plan and your license to broadcast music. Now what?
What music should you broadcast?

Now, the single genre or decade-focused broadcaster clearly defines themselves in the market. We all know what Absolute 80s broadcasts, and there’s no mystery when it comes broadcaster Just Jazz.

In these two examples, the stations will likely be run by people with a passion for the music they broadcast,  be it single genre or single decade, there is plenty of scope for a new entrant to make their mark and set themselves apart from other similar broadcasters.

An 80s station could further refine its output to 80s top 40, specialist club, popular dance, country, jazz, indie, electronic, New Romantic, rock, soul…

The same goes for a single genre station; there are ways to narrow the focus, should one be inclined.

Or you can go broad, featuring a wide spectrum of programming, featuring shows covering every genre and decade, along with news, talk shows, comedy, radio theatre, and everything in between.

The reason there are fewer of these broad spectrum broadcasters around is that listeners are more focused on what they want to listen to.

If I want to listen to 80s club music I’ll find a broadcaster that plays it in two minutes flat. What some 60s rock? Take your pick of dozens of online stations, some based on the pirate stations that broke the status quo (and for which we all owe gratitude).

The mainstream broadcasters caught on to this a while back. So in my view stations playing all genres, all decades, are chancing their arm if their want high listeners and business success.

Want to open your station to the general public where you live? Great idea, I love it – and in these days of diminishing independent media (including fewer local radio stations and newspapers) – I take my hat off to you.

But having been involved in three community radio projects, these are the issues you may face.

Out of the 20 people who said they will help if you get it going; only two will turn up to your first programming meeting. One of them will drop out the moment when they hear you won’t broadcast their 10-part series on weather vanes.

Then you need premises (unless you want strangers visiting your home studio), gear, insurance, and someone on hand at the studio all day to ensure all goes well and to step in if a presenter doesn’t turn up.

Community radio is great, but you can’t run it by yourself. You need community support, community buy-in, lots of trusted and reliable people who will willingly share the load and help out in meaningful ways (i.e.; turning up).

But there is one golden rule that applies to station managers – no matter what they – broadcast. Consistency.

If you advertise to broadcast a particular show at 8pm on Wednesday, make sure you broadcast it. Not only that, make sure your broadcast it at 8pm every Wednesday. Don’t change the broadcast times of shows on a whim. Set out a broadcast schedule and come hell or high water, stick to it. That’s how you become a trusted brand.

We all know the news is on at 6 o’clock. At 7 there’s a magazine show and that sit-com everyone likes is on at 8. You can set your watch by them.

That’s how you should run your radio station – be consistent week in and week out. And don’t expect any real cut-through for at least six month. Just keep on keeping on. Oh, and no one will thank you.