The Death of…

June 20, 2010

…A Radio Station

Tuesday 8th June 2010

My alarm went off as normal, waking me up at 6.55am, to NME Radio on DAB. My day started normally, I stayed in bed listening to the radio to the first time check at 7.15am, and got ready for work.

I turned my portable DAB on in my car, which is connected to the AUX, and carried on listening to Sarah Kerr until I got to work. Got into work for 8am like normal, and put the radio on in the office while I settled into work.

11am, get panicking phone call about a service call needing to be done in Glasgow, and I have to drop everything and grab clothes, someone books me a hotel, and I hop in the car to Glasgow. DAB Radio tuned to NME Radio, get to listen to all of Iain Baker’s Show, arriving at customers just after Jon Hilcock starts his show.

Once my call is complete, I put the radio back on and drive the 30 minutes to Glasgow.

This is a reasonably normal day for me, with around 3 – 4 hours of driving along with 3 – 4 hours of work. I love my music, and I love listening to the radio. NME Radio when it launched back in June 2008, hit the nail on the head for a good radio station to listen to. I found a way to listen to it on my iPhone before they released their iPhone application, and before it launched on DAB.

Now, there were times when certain things were happening, where I listened to other radio stations, such as Five Live, BBC 6 Music, or even Radio Four LW for the cricket commentary (depending on batteries in DAB that could be BBC Five Live Sports Extra so as not to be disturbed by the Shipping Forecast), but when driving long distance, and settling in to a journey, I’d for some reason tune to NME Radio. Rarely would I hear something repeated, and considering the length of time I listen, that is a good thing. The adverts didn’t sound too intrusive (unlike Absolute or XFM), and the DJ’s, well they were real DJ’s not just presenters (unlike BBC Radio 1), and they loved their job and the music (by the sounds of things). The station was by no means perfect, I found the weekend schedule boring, and couldn’t compete with BBC 6 Music, but my weekend radio listening is a different thing to my week day listening. Anyway, I digress.

Friday 11th June 2010

My alarm went off as normal, waking me up at 6.55am, to NME Radio on DAB. My day started normally, I stayed in bed listening to the radio to the first time check at 7.15am, and got ready for work.

Got into work like normal, and straight to work. I was reasonably busy that day, and I was in the office for most of it, and didn’t turn the office DAB on, so didn’t get to listen to much radio for once. I read on twitter that someone else was listening, and flicked the radio on around 4pm for the last hour of the day.

I drove home, and later on that evening, watched the football that was on. It was boring, I started surfing the net, and then I found a report online that IPC media had pulled the plug with immediate effect on NME Radio. I was in shock. No warning or anything, it was just gone.  For the rest of the evening, normally scheduled (however pre recorded) shows continued as normal, as did the overnight programming, but 8am Saturday morning the normally present Claire Sturgess, was not present, and the Jukebox continued.

So, just like that a Radio Station that I liked, and listened to quite a lot, has virtually disappeared. The Guardian story that I was going to link to has been re written, and it is DX Media, that has ended the agreement with IPC Media, and not the other way around as the Guardian has originally reported. IPC wanted NME Radio to succeed, and they are going to continue it on an online basis. But if it’s just a jukebox version of a radio station (reminiscent of The Storm back in 2005 era), I can’t listen to that.
Music Radio needs Music DJ’s. People who love their music and can do it justice. Why is it that NME Radio could survive before it went onto DAB, but 7 months into a 8 month trial, it’s just terminated like that?
Isn’t there any other company that wants to take the risk? IPC wanted this to work, but then suddenly let it die. I’m pretty sure we’re never going to find out the exact reasons as to why it had to die, but Sammy Jacobs, of the original XFM, and was behind DX Media, well that doesn’t paint a pretty picture in my head.

So, as other blogs on the internet have said, if commercial radio is supposed to do the job of BBC 6 Music, how come when you have a radio station that is close to the output, they can’t survive. Is it just that the format of the station is not commercially viable, and it is destined to be done by a public service broadcaster? Or is it that people are so disheartened with radio, they don’t search for new stations or give them a chance, and therefore the listenership is low.

NME Radio seemed like it was going from strength to strength, with DAB coverage in London, then Nationwide. Getting decent coverage in the NME Newspaper surely should give people a chance to listen.

It’s sad that something has had to disappear so quickly, and it’s difficult to find something else to listen to now on the radio. At least I have BBC Radio 5 Live.

Thanks for the music, Sarah Kerr, Iain Baker, Jon Hillcock, and Chris Martin – I enjoyed it.

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