Media: Double Standards - 'Big London stations are all raising their game'

Global's Giles Pearman explains why commercial radio is on the up, while Bauer's Steve Parkinson reveals which Kiss 100 stars he showers with in the morning.

STEVE PARKINSON, MANAGING DIRECTOR, LONDON RADIO, BAUER MEDIA

- How has the commercial London radio market changed in recent years?

Every station has changed ownership, which has reignited commitment and investment in product and marketing, and renewed focus on growing audiences by competing with the BBC. One in three Magic listeners, for instance, does not listen to any other commercial radio, so we want to grow this exclusive listening to offer advertisers a different audience to the competition. More young people are also listening to radio than ever before. Kiss now has more 15- to 24-year-olds and 15- to 34-year-olds listening than any other London station.

- Does Rajar provide a fair and accurate representation of your London audiences?

It's the biggest audience diary survey in the world and is a consistent industry standard. It's a useful snapshot as to how the market is evolving. However, we do need to ensure that Rajar captures listening habits as they evolve - for instance, "listen again" as well as "listen live".

- Is London radio all about attracting as young an adult audience as possible?

It's about offering and extending choice. Kiss and Magic offer distinctive brands to unique audiences. Kiss has more 15- to 24-year-olds and 15- to 34-year-olds than any other station in London - commercial or BBC. Magic is a family audience with an average age of 41, and 33 per cent of the audience don't listen to any other commercial station.

- To what extent does using traditional media (TV, poster advertising etc) still do a job in promoting your stations in London?

Traditional media work as they still have great scale. There are fantastic opportunities for marketing, and Magic and Kiss have two clear strategies. A TV mix undoubtedly keeps a brand front of mind and supports Magic's number-one audience position commercially by keeping the audience at more than two million. It's also important to engage with the audience ground up, so Magic and Kiss both have a multi-event strategy of associating the stations with a diverse range of appropriate events, from Jools Holland at Hampton Court for Magic to the Kiss co-promotion of the Wireless Festival in Hyde Park.

- Has consolidation damaged competition in the London radio market?

Not at all. Having most of the major commercial stations now under private ownership is helping us to be more fleet of foot and to focus on building complementary brands with defined audiences.

- How have you diversified your brands beyond their core radio stations?

Magic and Kiss have strong TV channels as brand extensions. In addition, our websites now offer more and more as creative solutions for advertisers, and we can drive strong creative campaigns with audio and visual solutions. Plus, we can cross-promote to relevant magazines such as Q, Heat or Closer from our magazine stable.

- What radio shows do you most enjoy?

I'm a chameleon - wake up to Today, shower with Rickie and Melvin, bite of breakfast with Neil Fox. Apart from my own stations, I do have to find the comedy on the iPlayer from Radio 4 - I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue is fantastic. Plus, Andrew Pierce on LBC is a must-listen.

GILES PEARMAN, GROUP DIRECTOR OF MARKETING, GLOBAL RADIO

- How has the commercial London radio market changed in recent years?

It has become a lot more competitive and exciting. The big London stations have all been raising their game, sharpening up music policies and defining their core target audiences. The recent Rajar results show commercial radio becoming a lot more popular - I think the next year is going to be the most exciting year in commercial radio for a long time.

- Does Rajar provide a fair and accurate representation of your London audiences?

Yes, it does. As a marketer, you always want more data, cut in every possible way to give you that precious insight that keeps you ahead of the game. We use a lot of internal tracking and research tools to provide additional insight.

- Is London radio all about attracting as young an adult audience as possible?

No, it's about providing a portfolio of brands that target a range of demographic groups and, in London, that's a lot more than a 15- to 24-year-old demographic. If you look at the success of Heart, it is focused on attracting audiences who are in their thirties, very much engaged with the idea of living life to the full - a great prospect for advertisers.

- To what extent does using traditional media (TV, poster advertising etc) still do a job in promoting your stations in London?

It plays an important role. Global Radio will be running campaigns for each of its seven key brands through to the end of this financial year and traditional media will form a key part of that strategy. This is testament to how important Global believes it is to continue to invest in our brands.

- Has consolidation damaged competition in the London radio market?

No, it has provided the focus needed to take on the BBC. If you look at what Unilever did a few years ago with its portfolio of brands, you can understand that it is not just an issue for the radio market but all markets where the operators are focused and committed to building brands. The result of consolidation should always be a stronger portfolio of well-targeted brands that deliver on what consumers/listeners are looking for. Total radio listening figures are at an all-time high so that shows that commercial radio is only getting stronger.

- How have you diversified your brands beyond their core radio stations?

Classic FM has a 15-year history of developing beyond radio, into magazine and book publishing alongside its own record label. Building on this, we have recently used our classic hits brand Gold to spearhead the launch of a range of CDs into HMV. And 95.8 Capital FM's Summertime Ball and Jingle Bell Ball have been hugely successful.

- What radio shows do you most enjoy?

I have two-year-old twins so Classic FM is on a lot at home as it seems to relax them as well as me! My wife loves Capital so we always wake up to Johnny and Lisa. I've also been getting into the Big Top 40 Show, especially after Michael Jackson's death when he shot to number one - I felt it really reflected the mood of the people instantly, something that other charts couldn't react to as quickly.

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