Media Lifeline: Marketing radio

After the boom of the 90s and then the credit crunch, radio's marketing body is trying to rebuild lost momentum.

March 2006: The Radio Advertising Bureau had been launched in 1992 as a standalone marketing body for the commercial radio industry under the leadership of Douglas McArthur. Throughout the 90s, the RAB helped fuel commercial radio's rapid growth. But in 2006, with growth stalled and the medium short of marketing funds, the RAB is subsumed, alongside the medium's lobbying body, the CRCA, into a new structure, the RadioCentre.

February 2007: McArthur had been persuaded to stay on as a temporary measure under the RadioCentre chief, Andrew Harrison, until successors had been found. In 2007, the new team arrives: chairman Martina King and managing director Simon Redican.

December 2008: Consolidation had changed the medium in just a few months, with Global Radio acquiring Chrysalis Radio in July 2007 and GCap in June 2008. Commercial radio had, in effect, become Global writ large. Now, with the credit crunch teetering on the brink of full-blown recession, it makes more sense than ever to cut costs at the RAB by axing seven jobs - King is included on the casualty list. Harrison reveals he will add the RAB chairman role to his remit.

September 2009: And as advertising revenue continues to dry up, it becomes increasingly hard to get the medium to pull together. Things come to a head when UTV, the owner of talkSPORT, resigns from the RadioCentre - though it pledges not to distance itself from RAB initiatives. Its beef with the RadioCentre is its suspicion that the organisation exists mainly to further the ambitions of Global Radio.

February 2010: Linda Smith, the ex-Starcom MediaVest chief and ex-commercial director of Capital Radio, joins the RAB as executive chairman. Her remit: bring momentum to the commercial sector. It's a tall order - audience figures for digital radio have gone into reverse.

Fast forward ...

September 2010: Smith's job gets even harder when the new Conservative Government announces it's privatising BBC Radio 1 and 2. The proposition is attacked remorselessly by Global, which argues that meagre radio revenues will now be spread even more thinly. And Global is further angered by rumours that Smith has been tapped up to front an ITV-backed consortium bidding for the two BBC stations.

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