Media Lifeline: The RAB

The marketing arm of the radio industry has been striving to ensure a rosy future for the medium in the digital era.

March 2006: The commercial radio industry reveals that it is to merge its two most important representative bodies - the Commercial Radio Companies Association (which handles lobbying tasks and content syndication issues) and the Radio Advertising Bureau (charged with marketing the medium to advertisers). Their two bosses, Paul Brown and Douglas McArthur respectively, agree to stay on while a new chief executive is found.

May 2006: Andrew Harrison is named the chief executive of a new body, called the RadioCentre. The former Nestle Rowntree marketing chief agrees to start in October, and announces that his priority will be to develop a new audience measurement system.

June 2006: The RAB, now run by the RadioCentre, receives a welcome boost when Channel 4 Radio - the fledgling company destined to win the UK's second DAB multiplex - applies to join. But these are worrying times for the medium as the RAB announces that commercial radio revenues have fallen 7.8 per cent year on year for the first quarter.

February 2007: Martina King, a former head of Capital Radio and Yahoo!, and Simon Redican, the director of strategy and business development at Times Newspapers, are appointed as the RAB's new chairman and managing director respectively.

October 2007: And the RAB now looks to grow momentum by starting a search for a creative agency to help build the radio medium's profile. The brief will be to communicate the benefits of radio as a medium that can reach into our lives through many different operating platforms. The RAB is calling this the "new wave of radio".

Fast forward ...

January 2008: The RAB's new agency reveals the results of its initial groundwork - in an environment where all the major media now have marketing bodies, the RAB and the radio medium in general has slipped markedly where advertiser priorities are concerned. So Harrison now prepares to stake all on a back-me-or-sack-me move as he demands radio companies double their yearly financial commitment.

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