What music should you play?

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 them 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, 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 music 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 running a station of this kind takes an awful of  work. Yes, the content is there via hundreds of free radio shows and podcasts. But downloading them, giving each one a  quality check, running each one through an app to level off the volume, then (maybe) uploading each file to your Auto DJ system in the cloud takes its toll in ‘man’ hours.

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  they hear you won’t broadcast their 10-part series on weathervanes.

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 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 trusted.

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.

Steve Hart

Steve Hart

Steve Hart is a journalist and editor based in Melbourne.

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