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Ideas and technique to help you promote and image radio

Title v talent

Emma Barnett at BBC Radio 5 Live. Image courtesy BBC.

Emma Barnett at BBC Radio 5 Live. Her name is everything. Image courtesy BBC.

Listeners tend not to remember lots of detail about the radio stations they enjoy. If your station name and two presenter names come out correctly in an unprompted awareness test you’re doing extremely well.

It’s more common for listeners to cite a jumbled mix of half-remembered numbers from your frequency, a presenter who left for your principal rival eleven years ago and “Radio FM”: that’s always in there.

So, it’s interesting to see BBC Radio 5 Live embark upon a little message simplification as it revamps its schedule.

Emma Barnett has been hosting mornings under the programme title “5 Live Daily”, a duty shared with Adrian Chiles.¬†From January however, the programme becomes “The Emma Barnett show” and runs Monday-Thursday. Adrian Chiles gets his own show on Fridays. With the talent name up front, 5 Live removes one piece of information listeners were previously asked to clock.

In a competitive market you’d think that was common sense and that every station should do it, but it’s not so simple.

Some stations stick to programme titles as a point of house style. For example, the odd comedy aside, BBC Radio 4 never names its slots after the talent. While every programme title on South Africa’s POWER 98.7 begins with the word POWER (always caps)…

POWER 98.9 programme titles

Whoever came-up with Soul POWER was just testing the marketing department’s resolve.

Sometimes a show can be bigger than the talent. The Vodafone Big Top 40 perhaps? No offence, Marvin.

Other programmes, like Radio 4’s Women’s Hour feature a rotating panel of presenters. They need a common wrapper to communicate why they’re all there.

Then, at times, titles can positively aid listener recall. The “top 10 at 10” reminds you of the time you were listening which is handy in any market whose ratings system relies on later recall.

I bet you’re wondering what is the balance of programme title to talent name on some of the UK’s speech-led radio stations right now. Thanks to data journalism, here’s your answer:

Talent name v show title: true data journalism
Source: percentage of programmes per typical weekday from published schedules, November 2017

All other things being equal, the bar for BBC Radio 5 Live will grow a little more red from January.