Radio is a relationship – but is it dependable or promiscuous?

The medium is ‘a good marriage’ or ‘better than listening to your partner’, depending on who you ask

UTV Media’s Dave Kelly, the group programme director for its Dublin stations, addresses the Radiodays Europe event in the Convention Centre Dublin. PHOTOGRAPH: CONOR McCABE.

UTV Media’s Dave Kelly, the group programme director for its Dublin stations, addresses the Radiodays Europe event in the Convention Centre Dublin. PHOTOGRAPH: CONOR McCABE.

 

Q102’s new advertising slogan, strapped across on poster sites all over Dublin, certainly catches the eye with its claim that tuning into the radio station is “better than listening to your partner”.

So who is that aimed at, exactly? “It’s aimed at both men and women,” is the careful reply of Dave Kelly, group programme director for the Dublin operations of UTV Media (which owns Q102 and FM104). He jokes that his wife wasn’t a fan of the line.

But isn’t it a little negative about, well, relationships and radio itself, casting the “more music, less talk” station as a kind of least-worst option? Kelly disagrees, saying the campaign is a fun, attention-grabbing conversation-starter. After all, what better panacea is there to household tension than a blast of pop music?

Relationships as a metaphor for radio, and vice versa, was a theme at this week’s Radiodays Europe event in Dublin, with BBC director of radio Helen Boaden suggesting that “good radio is like a good marriage, dependable yet surprising”.

The “one-to-one” feeling that listeners get from radio, as opposed to streaming services, is “essentially a relationship – a relationship with pleasure at its heart”, she added.

So the relationship doesn’t have to be of the marital variety, then . . . Indeed, some established radio stations are fretting about a lack of commitment, or indeed interest, from the next generation of listeners.

With so many entertainment and information options to choose from, younger listeners have become “broadcaster-promiscuous” and essentially “less loyal”, said RTÉ director-general Noel Curran.

And if they do listen, it’s for shorter periods of time. Why marry a single station when you can have a cheap fling with any young radio brand that comes along to tempt your fancy?