Is “live and local” all you need?

A tram in Melbourne

Above: a tram in Melbourne on Saturday - promoting NOVA

Is “live and local” all you need?

I liked Steve Randall’s tweet thread this week - on the coming of Greatest Hits Radio to a commercial radio station in the area (which Steve rightly saw as increased competition), the PD of a competing community station “with a weird music policy & patchy local content” responded that “we’re the only radio station with studios in the area, and so we’ll win”.

Steve continues: “Did that work for the butcher, greengrocer, fishmonger, etc when the supermarket opened in town?” and added “While it’s essential in 2024 to provide something more than your (big corporate) rivals, even the most innovative independent convenience store knows they have to sell milk and bread.”

I liked the analogy.

Too often, we’re told that “live and local” wins the race. I tend to respond that it isn’t enough - that “real and relevant” content is actually what you need.

Back-announcing a Doobie Brothers track from the studio above the pizza shop in the high street is fine: but “real and relevant” demands more. Local might be part of being “relevant”. Live might be part of being “real”. But it’s not a given - which is why I worry about the US-driven panacea of “live and local”.

“Live and local” gives you weather forecasts that mention local place names, or a local sponsor of traffic and travel news. But “live and local” doesn’t immediately give you a decent music policy, or people behind the microphone that connect with their audience, or a consistent, interesting and competitive listening experience.

This week, Kyle & Jackie O - two behemoths of Sydney radio - start broadcasting 714km away in Melbourne. They’ll be live (ish), but they certainly won’t be local; yet every industry commentator believes they’ll end the year in the top three - because they’re real and relevant. Good content is good content.

For the other commercial stations - Nova, Triple M, Gold, Fox - they’ll lean on much more than just being “live and local”.

  • In the US, iHeartMedia has launched a women’s sports network - covering radio, podcasts, streaming and events. With the rise of women’s sport recently, it’s interesting how obvious this move is, but how nobody else has done it, at least to this scale.

  • In the UK, AudioLab has been launched by the company behind J-ET, commercial radio’s trading platform. The service “tracks impressions and LTR (listen-through-rate) on digital audio platforms (both streaming and podcast) in real time.” A good plan to look at something across all platforms.

  • IAB UK has published its Digital Adspend Report for 2023. The report is behind a login wall, but Adelicious report that it says digital audio as a whole grew 12% to £176mn ($218mn).

  • Doing something “new” in audio? There’s a call for entries for a listening party in London - the deadline is May 17. Perhaps you’re a new producer, making audio; or an established producer making something new…

Want to supercharge your radio show? Here’s a £1 week-long trial of Show Prep - from a world class radio consultant and the best show-prep writer in the UK. Great for UK stations, or for English-language stations everywhere, too. (ad)

Coming up…


Thank you to, Broadcast Radio, Clyde Broadcast. Richard Hilton, Emma Gibbs, James Masterton, Brun Audio Consulting, Soma FM and Media Realm’s MetaRadio.

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