Magazine article Marketing

Radio 4's Revival Due to Dearth of Any Alternatives

Magazine article Marketing

Radio 4's Revival Due to Dearth of Any Alternatives

Article excerpt

Richard Ingrams may often be entirely barking but just occasionally he puts his finger on the heart of the matter. After all, how is a rational person to explain the bounce back in Radio 4 listening figures other than the fact that they've bowed to overwhelming pressure and brought On Your Farm back on Sunday mornings?

But Ingrams has a much better explanation. It's a combination of the flu, the Oldie and the conservatism of typical Radio 4 listeners. The ratings have shot up because people are lying close to death and have nothing better to do than listen to Radio 4 whether they like it or not and are certainly not in any state to notice the drop in quality. It is just conceivable, however, that James Boyle, the Radio 4 controller was right all along and those hundreds of scheduling changes and the dropping of favourite programmes was just what was required. But that is a difficult concept with which to grapple.

A more likely, and slightly pessimistic explanation, is that in the end people get used to anything and for most loyal Radio 4 listeners there is nowhere else to go. You can only take so much classical music and if you want news and current affairs in the mornings, Kelvin's friends on Talk Radio simply won't do. There is no substitute for the Today programme even if it has had to be padded out with silly, inconsequential debates. Much to my surprise I have been able to cope without hearing the Yesterday in Parliament segment since it was bundled off unceremoniously to long wave. The improved ratings are good news for many reasons. …

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