Heritage – is it radio anorak importance, or genuine listener attracting gold? Ronald McDonald reports… Ok, no he doesn’t…
Around the world there are plenty of big name heritage stations we anoraks can all identify with. Z100 and KIIS LA in the US. Capital FM, Magic FM, LBC in London. Today FM in Australia, there are plenty more the world over. But do listeners of these stations even realise that they’re big heritage stations? Do they need to resurrect some form of their Heritage in the station sound and language for the listener? Do listeners even care?
Let’s examine these questions.
Do listeners even realise that tuning into big heritage stations?
This depends on the target market of the station. Trying to show off your heritage to the youth audience isn’t going to do much to impress them; they want cool, new and exciting things. Heritage can be perceived as old and safe. Maybe it pull’s in some great figures, but are they really the listeners you want? Close examination of figures may show a lot of them to be outside your target market and that could be a problem if you’re working in a cluster of stations where target markets between stations are calculated to create a ‘cradle to grave’ journey through stations.
Listening to Heritage CHR stations like Z100 and KIIS LA provides a notable exception. It’s clear that their Jingles are still working as part of a modern sound – it’s all about implementing them in a cool way that’s current for their target market. They’ve been come less about Heritage and more about sounding cool in this instance. They’ve also had these jingles for a long time, so there is some sense to a continued use of them if only at the Top of the Hour.
If you’re target market is older, perhaps it’s wise to talk about Heritage. Care is needed. An older target market doesn’t want to be made to feel old, but they may want to listen to a trusted product. How you implement Heritage is up to you…
Do stations need to resurrect some form of their heritage in the station sound and language for the listener?
Some stations opt to use liners stating their ‘time served to the listener.’ Others like to use Jingles – but be careful. Jingles only work as a source of Heritage if you’ve had the same logo for a long period of time like Z100 and KIIS LA as mentioned above. This is also evident in many big name advertising brands today – McDonalds being a great example.
If your station has never had Jingles, introducing one is an option – but be prepared to utilise it forever to sear the logo into the ears of your listeners over time and help create that Heritage and build recognition. A lack of consistency with your Jingles will damage your overall popularity in the future. This is one particular bugbear of mine, to change your logo every two years and have no consistent direction of sound for your listeners. I believe it takes two to three years of developing a ‘sound’ and ‘style’ for it to become engrained in your collective audience brain. You want to get to a point where your ‘sound’ does the talking and you don’t always have to say anything to have the listener know who they’ve tuned into. You just need to hear the McDonalds ‘whistle’ and you start to think about their food. Constant change can damage the chances you have of building this – it’s not wise, or helpful.
Do listeners even care?
The age old question for everything in radio. Does the listener care. While there is no way to really confirm or deny this I think what the listener really cares about is a consistent knowledge that a product will deliver them what they are looking for. Think of Radio like fast food chains – where we all know what Radio will give us, but we have options to pick from – how you stand out on the menu is down to the branding and package, whether your listener notices it or not… McHeritage.