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Radio is a safe space

17 Apr 2020  |  Paul Keenan 
Radio is a safe space

Sponsored: A world in lockdown has made radio more relevant now than ever, writes Paul Keenan, as he outlines Bauer Media's present and future strategy

We know that the medium of radio informs, entertains and connects us to the outside world.

But how could we know that we would ever be so in need of its companionship as in the past few weeks? Or so appreciative of its intimacy and the reassuring rhythms it offers of our so recent past lives?

It can take you to places and spaces which are at the epicentre of the crisis; or to that horizon where you can hear that there still is a world beyond this virus.

So, radio is more relevant than ever – and that is underlined by the increased engagement with listeners we have seen in the last month.

The evidence for this growth is both anecdotal and empirical. We hear from listeners across the country of their appreciation of the 1-2-1 relationship with the friends they meet daily on air. And we see it in Bauer’s streaming data.

Reach in March is up 30% on February and up 34% on last year. Time spent connected listening is up 14% in March on February and up 47% on last year.

Our latest research around audience behaviour and media consumption found that 91% of people have listened to the radio since being on lockdown, with 26% agreeing that they’re listening to more radio than they did before the outbreak. They said that radio had made them more positive, entertained them, provided inspiration and delivered useful, trusted information.

We are working in three timeframes at Bauer. What’s needed now, next and in the future.


Our focus now is in working with our commercial partners to carry their mission-critical messages to their customers and supporters. Radio is so agile that we can move from need to solution within the hour. We have embraced the role we can play in encouraging people to follow the Government’s advice; and are delighted to clap for the NHS and those people continuing to work, such as in food stores, making deliveries or in public transport.

In addition to delivering Government safety messages, we’re working with brands to help them adapt their messaging in real-time and communicate with their audience in the most relevant and timely way.

Jamie Crick, presenter, Jazz FM and Scala Radio

We’ve also changed our own programming and content. Our latest April insight shows that 80% of people wanted to listen to music during the lockdown, up 18% from March. On the other hand, 62% of people mentioned that they wanted to listen to the news, down from 68% the previous month.

This change in listening suggests that as the lockdown continues, people are looking for escapism and more upbeat, fun content during this challenging time. They want content that can bring them together. That’s why we ensure that all our content is as truthful and supportive as possible, with hard news mixed in with the greatest music and shows.

KISS broadcasts a daily Coronavirus Fact Check to provide up to date factual news, but also launched KISS Fest, 30+ hours of non-stop live music, over the Easter bank holiday. Magic FM also continues to deliver trustworthy news bulletins, but has also launched ‘Shelf Isolation’, a book club which connects listeners together and with some of the nation’s favourite authors.

Ronan Keating, presenter, Magic FM

Hits Radio has launched its Hero Hour feature, which opens the lines for 60-minutes every day at 1pm and 4pm to shout out and celebrate the incredible people who are going out of their way to keep us healthy, safe and fed during this time. Listeners are getting in touch to talk about amazing people, whether they work for the NHS or are keeping the food supply going!

Absolute Radio has rebranded its ‘Hometime Show’ to a ‘Stay at Home’ show, as presenters Bush and Richie find new ways to engage with the audience and get listeners involved. Our stations are also being a force for good at this time, using our influence and reach to drive donations and encourage conversation.

Cash for Kids, Bauer Media’s dedicated local charity, has announced that its new campaign has raised more than £1million to help UK families cope with the effects of Coronavirus. We’ve also people to speak up about serious issues like mental health and remind them it’s ok to struggle, and that they are not alone. We are proud to be launching a new social campaign building on our ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ activity to continue to support our listeners and readers mental health by encouraging them to share their feelings.


Our focus next will be in understanding how our listeners’ expectations of brands are developing. Never before have relevance and context been such critical success factors for marketeers.

We will continue to survey and gather up-to-the-minute insights around listener habits, monitoring how they are changing and how that affects our customers’ businesses. Our insights and expertise will support and guide marketeers, helping them produce the most interesting and creative messaging and supporting their desire to find the right tone of voice. Our teams are here to help all customers ensure their communications are right and help maintain their business through this crisis.

Harriet Scott, presenter, Magic FM

We know that radio has a bright future in a digital world, and we are excited to be now moving the stations we acquired last year towards that digital future of radio together, and to be offering our commercial partners the extended geographical coverage and reach they bring to Bauer Radio.


As we look to the future, we are starting to imagine what our new normal will look like; and the role we can play in that new normal to most advantage our listeners and commercial partners. Just as they will be changed by this, so will we.

Some of our deepest thinking has been around what role we can play in accelerating the UK’s exit from the economic slump wrought by this crisis.

Advertising is both a barometer and a driver of the economy – it encourages consumption and supports businesses large and small, along with the livelihoods of the many people who work in them.

Our industry will therefore play an important role in the economic revival – and for all of us working in radio, we should be more sure than ever that we are providing an important service not just to listeners, but to our customers who are the backbone of the economy.

Paul Keenan is president of audio at Bauer Media Group.

Between 6 - 17 April Mediatel is hosting The Future of Audio - a free digital event to experience during lockdown. Click here for the full agenda, which includes live-streams, presentations and audio-themed editorial.

Mediatel are the audio experts operating at the centre of audio trading, distribution and analytic processing. Contact us for more information on J-ET, Audiotrack or our RAJAR data engine.

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01 Jul 2020 

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