In 20 minutes they covered the breaking news of explosions at Brussels airport, what do you buy the Queen for her birthday and the debate over men’s and women’s tennis.
All content that Radio 5 Live and Radio 4 would already be providing.
They did also treat us to their brainteaser of the day…. yes…
There was a “main story” about care homes in the area and a long traffic update.
During the day I’m very familiar with BBC local output. Mostly middle-of-the-road music, phone-ins and interviews.
All content that Radio 2 is already doing.
Weekends are interesting. In the main it is a mix of local sport and generic music programmes (show-tunes, sixties, soul). Again BBC Local is a mixture of output only the BBC would do and content that other providers already do. For every unique and valuable piece of content there’s something generic and disposable on the way.
What is striking is the decline in audience over the past ten years.
In December 2005 BBC Local Radio in England had 7.8 million listeners, that was 20% of the possible audience. In December 2015 that had dropped to 6.4 million listeners (15%). In 2005 the average listener tuned in for 11 and half hours a week, that is now 8.7 hours.
Over the ten years BBC Local Radio in England has lost 38% of its listening hours. That just wouldn’t have been allowed in the commercial world.
I can’t help coming to the conclusion that BBC Local radio just isn’t distinctive enough for the audience any more. A large percentage of what it does just isn’t local and is available elsewhere.
Local Commercial Radio has had a much better time with audience numbers over the ten years. I know it’s almost the unthinkable for certain BBC types but maybe it’s time for them to look at why that is and get some of the best commercial brains involved in turning their output and audience numbers around.