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LONDON RADIO STATION 'JAZZ
FM' BILLBOARDS PROMOTE
POP, ROCK & SOUL ARTISTS IN
ATTEMPT TO COMPETE WITH
MARKET LEADER 'CAPIT...
Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin and Sting are not the most obvious ambassadors
for jazz music, but their images are currentl...
"The argument goes that we shouldn't play a particular artist because you hear
them an awful lot on 'Capital [Radio]'", Ma...
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'London Radio Station "Jazz FM" Billboards Promote Pop, Rock & Soul Artists In Attempt To Compete With Market Leader "Capital FM"' by Grant Goddard

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London local commercial radio station 'Jazz FM' uses pop, rock & soul music artists in its billboard campaign to appeal to listeners of 'Capital FM', written by Grant Goddard in February 1992 for Jazz Express magazine.

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'London Radio Station "Jazz FM" Billboards Promote Pop, Rock & Soul Artists In Attempt To Compete With Market Leader "Capital FM"' by Grant Goddard

  1. 1. LONDON RADIO STATION 'JAZZ FM' BILLBOARDS PROMOTE POP, ROCK & SOUL ARTISTS IN ATTEMPT TO COMPETE WITH MARKET LEADER 'CAPITAL FM' by GRANT GODDARD www.grantgoddard.co.uk February 1992
  2. 2. Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin and Sting are not the most obvious ambassadors for jazz music, but their images are currently being used on huge billboards to promote Britain's only jazz radio station. Following last year's protracted struggle for control of London's 'Jazz FM', new owner Golden Rose Communications is repositioning the loss-making station with a £250,000, two-month campaign using twin 48-sheet posters on 400 outdoor sites. Jazz FM Chief Executive David Maker explains the decision to use pop and soul artists in the promotion: "Quite deliberately, we didn't put in a well known jazz artist, but the posters are only illustrative," he argues. "They're not to be taken that we're going to play nothing other than [Eric Clapton's] Cream." When Maker's consortium first made overtures to the station last summer, it commissioned attitudinal research to determine the tastes of London's jazz fraternity. "There are a hard core of jazz enthusiasts," says Maker, "who not only will not listen to any other sort of music, but also are very particular about their type of jazz, and don't regard any other type as jazz." It is this element of Jazz FM's original audience who have become incensed by the new management's attempts to attract a wider listenership, and who object to the rock, pop and soul artists introduced into the programming. "You're in an absolutely no-win position with people like that," says an exasperated Maker. "They weren't even happy with Jazz FM as it was." Their dissatisfaction has filled the columns of specialist jazz magazines and been articulated by leading members of the jazz community. Half of the 112 programming complaints lodged with The Radio Authority in 1991's final quarter objected to Jazz FM's revised music policy. The Authority has nevertheless dismissed all such protests, arguing that Jazz FM is "attempting to become more attractive to listeners and advertisers by adopting a wider, more familiar playlist." If the new management is so determined to move the station toward profitability by attracting a more general audience, would it not have made more sense to ditch the name 'Jazz FM' altogether? "We didn't because the name is everything we want the station to be," answers Maker. "Jazz is still the focal point of the station and will remain so." And whilst the public debate rages about the new programming, Maker admits that, within the station, "there are endless conversations about artists I think we should be playing." London Radio Station 'Jazz FM' Billboards Promote Pop, Rock & Soul Artists In Attempt To Compete With Market Leader 'Capital FM' page 2 ©1992 Grant Goddard
  3. 3. "The argument goes that we shouldn't play a particular artist because you hear them an awful lot on 'Capital [Radio]'", Maker relates. "But should we actually be an alternative to Capital? Or should we be …" … be a competitor? But Jazz FM trails behind other newcomers such as 'Melody Radio' and 'KISS FM'. The latest set of JICRAR audience data show its share of London radio listening to be a mere 1.2%, marginally higher than the BBC's disastrous 'Radio 5' and a long way behind market leader Capital FM's 15.1% "We don’t expect to see much improvement at the moment," reasons Maker. "We'll be doing a lot of swapping listeners – losing hardcore jazz fans for people who want to listen to a broader variety of music." Those jazz fans were originally attracted by the station's launch slogan: 'Jazz has never sounded as good as Jazz FM'. But now, with increasingly regular airplay of Steely Dan and Simply Red, the station's critics accuse it of playing nothing as good as jazz. [First published in 'Jazz Express' magazine as 'Jazz FM', March 1992] Grant Goddard is a media analyst / radio specialist / radio consultant with thirty years of experience in the broadcasting industry, having held senior management and consultancy roles within the commercial media sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. Details at http://www.grantgoddard.co.uk London Radio Station 'Jazz FM' Billboards Promote Pop, Rock & Soul Artists In Attempt To Compete With Market Leader 'Capital FM' page 3 ©1992 Grant Goddard

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