Rad Sked

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My first proper blog is here! I aim to post a blog article every month.

What do I look for in a local radio station?

Posted: 08/09/2017

Recently, the Bauer Media Group started networking the 10am to 2pm show on many of their local radio stations. So it got me thinking, what do I look for in a local radio station?

Many local radio stations have now been aquired by big groups such as Global or Bauer, and often now run under national brands such as Heart, Smooth, or Capital. Most carry networked programming for at least part of the day. Station requirements are dictated by Ofcom, but some local radio stations carry as little as 4 hours a day of local programmes a day, with around 7 hours often being the norm. On weekends, even fewer programmes are locally produced. Some AM local stations are networked entirely, as is TFM on 96.6FM in Teeside which takes all programmes from Metro Radio in Newcastle.

Consumer legislation prevents goods and services from being misdescribed, so how can a radio station broadcasting less than 25% local programming be called local? Surely, that's a misdesciption?

Local radio stations are still required to broadcast local news and traffic reports for much of the day, but there is only so much that you can squeeze into a few minutes each hour. Traffic reports on Bauer's Greatest Hits network are particularly poor, often only enough time for two or three issues to be reported. Heart do, however, have a 'Nightly News' programme, which is 15 minutes long, and provides a good weekday round up of both local and national stories.

So having highlighted some aspects of good and bad practice, I'm now going to talk about what I look for in a local radio station.

Firstly, I'll start with networking and automation. I'm not against off-peak networking, especially if limited to small groups of local stations within the same region, if it helps to keep the station financially viable I'm against networking during daytimes (6am to 7pm), as these are the times I want to be kept up to date on local issues. The same principles for me apply to pre-recorded, voicetracked, and automated programmes.

During the evenings and at night I'm more interested in music. I look for a wide variety of styles, both old and new, but if a station has a second services (often on AM), I'm happy for newer music on the main station and older music on the second station.

News programmes should be produced in house be the station during the day, but I'm happy with outside providers doing the news at other times. Both Sky News and Radio Newshub provide high quality news bulletins, and are often much better than the BBC's national bulletins. Local stations should also attend local events, as I want to be able to hear about them if I can't get there myself. Local sports coverage is also important, but I prefer 'goal flashes' rather than full live commentaries.

Now I'm nearly finished, but before I do, I would like to make one final statement. I have switched radio station as a result of increased networking. So Metro Radio, don't count me as a listener, because I'm with Rathergood Radio. When I'm visiting my family in Scotland I listen to Kingdom FM, not Forth 1. Bauer and Global take the hint.

Website Updates

Posted: 31/07/2016

In the absense of any really good ideas for another blog entry, but keen to make sure people still know I exist, I would like to take this oppurtunity to update you on the progress of my websites.

I will get the bad news out of the way first. The Motorsport site is currently not being updated. This is not a permanent measure, but as I have been unable to keep the website updated during the current season of motorsport, I felt it better to prioritise my time on my other websites.

Now for the good news. I'm currently working on a new website, which although smaller than the existing sites, will feature just as highly in my plans. Most of my websites are coded from scratch, but this new website is based on a reactivated Worpress platform, which was originally used for the very site you are reading just now. I am not ready to reveeal any more details on my new website, but I'm sure it is worth the wait.

As for the Radio site and the Transport site, updates are progressing as normal. The Radio site is experiencing a minor redesign, but will not change as dramatically as the Transport site a few months ago.

So, some exciting times ahead for my websites. Stay tuned!

A Pleasant Day Out, and a Lot of Money Spent

Posted: 02/05/2017

This year on the 30th April, the North East Bus and Coach Show was held for the first time at Spillers Wharf, on Newcastle's Quayside. Previously this even has been held at the Metro Centre in Gateshead, but the move was required after a change of policy by intu at the Metro Centre. This event was previously free, but there was a small admission charge of £2 this year. Was the small charge worth it? I would say yes.

The new site is shorter, than the Metro Centre car park previously used, but is wider (albeit at one end). The more square shape has allowd for different vehicle layouts. Slightly less vehicles attended, but there was a wide selection of both preserved and modern buses and coaches.

There were also plenty of trade stands, offering books, models, and loads of other collectors items, and prices were good too. Helpfully, all the trad stands were grouped in one area. I spent £80 on 5 models buses and 2 books, although I did loose grip of a slipery new plastic £5 note, but did manage to catch it before it blew away in the wind.

Whilst at the North East Bus Preservation Trust (NEBPT) trade stand, I had a little discussion with one of the volunteers over a Corgi model bus, which was for sale on the stand. The model was an MCW Metrobus in Sunderland Busways livery, but Sunderland Busways never actually operated any MCW Metrobuses. I was able to share my story of a Stagecoach Perth liveried Corgi MCW Metrobus, completed with fleet number and cherised registration. An internet search rvealed no trace of such bus, but the identity in fact belonged to a Leyland Olympian.

Will I be back next year? Yes. The staff were really friendley, the event was fairly easy to get to, and the selection of buses and coaches on display was excelent. The only issue I had was lack of signage pointing to the entrance to the site. £2 well spent.

Alnwick Adventures

Posted: 15/03/2017

Two sundays ago I took a delightful trip up to Alnwick with my family, with the principle aim of visiting Barter Books. The journey was a delight, as I had my favourite combination of Sony DAB radio and Sony headphones to listen to. I hung onto 103.4 Sun FM almost all the way to Alnwick, which was impressive (intended coverage area for Sun FM is Sunderland and Wearside).

On arrival I was greeted by the beautiful building of Alnwick's former train station, but then realised that I had forgotten my camera. My mum had left hers in her other handbag.

Barter Books itself is huge. The leaflet describes the shop as being one of the biggest second hand bookshops in Britain, but I would say that is a bit of understatement. The layout was a bit confusing, non fiction and fiction books weren't group together, and were spread about in different sections.

Prices were in general reasonable, although some books were a little expensive. Some annuals along the lines of The Beano and The Dandy were priced at £5.60, which whilst I wasn't expecting charity shop prices, I thought that was a little expensive.

So, what did I buy? The 2001 Stagecoach Bus Handbook by British Bus Publishing, about the only gem I could find within a limited selection of bus books. Overall, Barter Books is a good shop, but didn't quite tick all my boxes. Definitely worth a visit if your in the area.

Absolutely to the bus!

Posted: 02/11/2016

Those of you who listen to The Motorshow on Talk Radio with Andy Jaye and Rebecca Jones will be familliar with the five car garage. This is a feature where the guest on the show has to choose the 5 cars that he or she would have in their garage, abit like Desert Island Discs, but with cars instead. The only rules are is that there is a maximum virtual budget of £200k, and each make can only be represented once.

A couple of weeks back, I was a bit bored and having posted very little on twitter (@sco1996) recently, decided to share my five car garage. When considering how to start this blog, I decided it would be a good idea to explain the reasons behind my choices. Of course I did tag Andy Jaye (@andyjaye) and Rebecca Jones (@therebeccajones) into the tweets, and Rebecca was not that impressed by one of my choices.

1. Kia Cee'd

Top Gear 'Star in a Reasonably Priced Car' for 2010 - 2013. Enough said! That's basically what I gave Rebecca Jones as my reasoning for picking this one (an amusing Kia Feed autocorrect disaster did occur in the tweet). As it turns out I never said enough, with Rebecca replying with 'That doesn't make it good!'.

So what do I like about the Cee'd? To me it's underestimated. My parents had one, a second hand 2009 model, a CRDi diesel in English Pewter (bronze). It was never anything fancy, just a basic hatchback that did everything you needed it to, nothing more and nothing less. It was reliable (or it was until the magnet detached itself from the speaker and shorted out the electrics), I had a nice sound system, the heater worked, and the diesel engine was powerful and gave good mpg on long journeys. It also had comfy seats and good rear legroom.

2. Volvo V70

A big box on wheels, ideal for trips to IKEA. Never been in one, but I have always liked the V70. Still to work out how Volvo's engineer can make a big box look so good.

3. Aston Martin DB9

To bring the garage within budget, this would need to be a second hand purchase. The Aston Martin DB9 has been a favourite of mine for a number of years. I think it is one of the best looking cars every produced, possibly even better looking than a classic red Ferrari. I got even more hooked on it when I saw the race against the Eurostar and TGV which Top Gear did a number of years back.

4. Alexander Y Type bus

The title of this blog article will make sense now. In the tweet in wrote in brackets 'is that even allowed?', and Andy Jaye's replay was 'Absolutely to the bus!' Those of you who know me personally will know that I am a huge fan of buses, so I had to include one in my garage.

The Y type was produced by Scottish firm Walter Alexander from the 1960s through to the early 1980s, and was built in both Falkirk and Belfast. Its was a single decker, and was available as a bus, dual purpose (bus body with coach seats), and as a proper coach. It is a fantastic looking bus, and I would include an early model in my garage.

5. MG Metro 6R4 rally car

Last but not least... the Metro 6R4. I have lost count as to how many times I have been to the Jim Clark Memorial Rally (6 at last count), and this is one of the cars that I always love to see. I love it's massive bodywork extensions, and it's short, wide, agressive stance. Never seen anything better on the rallly scene. Whilst the modern machinery will out pace the 6R4, nothing beats it for looks.