Autumnal sheddings: Radio 3 loses more listeners

Further to my previous piece on the infuriating pollution of Radio 3’s programmes with the inanity of ‘Listener Views’ and the empty excitement of classical chart countdowns, news of declining listener figures for the station appears in an article in today’s Guardian.

According to reports, Radio 3 has ‘lost more listeners than any other BBC national radio station in the three months to 18 September.’ Consumers are reacting not with their feet, but with their fingers as the dial is rapidly spun away from the mind-numbing sharing of listener’s e-mails, or (and to my mind, the most hideous addition to the programming) listener telephone-calls.

Other BBC radio stations have also lost listeners: Radio 4, Radio 5 Live and Radio 4 Extra (formerly BBC 7). And the Controller of Radio 3, Roger Wright, is reported as saying that positive response to the changes in the station’s scheduling has far outweighed the negative.  But with a reported loss of 5.6% of listeners, and the rumblings of discontent on blogs, forums, and discussion boards around the ether and in the printed media as well, the signs are that people are becoming increasingly tired of the new feel to Radio 3.

I have no problem with institutions adapting to embrace change; it’s a vital part of keeping themselves open to new developments, embracing new thinking and new ways of engaging consumers. Being receptive to the idea of change keeps them vibrant, aware of contemporary cultural climates and being willing to respond to them. I love Radio 3 dearly. But change has to be managed without alienating or abandoning the core consumer base, without losing the customer base whose loyalty and adherence to the brand have established the product for what it is, and without compromising or sacrificing the product’s unique identity.

Come on, Radio 3. Change is good: selling out to popularism is bad.


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