Music programming masterclass

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Jeff said that at BBC Radio 2, they play around 600 different songs a week, all of which fall under the ‘timeless melody’ category. This is around four times the average commercial radio station. He said that they have a couple of thousand songs active at any time, with 15,000 in a core database. BBC Radio 2 focus their clocks around a balance of the breadth of different eras from the 1960’s onwards. Jeff believes that this is unique to the world of ‘controlled anarchy’ at Radio 2 – where the presenters play a part in music choice. So it may not work quite so well in the commercial world, unless they are willing to allow that trust in presenters. Nik asserted that commercial radio general has a straightjacket approach that controls playlists stringently – Jeff takes the opposite approach. Jeff and Nik talked about breadth of music. Jeff said that BBC Radio 2 is assisted by the fact that they don’t research the tracks and as a public service provider, are required to be different. Jeff believes in the ‘educated gut’ as opposed to music research. He has always looked at what other stations are playing and knows that they are well tested. Jeff said that ‘radio is going into a new golden age’ into podcasting. There are so many opportunities for audiences to fall and stumble upon new content – ‘we should step up to the plate’. BBC Radio 2 delivers 26% new music, across a broad range of genres. The tracks are decided through a panel of 12-15 staff. Jeff talked us through a number of them and why they are picked, everyone brings something very different!

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