Photo: Radio X Facebook
Early mornings on the radio once again feature a familiar voice: Chris Moyles, who once had 8 million listeners on Radio 1, returned last month to host the breakfast show on the new look XFM, rebranded as Radio X. The station launched on September 21 with new DJs including Chris Moyles doing the breakfast show, Vernon Kay in the mornings and Johnny Vaughan doing the drive-time show.
Labelled as “the first truly male focused radio station” there was an unsurprising backlash when Radio X unveiled its target audience as 25 – 44-year-old males. In a world where equality is key, that is extremely archaic. A station like this should be appealing to a variety of age ranges and more importantly both genders, especially as (according to their own figures) almost 40% of current listeners are female and even some 15 years olds are tuning in too. So why change the target audience? The all-new Radio X are likely to lose more listeners than they gain.
To make matters worse, from 6:30am to 10pm, Monday to Friday all the DJs are male. There is only one female presenter is on the schedule for weekdays, and Hattie Pearson doesn’t exactly have the prime time slot. She’s on from 1am to 4am, the graveyard shift. As a gig promoter and band manager she probably knows a lot more about the music being played. So why not swap her for Vernon Kay? I don’t imagine him enjoying a bit of Muse when he’s relaxing at home.
Perhaps Radio X should take a look at Radio 1 – one of Britain’s most listened to radio stations. Who with over 10 million listeners in the UK know what they’re doing. Their weekday schedule is much more balanced with the likes of Clara Amfo, Annie Mac and Scott Mills. These DJs reflect not only the music played on the station, but the equality within the station too. With strong ratings for all these DJs including a 737,000 increase in listeners since Amfo and Mac joined, they clearly have had an impact. Radio 1 are also never attacked by the press for sexism allegations; in fact, they have programs like Newsbeat where they discuss these topics. Radio X have had many accusations thrown at them by the press. Maybe to combat this, they should again look to Radio 1 for inspiration and have a program to discuss the topics on everyone’s lips rather than listening to Vaughan waffle on for three hours about the price of a pint in Bristol.
Radio X have had a strong advertising campaign and will probably reach their target audience of lager-swigging, banter-spewing males, but it will come at a cost. To leave out an entire gender and various age ranges is a ridiculous decision. They may have made a fresh start, giving the station a revived feel and yes, Chris Moyles is the perfect pin-up for the new target audience, but they already need to go back to the drawing board. In this day and age, a radio show should be for anyone and everyone and Radio X just screams inequality.
Tom Staniszewski @