I’ve done a bit of digging on the bid to get Rock Radio Glasgow back on the air where it belongs, as regular readers may have noticed! It’s quite a hot topic in the area, unsurprisingly, and I’m grateful to Ciaran – one of the bid’s spokesmen – for answering a lot of our questions so far.
As they’re busy spring-cleaning their own site, he’s been kind enough to let me put a bunch of those questions and his responses on here. His – and the rest of the team’s – promise has always been to keep things as transparent as possible. If you have any further questions then leave a comment below or email us. I know that he’ll be only too happy to respond.
For more information on the bid and for information on how you can help, see this previous post. Take it away, Ciaran!
So who are you and what do you have to do with the Rock Radio bid?
We are a group of rock music fans and music industry professionals. The background of each of the directors is listed within the application to Ofcom, speaking for myself though, I’ve worked for nearly 20 years across the media, music and technology industries. And in that time I’ve worked at numerous radio stations and held a number of roles – the most important of which was launching the original 96.3 Rock Radio back in 2007 on an unsuspecting public.
Is this bid, for you, more important from a personal or a business perspective?
Good question… Both in equal measure. They (whoever they are) say you should never go back. Though that may be true, I believe that sometimes you leave unfinished business and that it’s not returning but picking up the gauntlet again and running harder and faster than you did before.
There’s a quote from Mark Twain that I always liked – ‘The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.’ Everyone should have goals, personally and professionally, my goal is to bring back Rock Radio to the West of Scotland because it is something I want to achieve personally.
There are a lot of people that want this and deserve it and they believe in us, it’s important to myself and all of the rock radio crew to do our very best for them. We are a community.
It’s also important from a business perspective because sustaining it validates the business. There’s no point in having a radio station or any business that loses money every month – that’s not reality. It’s delusion. Rock Radio is the real deal and as a business it will operate as such so that it will continue to rock.
Wasn’t there anything you could have done to prevent the “old” 96.3 Rock Radio being changed and dying off? i.e. were you yourself in a position to do anything or was it out of your hands at the time?
No. I can still vividly remember the day I was called in to a meeting in the board room of the parent company that owned Rock Radio and made aware of the idea to re brand it as “Real XS” and soften the output to appeal to more people. I thought it was a bad idea so I left the business. In hindsight it was still a bad idea.
What experience do you / your co-bidders have in running and financing radio stations?
Personally, I held management positions in more than six radio stations and the crew involved have decades of experience within radio and the media industry. That doesn’t mean we know everything but we do know what we’re doing. As for finance, Donald runs successful businesses, Paul runs successful businesses and Brian knows how to use an abacus really, really well.
The days of making a lot of money from owning a radio station are gone and our desire is to get the station to break even and perhaps make a modest profit after four or five years – and that will be reinvested. None of us are in this to make money, but we’re not in it to lose money either. We are in this to make something great happen.
Why Glasgow? There are other signals up for bids in other parts of the country.
This is arguably the last major market FM radio license up for grabs in the UK. Glasgow is a rock city, Scotland is a rock country. Everything happens for a reason and at this point in time there is no better city more deserving of its own dedicated Rock Radio station.
What will be different this time that would ensure the station can survive where the old station failed?
You’re not doing it right if you don’t make mistakes and I’ve made plenty over the years, all of the crew have and we have learned a lot about running not just a rock station but media companies and large businesses. It’s not so much about doing it different, more about learning from your mistakes and also the mistakes of others.
Do you have any program / presenter plans lined up?
Yes, we have half of the DJ roster lined up and most of the backroom crew. When I said on social media that we were going to “get the band back together” that’s exactly what I meant – we will also bring in fresh talent and ideas to the crew. Those not busy being born are busy dying.
If the license is granted, when can we expect the station to go live?
Early 2017, likely March, maybe earlier. Interestingly, it will be ten years to the day that Rock Radio Launched on January 8th, 2017. Spooky.
What benefits would there be to Glasgow/surrounds to having this station as opposed to any of the three opposing bids?
The other bids all have something to offer. Good for them but they don’t offer what we’re proposing, a true Rock Radio station for rock and metal music fans in the West of Scotland and beyond. On top of that they are proposing to operate pretty run of the mill commercial radio stations, ‘yawn’. We’re going to run a rock station.
Any ideas on where the studio would be based?
Glasgow city center. Great location lined up for the studios.
Wasn’t Rock Radio so niche that it was unsustainable resulting in the license being sold on?
Rock Radio was rebranded to Real XS to achieve a wider audience. While this actually worked (added about 10k audience according Rajar) it was commercially a disaster. Core advertisers deserted the station and less than 3 years later it was rebranded to Xfm, 18 months later – it closed down.
What are you bringing back? Where’s the business plan?
We are bringing back Rock Radio in general, not 96.3 RR – that died! We’re bringing back Rock Radio to the West of Scotland. And where’s the business plan? It’s in a 100+ page submission to Ofcom, 33 pages of which will be made available to the public. The plan is really simple. The backers and crew all have vested interests in the Scottish music industry – not just the big guys but the little ones too. Our door is open to anyone that cares about rock music, professionals and fans. The vision is to create a sustainable station that benefits all associated.
You mention that 33 pages of a 100-page business plan will be made public. When would we get to see those public pages, and why only a third of the plan?
The plan is available to read now at www.rockradioglasgow.com. While an important portion of the plan is publicly available, we have considerably more sensitive information around the business plan and financial model within the confidential appendix. On top of that there are detailed market research and technical reports that go into further detail that tie in with the business plan and set out how this business will be viable. When I’m playing cards, I don’t show my hand.
Won’t a niche station like Rock Radio struggle to sell advertising?
Selling a targeted/niche radio station is not the same as selling a general interest station, they are different. Once you realise that and understand it, you can go about your business. I speak from the experience of selling not just Rock stations but Country, Top 40, Greatest hits music stations and more. The original 96.3 Rock Radio didn’t struggle, though it did take a while to finds its rhythm (all targeted/niche stations do). We really wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t believe (and know) that Rock Radio is a viable business on an expanded 96.3FM.
The other bids state that they’re targeting specific age ranges and genders. Doesn’t this show that they’ve done more market research than you have?
We purposely did not set an age range on our format as the station is open to all: men, women, kids, families… we’ve done our market research and then some. Just because we didn’t specify a target demo does not mean we have not covered the ground extensively in our business plan. And for that information, you’ll have to refer to the confidential appendix.
Ciaran and the Rock Radio Glasgow crew are contactable via their facebook page.