BBC Radio 6 Music scored well in the recent Q3 RAJAR results, with its second highest ratings ever of 2.52 million. It comes ahead of the first shake-up at the station in several years with Lauren Laverne moving to breakfast in early 2019, Mary Anne Hobbs switching to weekday mornings and Radcliffe & Maconie taking on the weekend breakfast slot. Here, head of 6 Music, Paul Rodgers, opens up about plans for the digital-only network…
You must be happy with a record 1.11m audience for Lauren Laverne?
“For Lauren, it’s a good story and it’s no secret that Lauren is going to be on the new breakfast show, so it’s great to see her do well like that. These [RAJAR] figures underline how important breakfast slots are to a radio station in supporting their performance for the rest of the day. That bodes well for us and we are definitely trying to strengthen our foundations, because we are going to have two new breakfast shows [Lauren Laverne and Radcliffe & Maconie] in the weekday and on the weekend. Tom Ravenscroft also got a record figure and he got a very big uplift. In fact, all of our evening [shows] did very well. We’ve been trailing our evenings quite hard.”
Digital now accounts for most digital listening. As a digital-only network, what’s the breakdown for 6 Music?
“I can say that it is mainly DAB. It is significantly online as well. That balance changes a little bit throughout the day and throughout the weekend. I think weekend mornings there is a greater increase in DAB listening because people have more access to DAB at home than they do in the workplace.”
How can 6 Music benefit from the BBC Sounds app?
“We benefit from iPlayer Radio and we’ll benefit from BBC Sounds in the same way. I think our music will be extremely well frequented because it will add some great depth to BBC Sounds. People will come across some of the depth and range that is on 6 Music if they regularly use BBC Sounds.”
We are making changes to try and fix the roof while the sun is shining
How can 6 Music stay on top as the No.1 digital music station?
“It’s helpful that we are coming from a position of stability. We are making changes to try and fix the roof while the sun is shining. It’s important to know that in the changes we’re making, we’re not making them lightly. Most of 6 Music is unaffected by any schedule changes. We’ve had the same schedule for a very long time now, so we are cautious about our approach. Although these plans are significant, they are also quite cautious, and we hope that they will be just enough to help us make a difference and then we’ll be done.”
Mary Anne Hobbs is a very experienced presenter. Do you think her time has come with this new weekday morning slot?
“I’m glad you said it because it’s true. Mary Anne has a history in music that is pretty unparalleled. She looks both ways. She’s got that understanding of what’s important in the past, and that long commitment to supporting new music. At the heart of 6 Music there is always a commitment to playing a lot of quality music, and our plan is to play more of it. That’s contemporary music and that’s music from the past. We won’t dilute down the ethic at all. We are about playing great music and we are trusting our DJs to be able to do that.”
Guitar music has not been doing particularly well in terms of the singles chart. Why has 6 Music performed so well despite that backdrop of a commercial waning for rock?
“Well, I don’t really think it’s ever gone away. I wouldn’t really say we are a guitar network but a lot of our presenters’ passions have landed in that area. We try and mix it up as sensibly as possible to give as broad a picture as possible. I think there are a lot of great guitar bands around and we’ll play them. We are hoping to do something with Courtney Barnett. We try and recommend, share and play good music and we do that in a very unique way. We trust our talented teams and presenters to be the auditors of that. They kind of watch the market, they see what there is around and they interpret what they think their audience will like.”
To read Music Week’s full Q3 RAJAR analysis subscribers can click here.