At Folder Media, digital radio is a big part of our business. We created, and now manage the MuxCo network of multiplexes as well as working with UTV on the management of their network. We run a digital radio station – Fun Kids. We have also worked with lots of different digital radio operators – Planet Rock, Jazz FM and many more – on a variety of projects.
The nature of the sector is very different to seven years ago when we set up the company. With stations like Fun Kids profitable enterprises, more and more operators want to get involved with digital radio. On our MuxCo network we’re really pleased that we’ve got the non-heritage commercial broadcasters on board – stations like Dee 106.3 with Dee on DAB and Sunshine Radio, but also now new entrants too. We’ve worked with stations like Redstone FM in Surrey and South London and Wirral Radio on Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool to find ways to get them on-air. Over the next six months they’ll be more stations like these joining our networks as well as three new multiplexes in Somerset, North Yorkshire and North Wales going on-air too.
One of the questions we’ve been getting from potential new service providers is the viability of launching stations in DAB+. The benefit of DAB+ is that you can squeeze in good audio quality in less space. This means that something that was 128kbit/s in DAB could sound similar broadcast at 48kbit/s or 64kbit/s with DAB+. As capacity on digital radio is charged on how much you use, this would seemingly reduce costs for new operators. However, one of the issues is that most of the legacy digital radios (those old Evokes you’ve got in your kitchen) don’t pick up this new flavour of DAB. So, your costs might be lower, but so is your potential audience.
At the moment around 20m digital radios have been sold. Of that, we believe that 3m are DAB+ compatible.
Looking at the number of radios that will be sold this year – 2million, we’d expect nearly all of the in-car sets to be DAB+ compatible as well as the vast majority of radios from Pure and Roberts. So let’s say we’ll be adding 1.5m new DAB+ sets this year.
Overall, to us, it seems that DAB+ is likely to be a good option for broadcasters, but perhaps not for a little while. Unless, that is, a multiplex only has a very small amount of space left and someone’s very keen to get on. However, as a manager of multiplexes we need to be ready to accept stations that want to broadcast that way.
Whilst DAB+ is in operation in many countries – including Australia and Germany – there has only been a small amount of testing in the UK. We’ve decided to do some real world testing from now until the end of the year.
This morning we started the broadcast of our children’s radio station, Fun Kids, in DAB+ (initially 64kbit/s) on our Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool multiplex. This multiplex has one of the most advanced multiplexers in the UK and is able to cope easily with the broadcast of both DAB and DAB+ alongside each other. We thank our partners in the multiplex and out transmission provider VDL with their support for this test.
Our aims of the test are three-fold:
If you’re in the Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool area – have a look on your radio for FunKids+ – and tell us what you think. My email address is email@example.com.
The over-arching reason for the test comes back to how we feel about digital radio at Folder Media. We’re still as excited about digital radio as we were when we set up the company. We think it’s great that listeners now get more choice from many different platforms – whether that’s DAB, the internet, mobile or digital television. In the UK our radio listening figures are holding up because of the variety of content from the BBC, commercial radio and community radio and that stations make it available on lots of different platforms.
We continue to be big believers in DAB because it’s the easiest way for new radio stations to reach large numbers of people. At Folder, we’ll continue to find new ways to make it easier for radio stations to reach all of these listeners and things like this DAB+ test will increase our knowledge that we can share with the rest of the industry.
It’s important that Fun Kids is in tune with its audience. We recently commissioned a report asking kids about their views on a myriad of different subjects. Here’s the release:
Now, the first major new opinion study of kids – the iGeneration Report from Fun Kids Radio – does just that. This groundbreaking study researched 2,000 children aged eight to fourteen on topics such as sexualisation, sexuality, diet and even immigration – and reveals that kids are far more self aware, self-monitoring and self-protective than parents give them credit.
On the basis of the finding that children as young as eight are well-informed, mindful of their behaviour and have strong opinions, the report highlights how key decision makers in kids’ lives should consider giving this unrepresented demographic of eight to fourteen year olds more of a voice within society – and more autonomy when decisions concerning their future are made.
In particular, kids themselves are most concerned about the pop industry and the increasing ‘sexiness’ of musicians and their music videos – such as those of Miley Cyrus, Rihanna and Robin Thicke. Despite parents’ fears – with one in 20 (4 per cent) banning their kids from watching these videos – over one in ten kids (13 per cent) wished their videos were ‘less sexy’, with 11 per cent stating they would respect the stars more if they wore more clothes.
One in ten (11 per cent) admitted the videos make them feel uncomfortable – leading to almost a third (28 per cent) stating that pop stars should set a better example.
In fact, over a third (31 per cent) of modern kids would make the independent decision to stop listening to a pop star’s music if they personally stopped respecting them – with another 30 per cent stopping if they took drugs, and a quarter (24 per cent) if they broke the law. One in seven (14 per cent) even shun artists if they find their lyrics to be offensive – demonstrating the iGeneration’s ability to make mature decisions about their own media consumption.
Commenting on the findings, pop star Ella Eyre said: “This survey shows just how important it is for singers and bands to listen to the opinions of their young fans. There’s just no need to be provocative or raunchy in music videos aimed at kids.”
Another current parenting concern – over ‘gendered’ toys and clothing – looks remarkably different when viewed through a child’s eyes. Over a third (33 per cent) of kids don’t care if toys are labeled for boys or girls – they like playing with what they like.
The same amount also feel that ‘kids don’t care’ what gender a toy is for – and a whopping 85 per cent think that toys should be egalitarian. Despite this, over a tenth (13 per cent) of parents don’t allow their children to play with toys that ‘aren’t suitable’ for their gender.
The same applies to clothing – two in every five (40 per cent) kids don’t think it matters if clothes are in ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ colours. This doesn’t stop one in seven parents who only buy their kids clothes in the ‘traditional colours’ for their gender – despite the one in ten (9 per cent) of kids who get annoyed by this.
The iGeneration Report also looked the values kids place on themselves and their lives, revealing that the most pressing concerns for kids are to be happy (54 per cent), clever (30 per cent), kind (27 per cent) and have a loving family (34 per cent).
Parental concerns over the impact of shows such as X Factor and Big Brother appear to be groundless, with only 3 per cent thinking it’s important to be able to sing / dance and a tiny one per cent wanting to be famous.
When it comes to what’s important in other people, the iGeneration could well be shaping up to be the most tolerant yet – not needing to be shielded from life by anxious adults.
A huge 90 per cent of kids aren’t worried about racial difference, not caring where their friends are from so long as they are good people. And with all the debate around what kids are taught in PSHE lessons, when asked about sexuality a hopeful two fifths (38 per cent) think anyone should be allowed to marry – as long as they love each other. Interestingly, when asked about marriage, one in ten kids (9 per cent) think the whole concept is old-fashioned.
Despite having rocketing disposable incomes – with the average child receiving £5 per week – the Report also reveals kids are fiscally aware, with one in four (24 per cent) worrying about the family’s finances. This leads to surprising philanthropy, with 12 per cent of kids saving their pocket money to help out their parents – and four per cent even saying no to pocket money as they are aware that their parents are struggling.
This financial cognisance also impacts on kids’ thoughts on their future – with children as young as eight already taking note of the state of the economy when considering their careers. A fifth (21 per cent) of iGeneration kids would forgo university to get a job as soon as they left school to earn money instead and under half said they wanted to go to university (46 per cent). The cost of education was a big factor, as 15 per cent of kids under the age of 14 already think that university will cost too much.
This mature attitude also extends to healthy lifestyles, another top parenting concern. A third (32 per cent) of kids know they should spend more time outside – but one in five (20 per cent) say their parents stop them from doing so. One in four (24 per cent) even connect technology with their lifestyle, admitting they would get out more if they had less tech to play with.
The habit of iGeneration to self-monitor and make their own sensible decisions didn’t just apply to their parents – it also related to their school and teachers. Perhaps Nicky Morgan could take note of the results of the iGeneration Report in her new role, as a tenth (10 per cent) of kids aged eight to fourteen don’t think that they given enough to do in lessons at school – three per cent even wish they had more homework.
Speaking about the findings of the Report, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health Cary Cooper at Lancaster University:
“It’s good to see that young children aren’t just interested in the obvious things such as pop music and football any more, now we see more and more children also having interests in meatier subjects like politics, and what’s more they’re beginning to form their own opinions about it. The iGeneration is more independent, and they’re not influenced solely by pop stars, footballers or even their parents – they have enough about themselves to form their own opinions.
“This heightened sense of individuality comes about due to exposure to a multitude of media. Social media may seem trivial to some of the older generation but for the young amongst us it’s a rich source of learning and a great place to read about news and popular culture – through it children can see all elements of topic and then form and shape their own opinions.
“In the USA, like here, two out of three families are working parents; whilst the parents work, the ‘latchkey kids’ learn from the plethora of media outlets available to them, thus they’re learning quicker and less likely to be solely influenced by their parents or the TV alone – perhaps a similar phenomenon is occurring here.”
Matt Deegan, station manager of Fun Kids Radio said:
“The iGeneration report has presented some really interesting findings. A standout point is that children aren’t as impressionable as previously thought. They enjoy the popstars and entertainers they see on TV and hear on the radio, but the majority know enough about themselves to not be influenced into making negative life choices as a result.
“Here at Fun Kids Radio we want to make sure that children’s voices are listened to, which is why it’s so great to see with these findings that children are attuned with what’s going on around them, and kids as young as eight are clearly well-informed and have strong opinions.
“Despite this, they are the most unrepresented demographic so we think that parents, politicians and companies should consider consulting kids when decisions concerning their future are made, so that children can have an influence over their own lives.”
Research of 2,000 UK children aged 8-14 years old commissioned by Fun Kids Radio was conducted by OnePoll between 20/06/14 – 30/06/14.
Find out more at www.funkidsigeneration.com
On 12th December, Folder Media subsidiary MuxCo launched its 5th DAB Digital Radio multiplex, serving Surrey.
In total, MuxCo has now launched multiplexes serving Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool, South West Wales, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire & Worcestershire and Surrey, bring local DAB radio to over 4 million radio listeners.
And there’s more to come, with multiplexes still to launch serving Somerset, North Yorkshire, North West Wales and Lincolnshire.
You can find out more about MuxCo at www.muxco.com.
Our children’s radio station Fun Kids has been nominated as Radio Station of the Year at two prestigious radio awards ceremonies.
At the Sony Radio Academy Awards it’s been nominated for Station of the Year (1m plus), up against BBC Radio Newcastle and Metro Radio and in the Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards it’s been nominated in Station of the Year (2m plus), up against Absolute Radio and LBC97.3.
Fun Kids is a radio station that targets the tween audience alongside programmes for younger children. It broadcasts on DAB Digital Radio in London as well as online at funkidslive.com and through mobile apps.
It’s been a busy year for the station with new commercial and programming partnerships with Disney, Camp Bestival, British Gas, Swapit, Bin Weevils, DC Thompson and Random House.
Station Manager Matt Deegan: “It’s brilliant for Fun Kids to be recognised alongside some of the biggest and most successful stations in the country. To have Best Station nominations in the big two radio awards ceremonies is a massive achievement for the Fun Kids team.”
In the Arqiva Awards the station was also nominated in the Social Action category for its Fun Kids Education work.
Folder Media subsidiary MuxCo, today (19th April) launches a DAB Digital Radio multiplex broadcasting to Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool.
The multiplex is a joint venture between Town & Country Broadcasting, Dee 106.3 and UTV Media and will initially broadcast six radio stations to over 2million people across Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool from three transmitters at Moel-y-Parc, Wrexham Rhos and St. John’s Beacon.
The launch is the first of nine multiplexes that MuxCo has been awarded. It kicks of a busy 2013 for the Folder team as they intend to launch multiplexes for Gloucestershire, Hereford and Worcester, Mid and West Wales and Surrey before the end of the year.
You can find out more about MuxCo at www.muxco.com.
Fun Kids, Folder Media’s children’s radio station, has today (16th February) released their own version of One Direction’s Kiss You music video.
The video idea came from a discussion between weekend presenters Josh and Hannah about whether it would be possible to duplicate the video of the boyband’s recent hit. Josh took up the challenge and rounded up fellow weekend presenters Hannah, Sean and Jamie to join him in making the video.
All this week, Fun Kids listeners have been hearing about how the production of the video’s been going and it was announced this afternoon that listeners could now watch it on YouTube and the Fun Kids website – http://www.funkidslive.com.
Station Manager, Matt Deegan says: “It’s always fun to hook listeners with an evolving story. This was a great opportunity for presenters to appear in different dayparts of the radio station and introduce themselves to new listeners.
Matt continues “We’re also always keen to tell new people about Fun Kids and we hope the video is shared by young 1D fans who’ll get to learn about Fun Kids and that we love them as much they do”.
As well as the main video, the Fun Kids website has a full behind the scenes section with photo gallery, making of video and information about all the presenters who took part.
The video was produced and edited with Fun Kids’ production partner Create.
Fun Kids, the children’s radio station, has today (14th August) launched a fully featured free iPad app.
The space-themed app allows children and parents to listen to Fun Kids Radio and audio content from its 50 different podcast channels. Users can also access a magazine-style section with news, videos, book reviews and events information, get in touch with the station and enter the station’s different competitions each week.
The app also includes an online game, supported by the Wellcome Trust, based on the station’s Professor Hallux character. The game’s designed to demystify going to the Doctors’ with kids having to complete different levels of a Pairs game whilst finding out about different aspects of medicine.
Like the other features, the Professor Hallux game occupies its own planet in the app – a feature that Fun Kids will be making available to other commercial partners.
Matt Deegan, Station Manager of Fun Kids says: “Much of Fun Kids’ growth over the past year has come from its development into a true multi-platform brand. Our listeners and partners already connect to us through our radio output as well as our website, newsletters, Radioplayer and our podcasts. The iPad app will be great for listeners old and new, as well as providing a new way for our partners to reach children and families”.
The App was developed by Surrey-based Big Orange Software alongside Folder’s in-house development team.
The app can be downloaded for free here: http://bit.ly/funkidsipad
Radioplayer today announced the launch of their Facebook app.
The app was developed by the team at Folder Media and makes it easy to listen to UK Radio from within Facebook, share your favourite stations and programmes with your friends via your wall, and see what other people in your area have been listening to.
There are now more than 250 stations in Radioplayer, many with a considerable presence on Facebook via fan pages and group pages, and they will be invited to promote and embrace the new Facebook Radioplayer app.
Michael Hill, Managing Director of Radioplayer commented: “Less than 6 months ago, we put ‘UK Radio in one place’ on your computer. Now we’re showing 30m UK Facebook users that radio is a perfect companion, while you’re chatting with friends”.
Andrew Harrison, Chairman of Radioplayer added: “These latest developments are part of a long-term strategy which will see Radioplayer form a vital component of the radio industry’s multiplatform future alongside DAB and FM.”
The app combines the data Radioplayer collects from radio stations, additional information from Media UK and mixes this with Facebook’s social graph to create a personalised radio app for all Facebook users.
Folder Media has recently completed the first phase of the new website for NME Radio.
Many small and digital-only radio stations’ suffer from a lack of resource to keep sites up to date and provide a content rich environment for users to enjoy. We use a variety of technology to combine station-created editorial with data from RadioBase to provide compelling experiences.
On the NME Radio site each mention of a station artist links to an ‘artist page’ which includes discography, popular songs from the station, biographies, images, latest tour dates and videos pulled from YouTube. Discographies provide tracklistings and YouTube videos are automatically embedded in the site – all helping sites generate more page impressions per user. This content is pulled from RadioBase automatically, so all a station has to to do is play a song from a new band and the page is auto-created without any intervention from station or Folder Media staff.
The station also generates revenue from these pages with commissions paid on ticket sales and music purchase or download. Additionally there are comment boxes on each pages that lets user leave their opinions on artists, tracks or videos and also allows them to post these comments to their Facebook profile, promoting the site to that user’s friends.
As well as on the artist pages, the site has a section for Gigs and Tickets. Again, pulling on RadioBase data, this is auto-generated and allows users to find and book tickets for thousands of events across the country – all with the ability to link to ticketing companies affiliate programmes. The events system allows stations to mark featured events (or venues) and promote these across the site. This is perect for sponsored activity or just events that the station knows will be popular with listeners.
The site also has Folder’s database mangement system – FolderID – built in and ready to launch in the next couple of weeks. This is an end to end solution that brings together user registration, newsletter sending and competition entry management – giving a station a total view on a listener’s activity with them.
Here at Folder Media, we have been quietly working for a little while with a number of partners on ideas for a raft of digital services to broadcast across London during the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.
Its obvioulsy a complicated idea to develop – there are lots of organising committee and organisations that one has to deal with. But we are really pleased with Ofcom’s announcement to formally invite ‘preliminary expressions of interest’ for the licensing of digital radio services during the Games (see www.ofcom.org.uk).
Ofcom wish to gauge the level of interest in the operation of short-term digital radio services in London during or around the period of the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, which will help them design a possible licensing process.
DAB coverage and uptake will be a lot more extensive by 2012, and the ability to serve both Londoners and visitors to London, whether from across the UK or overseas, is very exciting.
Folder Media will be submitting a ‘preliminary expression of interest’ to Ofcom with our proposals. However, we still have opportunities to include a range of other services amd if you would like to work with us, we would love to hear from you.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details, and we will be in touch (although not until after the Easter break!)
Image: (c) 2010 London 2012