Right Place, Right Time

 This is a Training Zone post. For the main radio blog click here»

Gem 106 - Keeping It Local

Gimmicks and giveaways can get people talking about your radio station. They’re also an integral part of Sales and Promotion (S&P) – and if you’re looking to work in commercial radio it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the process.

So hats off to Gem 106 – the East Midlands’ regional radio station, which next week is running a very simple – but highly effective giveaway, under the banner of Retro Petrol. It’s a really simple idea – wind back the price of petrol at the pumps by a decade, and offer that price to the first 106 listeners who turn up at selected petrol stations.

It’s not exactly rocket science, but it could just be a stroke of genius by Gem. Who isn’t talking about the price of petrol right now? How many busy mums, dropping the kids off at school, wouldn’t take a detour on the way to get some cheap fuel. The terms and conditions of the promotion state that Gem will be paying the difference between the 76p per litre promotional offer and the actual pump price – though it’s more likely to be the petrol stations or another sponsor who’s footing the bill.

Right place, right time? I’d say so. But I’d also argue that Gem has taken the concept of right place, right time even further – and it all started at the back end of last year.

Heart Attack

The 106FM East Midlands radio franchise has had a varied history. Launched at Radio 106FM in September 1997, the station subsequently became Century and latterly Heart. Interestingly, Heart’s owner’s Global Radio were forced to divest the franchise because they also owned Trent FM in Nottingham, Leicester Sound and Ram FM in Derby.

This was the first turning point in Global’s fortunes in the East Midlands. The Heart franchise was taken on by Orion Media, which had also bought Global’s West Midlands stations – BRMB, Beacon, Mercia and Wyvern – outright. But the East Midlands was different. Global was contracted to run the 106FM station as Heart, taking the station’s networked programmes off peak and keep its branding.

But all that changed late in 2010. Orion were due to renew their agreement with Global but ultimately decided to break away from the Heart network and relaunch at Gem 106. This was big news – a radio group bringing local (or regional) programming back to an area at a time when many others were increasing their networking and becoming less local.

Up and Running : Gem's Advertising Campaign


Some might question the sanity of a business that takes this route – on the back end of a recession that saw advertising revenues fall across all media.

But think of it this way : perhaps it’s actually more cost effective to provide all-local programming rather than paying big bucks just for the sake of carrying a big brand name.

And with Heart 106 enjoying it’s best ever RAJAR reach last time around – 21% every week – Orion have perhaps taken a calculated risk with Gem.

It’s still early days, and it may not be an instant success. But maybe, just maybe, the birth of this new radio station was a perfect example of right place, right time.

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