Around two years ago I posted a blog about the return of an old name to the radio landscape. Solid Gold Gem AM played its cards purely on the grounds of nostalgia. But this weekend, it will play its final tune. So what went wrong?
Although broadcasting online, and with a collection of presenters based all around the world, the station’s sound and jingles played firmly on one of the UK’s original oldies stations based in the East Midlands. Many of the voices were familiar to those who listened through the late 1980s and the 1990s in Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.
Boasting “not for profit” credentials, Solid Gold Gem AM started with the best of intentions. Unlike many Internet only stations it had a high quality audio stream, and a much broader playlist than is often the case with – in the nicest possible terms – other vanity projects.
But being exclusively online, the listening figures were always going to depend on word of mouth. And it seems that the numbers barely hit three figures at any given time.
The station was also apparently hit by internal disagreements; a constant challenge, especially if people aren’t being paid. However strong it may seem at first, goodwill has a shelf life.
Another station which still boasts Nottingham roots – the community station Trent Sound – also looks to be in trouble. Its Facebook page lists financial difficulties – but promises a relaunch next year. I’d wish them well, but this is the station whose earlier business plan excluded any advertisers who weren’t local. That’s a crazy strategy by anyone’s standards.
Trent Sound had big ambitions to get a full time FM licence, with the intention of bringing an iconic brand name back to Nottingham. But with OFCOM showing little promise of releasing frequencies on an already packed waveband, it was always something of an aspiration.
Some will still try to blame the big radio groups for the failures of ventures like these. The reality is, nostalgia isn’t what it used to be – and the Internet has moved on. You don’t just have to be social media savvy these days, you need to excel at every message you send out every track you play, every link you read out.
I wish both ventures well for the future. The first case seems to be a clash of personality. The second, a matter of trying to run before you can walk. Big ideas are only that in your own head. Convincing everyone else is another matter entirely.