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Belfast’s Blast 106 proposes more music, more variety for students

Blast 106 of BelfastThe United Kingdom’s broadcast regulator Ofcom has opened a consultation for community radio station Blast 106 of Belfast, which wants to change some of its “key commitments.” These boil down to the signal’s basic audience objectives and character. The volunteer run music oriented operation is presently tasked to serve “the student and youth community” of Northern Ireland’s largest urban region. In the UK community stations can’t change their mission or approach without a proceeding, so Blast 106 is laying them out in a public statement.

The proposed changes aren’t all that dramatic, but they are interesting. Blast wants to boost the percentage of daytime (6 am to 7 pm) music up from 80 to 85 percent, dropping speech oriented fare by five percent. Here’s the reason why:

Our research amongst our community and our volunteers (who are an integral part of our community) indicates that an average across daytime hours of 15% is more in line with what our community wants during daytime.

This is also reflective of the fact that our student community would be in lectures, classes or tutorials during daytime hours or if studying they want a background of music rather than intensive speech which is not conducive to concentration and study.

Blast also proposes controls on how frequently songs are played, defining “variety” as ” no song typically being played more than once on any one programme” (except for “Charity Records” and Christmas music). In addition, the station will ensure that the music database is “typically greater than 3,000 songs.” And: “The weekly schedule will offer an opportunity to hear alternative music genres and will also provide a forum to show case new local talent and bands.”

The explanation:

“As Blast106’s community includes the student population of Belfast our listener behaviour differs so that you cannot necessarily describe daytime programmes to be ‘prime time’ as students would be in lectures, classes or tutorials for much of this time. Accordingly our listenership is as likely to be prime in the evening or night-time and certain weekend times are affected by Belfast’s large transient student population who go home from Friday Night to Sunday afternoon.

Accordingly, our scheduling of popular and specialist programming will not necessarily conform to what a commercial radio station or a community radio station serving a broad population demographic would.”

There’s lots more. The consultation is open until Friday January 16 (2015) at five pm.

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