As I write, Kerrang!, the latest analogue radio licensee in the Midlands, has just launched. And it’s going to be a success. There is no other station in the area that will do what Kerrang! is about to do. I suspect that the core audience will consist of 14- to 25-year-olds with a male bias and many of them are likely to have some black clothing festering on their bedroom floor.
Kerrang! is a big brand. It signifies guitar rock to youth and it is an alternative to the dance and pop genres. There is a magazine, a website, a tele-vision station, a digital radio service and now a regional analogue service in the Midlands (mirroring Heart 100.7FM’s signal area). Anyone targeting 15- to 34-year-olds in this region would be mad not to buy some of their wares – assuming the price is right. It is going to have an edgier lifestyle and bags of attitude, and it will represent anarchy in listeners’ bedrooms.
The audience will be more middle class, as this music genre is slightly more freethinking than the dancier youth alternatives – Galaxy 102.2 and Radio 1. The station will benefit from lack of competition as far as the music format is concerned, although Virgin and one or two digital and internet services may have a different view.
I suspect BRMB, squeezed on the older, female audience when Heart 100.7FM launched, may escape an audience raid. And as most planners and buyers will testify, in the Central TV region, where it is very difficult to build cover, a big regional station is most welcome.
Close your eyes and think about what the word Kerrang! means to you and the images it conjures up. Miserable kids mopped in dyed hair and ripped up fishnets (and that’s just the boys)? Loud guitar-based shouting and clanging? Obligatory Sum 41 or Korn T-shirt? Fat kids with baggy jeans hoovering up their feet, puddles and fag butts? I can’t help but typecast. However, this image might just be Kerrang!’s Achilles’ heel.
EMAP has been down that road before with Kiss FM when it launched. These misconceptions should disappear, because the remit will provide a breadth of listeners. EMAP will no doubt provide great trade marketing on the back of a very established youth brand.
The beauty of the format is that they can play a wide range of music, anything from The Jam through to hip-hop, the Stone Roses and the White Stripes. This should appeal to advertisers. The Kerrang! audience loves these records and they have their parents’ money to spend on music.
One would suspect that the weekday breakfast and daytime playlist will feature safer tracks in an effort to build the audience, and that niche, reputable rhythms will resound in the evening.
What I am most excited about is that this should create new brands for commercial radio and hit the BBC hard. I fully support this launch and have booked a promotion for the launch of the Osbournes’ DVD. If this doesn’t sell, I’ll eat my hoodie.
Tim McCabe is head of radio at Vizeum