Times Radio is a new national speech radio station that launched on Monday 29th June – and featured Boris Johnson giving the first broadcast interview since his COVID-19 battle.

Ahead of its launch, Broadcast Revolution hosted an interactive virtual event that provided some interesting insights, and we listened in…

Stig Abell, Breakfast Show co-host, told how Times Radio plans to establish itself in the ‘Golden Age of Audio’. The aim is to bring together the warmth and informality of podcasts with journalistic expertise, tapping into the talent of The Times. A list of high-profile presenters promise to deliver ‘provocative and well-informed’ news, analysis and commentary. Stig emphasised the importance of incorporating different views and personal experiences from a diverse range of speakers.

Times Radio’s brand was described as:

Warm
Clever
Useful to the listener
Expert-driven
Competing against rival news stations

Times Radio will be taking on the likes of BBC Radio 4, 5 and LBC. It intends to fill a gap in the market for informal talk stations, attracting listeners by tackling issues in real time and giving people the space to explain their views. Stig contrasted this to BBC Radio 4’s ‘formal, over-resourced and tightly produced structure’.

The station is emerging at a time of great uncertainty and upheaval, highlighting how important honest news reporting is to the public. As we talked about in a previous blog, trust in broadcast and journalism is declining, with the BBC taking a financial hit recently. It’s never been more important for media outlets to gain their audiences’ trust – the question is whether Times Radio is up to the task.

The ‘Golden Age of Audio’

In the age of podcasts and voice activation technology, media consumption is driven by audio sources. Especially through the turbulence of lockdown, listening to the voices of our favourite radio hosts, celebrities and to podcasts, can be a comforting constant. Stig explained that ‘the great revolution of podcasts has led to a certain breaking down of formality’. He wants Times Radio to develop the same authenticity and flexibility of contemporary audio that appeals to people today.

Who will be listening?

Whilst keeping existing subscribers of The Times happy is important, that is not the main focus of launching Times Radio. The station aims to attract a broad range of listeners across UK regions, including people who may not have previously been interested in the newspaper or do not pay for a news subscription. Engaging listeners on social media, primarily Twitter, will be important for encouraging interaction on their radio shows and introducing the presenters, especially without phone-ins.

Who’s paying for it?

There will be no ad-breaks, with sponsorship opportunities preferred instead. Businesses can sponsor a show and reflect the value of their product or service through a story of interest. Stig described the radio station as a ‘safe space for brands’, where advertisers can build a relationship based on mutual value rather than paying for a 30 second advertising slot. From a PR perspective – which is always front of mind for The Tonic, the station will be focusing on research-led stories that offer depth and a useful piece of radio.