Need to know: Times Radio for brands and PR agencies
On Monday 29th June a welcome good news story for the media industry made headlines. The Times — one of world’s oldest newspapers and vanguard of the Murdoch UK empire — realised months of planning and achieved the almost-unthinkable; launching a new radio station in the middle of a lockdown. Brands and PR agencies rejoice, then.
Times Radio “will provide company and intelligent conversation for the millions of Britons working from home during the pandemic”, the parent print publication cooed that morning. Of course the plan is to continue broadcasting long after the pandemic passes, but you get the point.
Others were more balanced. The Guardian focused on Boris Johnson moving his microphone during the platform’s first major interview, and suggested the segment was more coffee morning chat than tough grilling. The title then published a piece on how Times Radio Malawi had left some parts of Middle England confused as to what was going on. Meanwhile, Press Gazette offered ‘a cautious thumbs up’ to the new arrival.
Opinions aside, getting up and running in the time of corona isn’t the only impressive part of this story. Times Radio’s roster boasts plenty of talent and big signings — former Radio 4 reporter Luke Jones has already impressed with on-the-ground stories, and household names include culinary type Giles Coren ands politician-cum-steam train travel buff Michael Portillo.
As you know, Smoking Gun is adept at securing broadcast coverage — here are a few pointers on grabbing attention from the new kid on the block.
When does Times Radio broadcast?
Live content runs from 5AM – 1AM weekdays, 6AM – 1AM weekends. Hours between are dedicated to a roundup of daily highlights.
Is it a good idea?
Radio has been in rude health for longer than we’ve all been stuck inside, with a digital renaissance beginning halfway through the last decade. Demand is huge, so this move makes sense. And while the station is free-to-air and ad-free, it promotes other Murdoch products like The Times, which has been battling circulation woes for years.
Who is the audience?
In a nutshell — who reads The Times? Tone-wise, pundits have positioned Times Radio somewhere between 5 Live, BBC Radio 4 and LBC. It’s familiar, relatively informal but willing to tackle serious and expansive subjects.
Are there any specialist shows?
Mariella Frostrup — Social trends and interviews
Phil Williams — Sport and entertainment
Giles Coren — Food and lifestyle
Michael Portillo — Culture
Hugo Rifkind — Culture and entertainment
Alexis Conran — Technology
What are the downsides?
With an editorial policy that openly shuns ‘unnecessarily adversarial interviews’, some — like The Economist — have asked about political motives at play, especially given the station is in direct competition with BBC Radio 4. On the flip, this makes Times Radio a friendly platform for interviewees.
What should brands and PR agencies know about Times Radio?
The Times also produces a number of podcasts. These include comedy show Walking The Dog and the self-explanatory Red Box Politics Podcast.
16th March saw the launch of a new regular addition to this library, Stories of Our Times. Like Times Radio it partially serves to promote content in The Times and Sunday Times to would-be subscribers. This point being grabbing column inches in one of the print titles could now pay extra dividends in national broadcast reach. Which is anything but bad news.