Listened In is 2ZY’s air-check blog. Every week, we listen to a random 20 minute sample of a station in the news.

Anyone would think the last thirty years hadn’t happened.

It’s scary for this 43 year old to consider that the music of 1986, when I started at Radio 210, is now older than Love Me Do was back then.

The gold format is growing up, and it’s all about the 1980s.

Orion are about to swap Gold for Free Radio 80s. And Town and Country have flipped Swansea Bay (and notably its associated whole-of-South-Wales DAB) to an 80s format as a brand extension to Nation. These line up against the national DAB Absolute 80s and its not too shabby 857k listeners (RAJAR Q112).

So on a typical evening drive, how are these stations showcasing the era that brought us Deely Boppers, leg warmers and the Rubik’s cube?

Here’s a double Listened In post.

WHAT Nation 80s

WHO Presenterless

WHEN 13 June 2012



1726 Jump/The Pointer Sisters

1727 ID: The 80s Station. This is Nation 80s.

If I Could Turn Back Time/Cher

1730 ID: The 80s Station. This is Nation 80s.

ADS: Tradecentre Wales, Carpetright Madness, Mumbles Kitchen Studio, Towers Hotel Spa presents Tina Turner tribute night (which, according to the hotel website, is sold out already.)

1734 NEWS, self introduced: Wales house sales figures, Jeremy Hunt, Swansea parcel mail scheme, Old Peoples’ services report, Poland v Russia violence, Weather and ‘Now back to the biggest hits of the 80s’.

1735 Jump/Van Halen

1739 ID: The 80s Station. This is Nation 80s.

(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life/Medley & Warnes

1743 ID: The 80s Station. This is Nation 80s.

The Heat is On/Glenn Frey


So, this is THE 80s station apparently. Nothing like underlining the message – but exactly the same positioner, four times in twenty minutes?

Nation 80s only has one live show, at Breakfast. ‘Computer in a Cupboard’ formats work best with sharp imaging and clever information integration. The headline sequence was well presented and the whole thing was quite tight if … flat.

The four songs were very female friendly well-testing bankers, but all American. Two even had the same title. 80s as a format offers great variety – and isn’t variety required if you don’t want a decade format to burn itself out?



WHAT Absolute 80s

WHO Leona Graham

WHEN 13 June 2012



1747 Poison/Alice Cooper

1750 Positioner: This is Absolute 80s, the UK’s only 80s Radio station.

Take on Me/A-ha

1754 LINK: Back Announce. Reads competition script from website: “This week we’re reliving our youth, back when summer was six weeks of glorious sun. We’ve got copies of ‘I Grew Up In The 80s’ to win. 3 CDs, 1 of Number 1s, one fantastic 80s party and the ultimate 80s Movie and TV Themes.”

Online entry mechanic featuring multiple-choice question: Who performed the Ghostbusters theme?

PROMO: Presented by Alan the Dog. Thank you thank you Thursday. Walls promo. Go to to nominate someone.

ID: This is Absolute 80s

ADS: Vans, Domestos, Screwfix summer deals, Direct Redress PPI

PROMO: Absolute Ticketstore for Tatton Park 80s concerts

ID: I play synth, we all play synth. The UK’s only 80s radio station. Absolute 80s.

1758 You Make My Dreams/Hall & Oates

1800 TRAVEL: Charlton. Worcestershire M5. Newport M4. Leicestershire M1.

ID: This is Ab80s

AD: Meerkat Toys

PROMO: England v Sweden on Absolute Radio

ID: We are Absolute 80s the UK’s only 80s radio station .. Check out this song from the 1980s

LINK: Coming up, Jane Wiedlin and Police, first Fine Young Cannibals

1803 She Drives Me Crazy/FYC

1806 So Lonely/Police


There are more guitars going on here than on some other 80s outlets, as you’d expect in a station from Absolute. Musically, it’s a good spread of the 80s, although the unfamiliar Hall & Oates non-hit sticks out a bit.

The marmite Matt Berry lines are balanced by a good FVO in the imaging. After six it sounded odd for one of these to cue ‘this song from the 1980s’ into a voice tracked link. No news at six either. Does a drive time audience expect headlines?

There’s a chance to win something 80s relevant and a good concert promo, so it sounds like the 80s theme goes beyond the music, which feels right. The presenter only appeared twice, very briefly in this segment.



For me, as an 80s fan, the trick here is to endorse and celebrate the music and other ephemera of the decade, without coming over all trainspotter.

Stations need to demonstrate their passion, authority and shared experience of that time with me – and at the same time, introduce a new generation of listeners to the era.

I’ve heard the ‘chocolate box’ argument about the eighties format. How stations like this won’t work, because listeners want an occasional fix, not to gorge on a whole box.

The opposing view says the decade has such a strong and broad musical identity, it’s possible to programme a great mix – new wave, electronic, dance, pop – skewed male or female from a finite but familiar range of radio friendly tunes.

There’s certainly room to be a second-choice station for a narrow, but passionate band of forty-somethings.

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