It’s trying ten formats in ten days, under agit prop PD Robin Banks. Black hole or super nova?

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

Star FM

WHO Chris Kaye

WHAT Star Radio North East

WHEN Tuesday 22 January


Karma Chamelion/Culture Club

ID: This is Star Radio

I Will Wait/Mumford and Sons

Link: “This is Star where we’re doing ten formats in ten days. Today was love songs,” says Chris. Then launches into a personality/local link. He was buying Fish and Chips today, “from Rosemary Lane in Richmond, just by the Unicorn (a pub presumably, unless there are mythical animals on the loose in North Yorkshire) and Help the Aged”.  The woman serving asked if he wanted a splash. Not vinegar, apparently and he was too scared to ask. “I’ve Never heard that phrase before. Is that a Richmond thing?,” he asks. And rather surprisingly as I was expecting this would be voice-tracked, gives a phone number.

Now That We Found Love/Heavy D and the Boyz

ID: Star Radio Star Radio

Every Breath You Take/Police

ID: This is Star Radio

Gotye/Sombody That I Used To Know

Link: “This is Star with 10 formats in ten days. It is underway. 10 days of completely different radio.” Sophie in Bishop Aukland wants some Queen on – and it will be “with you in next ten minutes.” Chris resets his chips solicit. Colin Kent thinks it does mean vinegar. Brian Wade agrees. Nice to hear some surnames, a radio endangered species.

It’s definitely not vinegar, says Chris, who’s never heard the phrase before. “Is it a Richmond or North East/North Yorkshire thing?” By which time, a throwaway local image aside is turning into a saga of War of the Rings proportions. Jeez, just tell us love.

ID: Star Evenings with Simply Pleasure, Bondgate, Darlington. (And I checked. The breathy female VO should have given it away. Yes. These tunes and batter-related banter are being brought to us by a dildo shop.)


Perceived wisdom – well, the anoraks on digital spy – are expecting this to be the larval phase for Star. A clever headline-grabbing stunt, during which the erstwhile Alpha/A1/Durham FM/Minster Northallerton caterpillars are well and truly cocooned before breaking open to reveal another Jack or some-such.

It looks like this show is untouched by the wider stunt. Chris refers to it in the past tense in his opening link and you’d have to be have a sick sense of humour to describe Every Breath You Take as a love song. And here’s part of the problem. Your attempt at talkability is hampered as soon as your presenters have to talk about ‘formats’. Does Daphne in Darlo get the radio gag? That’s if she’s not been driven away by Sixties Monday yesterday. And if the ‘different format every day’ stunt is encouraging trial, wouldn’t you do it 24/7 rather than daytimes only.

But here in evening limbo, sandwiched between The Legends – another stunty roll of the dice – and the computer in a cupboard scheduling of ‘Non Stop Star’ from ten, Chris is trying hard. There’s interaction, stuff happening on Facebook and on air, dedicated songs and localness. Show me many stations north of 102 mHz doing that at night. Not even BBC Radios York and Newcastle any more. He’d be even better if he didn’t insist everything was over a bed.

Someone should have a word with the music guy – Heavy D anyone?! – but other than that, good luck to Star. They’re gonna need it. Even combining three former TSAs and on FIVE transmitters, this still only reaches 168,000 pairs of ears. And Heart is Coming. Probably.

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