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Archive for April 2009

Why Sun Talk can’t survive

with one comment

At least not in this form

The Sun have started up an online radio show, Sun Talk and it’s now been running just over a week.

I can’t see it lasting.

Let’s qualify this. I applaud any newspaper’s efforts to meet the challenge of winning new audiences in digital spaces, but you don’t do that by merely matching what your analogue competition does. To stand out and stay ahead, you need to leapfrog your competition.

Sun Talk sounds like a standard analogue radio format pushed on the web.

It’s very linear. Three hours realtime, and the ‘listen again’ is one big block of three hours too.  There’s no way to skip to bits that might interest you specifically, even though the Sun list some highlights text in their player console.

The audio-drag bar doesn’t even give you any timing so you can’t see how far along the programme you are, even if you knew where to jump to.

Given that this is not traditional radio, part of the online effect is that you tend to get more people listening on-demand than live. But the show isn’t structured in a way that means the Sun can take advantage of this, by packaging segments up and offering them discretely.

The show needs to have the podcast listeners in mind, more than the live ones, but this is currently round the wrong way.

The jingles are fun, but again very old radio and I think they’ll get on your nerves after a while, particularly as there doesn’t appear to be any dynamic compression, so the levels constantly jump up and down.

Amazingly there’s no interaction between the website and the audio show, witnessed by the fact that Jon Gaunt references stories in the paper … (actually *in* the paper, you can see him pick it up in the studio and read it)

“Did you see that story in the paper? Go out and get it if you didn’t!”

I don’t need to go out and get it Jon, I’m on the internet. I can surf to the story, if you send out some data streams with the audio, or just stick a link to the story on a page, or in the player perhaps?

Equally I smiled when Jon broke into a guest’s answer to remind people who he was and what they were listening too, as if I’d just been tuning up and down the dial and happened across him.

There’s a huge banner on my screen with that information!

Who’s listening? Internet chatter is strangly muted. There’s a spike on launch day and then very little. Apart from a great wrap of the first programme from John Plunkett, the blogs are quiet – this can’t be good.

What it good about this project is it gets the Sun journos used to producing, regularly, more than just a newspaper and website.

However, listening to columnist after columnist gets a bit boring, particularly when the Sun, the paper, is positively alive with interesting and fun material. The Sun in audio format, this is not.

Radio’s a great medium to experiment in because it’s so cheap, but hugely competitive because there are so few barriers to entry.

It’s daring because many of the core group of Sun readers wouldn’t be online radio listeners, so maybe there’s a new audience to attract here.

Yes, it’s a good exercise in brand extension, but it’s not a way to make money, and in this form, it’s not really doing anything innovative … yet.

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Written by Robert

28 April, 2009 at 8:00 pm