An insight to the south's Heart FM


Heart FM mug

Today, we went on visits to our prospective work desitnations. My group were shown around Heart FM near Brighton. Radio has been of interest to me for a while and I was excited to have a look around the offices and studios. 

After a slight drama in finding people at London Bridge station and eventually getting to Portslade (near Brighton, Sussex) we arrived at Heart South’s offices. A short walk from the station we were all eager to hear from the news readers at the station. 

We met Tim and Charlie, news reporters for the station and they give us a tour of the studios and shown the somewhat arctic room called “racks”, which contained some extremely hightech looking equipment. One of the tech guys even said that he couldn’t there for a long time as it was just too cold!

We walked through to the boardroom and Charlie presented us a slide show to tell us about the background to the radio station

I found it interesting to hear how successfully Heart South had taken over from Southern FM and how it accumulated local news from Sussex as well as Surrey and Kent. 

As a currently flourishing station it was good to hear that all things take time to achieve their desired position. For example, Tim told us how at first they had tried to do everything when they took over from Southern FM. He even compared themselves to Woolworths in wanting to please everyone and provide everything. It was reassuring to hear that it took them a while to find the niche market which they now sit (I tend to fear that I don’t make the right choice and can sometimes doubt myself so it was particuarly reasuring to hear this for myself!)

For your interest their niche market is 25-44 year olds; focusing on women aged between 30 and 39 and a tone of 24 to 34 years of age. I had no idea that there was so much a radio station had to think about when considering their desired audience but it made sense once we were told about it; essentially it was clear that the focus audience was initially a working parent and so they needed to appeal to peopple close to these listenners, for example young children and husbands without alienating them by talking about things or playing musci that is too concentrated on working mums aged between 30 and 39. 

In Charlie’s words, “where women listen, men will follow”. I like to think this applies to all walks of life. Men are ever so predictable!

We were told that their online section was a masive part of their outlet and it became clear how important things like social networking sites and blogging are to large companies. 

Something which I take for granted and don’t really think twice about will obviously be something vital to my future career if I am successful in journalism. Twitter was a massive source of information in last weeks fire at Hastings pier for Heart FM news reporters. 

I may be easily swayed but Tim and Charlie certainly did a good job in selling radio news to me. I have always been strongly swung towards television journalism, especially after my tv experience and internship at ITN. But I was definitely convinced by the idea of radio. 

Charlie works the morning shift and although she told us the early mornings can be hard she “meets some amazing people.” And adds: ” It’s the most immediate way of reaching people. You are talking to just one person but also talking to millions.”

She also highlighted a major factor comparing television to radio journalism in that radio journalims is much easier to make your way up. “In radio you can own a story. You can conduct your own interviews and put your piece together whereas in television you have to either be really good or be willing to stand out from the crowd” because you work in such large news rooms where it can be difficult to make an impression. 

Working in radio seemed like a lot of fun and it was certainly an appealing career path. Especially with the fact that although it is a local radio show, its head quarters are based in Leicester Square in London along with managing a host of other radio stations including Capital, Classical and Choice FM

The only draw back I found was that they only do a 1 or 2 minute news bulletin on the hour every hour which doesn’t give a lot of opportunity to create a more in-depth story. It is more about reporting the essential facts in easily digestible bites. 

For me journalism is more about conducting the research and being able to find different angles to stories (even if this does take me a while to perfect) in order to inform the audience, radio seems more about reporting. 

After today, even though tv has been my initial interest, I will also consider radio, I think it was also down to the free mug that swayed me!

About Daisy Bambridge

I am a student at Wesminster University studying a Masters in Broadcast Journalism. I recently graduated from Southampton University after studying Politics and International Relations. I have a strong interest in social issues such as crime,drugs, alcohol, eating disorders. I am also deeply fascinated by terrorism, after the disasters of 9/11, as can be seen in my unergraduate dissertation on anti-terror legislation and human rights.
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