Radio airplay monitoring for a radio station – An interview with Radio Caroline

This is an interview with Pat Edison of Radio Caroline, a legendary radio station from the U.K.

How would you introduce Radio Caroline?

Quite simply that without founder Ronan O’Rahilly launching Radio Caroline from a ship anchored off the East Coast of the UK in 1964, the 1960’s ‘pop boom’ may not have happened, or at least been greatly delayed or neutered by the country only being able to tune into BBC radio, then a monopoly, who viewed youth music with some suspicion.

How real the movie “The Boat That Rocked” is?

Not very, is the short answer. The film was a piece of entertainment and as such had to bend the facts to suit the plot. In reality the kind of people who were willing to broadcast from what were often barely seaworthy vessels were quite serious about what they did, and there was little time for wine and woman – not until they were back on land anyway!

How can listeners listen to Radio Caroline nowadays?

Since the turn of the 21st century when the station returned for a third time, we have had a growing presence on the internet. Today we offer two main channels, one carrying our main all-album format and Caroline Flashback with a 60s/70s oldies format.

You were on satellite?

We experimented with satellite in the early 2000 to mid 2000’s both on analogue and Sky digital. We found that although many loyal listeners were happy to go to the trouble of turning their TV into a ‘radio’, that in the real world gaining any sizeable audience that way was going to be an uphill struggle. When Sky increased there charges for the second time we decided to cut our loses and withdraw from satellite broadcasting.

You will be back on AM soon?

The station, which was classed a ‘pirate’ in the 1960s, 70s and 80s always wanted a terrestrial licence to broadcast, and had there been such a thing in 1964  – as in other countries – there would have been no need for radio-ships. However 53 years later(!) an application to the UK regulator OfCom secured a broadcast license for an AM frequency covering two large counties in the south-east of the country. And while AM has largely been supersede by FM and DAB, we find there are still many people with AM radios who remember Radio Caroline from our offshore days and seem genuinely excited by the prospect of it reappearing their their dials.

What’s the percentage of listeners on DAB and internet streaming?

We don’t have figures for DAB as to get a survey we’d need to employ an expensive research organisation. The online audience though is thought to be around 11,000 hours a day.

How did you come to use audio fingerprinting to get the “Now Playing” data?

As we have a mix of live and pre-recorded shows we couldn’t do a traditional ‘Now Playing’ which relies on data from our PC playout system, as that would only work during live shows. So audio fingerprinting was the only way we could provide listeners with the name of the current playing track.

Why do you think getting radio airplay data is important for radio listeners?

Many listen whilst doing other things and only half hear links where the presenter may announce the name of the song. So having it printed at the top of our website as a reference has proven to be very popular.

How do you use ACRCloud’s radio airplay monitoring service? Besides showing the metadata on your website, do you use the metadata somewhere else?

We also use the data for royalty submissions as nowadays (unlike the ‘pirate’ days) we have to pay our way.

How do you benefit from ACRCloud’s radio airplay monitoring service?

The service is a cost effective means of achieving a ‘Now Playing’ system for what is still a small low-budget radio station.

Now where can listeners find radio airplay data of Radio Caroline?

Currently we do not publish lists of what was played, just the current track. But it has been suggested that we should so something more with the data. So watch this space!

We noticed you are syncing EPG to other internet platforms, do you plan to sync radio airplay to other platforms such as Tunein or Radioplayer?

Tunein takes the ‘Now Playing’ data from our stream. We could add it to Radio Player at some stage, and other platforms keep appearing which we’ll address when we become aware of them.

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