Content People Are Wasteful

Why we should spend more time reusing what we've made

Content creators, especially in the audio space, are hugely wasteful individuals. They spend all this time preparing, then executing, interesting, thoughtful or entertaining content and then after it’s been broadcast or downloaded, just move on to the next thing.

Content rarely gets repeated, re-contextualised or even archived. Indeed most never even sees the pixels of a Tweet or Facebook post. It is sent out into the great beyond never to be seen (or heard) again.

What a waste of time and effort.

In radio, we often obsess with whole station weekly reach - 6.3m tuning into the Capital network each week - but only 1.4% of them hear a great interview with a pop star at 8.45pm on Jimmy’s evening show. On something like Scala, their My Life in Music interview series on a Sunday night has an average of less than 8k people tuning in during each 15minute period.

The audio content creator seems tuned to getting it out, and then getting on to the next thing, with catch-up being the catch-all excuse. “Oh, if you missed it, listen again on the website etc…”

If it was worth putting out once, surely it’s worth re-using again?

I think there’s the potential for a lot of re-invention around re-use. I like how the Answer Me This podcast has been going so long that there’s a new episode every month, but mid-month there’s one from the archives, re-contextualised with a new intro. I’m sure it’s good for the ad revenue, reminds people they can buy access to their full archive as well as giving new fans some joy, based on old stuff they probably haven’t heard.

Radio 1’s Spin Offs

Radio 1’s online spin off channels - Radio 1 Dance and Radio 1 Relax - are repeating existing material from the main Radio 1 and other BBC radio programmes and re-curating them on new channels.

Generally I think this is a great idea.

In the modern world, listeners want a one-touch shortcut to satisfaction. Pressing the ‘Radio 1 Relax’ button is easier than ferreting about on BBC Sounds to work out which the chill-out shows are.

I’m a much bigger fan of what they’ve done with Relax, than they have with Dance.

With Relax they’ve created a really interesting environment of soundscapes, mixes and wellness material taken from Radio 1, 1Xtra and 6Music. It’s a different sounding service to commercial chill outlets and chimes well with young audience requirements. The Head of Radio 1, Aled Haydn Jones, talked more about it on Feedback, a few weeks ago.

Oddly, with Dance, it’s much more commercially driven with mainstream dance shows created and broadcast at off-peak times on Radio 1 so they can get them onto Radio 1 Dance in the daytime. I think it’s a big shame that the specialist shows they broadcast are in the evening times, not dissimilar to their first outings on Radio 1. This means they end up with mostly mainstream programmes competing with commercial dance stations. It would have been much more interesting, and surely more of a market gap, to put the specialist shows on in the daytime. Plus what a way to introduce people to all that good material they might be unfamiliar with.

Anyway - the value of re-contextualising existing material is a good one. Providing new routes into quality material is efficient and potentially audience pleasing.

Perhaps Radio 4 should create a Radio 4 People station. Just looking at Friday’s output - shows like Desert Island Discs, The Last Word, Meeting Myself Coming Back - could all be scheduled and linked together to provide a new entry point to R4 by listeners put off by all the news and drama, but who love speech content.

Of course, re-using material doesn’t have to be linear. Radio 4 could go in a different direction, a searchable archive of every Today interview, tagged up with topics, showing when politicians views magically changed. How many times is there a Tweet, usually from Peter Stefanovic, decrying the BBC for not doing something, or asking something? What better way to stem a wayward discussion, than someone being able to point him at the interview, or clip it themselves and retweet. What would be more public service than an easily usable archive which other media could use in their own material, linking back to the BBC.

Maybe we should reduce, re-use and recycle the content that we make and spend more time making sure enough people hear it. Perhaps there should be a rule that you’re not allowed to create any new content until double the number that heard it the first time have listened. Just think of the innovation that type of restriction would encourage!