Listener online engagement with BBC radio programming

Lead Research Organisation: Birmingham City University
Department Name: PME Birmingham Sch of Media

Abstract

The proposed venture is a knowledge exchange and collaborative research and development project, initiated by Tristan Ferne, Senior Development Producer (R&D) at BBC Audio & Music Interactive. It draws together academics from three universities with significant research experience, to explore, through a range of listener-controlled, commercial and BBC internet media, the creative fan culture that has been built around the BBC's music, fiction and speech radio programming.

The research will produce useful knowledge and insights for BBC staff to inform their online and interactive products, services, policies and strategies. It will also contribute to scholarship on fan culture, radio audiences, and online environments and activity.

The project is led by Professor Tim Wall from UCE Birmingham. He will work with his UCE colleagues Dr Bethany Klein and Mr Andrew Dubber who will contribute experience in studying radio and online culture. Dr Lyn Thomas from London Metropolitan University and Dr Matthew Hills from Cardiff University will act as the other two senior project members contributing experience in fan and audience studies. David Hendy from the University of Westminster will act as a consultant to the project steering group offering experience from radio studies.

This project will directly inform and benefit BBC Audio & Music Interactive's My BBC radio strategy, which sets the goal of transforming the BBC's relationship with their audiences from broadcasting to them to engaging with them. It will therefore provide the opportunity to shape and influence BBC output. The project will provide research for the 'participation' layer of the strategy on how audiences engage in activities around radio content, and it will engage with the 'creation' layer on facilitating the creative activities of fans.

The research will involve: mapping the online environment built around listeners to BBC programmes and BBC's music online presence; surveying and collating statistics on fan activity and the online environment; conducting semi-structured interviews with key BBC staff; analysing BBC policy and strategy documents; and exploring three developed qualitative case studies using semi-structured interviews, focus groups and textual analysis of fan activities.

The three original case studies are: the Archers (led by Dr Thomas); breakfast radio personality presenters Terry Wogan and Chris Moyles (led by Dr Hills); and music radio output and music websites (led by Prof Wall in collaboration with Dr Klein and Mr Dubber).

The team will produce the results of the research, analyses and interpretation in a research report and staff seminar for the BBC and four peer reviewed conference papers or journal articles.

Publications


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Wall T (2009) Specialist music, public service and the BBC in the Internet age in Radio Journal:International Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media