‘All change please!’ That’s what’s happening in Radio Land at the moment and, for the uninitiated, October really does seem to be the time for a fresh start.

It’s getting colder, nights are starting to draw in, and there is a buzz around campuses as students return to their studies for this weird academic year, and, for many freshers, hoping to live the uni experience, there is certainly one thing off the agenda – going to live music events.

However, it appears that the insatiable appetite for dance music has anything but waned, with multiple radio networks seemingly all jumping on the bandwagon, hoping to bring a sense of normality to the social aspect of everyday life.

After only just hanging up his headphones on September 26 on BBC Radio 1, audiences were shocked when MistaJam published a surprise announcement on his socials only five days after his radio departure.

On the very same day, MistaJam launched (and became the face of) the UK’s newest radio station on Global – one completely dedicated to dance music.

Even though this swift and effective move has poached one of radio’s most well-known presenters and DJs, it’s now up to the audience to decide if this is enough to make them migrate to this new commercial offering.

Utilising a similar yet more automated format, Radio 1 announced the launch of a new 24-hour Dance station last month too, and for both stations, this seems a pragmatic move with clubs and dancefloors around the country being hollow, lifeless versions of their former selves.

The appetite for a slither of normality is huge, so maybe now is the right time to jump on the dance bandwagon.

Global’s move represents a battle of the 18-35 radio behemoths, and the sudden departure of one of BBC Radio’s most prolific presenters, having hosted shows at the corporation for the past 15 years, represents just a small representation of that.

Not just is there fierce competition between the stations to bag the best and most well-known personalities onto their networks, but it’s heating up in the crusade for listeners, too. 

This launch, seemingly all out of the blue, doesn’t just show how much potential there is for dance music in the world of radio, but that the industry is always looking for new and exciting ways to lure people away from the likes of Spotify and Apple Music.

It’s the human connection achieved over the airwaves that networks are hanging their hopes on.

As competition fiercens within the UK radio scene, it only makes sense that Capital pipped Radio 1 to the post and launch itself into this musical genre, especially as commercial radio relies on keeping up with the trends and tastes of the nation.

Whether or not this offering of some of dance music’s biggest names on their relatively short presenter schedules will lead to their success is a completely different story.

Radio 1 Dance is solely launching on the BBC’s flagship app, BBC Sounds, and seemingly now the challenger network to Capital Dance.

Saying that, latest Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) analysis said digital listening was at an all-time high of 58.6% in the first quarter of 2020, so maybe the future is bright for these more specialised (and more difficult to reach) sister stations.

From an outsider’s perspective, the whole industry is pivoting towards a more comprehensive digital offering, with aggressive advertising towards mobile apps and DAB services fuelling the fire within the race for the biggest audience share.

Talking of advertising, Capital Dance haven’t messed around – buses in London, digital advertising boards and social media campaigns have already been spotted donning the face of the very presenter they poached from their BBC counterpart.

However, in this world of media bombardment, this totally the right move for Capital to take – and now, it’s all Capital’s to lose as they hope to tempt potential Radio 1 Dance listeners away with their similarly exciting offering.

Launched in 2019, Heart Dance set the ball rolling towards offering a standalone dance-based service – and where one huge player goes, the rest will be sure to follow.

And follow they did – if maybe a tad later than Heart.

Both Capital and Radio 1 already have dedicated shows which showcase the very best of the genre, but now really is the right time to put this music onto its own platform.

With so much going on in 2020, maybe these new dance stations are exactly what we need

But with so much diversification happening within the radio industry to attract audiences with more niche tastes, this could splinter their loyal listenership and encourage people to hop around the dial more than before – and this could be detrimental to the main networks that dominate the UK radio scene in the future.


Image: “Mistajam’s performance at Amnesia…wow!” by Amnesia – Ibiza is licensed under CC BY 2.0


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