“We Were the Lockdown Station”: Helen Thomas and Trevor Nelson of Radio 2 on Listener Retention | Media


BBC Radio 2 triumphed at the Music Week Awards as Radio Station of the Year.

The awards reflect the success of 2020, a difficult year for the industry and broadcasters.

Radio 2 station chief Helen Thomas was appointed in the first half of 2020, so this victory is a personal victory for her as well as for the entire production team and on-air talent.

RAJAR’s numbers have been hanging for 18 months, but anecdotal evidence suggests that listening has skyrocketed during the lockdown.

Radio 2 was the No.1 station with a weekly reach of 14.4 million in the latest figures available for the first quarter of 2020.

Here, Helen Thomas and presenter Trevor Nelson discuss the challenges of broadcasting during Covid, the return of RAJAR and the return of live events on Radio 2 …

Congratulations on winning the radio station trophy …

Hélène Thomas: “It is traditionally the 6 Music Award!

Trevor Nelson: “Everything has changed since I joined.

HT: “It all depends on Trevor!

TN: “No, no, it’s not! I think we were the locking station. Throughout the confinement, we persevered, we went there. I’ve been doing radio my whole life, but last year was the first time I realized how important radio is, especially to our audiences across the country. Radio 2’s audience is the most loyal audience there is. Communication was excellent between the DJs and the audience.

How does it feel to win, Hélène, for your first year as station manager?

HT: “Well, that’s wonderful. And it’s a tribute to all the great teams that work at Radio 2, our amazing presenters. They have that deep connection to the audience that Trevor spoke about. And Jeff Smith, who is our amazing conductor, is a real creative force who comes up with all of these wonderful ideas and innovations – we don’t stand still. He did the wonderful Children In Need album last year, Stop Crying Your Heart Out, with the real Cher, which was incredibly exciting. And we had the innovations with the Concert Orchestra, House Music and Radio 2 Live At Home.

Radio 2 is such a diverse and distinctive radio station with a wide range of genres and artists.

Helene thomas

Was it important to bring back performances this month with Radio 2 Live?

HT: ” Extremely important. We were the first BBC radio station to introduce the public when we recorded our concerts live on Radio 2 in the UK. So we had Texas in Glasgow, with a small socially distanced audience; Westlife in Belfast; the Manics in Cardiff; and Steps in Manchester, and it was really special. You could see how hungry the artists were to perform again, and the audience was desperate to come out and celebrate live music again. It has been a very hard 18 months for everyone. So we were happy that we were able to bring everyone together to feel good and enjoy the escape, the laughter, the camaraderie and the connection.

How was it disseminated at the height of the pandemic?

TN: “It was the toughest year for broadcasting ever, honestly. Depending on your broadcasting style, you can be a joker. But it was different. Jo Whiley and I, when we were doing alternate weeks, it was very strange. I’m glad we got away with it. We realized how important radio is to people.

Do you like to celebrate with the industry again at these awards?

TN: “I have also worked in the music industry and there are so many of my old friends here. It’s great to see people come out. Fantastic.”

HT: “Yeah, it’s just wonderful to see all those faces. People we may have seen on Zooms, and many we haven’t seen on Zooms in the past 18 months. This is fantastic Music week organize this awards ceremony to bring us all together. It really is special. “

What do you think of the return of the RAJARs next month – do you feel Radio 2 is growing?

“Well, we’ll wait until October 28! But certainly from the comments that have been received on the text and the emails, we know that the audience has really appreciated what we are doing and the extent of the programming that we have provided. It is such a diverse and distinctive radio station with a wide range of genres and artists.

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