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Changes ahead at THE VIP LOUNGE main radio station

For the past few months big changes have been happening at on THE VIP LOUNGE, our first radio station, which was launched from Media City in Salford on Saturday 5th December, 2015.

Originally set up to entertain and inform visually impaired people we were a micro station with a very exclusive audience.

This didn’t stop us from wanting to be a quality service and trying our hardest to be the best we could possibly be. We knew we would never be the best station a listener could choose, we believed that if we achieved just 10 listener hours a week or just kept one person company that it was well worth the effort.

I wanted the station to operate an old style commercial radio format with the same presenter in the same time slot Monday to Friday and be on air 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with live presentation. People experienced in running internet radio laughed at me and stated that we would never get this to happen.

From day one we did it and nearly 5 years later we are still doing it. I also insisted that we carry news updates every hour, as our station could be the only source of news for some people. Again other stations laughed and told us that people listening to internet radio did not want their enjoyment interrupted in this way. Oh how wrong they were. We don’t just have news updates every hour, we also have sport on the half hour. Breakfast and drive have news every thirty minuets sport on the half hour and showbiz and business updates to boot.

Other stations were playing out comedy or spoof ad breaks sometimes, but we took our commercial format seriously and played Public Service announcements given to us by the U.K. government cabinet office were ad breaks would be.

Our listenership took us to number one in the U.K. FRIM the start and we have been in that spot continuously ever since.

Over the years we have evolved and that’s because we listened to our audience. They constantly tell us what they want and what they should expect. We believed in being their station and making radio for them. THE LISTENER MUST COME FIRST is something that our staff both past and present, will tell you is a phrase I say a lot.

It’s because of our staffs dedication and hard work and the loyalty of the listenership that THE VIP LOUNGE has become a mainstream internet radio station. Not just broadcasting to a visually impaired person anymore. We reach more homes, cars and businesses now than we could ever have imagined. We have worked with the U.K. government since day one, but often during the current pandemic we had their information broadcast messages on air faster than most terrestrial stations both local and national.

We have worked with Buckingham Palace and have published correspondence to prove this, in order to broadcast both Her Majesty The Queen’s speech and message.

The BBC have granted us access to their vast archive and library, giving us permission to use anything we need, as we are now recognised as a media partner. We are also on the verge of being accepted into the radio academy as an affiliate member.

I’m so proud of our staff for putting in the many hours of hard work which has got us here. I’m grateful to our listeners for their support and loyalty. I’m even thankful to our critics, for if it wasn’t for your constant jibes, we may have been complacent and our stations could be sounding as yours do now. Even though there is nothing wrong with what you do, I, my staff and our listeners wanted better, more and that’s what we give.

Recently we became a commercial radio station. One critic was so shocked that she wrote nastily that we were recording our ad breaks from LBC in London. I know a few people who work at Global and after looking up LBC’s ad breaks, I found that while we had some ads in common, the majority are very different indeed.

So where next for THE VIP LOUNGE?

As a radio station which was originally set up for Visually Impaired People the name was very relevant for the time, but now we are a mainstream commercial station, the name seems less meaningful. We want to entertain an even wider audience doing radio the way we have always done it in a less modern, thumps music kind of a way. We believe in personality radio that the listener can connect with, not a station that just churns stuff at you. Live presentation that the listener can interact with, not programmes that a voice tracked by a presenter who is not even hearing the music they are playing.

So I’ve spoken to the staff at THE VIP LOUNGE. I’ve spoken to many past and current commercial radio presenters. Hell I’ve even been speaking to some former commercial radio station managers/directors.

Nobody disagreed with the fact that it’s time for a re-brand. It’s time to change the name on the tin to describe what we do now. Yes we are proud of our past and that’s why our holding company will remain as THE VIP LOUNGE RADIO GROUP, but we will be rebranding our main station name. A jingle package has been written and ordered and we very much look forward to bringing that to you in the future.

It’s a huge undertaking as there are 23 cuts in the jingle package plus a theme song. Assembling the musicians and singers to record the package is also no mean feat, as a lot of them are required and in these times of social distancing it’s a strategic nightmare. The new image is being put together by a well respected international jingle making company and no expense will be spared, nor quality compromised.

Finally you may have seen me mention DAB (Digital Audio Broadcast) recently. We are currently putting a team of ex and current commercial radio personalities and industry experts together in order to launch a new station on a multiplex. This will take a lot of planning and quite some time, but hopefully we will get there and who knows you could even be taking a tour of purpose built studious, but that’s all for another day.

Ian Francis.

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