The Hot Seat: Chris Scaddan

Published in The Music Network

 

With the launch of new 24/7 digital Unearthed station tomorrow, we speak to Triple J’s manager, Chris Scaddan about how it will all work.

It’s been more than two years since the Australian rollout of DAB+. Why launch a 24/7 digital Unearthed station now?
We’ve tested the Unearthed station twice during Triple J’s Ausmusic Month (November 2009 + 2010) on the ABC’s extra digital channel, to see how it would sound as a service and measure the audience’s reaction. We’re really happy with the way it was received. Digital radio listenership has been steadily growing since the initial capital city rollout to the point that almost 1 million people out there are listening to radio via digital. So that gives the station the best chance of finding a regular audience. Of course, Triple J Unearthed will be streaming online too and we expect a fair proportion of the audience will listen online or via the Unearthed iPhone app. We’re glad to be taking the next step.

How will the new station be curated?
Triple J Unearthed will follow the curation that already happens on the triplejunearthed.com site, with feature artists, competition winners and other highlighted tracks rising to the surface. The Unearthed team will work with the Triple J music programming team, the Triple J presenters and producers to get feedback on good tracks and artists. We’ll also have artists themselves picking tracks and playlists, reflecting songs that have caught their attention. And we’ll look at what the Triple J Unearthed community is reacting to online, what they’re reviewing, what is charting. It’s all quite collaborative. It’s going to be a broad and varied playlist, highlighting the very best stuff from triplejunearthed.com.

Will there be on-air DJs or just a continuous stream?
It’ll fall somewhere in-between. There won’t be any regular announcers, but plenty of segments and song introductions from artists talking about themselves, picking other people’s tracks, well-known acts sharing their favourite Unearthed tunes and triple j presenters introducing short playlists. It’ll be a continuous stream punctuated by commentary setting-up different tracks and playlists.

What are the targets for the new station?
The main target for the first twelve months is to raise awareness about the station and about the great new Australian music playing on the station. Also to take-on feedback about the service from the audience and the broader Australian music community. We’re confident that it will find an audience pretty quickly.

Apparently the Unearthed website has a community of more than 250,000 users. Will this new service simply “preach to the converted,” or do you anticipate it grabbing new listeners?
Initially, we’re expecting the audience to come from the site and from the existing Triple J audience. Triple J Unearthed is the biggest Australian online music community; there’s nothing else that comes close. So having 250,000 users who have already engaged with the triplejunearthed.com site gives us good start. It’ll cater to those people who drift in and out of Triple J, or don’t engage with radio at all anymore. Certainly there’s an audience out there looking for new music all the time, especially online. The focus of Unearthed is very much on music discovery and there’s more people passionate about that than ever before. We know that a strong station like this will prove that Australian audiences want to hear Australian content on the radio. That it’s not a handicap as it has sometimes been portrayed.

How will you promote the new service?
We’ve got free public launch parties happening on Wednesday October 5 in six cities – Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. We’ll be telling people about the station via Triple J – which at the moment is enjoying a weekly five capital city reach above 1.5 million listeners. And we’ll be asking the hundreds of artists who are being played to tell their fanbase where they can hear the songs. It’s a community that supports itself and the acts want to support each other. So the word will spread. You launched an app for Unearthed.

What has been achieved with that?
The app was an instant hit when it was launched in January 2010. Within a month, we had doubled the activity on the Unearthed site. More streaming of tracks, more downloads, more everything. Proving again that people want to engage with music on their own terms and on the device most convenient for them. It’s still one of the ABC’s most popular apps, which is pretty phenomenal considering the content – it’s unsigned Australian music that people wouldn’t have heard before. People really want to hear it.

What next for Triple J?
We’re pretty focused on this new station for the time being. We’ve just launched the Triple J app for iPhone and that’s going really well, and we’ve got more plans for the mobile space. As we move into 2012, we’re focused on our core radio programs because they’re at the centre of everything we do.

 

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