Times Radio is an ongoing brand campaign, according to Times Newspapers’ general manager, and one which ties in with the title’s pricing strategy.

The speech radio station, which launched on Monday, features programming presented by prominent Times journalists alongside talent recruited from other broadcasters such as the BBC.

Listeners will not be served spot ads – unlike talkRadio, a sister station within Wireless Group, part of Rupert Murdoch’s News UK – but there are opportunities for brands to sponsor content. In practice, however, that means “frequent commercials for the station itself and other Murdochian products”, noted commentator Mark Lawson.

He also described the new station as “a good-quality karaoke BBC Radio 5 Live”, which, if not quite stealing the thunder of BBC Radio 4 – the UK’s leading speech station – at least goes part of the way to achieving the aim that Michael Brunt, general manager of Times Newspapers, outlined recently.

The main purpose of Times Radio, according to Brunt, is to give The Times’ brand “some personality”, as well as offering readers greater “proximity” to its journalists.

Speaking at Mediatel’s Future of Publishing online conference recently, he asked: “How do you, as a newspaper, expand your reach to a broader audience and get in front of people who might not consider you?”

“To me, [Times Radio] is like the ultimate ongoing, every day, incredible brand campaign,” he said.

Many of his colleagues around the world have viewed the new station as a way of reaching a broader audience, Brunt noted, but his priorities are different.

For him the launch has tied in neatly with the decision by the title to end subscription trials to the title – and the high churn they come with – and focus instead on recruiting people willing to pay the full price, especially given the current news surge during the coronavirus pandemic. (For more, read WARC’s report: The Times uses the COVID-19 ‘news surge’ to boost subscription revenues.)

“If you put [the decision not to lower the paywall] in the context of knowing I was about to launch Times Radio, and knowing that we’re getting that reach and breadth beyond our core audience on Apple News+, I think it was the right thing to do.”

On that last point, reach and breadth on Apple News isn’t enough for every publication: The New York Times announced Monday it was ending its partnership with the tech company because it was unable to “control the presentation of our report, the relationships with our readers and the nature of our business rules.” 

Sourced from WARC, The Guardian, The New York Times