Planet Rock or Team Rock Radio- Enough Old Rockers For Both?


Listening to rock music on the radio is about to get interesting in the UK. Particularly for those born and raised on the genre who respect the new music but still hark back to sweaty nights in the Odeon or Playhouse doused in patchouli oil, denim, leather and wearing their bodyweight in patches bought mail order from ads in Sounds newspaper.

Why the fuss? Well rock music has always been there, but not there. Scheduled at the fringes of the schedule I have fond teenage memories of the Friday night Tommy Vance show on Radio 1, my weekly essential listening. Those who listened were in a private club. Wearing a small but discreet metal badge worshipping our favourite groups we talked about the music at school, swapped UFO albums and moaned about gig tickets costing £4.50. It was easy.
It led to a life long love of rock. My first gig was Rainbow on the Down to Earth Tour at Ingliston in Edinburgh in 1980 fronted by the train crash in waiting Graham Bonnet with a very bored Ritchie Blackmore by his side (but far enough away not to have to talk). Oh yes, and Cozy was on drums. Four of us travelled there in a small Mini. All spotty and stinking of cheap after shave. It changed all our lives.

Fast forward and where are we now? Changing demographics mean rock fans from the late Seventies and early Eighties are now in their late forties (I’m 49 next month) and big business to advertisers. This is our moment. We also want to hear music we like.

Sure, I subscribe to Spotify so can create my own playlist every day of the week but after a while you know which track is coming next. There are no surprises. But do I want surprises?

Planet Rock, now owned by Bauer, has had the DAB dial to itself for so long its hard to remember life before it. Lavished with awards its cornered the market in classic rock. It does what it says on the tin. Rarely do you hear a song you don’t know. It’s comforting. Safe.
Now the gobby young upstart Team Rock Radio is about to go live this weekend. It will be different. There will be no ads for a start. Is that good? More on that in a moment.

Judging by the test transmissions (I have DAB in car and house) they are clearly going for a younger demographic as around one in six tracks is of a more metal/thrash genre. Noisy, loud, relentless. Hard to listen to. Veteran Nicky Horne, bought up from yes, Planet Rock, promises lots of new music as well.

Rock music is a broad church. While Planet Rock will stick with classic rock the new lot clearly want to offer more than that to bring in younger listeners. So can a diet of new and old rock, no ads and a fresh attitude work?

I’m not sure. Like any radio station you need listeners. There’s no point doing it for the love of it. You won’t last a year.

The reason why Planet Rock has lasted so long in our house is that despite my wife’s occasional moaning about ‘that shouty music’ it’ll only be a few minutes before less urgent songs from The Eagles, Queen, Free or Rainbow calm her down. It’s a classic mix of leather and lace which doubles the listenership in this house. Now multiply that across the nation. It adds up. Appeal to women and you’ve got a winner.

I’m not convinced Team Rock Radio will do that if they persist with the ‘one in six thrash’ policy. They may not have ads but every six songs a huge number of curious rock enthusiasts, and mostly females, will have an excuse to switch over or away and return to what they know best.

I’m sure they have done their research. They have wise radio heads overseeing the station and funding it. But rock is not pop. The audience is deeply knowledgeable and are notoriously picky about new music. Planet Rock may be predictable but that in a way is its strength. Team Rock Radio, by introducing thrash to the daytime mainstream may be spreading themselves too thin. And those tracks will be Team Rock’s ad breaks….so unlistenable that many will use them as chances to switch over to Planet Rock and others. And they may not return.


6 thoughts on “Planet Rock or Team Rock Radio- Enough Old Rockers For Both?

  1. I’ve just discovered team rock, the sound quality isn’t quite as good as planet, but the range of music so far is far better, planet stick to white snake Bon jovi and the staple AC/DC, which is all well and good, but not every hour, rock has probably the biggest back catalogue you could wish for, so they could mix it up a bit surely. Im not a thrash fan but can cope with the odd one here and there.
    Im in the south of England at the moment so we’ll see if team rock manages to stay on my truck’s DAB all the way home to Aberdeenshire… It’s meant to be nationwide, we shall see, kerrang isn’t and planet isn’t much better for coverage, but that’s not their fault, it’s high time radio reached everywhere in this day and age, you can’t even get fm stations in some parts of out country, which I find ridiculous 😦
    Anyhow, good luck to team rock radio, im hoping it’ll save me from Wyatt wendel’s wittering!

  2. Got bored with both.One plays too much classic,one plays too much shouty.I listen to Rock Radio 1 and TBFM now(both on line)and their mixes of music are a lot better for me.
    Musically I’m from the 80s. Planet Rock,for me is more emphasis on pre 1980 and Team Rock post 1995.

  3. Unfortunately Team Rock has nicked the left channel from Planet Rock, meaning both are in mono. This includes Planet Rock’s FM transmission in the West Midlands (old Kirrang frequency).

    I know PR is retro but I have listened in stereo since the late 60’s. Mono is not doing the music justice – we need one quality station in stereo.

  4. Team rock is good but apart from Nicky Horne the other presenters are annoying as for Planet Rock their playlist is terrible too much new stuff and gone are the days when they didn’t care how long a track lasted

  5. Oh, so if you’re female and over 50 you’re not supposed to like Team Rock? It’s the best radio station I’ve ever heard in my life (plus no ad breaks), so I’ll keep it a secret that I’ve listened 24/7 for a year, shall I? Would hate to spoil the ‘street cred’ of guys who listen. Just had DAB installed in my car specially, + only came looking on here to see why I can’t pick it up in car, but can indoors- no useful comments on here, though. Where’ve all the geeks gone when you need ’em?

  6. Read this with interest, been a loyal Planet Rock listener for the last 5 years, always thought the station had a great mix of new and classic stuff, great DJ’s who don’t talk too much, (excepting the ill advised breakfast show a couple of years ago (Lucio?)even the annoying Yank once you get used to him is Ok)
    Always found the adverts quite unobtrusive, until recently that is, this week has driven me mad! the frequency of the ad breaks appears to have risen dramatically, not only that, they’re getting longer and the repetition is unbearable.
    I appreciate that adverts are a necessary evil in commercial broadcasting, but the station seemed to have the balance spot on, and the ads seemed to match the demographic, no longer.
    I also think that listeners to these stations have them on to hear the music, not just background noise, which makes extraneous stuff all the more noticeable.
    So, tonight I’ve switched to Teamrock, what a revelation! good music, a little less classic than I’d like, but I’m hearing stuff I’d not been aware of before, I’d say to anyone, give it a go.
    Regarding the sound quality, it’s on while I work and drive, so not really an issue, if I want to really “listen” to something I crank up the proper Stereo!

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