Interactive Cultures led the AHRC-BBC Pilot Knowledge Exchange Programme into Listener online engagement with BBC radio programming. We used the short name BBC Listeners online.

The research team aimed to:

This was achieved through a series of project objectives:

The project was a knowledge exchange and collaborative research and development project, initiated by Tristan Ferne, Senior Development Producer (R&D) at BBC Audio & Music Interactive. It drew together academics from three universities with significant research experience, to explore, through a range of listener-controlled, commercial and BBC internet media, the creative fan culture that has been built around the BBC’s music, fiction and speech radio programming.

The research produced useful knowledge and insights for BBC staff to inform their online and interactive products, services, policies and strategies. It also contributed to scholarship on fan culture, radio audiences, and online environments and activity.

The project was led by Professor Tim Wall, Director of Interactive Cultures. He worked with his BCU colleagues Dr Bethany Klein and Andrew Dubber who contributed experience in studying radio and online culture. Dr Lyn Thomas from London Metropolitan University and Dr Matthew Hills from Cardiff University acted as the other two senior project members, contributing experience in fan and audience studies. David Hendy from the University of Westminster acted as a consultant to the project steering group, offering experience from radio studies.

This project aimed to directly inform and benefit BBC Audio & Music Interactive’s My BBC radio strategy, which set the goal of transforming the BBC’s relationship with their audiences from broadcasting to them to engaging with them. It therefore provided the opportunity to shape and influence BBC output. The project provided research for the ‘participation’ layer of the strategy on how audiences engage in activities around radio content, and it engaged with the ‘creation’ layer on facilitating the creative activities of fans.

The research involved:

The three original case studies were: the Archers (led by Dr Thomas); breakfast radio personality presenters Terry Wogan and Chris Moyles (led by Dr Hills); and music radio output and music websites (led by Prof Wall in collaboration with Dr Klein and Mr Dubber).

The team produced the results of the research, analyses and interpretation in a research report and staff seminar for the BBC and four peer reviewed conference papers or journal articles.

Our report from the project:
Wall, T. & Dubber, A. (2008) ‘Specialist music fans online: implications for public service broadcasting’ in BBC/AHRC Listener online engagement with BBC Radio programming pp.56-79

Birmingham Centre For Media And Cultural Research

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