October 09, 2014
AN INTERVIEW WITH MONOCLE PRODUCER, TOM EDWARDS
Tom Edwards is Executive Producer at M24, the 24 hour radio station attached to high-end lifestyle magazine, Monocle. Tom talks to markettiers4dc about why the addition of this audio outlet has worked so well for the media brand.
Why did Monocle decide to expand into audio? Was it always on the cards, or something which you saw as logical extension of the brand?
“Two years after the successful launch of Monocle magazine in 2007 we launched The Monocle Weekly – a weekly online radio podcast, taking a fast, smart look at the world every Sunday. It quickly evolved into a key strand of Monocle’s online presence.
Following that success and demand from our audience, we believed the time was right to take things further and build on the audio experience – to create a round-the-clock service produced wholly in-house at Monocle’s radio studios in our London HQ: M24.”
As Tyler Brulé, Monocle’s founder and editor-in-chief said at the M24 launch:
“We wanted to do it as it’s a great way to tell other stories we don’t always get the chance to relay in the magazine and highlight the tales behind the print offer. There is an agility and premium quality to audio – which is aligned to our print offering. It’s also a hugely intimate experience – which is why we went for a 24-hour radio service over an internet TV channel. I hear the Monocle brand more than I see it… No commercial radio station covers the ground we are charting.”
Do you think the success of your downloadable programmes is indicative of a wider change in how audiences are engaging with different platforms?
“There are clearly huge changes in the way people around the world are engaging with media. The international nature of our audience, changes in lifestyle and wider working practices, as well as ongoing advances in communications technology, mean that there is inevitably a big adjustment taking place.
There is an expectation that content will be available on demand – to suit the differing pace of the lives of global listeners, and to suit a huge range of working practices, lifestyles, and so on. With more and more platforms, and the availability of ever faster broadband and wireless, there is increasingly the scope for media brands like Monocle to deliver intelligent content in a way that was impossible even a few years ago. To provide digital content instantly is at the heart of that.”
Have you noticed any patterns/correlations in how audiences engage with the various Monocle platforms?
“The site in its current form is probably too young for us to draw too many broad conclusions. However both numbers and engagement are up and rising which is very encouraging. There’s clearly a different type of user across platforms – from desktop to mobile to iTunes to SoundCloud and so on.”
One really striking feature, however – across all platforms – is the depth and duration of Monocle 24 listenership. The average listen is now over 60 minutes in length. That is an amazing figure which looks all the more impressive if you compare it to the figures from established public service broadcasters’ digital figures.
Do you work with PRs? If so, what is the right way for a PR to approach you about taking audio content?
“We are happy to receive pitches that fit in with Monocle 24’s key areas of interest from a huge variety of sources. However, we are all focused on original content and rigorous journalism ?– M24 is closer to a public service broadcaster in terms of lacking appetite for puff pieces. But if the PR has a great angle on relevant themes we are ready to listen.”