Photo: Rock Antenne
Guy Fränkel and Rock Antenne: It all comes down to brand management
Guy Fränkel is appropriately nicknamed "Rockboss". He is Managing Director and Head of Programming at Rock Antenne and a passionate radio producer. Before he is going to discuss the Bavarian radio industry with audio expert Lukas Schöne from MedienNetzwerk Bayern at Radiodays Europe in Prague on March 26, we invited him for an interview. What is the secret of Rock Antenne's success, what are their future plans and what does Guy appreciate about his work with Mediaschool Bayern? He shares it all in this conversation.
Guy, Rock Antenne reached a total of 2.5 million daily listeners in the MA Audio II 2022 and also reported a daily reach of 53,000 listeners in Austria at the beginning of 2023. How do you achieve this steady growth in listeners?
Guy Fränkel: The secret behind this is very stringent brand management. We know who we are. Of course, this is already very clearly defined in our name. We have learned to focus on the topics that interest the target group. So it's not like it used to be, when radio stations wanted to reach everyone using the watering-can principle. We focus, we ask ourselves again and again: What exactly does this target group want? And that's how we stay in the game.
Since December 2022, you've been broadcasting in Austria not only on DAB+, but also on FM, and you've set up a completely new team in Vienna. What led you to take the step of expansion?
Guy: That started in 2016 or 2017. We realized that we have a huge fan base in Austria and when we had the opportunity to participate in the national DAB+ project, we did it with partners who were already active in Austria. We saw that there was a certain brand awareness that we could build on. That's why we decided to expand even further and found six great colleagues who are now building up the station locally under the direction of Station Manager Niki Fuchs.
Guy Fränkel: Rock Antenne benefits from celebrity hosts
Bavaria has its own DAB+ programming with Rock Antenne Bayern. How important are regional programs for you and your national DAB+ strategy?
Guy: Our main business is music, and that is the same both nationally and regionally: An AC/DC concert is sold out everywhere in Hamburg, in Munich or in Austria. But then we're back to addressing the target group. It helps, of course, if you can say that Bavaria is our country of origin and our cornerstone, and that's why we want to focus there again. That's exactly what we can do now through Rock Antenne Bayern. For example, we have a media cooperation with TSV 1860 Munich, which we broadcast exclusively in Bavaria and not nationwide.
Your program is characterized by a variety of shows, such as the long-running "Tuff Stuff" and specials with celebrity hosts like Doro, Falk-Maria Schlegel and Alex Wesselsky. How much do these formats contribute to your success and are they still worthwhile in the long run in times of ubiquitous podcasts, streaming offers and the like?
Guy: Cooperations with celebrity hosts are great for us. That brings us back to the issue of what my target group actually wants and what suits my brand. It's great for fans to see that Rock Antenne is also relevant for artists. Many artists have a real community mindset and cater to fans in their show. We set up email addresses for them where listeners can ask a question or request a song for the next show. There's a great project coming up this fall with one of our rock stars, but I can’t say more at this point. Influencer marketing is also an issue for us, and that's exactly the first stage of it: We have hosts, they have a fanbase, which in the case of Doro or Billy Talent is international, and we can use this awareness for us as a station.
"It's important to look at how young radio people think and how they deal with issues so you don't become professionally blinkered after all these years."
You are also the chairman of the program committee of Mediaschool Bayern, a training institute for young media professionals in Bavaria. With Rock Antenne Young Stars, you offer young talents from the Mediaschool space for their own show once a week. What does this cooperation mean to you personally and from the station's perspective?
Guy: I think I can bring both perspectives together: I'm a radio man with a passion, and I think it's very important to continue to get young people excited about radio. That's what Mediaschool does wonderfully, and there's always great talent there. We've recruited a few team members from the Mediaschool and have since referred them on to other companies. They're going their own way, so for me personally it's a very important and great cooperation. It's also important to see how young radio producers think and how they deal with issues, so that you don't become professionally blinkered after all these years. As a station, it's great for us to get this perspective and to work with these young people.
Rock Antenne focuses on expanding their reach in 2023
How would you assess the general situation, is the Bavarian radio industry doing enough for the next generation?
Guy: I don't have a comparison with other German federal states, but I have the impression that what Bavaria is doing is really great, judging from my work on the program committee and from my position as a shareholder at the Mediaschool. We have locations in Nuremberg and Munich, both of which are kept up to date on a technical level, and both of which invest in programs so that they attract young radio producers. I think that's enough, but as a doer, I also know that a little more is always possible. Nevertheless, I'm convinced that this is a great starting point, and the networking with the Bayerische Landeszentrale für neue Medien, with the stations and with the shareholders is at a very good level.
"There's a reason why a lot of national media is based in Bavaria."
Where do you currently see the particular strengths of the Bavarian radio industry?
Guy: We are in an interesting federal state. There's a lot happening, a lot of culture, a lot of sports, a lot of politics. Some of the Bavarian radio industry is very small-scale, but it also goes as far as statewide broadcasting. If we look at the educational opportunities, that's one of Bavaria's strengths. You start at the Mediaschool, move on to local radio and then later to statewide radio. In addition, we have great conferences with the MEDIENTAGE MÜNCHEN and the Lokalrundfunktage, and the BLM also offers further qualification. There is a reason why many national media outlets are based in Bavaria. There is also a great deal of openness and support for the media from politicians.
What are your further plans for Rock Antenne this year?
Guy: This year, it's all about expanding our reach on all channels. We have started many great new projects: We had a nice expansion of reach in Austria in the radio test and also at the FM location in Vienna, so we definitely want to continue that. We also want to set on further growth nationwide and in Bavaria – and then we have the issue of Zurich, where we are currently broadcasting the national program via DAB+, so there is still a lot of room for improvement. These are the three projects we will focus on this year.