Sat, Mar 23, 2002 - Page 17 News List

ICRT wants less talk, more rock

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

COURTESY OF ICRT

Less talk, more rock. That's the mantra International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT) is keeping in mind as its overhauls its programming from a talk-intensive station to a more music-oriented one.

"We are cleaning up our act. We let talk get out of control and let too much Chinese [language] on the radio," the station's general manager, Doc Casey, said in an exclusive interview with the Taipei Times yesterday. "We're getting rid of unnecessary talk and moving to more music."

ICRT is set to officially kick off the new format on April 16 when it celebrates its 23th anniversary.

While foreign DJs are still key to the radio's personality, they'll be focusing more of their talk time on "news you can use."

"I want DJs to formulate strategies for when they talk and what they talk about," Casey said. "It has to be about music or about interesting topics of the day, like for example, the Academy Awards this Sunday."

The niche-market station's new strategy also aims to re-focus on its earliest roots: English.

"Our niche is that we're the only English-language station in Taiwan -- this is our greatest strength," Casey said, adding that research has shown the station's listeners "don't want to hear Mandarin at all."

Casey predicted that the combination of less talk, more music -- all presented in an English-language format -- will get more listeners to tune in.

With a more American-style radio format "we can create programming appealing enough to the masses while still appealing to our primary audience, the foreign community," Casey said.

That programming boost will come from veteran radio personality Tony Taylor, who has been brought back on board as a consultant, Casey said.

The station also plans to recapture its former target audience -- 25- to 40-year-olds -- by putting back on old shows such as Casey Casum's American Top 40.

Admitting sagging ratings triggered the restructuring move, Casey vowed to take the station to "No. 3."

"We used to hold the No. 4 or No. 5 position for several years, but [recently] we have been seeing a steady decline," he said.

According to Taiwan pollster Rainmaker Co (潤利公司), ICRT ranked sixth in listener popularity in the greater Taipei area in the fourth quarter of last year. The top spot went to UFO radio (飛碟電台).

Last year, ACNielsen Taiwan ranked ICRT the sixth most popular station among working-class adults.

Among students the station took third place in greater Taipei.

ACNielsen also found that 53.8 percent of the station's listeners were aged between 21 and 30 while 15.4 percent fell between the ages of 12 and 20.

According to Desmond Wang (王道平), communications manager at ACNielsen, southern Taiwan remains a difficult market for ICRT because legal and illegal broadcasters interfere with the station's frequency -- stealing away listeners.

But judging from the demographics, ICRT may find the majority of its listeners in Taipei.

"ICRT's audience is in general, more bilingual, better educated and the yuppies in Taiwan," Casey said.

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