Gorkana meets…BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s Newsbeat
Louisa Compton, editor of BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s Newsbeat, on her youthful audience, why she doesn’t want quirky story pitches, and launching a radical new website in Autumn.
You were appointed editor of BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s Newsbeat in April – got any big changes planned?
The main priority is to launch a radical new website by the Autumn.
The website will hopefully feel completely different to the current Newsbeat site and the rest of the BBC. It will make the most of some of the stuff Newsbeat does best – original journalism and entertainment news – but also capture what everyone is talking about online…..things that have gone viral and caught people’s imagination.
In addition I’d like the radio bulletins at 12.45 and 17.45 to develop more of a programme feel and create some more wow moments. And we’ll be looking to extend our brand further with some exciting possible projects on other platforms.
Newsbeat has two 15-minute slots during the working week – what does it cover and how does the content differ from the main BBC news bulletins?
Our main focus is on strong, targeted journalism for a youth audience. As such our run order is totally different to other outlets. We concentrate on the kind of stories our audience tell us they want to hear.
Roughly how many stories make it into each slot?
We tend to focus primarily on three or four stories.
Tell us a bit about your listeners.
They’re obviously Radio 1 and 1Xtra listeners. The audience we aim for is 16 to 29-year-olds. Within that age group there tends to be three distinctive life stages: 16 to 18-year-olds, who are mainly still in school, college or doing apprenticeships; 18 to 24-year-olds who’re at university or starting a new job, preparing to leave home; and then those who are 24+ and beginning to settle down into adulthood.
That generation has never lived without the internet….they’ve grown up online and they have totally different expectations of news and how it reaches them. They’re mainly interested in stories closer to home, stories that affect them or their families.
What does a typical week look like for you and the team?
There is no such thing as a typical week.
How can PRs help with content?
Remember we’re a news programme so tell us something new and genuinely original that we haven’t heard before. Come to us with stories that you think will work for our audience and shed new light on a subject and issue.
What do they need to think about to make a radio story work?
I guess it’s pretty much as above. Our job is to try and make it sound interesting on the radio and to work out how to cover that story and what treatment to give it.
What’s the best way for PRs to get in contact?
Are you happy to meet PRs?
My day is already full of meetings so to be honest I’m keen not to add too many more…..but in principle yes, on merit.
Do you also look after the Newsbeat online site?
Yes, and launching the new Newsbeat site will be one of my main priorities over the coming months. We hope to vastly increase the volume of content it produces.
With summer on the horizon, it will soon be ‘silly season’. Are there more opportunities to pitch quirky ideas?
No, please don’t pitch quirky stories. We’re a news programme all year round.
Louisa was talking to Gorkana’s Richard o’Donnell