After a two-decade hiatus, Capital Radio has made a comeback. At the helm is the station’s programme director and presenter, Roger Paine, who in 1983 came on board to work as one of the original station’s announcers. Features writer Ferdinand Godinez chats with the radio veteran to find out more about the station’s digital revival and how technology is playing a role in today’s broadcasts.
Capital Radio is one of the country’s pioneering stations, broadcasting in Abu Dhabi from 1979 until 1999. Why did you decide to revive the brand?
There were several factors that led to the decision, the most obvious was the enormous gap in the current UAE radio market. The 11 existing English radio stations based across the country are either specialist in one type of music or pure talk only. The others are just chasing the same young demographic and more or less play the same music. Capital Radio plays global chart music from the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
Why did you choose to focus on playing songs from past decades?
Bizarrely, [on local stations] you never hear The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Abba – the list is endless. In addition, no one was playing music combined with great personality DJs to the native, English-speaking, over-35 age demographic. There was nothing for us ‘mature folk’ to listen to locally and I, like many, had to listen either online to international radio stations or play my iPod.
Since relaunching Capital Radio in September, what feedback have you had from listeners?
I am astonished by the brilliant feedback since the re-launch. The text messages, WhatsApps and emails that we receive prove that we have an excellent product and music is part of all of our lives – it’s part of the story from everyone’s childhood.
How have technological changes affected radio broadcasting?
I think today’s play out systems such as Myriad, which is the software that we’re using, are excellent and allow the DJ to focus on the content of the show and easily pick the music he or she wants to play. We still use turntables, mainly because some of the music from the 50s and 60s sounds better on vinyl rather than in digital format.
We have every social media connection on our dedicated website, which has an easy ‘listen live’ button. Online listening is growing rapidly in the UAE, along with the rest of the world, and will eventually be the top avenue for radio listening.
Norway has this year switched off all of its FM transmitters and moved over to online and DAB [digital audio broadcasting]. The UAE has DAB on its roadmap for roll out, so it’s certainly the way to go.
As a veteran radio DJ in the UAE, what improvements do you think need to be made across the country’s radio scene?
Bring back personality DJs and stop playing three to four music tracks in a row with the DJ just introducing the name of the artist at the end. My iPod can do that and play the music I want to hear and in the order I want to hear it – that’s not radio.
Radio is all about building a long-term relationship, becoming a friend or companion to the person listening. If the listener lets you into their life and listens to you, then you have the start of a relationship. Maintaining this is the key; stopping a person from leaving the car even once they’ve arrived at their destination, is the art of a great broadcaster.
To find out more or listen to Capital Radio online, visit: cruae.ae