Radio outside of Australia - Whats good?

Nui FM Taupo NZ

I listen to it quite a lot and even play it at work when the usual HIT FM gets annoying

They don’t play a bad mix for a school station, and best of all it has almost no Commercials except for the odd sponsor once it twice an hour

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I think this qualifies as a BUMP.

I’ve been enjoying Brian FM NZ lately on my morning walks. I want semi familiar music that’s upbeat with a rock skew and they do nicely. No commercials is a bonus. I listen to the Oamaru version as they have song title and artist. It is an eclectic ‘Jack Rock’ format with plenty of NZ only hits which is good, and even the odd British and US only hit (Ocean Colour Scene, Toad The Wet Sprocket).

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If you’re a fan of harder rock, 103.9 The X from Honolulu is actually pretty good! Plays stuff you really wouldn’t hear on commercials here.

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In Vietnam people still listens to traditional radio even if 4G is abundant in regionals.
Because if you exclude stations like 91FM or 95.6 VOH, their format is hardly changed since wartime days (news, information, talk (not something like 2GB), specialist, children, play, folklore life, story reading). People love that (not so for younger generations, they prefer Spotify or Tiktok instead) because it helps people transport back in time and feels that the innocence of life still exists in a crowded daily life.

91FM is basically (in format, not jingles) Australian radio of 1980s. Except people are more livelier and treat listeners like a part of a wider family. The top management let the people always choose the music that presenters wished to. People are also open to talk about daily life like wanting listeners to be relatable together. No wonder why their ratings were absolute majority, even if people hates the network of playing too much ad during drivetime traffic block…

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Interesting read @theduytv , can people speak about politics or that is a no go zone on radio?

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They have some political programming. Political programming is a main pillar on local services.
On nationwide service these are mostly on VOV-1. VOV-4 also carries some governmental information in minority language.
91FM has a political segment during afternoon block which provide information and opinions from people about a proposed bill/law from the government.

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I wish if Vietnamese radio modernise the jingles, they would never change the format and music orientation. They just need more live programming slots and further networking to each other (rather than over-reliant on VOV-1), otherwise it would be too nice for you guys.

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Recently just listened to 91fm again and I’m surprised at how the Hanoi feed embracing newer songs, as that feed is known for nearly sticking to playing 4KQ/4BH-like songs.
Normally, Hanoi’s output that contributed to the network mostly consists of Vietnamese folk, Vietnamese easy listening, Vietnamese oldies and international classic hits. Occasionally there would be Vietnamese and international songs from 2000s, but most songs from this feed are from 1990s or older.
However, the night (8PM) program of 91FM, which produced from Hanoi today, is surprising. The presenter introduced listeners to a completely new song by a CHR artist (with a strong Vietnamese folklore influence). This has been quite a strange choice for a station with strong oldies leaning, and before that, while the presenter would introduce the program with a “current” song, these songs would be made by AC artists rather than CHR artists. Seems like they’re drifting into similar positioning like the Saigon feed, which maintain a true AC style formatting by playing not-too-old but not-too-new songs either…

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VOV-2 has recently switched to 24-hour format. It aired instrumental music throughout the night, without any voiceover or jingles between each pieces.

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91FM (VOV Traffic) has just launched a new program called “The Nostalgic Songs” (Hoài niệm những bài ca). As the name suggests, it broadcasts songs beyond-oldies, that is, Vietnamese music from 1930s to 1990s. The reformatting was the result of popular demands from listeners that want to play music that is not just Bolero, but because of the program’s former name (The Bolero Weekend) that restricted the music that presenters could play to only bolero songs (in which their peak was around 1960s to 1980s). But, there are many Vietnamese oldies songs that both presenters, editors and listeners want to play, but the programme title restricted that. Only in few occasions that the presenters could play songs that not neccessarily Bolero, but it had to be closely related (in style) to bolero, and this cause a hole in listeners’ demand.

The new format of the program expands the music they could play to “beyond oldies”, that is, Vietnamese songs from 1930s to 1990s at most. In teasers, they said that the programme would even dig deeper to the songs that people are forgotten, or “never heard in your life”. When I listened to the first episode of the program under the new format, the presenter talked about details of the pre-1950s era of Vietnamese music, with he enthusiastically said about how he loved listening to music on tapes, meeting people and digging oldies songs from 1930s and 1940s, in which, because recording technology in Vietnam was not yet developed, and there were very few singers in the Vietnamese music industry at that time (and not all could capable of singing certain types of songs), so music records of those lesser-known songs were rare or hardly exists until some time later, when, as the lyrics notes were kept, they could use that lyrics to make a rare recording of these songs. On top of that, he has quite a lot of knowledge about how Vietnamese music industry looked like prior to 1950s. At least three songs he played on-air were made before 1950 (!).

In the last 10 minutes of the episode, the presenter suddenly switched to a whole different era of music industry - the 1980s. The 1980s was when contemporary music and music requests were limited to weekend, with a half-hour “Music On Demand” at half past 7 every morning on VOV National, as well as “Music On Demand” on TV (HTV9 in Saigon and VOH on radio in Saigon as well). This was in contrast of Australia, as well as Western world at that time, when you had so many music formats to choose at that time (of course, except really rural places with solus market). Of course, things have changed considerably since the launch of VOV3 (in 1990) and 91FM (in 2009). And the last two songs he played were from the 1980s, when Vietnam was living in “easy listening” era, but has differed from the wartime era, when it somewhat comparable to "adult standards) instead.

Through I never promote Vietnamese music programs on this thread (assuming that not many members at Mediaspy understand Vietnamese language), but I think it really worth a try, especially that it sounds like a fiction to a “mainstream” radio station to plays pre-1950s music, let alone the network that boasts themselves that is the “most listened-to radio service” in a country, it sounds very uneconomical and strange to play songs from pre-1950s, especially on (semi-)regular basis. However, as most of you guys here seems to be dissastified with the current radio format situation in the West, it is very worth a listen to escape from the currently sh*thole reality.

Listen online at vovgiaothong.vn from 7 to 8PM on weekend (GMT+7)

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Interesting article from the UK.

Looks like Ken Bruce has taken quite a few listeners with him from BBC R2 to Greatest Hits.

My other comment is Magic is an absolute powerhouse in London with a huge reach. Magic is only available on FM in London and DAB-only outside London, whereas Smooth has FM frequencies as well outside London. Magic seems to have 3x the reach as Smooth in London.

Greatest Hits in London is on 105.8 with Magic on 105.4. Memo to ACMA for FM planning - that seems to work!

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For a Vietnamese like me this is not uncommon in my country either. Like, FM 91 (VOV Traffic) often play two or three song in a row without any sweepers. Especially when each of the feed are waiting for networked programming, they would play unlimited songs in a row without any sweepers or something, akin to a filler (the filler would only stop once networked programming kick in).

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It’s quite sad to see this development. In the 2000s, foreign ODA budgets often piped into Vietnamese radio stations to improve their programming and technology, and the inclusion of live, unfiltered programming is one of the key in this development.

Stations like VOV Traffic/91FM, while born as just simply a “commercial” service to fulfill the VOV target of increasing their advertising revenue, have gone on an entirely different direction. They know that they don’t have money to buy things like RCS Master Control or something, so they done it in a very traditional way like normal radio, and when they live, they live in the most unfiltered way, when the presenters have to do everything, from designing own posters to compiling their own playlist. Management don’t care much about how it should sound, there are no consultants.

The effect of the “unfiltered” live broadcasting style can still heard today. Phone-in are often filled with random noise because of environment surrounding you, or even prone to disconnection live on-air. The presenters could talk anything they want, so as the callers. All people are engaged, from calling to social media.

It’s hard to imagine that the foreign ODAs are used to help the Vietnamese stations sound unique now, yet these nations somewhat destroyed their uniqueness to recording companies and consultants…

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So, as I rambled a lot about my favorite radio station in Vietnam, but haven’t yet write a comprehensive list of how it sounded like actually, this would be the one.

These are what I experienced after listening to 91FM (VOV Traffic) for several years:

Good things (or normal facts):

  • While the networks actually tried to do scheduling based on American/British/Australian/etc. style by dividing the day into dayparts, “block programming” and traditional radio style still somewhat prevails at the station. These include: no fixed presenters for any program in a week (meaning that there are different presenters every day for a same program), heavy specialist segments in a daypart (which mainly dealt with urban life problems, and lasted between 5 and 15 minutes each).

  • The network is a typical Australian-style (I think) regional stations but adopted to the metropolitan lifestyle in Vietnam. Adult pop are mixed with information/talk-intensive programs that, rather that dealt with political problems, it focused on daily life issues and including panel with “specialists”.

  • Presenters have a strong autonomy in this network. As long as they didn’t offensive or something like that, they could (and have to) compile their own “playlists” from their own library, designing own posters to promote their programs, talking about their feeling without any fear, and talking with callers about things in the normal life, and, of course, playing music that they or the callers want (sometimes the “technician” is here for you). Management only coordinate the scheduling, there are no consultants.

  • Before playing songs, the presenters have to talk first, then having few seconds of silence before the songs come in. This is also true when songs ended. The presenters would only talk over the songs when there are breaking updates. Songs are played in full, and only occasionally cut for the same reason, or, rarely, because of time constraints.

  • The network could play unlimited songs in a row without any sweepers or jingles. This is often used when waiting for networking or there’s any non-serious technical problem.

  • Weekday programming includes “The Peak Hour” from 6.30 to 9 in the morning, 10.30 to noon and 4.30 in the afternoon to 7 in the evening. In these slots, continuous traffic information mixed with adult pop and specialist segments are delivered. “The Urban Life” (9 to 10.30) and “Afternoon on 91” (2.45 to 4.30 in the afternoon) are also similar, but these slots are less focused on traffic information but rather music, news updates and specialist segments mixed in.

  • Entertainment programming include “The Love Song-line” (soft AC, from 12.30 to 1.30 on Monday, Thursday and Sunday afternoon with artist information between songs), “The Entertainment Bouvelard” (Wednesday and Saturday afternoon, entertainment news), “Station 91” (magazine for young adults, Tuesday and Friday afternoon), “Along the Road” (Trên mọi nẻo đường, quiz and variety show about regional cultures and travels, 1.30 to 2.30 every afternoon).

  • Evenings include “Slow down - lights up” (Giảm tốc lên đèn, 8 to 9.30 every night, the evenings variety talk, phone-in and adult pop programs that discuss anything), “91 Newsline” (after Slow down, 10 minutes news summary), “The Nightline” (after Newsline, late night talk and phone-in).

  • Weekend are similar but with shorter slots for The Peak Hour and more oldies-oriented programs: “The Nostalgic Songs” (7 to 8 in the weekend evenings, rare musics in the Vietnamese popular music scene from 1940s to 1990s and the lesser-known stories behind it), and “Greatest Hits 91” (international classic hits from 1970s to 1990s).

  • Bonus: from 2 to 4 every early morning, they would always air only beautiful music overnight.

Not-so-good-thing (for me):

  • Recent schedule changes suggest that they’re moving toward a more Mainstream AC direction. In the previous years, each station has a distinct music identity - the Hanoi stations lean more oldies and softer AC from 1970s to 1990s, while Saigon stations lean more Mainstream AC and Double J-like indies from 1990s to present. With the changes of schedule, they are cutting back older songs and leaning toward Mainstream AC. The content of older and newer programs during these changes suggest this transition: The predecessor of “Slow down - Light up” is “The Love Connection”, which primarily dealt with love letters and “the letters for someone you’re too shy to talk directly, or someone you’re forgotten for a long time”, and it used to play a lot of soft AC before starting to mixing more Mainstream AC-type songs in its final months before changeover. “The Love-song-line” used to be 5 days a week before reducing into 3 from June 2023. Before “The Nightline” is… well, “Dating Radio”.

  • Presenters such as Hồng Nhung seems like to love to flogging deep house remixes of AC tracks. That’s … unacceptable, it’s sound not quite right to “remixes” AC tracks.

  • During The Peak Hour, commercials are often overflogged, which resulted in traffic information being delivered later that expected, leading to confusion and anger from drivers.

  • Some programs need to be become a separate channel (for better development). The Nostalgic Songs is a prime example: if they operate a 24-hour music service that playing Vietnamese songs from 1940s to 1990s, this would be comparable to The Breeze in rural Australia.

What do you think, #myfriends?

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I think that’s a great review!

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Long bonus: The network also operate a Southwestern feed, known as Mekong FM and broadcasting on 90.0 from VN2 transmitter in City of Cần Thơ (the “capital” of the Southwestern region).

This station functioned as a “semi-satellite” (according to North American term) of 91FM Saigon. Although the studio for Mekong FM is based at the VOV Tower in Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong FM’s presentational style has a very Southwestern, regionalist feel, in spite of being a semi-satellite and a part of the national VOV Traffic Network. This applies to their jingles, promos, and even the way presenters interact with their listeners (hint for Vietnamese learners: because of Southwestern Vietnam’s population demographics are older and the region is dependant on agricultural production, the presenters would always refer to the listeners as “bà con”, a thing that is common for Southwestern local broadcasters too) - they all have a very, very regionalist feel that may surprise some of folks in this forum.

Main own programming on this station include (well, their way of naming programs/dayparts are the most unique, I think): Bình minh châu thổ (The Delta Sunshine) - breakfast drivetime, 6 to 9 in the morning; Đứng bóng mặt trời (At the shadow of the sun) - midday drivetime, 10.30 in the morning to noon; Đường về hoàng hôn (The way to sunset) - late afternoon/evening drivetime, 4.30 to 7 in the evening.

These aformentioned programs act as their own counterparts of The Peak Hour on the rest of the network. But, unlike The Peak Hour, which is mostly informative and and somewhat dry in the presentational style (especially the Hanoi edition), the drivetime blocks of Mekong FM has a more relaxed and entertaining approach, while remains very informative. This is attributed to the diverse number of segments broadcasting within these blocks, which ranged from news bulletins, market information (actually they are all about the prices of agricultural stuff), to comedy skits about rural life, agricultural knowledge, quiz segments about Southwestern culture, and so much more. Musically, it is positioned on Mainstream AC (like the rest of the network), but since this is Southwestern region, there are also significant amount of Southwestern “country” music, too.

Other own programming on this station include: 90 độ FM (90 degrees FM) - 20-minute excerpt of classic Southwestern comedy performances, broadcasting at approx 2.45 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon; Quà tặng âm nhạc (The Music Gift) - music requests, every afternoon from approx 3.15 to 4.30. And this one would be the most unique local shows on this station - Hương lúa trong đêm (this would be translated roughly as "The rice flavor in the dark) - an after-drivetime entertainment program that airs from 7 to 8 in the evening, that focused on classic Southwestern country music, and… well, the callers’ own performance, too. At other times, or when the station doesn’t carry own programming, it would simulcast the Saigon feed of 91FM.

Because of the station’s arrangement within the networks, all presenters of Mekong FM are the employees of 91FM Saigon, except they’re legally in the different sub-department. These presenters could also act as fill-in presenters for 91FM Saigon’s programming, although recently these presenters also present national programming from 91FM Saigon as well, for example, the Saturday edition of Giảm tốc lên đèn.

I’m sorry for such a long review, but I think this would be the most unique radio station y’all could ever seen on the entire forum. If you don’t know how to stream online, you can just go to their facebook (@VOVGTMekongFM) and see the radio in vision, too (This is the only Vietnamese station to streaming almost all of its own programming on Facebook).

If you want to know how it actually sounded, you can listen to one of their broadcast:

(for Extra - if you guys don’t really know how it could actually sounds very “Southwestern”, ask any Australians that have Vietnamese parents to try to listen to this broadcast, then you would understand the thing.)

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From tomorrow (1 September), Hanoi’s 96FM would have a new scheduling and positioning. To contrast with a more AC-based, urban/life and traffic information-based populist programming on 90FM, 96FM would shift into deeper news and current affairs programming, with a quarter of its programming being “fine music” and entertainment, making it being a counterpart of US’ NPR, as well as a hybrid of Radio National and ABC Classic in Australia. The flagship entertainment program of the “new” 96FM would be “Hanoi Radio Concert” (see image attached below), a classical music block that would be aired daily from 2 to 3 in the afternoon and 9 to 10 in the evening. This would made 96FM a “highbrow” alternative to the more “populist” 90FM.

The current 96FM is born in August 2008, when, the annexation of Province of Hà Tây into City of Hanoi caused the Hanoi Radio-Television to took over assets of the former Hà Tây Radio and Television, which operated their own radio service on 96.0 FM. For many years, it was often neglected by the new management (it was still part-time only as of 2013/14, and online streaming of the channel was not available until around 2017/18, around that time, it began carrying Xone via simulcast from VOH after it was kicked out of VOV3). After Xone moved to 89FM (another VOV-owned frequency), 96FM continue to relay 87.7 VOH (which, for most of the time, relayed 99.9 FM) save for two hours of repeated content from 90FM. During 2021, the station temporarily ceased own programming in attempt to reform themselves, only relaying 90FM with 99.9FM programming piped after 9PM in the evening (8 on Sunday). New programming began sometimes later in the year, with news (with some AC music) block called “Chuyển động Hà Nội” (roughly. “Hanoi Moving”) aired during breakfast (1 hour only), late morning and late afternoon (two hours each block). During August and September 2022, the channel ceased transmission without specifying reason, during that time, programming temporarily moved to 90FM as a result.

Following the reform of 90FM in June 2022, local current affairs and other specialist programming are either minimalized and/or moved to 96FM, since traffic-information-music block are expanded to air on most of the pre-evening dayparts. As such, 96FM has becoming the “dumping ground” of the former 90FM content pre-reforms. As such, it lacked a clear identity since few of these programs are aired first on 90FM instead. The rebrand hopes to clearly distinguish programs on 90 and 96FM, as well as their targeted audience.

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I am a massive fan of Rock/Metal (The harder the better) and I’ve been listening to KINK Netherlands which makes Triple M look like a baby in the rock music radio world, plus they have a great metal sub-station KINK Distortion which would be great if the playlist was adopted by SCA’s Hard ‘n’ Heavy.

I’m also a sucker for good imaging and I feel KINKs imaging goes off, very nice.

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The Netherlands also has Pinguin Classics, which has the slogan ‘no bullshit, just music’. They mix classic rock and alternative rock/indie.

There’s also a strong DX community there if the (mostly Dutch) TEF group is anything to go by.

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Update:

The reform are emboldened recently since January 2024. The entire schedule are overhauled: “Hanoi Moving” block are replaced by more traditional, long-form news bulletin at 5.30 AM (half-hour), 11.30 AM and 6PM (one hour each).

The relaunch are also marked with an entirely new imaging, from logo to sound identity: the famous signature tune that aired during startup sequence on all of Hanoi Radio and Television channels (on both TV and Radio, from the song “Người Hà Nội” (“The Hanoians”) from Nguyễn Đình Thi) is having a re-rendition. The new version also officially mean that the branding “Đài Hà Nội” (“(The) Hanoi Station”) is now used for all on-air purposes, on both TV and Radio. The identification in that signature tune said “This is (The) Hanoi Station, broadcasting from Hanoi, the voice of our capital”. With the new signature tune, the station is also offering all mobile users in Vietnam for turning that sound into ringtone/holding music. (Instructions are in the video link). This would be used during startup sequence on both of HanoiTV’s radio channels, and also as the news jingle on 96FM.

New program structure means that there are news bulletins on top of most hours, except it isn’t the regular bulletins, but rather news bulletins on specific topics (i.e. when this hour begin with regular news, the next hour begin with cultural news, then another hour begin with market news, etc.). This approach is similar to 99.9 FM of Ho Chi Minh City when it was operated by the Ho Chi Minh City Television before selling the station to VOH in 1997.

According to their own articles regarding the major reform, over half of 96FM’s programming is either music or music-oriented. The music format of 96FM ranged from typical “soft AC” or “red” songs that relates with upper middle to older people to more “etilist” music such as classical or jazz. It should still targets to more sophisticated audience than more pop and younger-drived 90FM.

Even as their sound are becoming more “authoritative” or “nostalgic” (“back to the roots”, as I’m hinted before), it is one of the most technologically advanced radio station in Vietnam: it is one of the first (if not the first) station in this country to have their own permanent IP address: http://222.252.21.96:8000/HANOI96
This allows electronic product/home appliance/internet radio receiver manufacturers/brands to add this station into the list of radio stations before selling it to the store.

The “ceremony” of launching “the all-new 96FM” will be celebrated on 16th of January at 4PM (Hanoi time).

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