ANTWERP, Belgium — There were no April Fools in the Antwerp Zuiderkroon venue where commercial station JOEfm staged its second birthday party with a 200 strong cover band, performing live and on the JOE airwaves.
JOEfm was launched 1 April 2009 when parent VMMa decided to step away from 4FM to put together an exciting, energetic new team and brand for the Flemish radio market.
Today, JOEfm holds a solid sixth position in the radio ratings, with a 7.57 percent share (29 percent growth, according to the CIM ratings released 21 February 2011), chasing the public-service broadcaster VRT Radio 1.
“We’re extremely happy with JOEfm” said Peter Bossaert, CEO of Qgroup, which oversees VMMa’s Q-music and JOEfm stations. “Already two years ago, we wanted to make JOEfm an attractive, interactive and sparkling radio station, it’s nice to see that our formula seems to work. The station stepped away from 4FM’s anonymity towards a broadcaster with lots of personality. We get tremendous audience reactions.”
Bossaert added that JOEfm, despite a less favorable frequency package in Flanders, seems to be catching on with a broad audience — thanks to the combination of skilled DJs and the right musical format for the 30–49 target audience. JOEfm has managed to eat away audience market shares from [public stations] MNM and Radio 2, while Q-music has consolidated former 4FM listeners.
“As a radio group, we offer two strong players,” said Bossaert. “Q-music is our flagship station, with some 15 percent audience share. Alongside it is JOEfm, a perfect complement to Q-music, both in terms of format and audience. JOE starts where Q ends, which makes the tandem a commercially attractive combination.”
For the 1 April birthday bash, the station invited listeners to join JOEfm live on stage. The idea was inspired by morning drive DJ and musician Raf Van Brussel, who asked some of his fellow musicians and singers to act as coaches for the event.
“More than 500 listeners reacted to the call, and our team selected 200 musicians: singers, drummers, guitarists and bass players, 50 each, forming the biggest cover band ever,” explained Filip Teerlinck, spokesman for JOEfm.
It was Van Brussel who headed the cover band with the assistance of Guy Swinnen of The Scabs and singer Walter Grootaers of De Kreuners.
Rental company Soundfield took on the sound reinforcement using four DiGiCo SD8 and two DiGiCo D5 mixing consoles, with JBL Vertec speakers and monitors. The four SD8 desks served as pre-mix, one D5 was used for FOH amplification, the second D5 routed the live sound to JOEfm’s studio for broadcast on the airwaves.
“This was a great experience,” said Van Brussel, “and one of the most unique shows in my career — 200 people on stage, and to think they’re all part of our audience.”
Thanks to the expertise of the sound engineers, and the coaches who were able to keep the sound output at a “manageable” level (each musician brought his or her own backline), the huge stage show sounded in perfect balance. The JOEfm musicians (dressed in station wear) performed a medley of slightly modified popular songs including “All JOE Need Is Love,” “Stuck in the Middle With JOE” and “What I Like About JOE.”