The secrets of a charity-driven format perfected by Dutch EBU Member NPO over ten years will be rolled out by this year by more Members of the Euroradio Community.
‘Serious Request’ was created in 2004 by NPO subsidiary 3FM as a means of raising money for charity, meeting audience expectations of public service values.
Since then, the concept has spread beyond the Netherlands and this year, six other countries in Europe (Austria, Belgium, Latvia, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland) will copy the format locally.
A week before Christmas, a team of announcers lock themselves inside a glass studio in a high-traffic public place.
Listeners donate money to a nominated charity in exchange for a live-music dedication from the DJs, who fast for six days, only drinking juice.
Celebrities are also invited to participate and donate personal items, or deliver impromptu performances.
NPO Radio directorJan Westerhof says public service values are at the heart of the format’s success.
"’Serious Request’ connects us to society and in particular, young audiences, who are increasingly challenging to reach,” he said. “In that sense, it’s a great format, and one which has re-positioned 3FM. In the past there’s been debate about the need to launch a 'pop station' to attract young people. ‘Serious Request’ addresses that need. Any doubts about NPO’s engagement with young audiences is satisfied.”
EBU head of radio Christian Vogg says the EBU is pleased to help promote the format across the Euroradio community.
"The Euroradio Committee decided in late 2013 to help publicize the format among the Membership with financing from the Euroradio Development Fund,” he said. “Phase one was a special promotion at the Euroradio Assembly in May 2014 in Amsterdam. Phase two was a workshop in October 2014 to inform and train Members wanting to roll out the format. Nine stations took part, reflecting a high level of interest.”
Mr Westerhof said the extra funds were used to recruit the services of a special producer to refine and develop the format.
"We only can do this with the kind financial support of the Development Fund of the EBU and colleagues in Europe," he said.
In 2011, Serious Request raised €22.5 million across five countries. In the Netherlands, more than €12 million was collected to combat diarrhea among children in developing countries in 2013. This year’s edition will collect money for Red Cross initiatives.
ORF radio director Karl Amon says Serious Request has inspired other Members to follow NPO’s example. “With the ‘ö3 Weihnachtswunder’ (Christmas miracle) ORF is making its resources available to help those in need. This is public service to the core. We want to initiate a little happiness and create small miracles.”