Capital FM’s Summertime Ball


Image (c) Global Radio
Image (c) Global Radio

Being one of the large collection of ex Capital Fm staff, I don’t necessarily love everything that they do. In fact, since leaving last September, I’ve not listened that much. But, with the Summertime Ball, they pretty much nailed it.

The problem for Capital has always been doing something new and sustaining the demand. The first few Party in the Park shows sold quickly, were major successes and innovative radio events. The last one – the year before Live 8 was a hard slog to sell and the lineup didn’t necessarily live up to all expectations. Live8 allowed the event to be “rested”-  since Capital graciously allowed Sir Bob to take their already booked date. The world got Live8 and Help a London Child got a big pot of cash from ticket sales.

So when Global Radio took over – there was always a thought that the station needed a big event to hinge the summer on. Plans were afoot to run Party in the Capital last Summer at the Emirates stadium, but the time to plan it was too short and it was pulled. I guess that by  testing the water last Christmas with the Jingle Bell Ball at the O 2 proved the demand. So the Summertime ball was launched on air.

For any Capital listener over the last few months, it’s been impossible to get away from. Non stop promos and talkup almost every link when tickets went on sale. And then the few weeks in the run up dominated by ticket contests – using the tried and tested pattern of creating hype and demand for “must have” tickets. And let’s face it; with a solid chart based lineup of acts like Dizzy Rascal, Calvin Harris, Katy Perry, Ciara and The Saturdays for Capitals younger end, plus Lionel Richie and the reformed Blue for the 30 something, they were on to a winner.

Whilst the production sound on air was fairly predictable, it was solid and really helped build the overall event to a crescendo. (though the big male voicover really is starting to grate now). Listening over the weekend, the coverage was spot on- as you’d expect from the team left there. Live backstage shows and interviews, news on site and the best of the live tracks ( whilst maintaining the main playlist alongside).

My main disappointment was the online offering. Bar a couple of video diaries and backstage videos, there was nothing for people who weren’t there to interact with. In fact – I’m not sure the online offering had moved on much from what you’d have seen at the last Party in the Park. Granted, the online team is pretty small these days – but some extras would have been useful. Stuff like a live blog, webcams, stage feed could all be set up – even if the stage feed had picture and no sound. What about an online running order for people at the event? Or a Twitter feed of backstage headlines, photos and “up next messages”. The interactivity of the event seemed to be missing something. I know it was a radio event – but the added extras add to the experience – particularly post event. Then again – with only 24 listener submitted photos currently on the site – is online as important as we keep being told..?

If  you compare it  with something like Radio 1’s Big Weekend -Radio 1 had webcams, interactive message boards, on demand backstage videos and afterwards, the majority of the live performances. Now obviously, Radio 1 had the full might of the BBC’s resources to hand – and a shed load more people working on their event. But a lot of these things would have been fairly easy to incorporate. It will be interesting to compare some of the upcoming festival coverage by Absolute Radio to see what they achieve with an even smaller team.

Apart from this minor negative – Capital should feel proud of this event. You’d hope that it will make an impact to the listening figures too. But it feels like Capital may have found it’s feet again. 

The fans obviously still love it:


Sounding great! My daughter is in the VIP room, thanks to a lucky ticket in the program, and is one extremely ecstatic Capital fan. Thanks so much Capital you rock!!

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