What’s your battle plan?

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Image – Damien St John / Celador Radio

Yesterday, the sad news that another music legend had passed away.

This was, unfortunately, nothing new. There have been a raft of these events over the past few months.

On radio, it’s time like these where the ability to react fast and deviate a bit from a format is a real luxury. Not many formats want to do it. Some would never do it. Luckily, most of the brands I work with can.

Whilst we have a major story plan  – for huge news (disasters, Royal deaths etc), music stars don’t fall under this. There tends to be an informal process. The programmers know we’ll play some extra songs, and I know that we’ll need something to image the change in structure. It happens simply. It’s what we do. And we have the flexible working procedures in place to allow remote working / loading of content etc.

We’ve fallen into a bit of a pattern of what we like to do on our stations. The Breeze has a daily 6 of the best feature which can easily be adapted to work as a best of tribute section. Sam FM has a more fluid format, so extra songs can be scheduled, and a feature hour added if necessary.

So what’s required in the imaging. And what can it do for your brand? Of course, it’s a way of reinforcing musical ownership. It’s a way of being topical. And it can live on many platforms. The image at the top of the post lived on social media. And if required, the audio montage can be used too.

Since I also produce imaging for the Benztown Avalanche Classic Rock imaging library, I’ll often have a though of what I can produce for that and then rework for our stations. Pieces I made for David Bowie’s and Beatles producer George Martin’s passing were reworked into on air content. Anything of that era will often work for both.

Here’s what I created for the library and then used on our stations too..

What I tend to start with is interview clips – on stage announcements, award show acceptances and then interviews on youtube. Luckily, the Avalanche library has lots of award show and some archive content, but the odd interview is always a help too.

The next step is to find a small number of useful clips – something punchy / emotional to start the piece and ideally, a nice quote from the artist to end the piece too. It’s then a case of finding the right songs, and cutting the music to the clips – so there’s a smooth flow, and ideally a good pace too.

We tend to use the imaging piece to kick off an hour – and then if we are intending to use it through the day, I’ll often make a couple of cut downs that are half the length so as to help increase the music flow. Today’s Prince piece was also deconstructed into 4 or 5 short out of break IDs – each using a short clip and song loop – so the process of constructing other imaging pieces becomes simpler.

Creating something like this requires good editorial judgement, needs speedy editing skills and creative thought. If nothing else, its a great way to test your skills under pressure and time is often of the essence. For some producers, there’s not much opportunity to create something free form like this – so if the sad opportunity comes, maybe it’s an excuse to give it a try.

 

 

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