Nothing Beats an Award Nomination

JACK fm studio

It’s really easy to get tied up in the day-to-day grind of working in radio.

Deadlines.

Difficult clients.

Presenter egos.

And it’s sometimes easy to forget that radio is about being creative.

Tonight I’m really proud that the team at JACK fm South Coast are nominated for a coveted SONY Radio Award.

I’ve been nominated before – in other categories, and at other stations. I’ve won a Bronze, and been involved in a couple of events that won Gold Awards too. But I’ve never had a nomination  for the Best Station Imaging category. So this is really special for me – and for everyone here at the station.

Some of our team have been nominated before – for other awards – and at other stations. And it’s easy, particularly if you are part of a huge group, or the BBC, to treat this type of event as something that is deserved – or expected. For a lot of smaller stations, this is a really big deal.

And it doesn’t actually matter if we win a Gold, a Silver, a Bronze or even are just finalists. The fact is, we’ve been recognised as being good enough to be nominated.

I’m proud to say that I’ve also worked alongside or with most of the other people or teams that are nominated in this category tonight. And that makes it a bit more special too – as if we don’t win the biggie, we can cheer on other people who deserve the win as much as we do. The Earshot Creative guys have written a nice blog about it too. And you can see all the nominations here.

Sometime’s it’s not the monetary reward that motivates people (though it helps). Sometimes a little recognition or a thank you is all that is needed.

Good luck if you are nominated in any category tonight.

And if you fancy taking a listen at our entry – it’s here

Getting Naked – and Get talked About

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If you work in a radio station, what can you see from your studio windows? From ours, there’s a burned out business, a park, and some student halls of residence.

My friend Goran Kurjak, the creative director at Antena Zagreb shared this great video with me today.

Having worked at BBC Creative Marketing, it’s always interesting to see different ways that TV stations have promoted shows on radio. This is a great example from New Zealand TV channel Prime.

Essentially, they created a 3 day stunt opposite the studios of one of the biggest stations, 91.8 More FM – where they installed a “call girl” in a flat – and somehow let them see what was going on. Being NZ radio, this generated loads of content – not only for the show, but for radio shows across the country. And finally, after 3 days, the “call girl” revealed the real message – that a new show – “The Secret Diary of a Call Girl” was premiering on the channel that night.

There was always a challenge at the BBC of how we could do interesting new things on radio to promote TV shows. Of course, this could never happen at the BBC. But then again…

 

I want it all (and now I could get it – sort of – if I was in the USA) UPDATE

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Image from Iheaertradio.com
Image from Iheartradio.com

Personalised radio.

I’ve pondered it a number of times on this blog.

Back in 2009

And in 2011

The radio I want – how I want it.

According to a report in BILLBOARD from Sean Ross something similar is coming to Clear Channel’s Iheartradio service in the USA.

Last week, Clear Channel announced that iHeartRadio listeners could “add-in” local service elements—news, weather and traffic for their market, or “hundreds of others around the country” to their custom stations.

This isn’t necessarily going to kill radio. But it could be a glimpse into the future.

At the moment, Clear Channel are essentially allowing users of the service to “customise” their experience. Whilst a listener may not want to listen to their local station, they are still consuming a Clear Channel radio brand. So why not allow the local station news or traffic to be inserted to what they are listening to?

Could this work in the UK. Could I be listening to Radio2, but get a local news bulletin from Radio Solent? The simplest version is happening (as happened for many years, where RDS allows a car radio to be interrupted by a local travel report. This is however clunky, and not the same idea. In fact, this sort of thing would be far easier to do on commercial radio, since the content could be inserted where an AD break might be – much like the AD insertion/ substitution that Absolute Radio offer to registered users. For it to work on BBC stations, there would need to be some sort of junctions that could be opted out of – maybe news bulletins could be substituted for local ones if the lengths could be made to match for example.

Whilst it’s probably not a requirement for many people, in a world of personalization of online content provision, it’s certainly worth some thought.

And as Sean Ross notes:

Anything that further threatens the hegemony of AM/FM radio should be an inside job. If the antennas ever come down, it should be because broadcasters made them obsolete.

Creating shareable content

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How many times have you sent a presenter to a movie junket. Or a press call. Or had a new artist in and done the same interview that everyone else did? Did you film it? Did you post it online? And did anyone actually bother to share it?

This interview by Chris Stark from the Scot Mills show on BBC Radio 1 breaks most of the rules of this type of event. He asks all the non standard questions, has a lot of fun and probably gets more out of the movie star than most of the other interviews that she did that day.

And it’s probably the most sharable content – because it’s fun, engaging and entertaining.

The movie company probably hate it. They shouldn’t – though maybe they should consider getting the name of the film on their backdrop – as that would maybe help with the branding of the film (since they don’t actually mention it in the interview).

Radio Station 1 – Movie Company 0

Update:
The video has now had over 2 million views worldwide. He’s just done an interview on NBC..

Update 2: the number of views are now over 3.5million.
Here’s an interview he did on Access Hollywood about it.

Owning Big Events

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Tonight sees the Brit Awards in the UK. Unlike the Grammy Awards (with over 100 different awards), the Brits are a more manageable affair – celebrating mostly British artists and talent with a few overseas categories thrown in (to make it a bigger show).

For many radio stations, this is a huge deal – particularly for stations Capital FM and Radio 1.

There was a time when the whole of commercial radio got involved with helping choose the British Single (essentially the biggest songs played on commercial radio that year). Now, it’s purely the preserve of Capital FM listeners to have their say. And it’s surely one of the biggest days in Capital’s music calender – along with the Summertime Ball and Jingle Bell Ball.

Back when I worked at Capital, it was a pretty big deal. We’d run packages supporting the voting, have weekend giving away tickets and of course do a couple of shows from backstage too. But now, it’s way bigger than that. Take a look at their website and it’s nothing but Brits. Listen on air for the last couple of weeks and its been all about the tickets. And today, it’s everything Brits. And let’s face it – it’s all about the music that (on the most part) is at the heart if their playlist.

They are absolutely owning it online already – watch this great backstage video

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But as well as being jammed full of relevant, relatable content for their listeners, it’s obviously a huge opportunity for Capital to shout about their brand to anyone who listens. It’s live on ITV, so expect to see their current TV advert at every opportunity as well.

As with any radio brand, it’s all about talking abou t the content that’s relevant for your listeners. There are still many sales people in particular who have a lack of understanding of what brands would work alongside their radio brand. I doubt it happens as much now, but there was a time when even the sales team at GCap bought us promotions briefs for a dog food winning weekend.

And whilst Capital will be getting its branding in everyone’s face tonight at the Brits, I doubt you’ll see any of these on the tables – which I actually think are their best piece of targeted visual marketing ever. Beans Means Hits..?

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Bass. How low can you go?

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The guys at the Benztownbranding Blog posted a great tip this week about the amount of bass you have in your final mix if you’re an audio producer. Now many of you may not be hands-on audio guys, so maybe skip this post. But for those who are – their blog raised a couple of interesting points. You can read it in full here.

One thing that is definitely key is the amount of bass you have in your final mix. Every piece you add in to a promo or imaging piece will have differing amounts of bass frequency. The more you add, the more is added to your final mix. And of course, the more that happens, the louder it gets and the harder to hear the overall piece clearly.

The key to any piece is using the frequencies to find places for all your elements. Something I was taught by a great producer, Linc Kelly, was how you can easily scoop out a place for your Voiceovers by cleverly scooping out a certain frequency in music to let the VoiceOver cut through more cleanly. Equally, when you come down to the master channel, or maybe the aux that you route each VO into, you need to to ensure that you roll off some of the bass at the lower end (in the frequencies that most normal radio listeners won’t hear). If you find your VO has too little bass, there are plug in such as Waves MaxxBass which add “pseudo bass” without adding much bass to the resulting sound.

One other basic tip (a bit Production 1.01 but relevant nonetheless) is to ensure you are monitoring your final mix through smaller speakers than your huge studio monitors. Either have a smaller pair of monitor speakers that emulate a domestic hifqi, or even , plug in a pair of headphones and listen through them whilst they are lying on your desk turned up – they’ll emulate a small bedside radio. When I first started producing, I’d listen via the monitor speaker on an old Studer Reel to Reel machine – but doubt any studio or radio station even has one of those lying around these days!

I’m no engineer – I’ve picked up my skills through years of doing and reading – but if you’re new to the game, you’ll find loads more tips on the Benztown Branding blog and others beside. Do take a look around – you never know what you might find..

 

The new look and sound to ITV

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It’s always a big day in a radio station’s live when the new station sound arrives on air. Mostly for the on air and production team. For the listeners, it’s often a big change as the audio furniture, around something that many simply listen to, has changed. Sometimes it’s a huge change. More often than not its a more subtle one.

When a TV station changes it’s branding, the look is often more radical. Think of when BBC One changed from the balloons to the current suite of circular idents. A big change of look and sound. The same will happen soon across all BBC channels – and it’s interesting to see how important the sound of the idents is compared with the look. Often, it feels like its more of an afterthought.

Today, the ITV network has changed the way it looks and sound on air.

Take a look

What I particularly like is that there is a pretty distinctive audio identity on most of these idents. It’s a three note theme that blends within the music. Whilst an esoteric blend of audio themes does complement a visual identity, such as that of Channel Four, for me, a more distinctive sound that adapts and matches with the visual look always helps to enhance the overall branding.

You can find out more background on the ITV rebrand at the iMediamonkey blog

Fireworks Soundtracks and Mashups – 2013 update

Image (C) BBC
Image (C) BBC

For those of you who want to know, the soundtrack for the December 2012 display was produced by Nik Goodman and Dan McGrath from This is Bounce. I worked with Nik back at Capital FM when he was Programme Director for the original Capital FM Network and then Capital FM. Fans of the Chris Evans Breakfast Show when it was on BBC Radio 1, and also the Big Breakfast may know Dan’s work (he was Dan The Soundman). You can find out more about the work they do on their website. Nik has blogged about the creative process to this mix here

In case you missed it, or want to hear it again, here’s their mix

Do it differently

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When I say creative people – I’m not just thinking about people paid to be creative in their job titles. Obviously, anyone in any job has the ability to be creative. Not everyone is encouraged to be captive. But creativity can come in all sorts of different ways. From creative ways to solving problems to creative ways of designing a product.

As I head back into my new job – though 3 months in, it feels far from new – I’m really conscious that its more than tempting to slip into do everything the same way all the time. As work piles on and deadlines loom, the pressure to get things delivered by an all too short deadline mount up. But there are always opportunities to approach things differently. I was pleased to see that whilst I’ve been away – someone who doesn’t get involved in the creative writing process had tackled a brief for a local client. It would have been easy, and tempting, to write something pretty functional to deliver the brief. But faced with a challenge, she has written something far more fun that does the job in a more entertaining way. It may need a little polishing to make it work entirely how I’d want it to work, but the fact that she’s approached it a different way is really refreshing.

So what will you try to do differently today?