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.

 

 

20 years in 2 minutes

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What would you include if that next job asked you for a current showreel? Your latest ID? The latest weekend promo? Or something to show the range of what you’ve done and what you can do?

The longer you’ve been doing this job, the harder it is to choose what to include. Do you include the beatmatched promo that at the time took you a day to lovingly craft? Or that clever promo featuring that cool artist?  Continue reading “20 years in 2 minutes”

Leave a Lasting Impression

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These are the notes and presentation that Daniel Mumford, Nathan Freeman and I gave at The Imaging Days 2014.

You can find notes and details of other sessions from the Earshot Creative blog.

(All audio is for education purposes and copyright remains with the original holders).

PRESENTATION ABOVE MAY NOT WORK. IF NOT, HERE IS THE LINK (Opens new window).

LEAVE A LASTING IMPRESSION

Whether as a commercial or public service broadcaster, it is essential to fight for creativity and engagement throughout your imaging. The idea is still king.

Having the right FX package and knowing what processing to use is an essential foundation for a great station sound.

The next step is to develop an engaging creative for your brand identity to maintain a loyal listener-ship and more importantly increase your hours.

Imaging is what holds the radio station together and expresses your tone of voice so in this session we’ll tackle how serving the passions of the audience directly affects their perception of you.

Blurring the lines between demographics, we’ll be playing you examples of our collective work across a wide spectrum of radio stations that showcase how we continually engaged our listeners. Examples that will hopefully inspire and invigorate your own passion for creativity.

001 ***AUDIO: – CLICHED MONTAGE***

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1) FIND YOUR VOICE

(Defining Sound, Personality and Tone of voice)

Defining the sound (BBC Radio 1 Xtra)

How are you defining the sound of your station?

For Radio 1, it’s all about young people / young voices

6 Music – a passion for music in an authentic way

JACK fm – quirky humour and a slightly half – arsed attitude

(DAN):

BBC Radio 1 Xtra

1Xtra New Imaging On-Air Demo (Defining the sound)

1Xtra’s new imaging needed to get a bit of an edge back from going ‘friendly’

Style is similar to R1’s – Mini tracks cut / chopped up / FX – which brings them in line with each other while still being different

002 **AUDIO**

RADIO 1 XTRA MONTAGE

Here’s a video about it too from Emergency Production Music

Defining your personality (JACK fm)

JACK fm is a classic and contemporary rock station for 25-54 year olds or more specifically blokes who haven’t grown up.

Playing What We Want, –  a distinct and irreverent persona making us relatable and down to earth in everything we do.

Our personality exists in everything we say and do.

Cultural refernces, TV themes, Sound effects.

The way we say and do things – using phrases from old TV shows, with a twist.

This song was huge in the summer it came out – but we didn’t play it – but it appeared on air a lot – by re-using it in an interesting way.

003 **AUDIO**

Don’t Be Daft, Punk (Personality)

Finding your tone of voice (BBC Radio 6 Music)

Tone of voice particularly important when building tension or expectation.

When launching a contest or promoting an event – what are some effective ways of drawing an audience in?

(NATHAN)

004 **AUDIO**

This is 6 Music Trail (Tone of Voice)

6 Music is in a privileged position whereby the artists we place, don’t just listen. They have a distinct passion for what we do. Not because we play “uber cool” hipster music.. because we don’t. It’s because we share their passion for music. Are listeners love music. That is why we use the artists to voice their true opinions to create a powerful, yet authentic monologue that effective sells the station. This method also helps us convey a non linear message without over selling the product. In a way we let the quality of the product do the talking.

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2) TELL YOUR STORY (Engagement, sell your music, expose your passions)

Engaging with the audience (Justin’s House)

(JAMES)

With any audience – it’s how you attract their attention that matters.

The writing is always a consideration.

For an audience like those on BBC Radio 2, the challenge for promoting a Kids TV channel was not writing for the primary audience of the TV channel – the kids – but creating something that would resonate with the Grandparents and older parents who listen to the station.

How we did it – showed a series of children a teaser from the show then asked them to talk about it.

005 **AUDIO**

****2 PROMOS I THIS MONTAGE AND DJ TALK UP**

Highlight how at the BBC PRESENTERS CAN COMMENT ETC**

JUSTIN’s HOUSE TRAIL**

Engaging with your audience (BOWIE Weekend)

(NATHAN)

Bowie – We were doing a weekend of programming to support the release of Bowie’s latest album over Easter.. the return of the messiah! (Engaging with audience). This is a prime example where you can be creative, effective, uplifting and thought provoking. Simplify your story and tell it in an interesting way.

006 **AUDIO**

– Bowie Promo**

Telling a story.

Creative treatments need to express a message, sometimes many.

But how much is too much? How many messages will listeners put up with.

What is their attention span?

What is the take out of the message?

(DAN)

Hackney Weekend was the biggest festival R1 had ever done.

Co-incided with London Olympics.

Was more than just a concert – Lots of community outreach stuff too (Academy).

Having the Olympics to hang off the back of it, it created a story and became part of something bigger.

Lots of people talked about it – eg: Great US soundbite from newsreader

007 **AUDIO**

Hackney Brand Trail – Tells the story of the development in Hackney, Hackney Academy, The London Olympics and The Big Weekend

Selling the music – music promos / creative promos

(JAMES)

Much debate about whether stations should demonstrate music by example.

If you play the hits – just do it

But sometimes part of wider campaign to reposition

Came at a time when Capital under attack from KISS/HEART and MAGIC

Had relaunched as a more RnB Magic focused station then relaunched again

Jeff Thomas came in as consultant to refresh sound along with a new PD

All about emotion, ownership of music and creating a “filmic / huge” on air sound

Lots of voxes and lots of artist audio – but not just IDs – interview clips etc etc

008 **AUDIO**

CAPITAL – Playing Live Music Promo

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3) HAVE IMPACT (Stand out, promote events or competitions)

Creating an impact (PUNK BRITANNIA)

(Nathan)

Punk Britannia Promo – We wanted to do something punk but also do something that made punk contemporary and relatable to both our audience who lived through this era and the younger end of our audience. There were so many parallels with 1977 and 2012. We capitalized on this but also conveyed the positive message in the end. This was a “creative brand” trail that ran alongside normal programming trails but was considered like a piece of content. I believe that imaging and trails should not just be something that gets your point across. It’s giving the audience something extra – content. Good content. You can’t always cram all your messages into one trail. This will dilute your offering. However with careful planning and running a campaign for the right amount of time you can effectively “get noticed”. However don’t do this all the time.. to have impact, you need to create special moments. Again it’s slightly longer but is interesting enough to keep the attention of the listener.

009 **AUDIO**

Punk Britannia promo

Add a twist (Promoting Contests)

(JAMES)

Simplicity of an idea is often the key to success.

Sometimes a big contest just needs a simple idea to make it cut through

Can be particularly important when building tension or expectation.

When launching a contest or promoting an event – what are some effective ways of drawing an audience in?

Fear is particularly underused

010 **AUDIO**

Bong Games Losers

Sell your event differently – (One big weekend)

Hackney Weekend – Biggest ever lineup for the stations and so many great names we couldn’t leave anyone out on the promo. Good example of the event being bigger than the sum of its parts.

011 **AUDIO**

Hackney Weekend – Massive LineUp Trail

4) BE CREATIVE (It’s content don’t you know)

Writing / Humour/Tone of Voice/ Personality (Phil and Alice)

(DAN)

Phil and Alice – New DJs – Need to sell their personalities as well as the music to make it a unique offering.

12 **AUDIO**

Phil and Alice Promo

Experiment

(JAMES)

Use the music – don’t always have to be too cool for school

Sometimes a cool song can give a simple promo idea

13 **AUDIO**

Trumpets Music Promo

5) – Summary

(Nathan)

Without a good product you will not succeed.

We have the skills in this room to sell, amplify and improve the product, but we have to keep pushing our programming colleagues to produce the best possible content.

Be a pain in the arse.

Understand your audience better than everyone else and do everything you do for them.

Visualisation at the expense of quality control?


I just listened to the normally excellent Sounds of the 80s on BBC Radio 2 whilst in the car. And I’m not quite sure what I heard. It sounded like the normally chatty Sara Cox was doing a TV show to camera rather than a radio show.

An hour of the show was “simulcast” on the BBC Red Button.

I particularly enjoyed the unprocessed roughly mixed TV sound – on the radio. 

And the instructions to enjoy “watching this song” on the radio. 

And having to turn the interview section up because it was so poorly recorded. 

And seemingly the soundtrack of the TV Olympics trailer – on the radio (the music track and VO tag line with no script to lead me through it).

I’m sure it looked pretty good to the Red Button TV audience, but to the main radio audience it lacked the normal warmth. Although maybe I’m biased and proper listeners wouldn’t notice it that much..?

I don’t have a problem with visualised content – the Radio 1 Live Lounge, LBC interviews or Chris Moyles Show show clips work well – some fully shot and some through semi automated studio camera systems. And it’s nice that shows like this can have a multi platform element – particularly if you’ve never seen the videos of the songs.

But shows that are essentially very cheap TV shows for the Red Button where the soundtrack is a radio programme are neither one thing nor the other. 

Visualise – yes – but if you make radio, stick to making great radio shows – or make a TV show. 

Or at least think about each of the audiences and check it works equally well for both of them..

Using content to create a TV spot

A clever example of using existing content re-purposed to create a TV ad.

The ad, commissioned by ARN, the Australian Radio Network, features audio from previous interviews by Kyle and Jackie-O. Lip synced to the audio and shot in a stylish “studio” set, but keeping the content at the heart of the message.

This is an ad that shows that the “biggest stars talk to us”. And whilst the red carpet visuals may be a little over simplistic, it’s a simple message delivered with visual flair.

What it does show is that shooting a commercial for a radio station in an actual radio studio may not cut it these days – but take the key ingredients – the talent, the branded microphones and a nice clear logo – and you are half way there.