Make That Change

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There are some times in your career when you need to make a change.

Sometimes it’s because an amazing job comes up. Sometimes it’s for personal reasons. And sometimes (and more and more often), its because it’s enforced. When these times of change come along, you can either bury your head in the sand and despair. Or you can embrace the change and see it as a force for good.

Next month, I’m leaving the BBC.

It’s been a hard decision to make but one that is right; for me, for the family and for various other reasons. I’ll post news of where I’m going and what I’m doing next week.

Throughout my career, I’ve almost always been involved in hands on radio production. Whether producing programmes and events, managing production teams or co-ordinating projects. This is what I love doing and this is what makes the day to day job worth doing.

Ever since I left Capital FM in London in 2008, I’ve been working outside of radio stations.

I worked on documentaries for Wise Buddah. I created imaging for a production service and shows like the Ronnie Wood Show whilst at Puretonic Media. And for the last 2 and a half years, I’ve worked across some pretty challenging marketing projects on radio as part of BBC Creative Marketing.

But every job has taken me away from day to day radio.

And each job has required fewer of my core craft skills to be utilised.

Now, one can argue that as you progress in a career, you’d normally expect to do less doing and more managing. And this has certainly been the case with my current job. And it brings both challenges and rewards. But also it brings frustrations. I’ve sometimes had to manage the creative process when deep down, I’ve really wanted to make the finished product myself. In fact, recently, I was worried that I was beginning to lose some of the creative craft skills I’ve developed over many years simply by lack of “doing”.

So the new job is in some ways a step sideways. But the rewards that it will give me personally are far greater. Greater personal satisfaction. More family time. And a broadening of my production network too, as some of it will have an International element.

So, if you’re sitting in a job and are getting frustrated, maybe it’s time to think back to what it was that attracted you to radio in the first place. Are you still getting your creative buzz from what you do now. If you are – that’s great. But if not, then what are you going to do about it?

Bank Holiday In-Car listening.

As the first of 2 mega, “phew whatta scorcher” bank holiday weekends drew to a close, there stretched in front of me a massive drive from the Southwest tip of Cornwall back home to London. To accompany the children’s cries of “are we there yet?”, the entertainment provider: the car radio. But what delights did it provide…?

Porthleven to Bodmin:
First up – Radio 1. They were featuring the 1Xtra takeover – great way of showcasing BBC Radio – but not many singalong songs for the 4 and 7 year old. So on came Pirate FM – seemingly playing a whole day of ” nothing but number ones”. Pirate FM certainly delivered on “more music variety” – this included Bucks Fizz “Makin’ Your Mind Up”, The Jam “A town called Malice” and loads more. And enough singalong songs for the kids.

Bodmin to Exeter:
As we lost Pirate Fm, a request from the back for “Times Table Challenge”. Those of you not to have yet had the pleasure of this or similar offerings from the Early Learning Centre have a treat in store. 30 minutes if repetitive educational “songs”. Note to self: get in car DAB fitted quickly – at least that way I could offer up Fun Kids.

Exeter to Ilminster A303:
It’s 5pm so time for PM on Radio 4. Sadly not Eddie Mair but informative as always.

Tea stop:
Little Chef. Yes really. It’s one of the new ones with a Heston Blumenthal inspired menu. I had fish and chips since you ask – but NO LOLLIPOPS – this is a #FAIL

Ilminster to M3
Back in the car, radio back on and on comes of comedy from BBC Radio 4. Then The Archers. Then a fascinating programme on Andy Wharhol’s week in London from the Front Row team.

Megan (7) now asleep. Daniel (4) is still wide awake. Switch to BBC Radio 2. It’s Jo Whiley tonight. Haven’t heard her since she had the free transfer – and the music was great for an early evening drive. There were a couple if tracks that I’d loved to find out more about – but u was driving. Maybe my car radio needs a button that let’s me bookmark sings for further research or enquiry.

Stonehenge:
Daniel needs the toilet. Quick stop, then he requests “Old McDonald” to be sung. For 20 minutes. He ended up with a lion on the farm…

M3
Megan is now awake. She wants some songs she knows and asks for Capital FM. Thank god for disposable pop. If only there was more Capital in the West Country. There’s Heart. But 7 year olds

Bank Holiday In-Car listening.

Image: www.dailycaraudio.com

As the first of 2 mega, “phew whatta scorcher” bank holiday weekends drew to a close, there stretched in front of me a massive drive from the Southwest tip of Cornwall back home to London. To accompany the children’s cries of “are we there yet?”, the entertainment provider: the car radio. But what delights did it provide…?

Porthleven to Bodmin:
First up – Radio 1. They were featuring the 1Xtra takeover – great way of showcasing BBC Radio – but not many singalong songs for the 4 and 7 year old. So on came Pirate FM – seemingly playing a whole day of ” nothing but number ones”. Pirate FM certainly delivered on “more music variety” – this included Bucks Fizz “Makin’ Your Mind Up”, The Jam “A town called Malice” and loads more. Think the station has upped it’s game since I was last down in August. And enough singalong songs for the kids too. Not so sure the listeners really would care about the fact that the station is “voted number 1 in the Sunday Times Top 100 Smal Companies to Work For” in the news jingle every hour. But a nice award nonetheless.

Bodmin to Exeter:
As we lost Pirate Fm, a request from the back for “Times Table Challenge”. Those of you not to have yet had the pleasure of this or similar offerings from the Early Learning Centre have a treat in store. 30 minutes of repetitive educational “songs”. Note to self: get in car DAB fitted quickly – at least that way I could offer up Fun Kids. Though not sure what the kids will make of Breakfast with Jedward

Exeter to Ilminster A303:
It’s 5pm so time for PM on Radio 4. Sadly not Eddie Mair but informative as always. And then had to try and explain “why are they bombing Libya Dad?”> Note to BBC News – maybe there needs to be Newsround for Kids on the radio somewhere?

Tea stop:
Little Chef. Yes really. It’s one of the new ones with a Heston Blumenthal-inspired menu. I had fish and chips since you ask – but NO LOLLIPOPS. This is a #FAIL

Ilminster to M3
Back in the car, radio back on and on comes The Unbelievable Truth from BBC Radio 4. Then The Archers. Then a fascinating programme on Andy Wharhol’s last week in London from the Front Row team.

Megan (7) now asleep. Daniel (4) is still wide awake.

Switch to BBC Radio 2. It’s Jo Whiley tonight. Haven’t heard her since she had the free transfer from Radio 1 – and the music was great for an early evening drive. There were a couple of tracks that I’d loved to find out more about – but I was driving. Maybe my car radio needs a button that let’s me bookmark sings for further research or enquiry. Maybe Radio-Tag will help in the future? It was music by tUnE YaRdS – hard to describe but a good example of music curation as described by Nik Goodman last week.

Stonehenge:
Daniel needs the toilet. Quick stop, then he requests “Old McDonald” to be sung. For 20 minutes. He ended up with a lion on the farm… Carnage.

M3
Megan is now awake. She wants some songs she knows and asks for Capital FM. Thank God for disposable pop. It’s after 10pm – and the uncensored version of Rihanna S&M comes on. “Dad – the words are different..” Back to “Old McDonald then…

Hwyl fawr Red Dragon FM

Red Dragon FM holds a place dear in my heart. I worked there from 1998 (just after Capital Radio group originally took it over) and left there in 2002 (to head up the production department of the original Capital FM network). Those 4 years were really special – due mostly to the friends I made, the stuff we did and the City I still love. It was even the last station I did an on air shift on – covering a week of drivetime. From what I remember, the advice of the Group PD at the time (Clive Dickens) was to “shut up and just play the hits, mate”. Good advice!

Since hearing that Red Dragon FM was to become part of Global Radio’s Capital FM network, I’ve been trying to work out what to write as it breathes its last breath.  And now that day has arrived.

I spent a couple of hours last night searching through a box of CDs listening to audio – and was pretty proud of what I heard.

This was the first huge station I’d worked at and it had a large  pool of creative people. When I joined, Andy Johnson was the PD and the station was operating from the original premises in West Canal Wharf. On my first night, I was given a whistlestop tour of the patch by the drivetime guy, Warren Moore and the station producer Richard Firth. We ended up drinking beer looking over the Bristol Channel and having chips from a Chippie on Barry Island seafront. Class!

Capital Radio had bought the station from Emap and set about updating facilities and output. Capital’s influence on the station was pretty big to start with, but we always retained a distinctly Welsh feel to the sound and output. Within weeks, we were running the Birthday Bonanza promotion along with Capital’s BONG game. We even took some of the Groove Addicts jingle package of the time.

On air at that time (on Red Dragon and Touch AM); Jason Harrold and Emma Hignett on breakfast, Bobby McVay and Chris Moore, Tony Wright, Warren Moore, Charlie Power and Chris Bloomer. Then later, Ben Weston, David Francis, and Justin (Dai/Welshy) Waite. Beverly Cleall-Harding was MD, Nick Davidson ran the (huge) sales team and Andrew Jones ran an equally large news desk. Over time, people like Eirwen Parker, David Couch, David Rees and Simon Price joined the team with people like Alun Jones, Steve Martin and many many more. It was testament to the skills and creativity of that team that so many people moved on to other bigger roles with Capital or GCap. And so many more continue to make a massive contribution to radio in South Wales.

I guess much will be written about how another heritage station is being wiped off the map. But things change. Capital FM is sounding great as a hit music station in London. And Red Dragon has sounded almost identical to  Capital for the past year or so anyway. Of course, there are some things that it’s harder to reflect in a station mainly produced from London, as I noted back in September.

To be honest, Red Dragon has changed loads since when Capital first took it over in 1998. The name may now be gone, but Red Dragon was always about an attitude, a pride in a city, a culture and a lifestyle. That has evolved as Wales has changed over the last decade or so. This is probably just a natural progression. And there’s no point aiming criticism at the team in Cardiff. I’m sure they  are just as passionate about their station as they were when they joined.

So, let’s not dwell on yet another change to the radio landscape. If you worked there, be proud that you did. If you listened, thanks. And if you work for the new Capital FM South Wales – good luck.

And maybe play a little Tom Jones/Manic Street Preachers/ Catatonia  on March 1st. Would it really hurt?

PS: Does anyone really know how many people (and animals) Cerys Matthews had in her entourage back at THAT Party in the Park??

Diolch

——–(And now a little nostalgia)———–

For those who like a little nostalgia, here are a few gems from the my archive for you.


 

 

The great unknown

So the inevitable has happened. After 10 years of working for one company (a rarity these days),  I’ve finally been made redundant from my job as Head of Station sound at Capital95.8 in London.

I’ve often wondered how I’d feel if it happened. And now I know. Relieved. Not because I hated it – because I didn’t. But relief to find that there is a world outside of where you work. My world is now blown wide open. A world of choices and decisions. And the best bit – I get to spend some time with the family – seeing them off to school or collecting them from school.

Of course, that’s not going to be the ultimate aim – but few a week or 2, that feels fine – a chance to recharge, refocus and reconnect with the real world.

I now find myself setting a few tasks each day – so that I don’t feel like I’ve been sitting around getting bored. yesterday felt like the most productive day. I got this blog up and running – and my biggest achievement so far has been working out how to write and build a basic website – to allow me to showcase what I’ve done. 

Today’s task – work out what to showcase of all the work I’ve done over the past 10 years.

Or if I get bored – there’s always facebook.