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.

A conference for people like me

There’s a lot of radio. And there are lots of radio conferences. But it’s rare for 2 to come along on the same week.

nextradiologo2-300x44If you work in radio as a producer, programmer, presenter, marketeer, or in fact anywhere in a radio station – then you should definitely check out NEXTradio. It’s a one day conference in London with loads of short, sharp presentations – and you will learn loads. I’ve been twice, and have always come away inspired. There are even videos on the site from previous conferences, so you can see what you missed last time.

Logo_TheImagingDays2014_FullBut if you are someone involved in imaging, marketing or station sound, it’s rare for a conference to have more than a session or 2 totally devoted to discussing and celebrating the  deep down and dirty skills required by the modern day audio ninja. That’s understandable – but this September, there is one, and it feels amazing that there hasn’t been one like this before.

The Imaging Days takes place in Amsterdam on September 8th and 9th, and will feature producers from across Europe and the rest of the world – gathered together to talk, listen and share ideas, skills and experience.

img_1892I was asked by the organisers to create a panel session of UK producers to discuss imaging in the UK – and am delighted I’ll be sharing the stage with Dan Mumford, former Head of Station Sound at BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, and Nathan Freeman, Station sound producer of BBC Radio 6 Music. Together, we’ll be delving into our archive of 40 plus years of radio imaging and production to share some of our favourite pieces, discuss how we came up with the creative concepts, and share some tales form the radio battlefield. We may also be brave and pull out examples of our first forays into radio production, to show that everyone needs to start somewhere..!

I’m really looking forward to hearing stories and strategies from some of the best producers in the business – but also hope to meet loads of new radio people with a passion for creative audio production.

If you love sound, create sound or work with people who do, head over to the website, grab a ticket, and maybe we’ll see you there…

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

It’s Showtime

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It’s officially the countdown to Christmas as the TV channels in the UK all showcase their wares for Christmas.

Every year, the channels try to find ever more inventive ways of showcasing the vast array of content available. Last year, BBC One had a singing and dancing spectacular – and loads of Christmas Jumpers. And BBC Two had this wonderful animation.

This year, it’s down to a vast array of BBC One talent again – in a really nice concept called “It’s Showtime”. It’s down to Rob Brydon to gather together an all-star cast for the biggest show of the year. In the trail, we see stars like Mrs Brown and the cast of BBC One shows “Call the Midwife” and “Outnumbered” alongside some iconic stars of the channel (including the TARDIS and Del Boy’s van). There’s also people like David Walliams, Miranda Hart, Matt Smith, Lee Mack, Strictly Come Dancing’s Craig Revel Horwood, and the cast of EastEnders.

Here’s Part 1

And here’s Part 2

It’s a really fun concept – probably a nightmare to organise – which really shows the sense of fun that BBC One gathers together for Christmas. And nice to see it backed up with some great clip based trails too..

It’s good to see that the BBC can still surprise and entertain with all the distractions of the past few months. It was created by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R and commissioned by Aoife Liyanage and the team at BBC Creative Marketing.

How do you promote your best content?

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I just saw this on Twitter from @dannywallace and think it needs sharing.

http://soundcloud.com/the-xfm-breakfast-show/behind-the-scenes-documentary

http://soundcloud.com/the-xfm-breakfast-show/behind-the-scenes-documentary

There’s a tendency, particularly in commercial radio, to run a breakfast show promo that contains a quick clip from the show. The normal reason for this is that the show is sponsored, and as part of the deal, the Sponsorship team have added in promo trails. The real reason it’s there is to get across a sponsor message. And the breakfast show clip is essentially the filling in the sponsorship sandwich.

Often, the promo is pretty rubbish. The reason; it’s pretty hard to distill the essence of a great breakfast show into a single, punchy clip.

So why do shows insist on doing it? Would it not be as effective to use the trail to give a tease of some great audio that’s actually worth listening to, and maybe direct listeners online to hear the whole section? And now that a significant number of your consumers are online, maybe there are new ways to promote the show too.

I like this “behind the scenes” “documentary” because:
It’s funny.
It’s irreverent.
It’s probably something extra that wouldn’t necessarily appear on air.
It’s really shareable too.

I’m constantly amazed why more stations don’t use clips of content from interviews in on air promos and imaging to drive the listeners online to hear more. If you’ve spent the time recording and editing a great interview with a guest, don’t assume your listeners were actually listening when you broadcast it. Why not use it to promote your show and then reward the listeners with more content online.

The New Sound of BBC Radio 1

For radio imaging readers, it’s worth checking out the new sound of BBC Radio 1. On air since the beginning of April, there’s a new punchiness to the sound – and the station has a real feel of energy and progression  to it – particularly in the new shows in the afternoon.

Dan Mumford, Radio 1’s Station Sound head worked with the team at Pure Jingles in the Netherlands to create a new sonic identity to the station. And what’s interesting is the way the team at Pure Jingles work.

Dan tells me they initially worked on a ton of music beds in loads of different styles. These then get passed to another producer in another studio who decimates the tracks, creating short burst of musical energy – often unlike the original track. These music elements then get thrown to the next studio where the audio mangling happens to the Voiceovers – giving them a final set of idents.

I love this idea of collaborative production – it seems very different from the production process I came across when working with companies such as Wise Buddah and Groove Addicts years back. They have a completely different (and equally valid) way of working. But for Radio 1’s sound, this new way is certainly a fresh approach.

The new imaging sound also includes 2 new station voices. Both have been discovered by the station rather than through traditional ways of going through agencies etc. The Female voice was discovered whilst auditioning for a TV show, and the new male voice was found through the annual search for the voice of the awards session at the the Student Radio Association annual conference.

Even if Radio 1 isn’t your bag – you can check out a montage that Dan created of the station sound here.

And there’s another montage of some more of the imaging on the Pure Jingles website.

Aircheck Archives

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My friend Simon Beale from Heart London alerted me to this site last night whilst in the pub after the excellent Nextrad.io conference.

http://www.aircheckdownloads.com/

Trevor Dann, speaking at the conference yesterday, was discussing how incomplete the archives of many broadcasters are. The BBC has a huge archive – but much is missing. In the past, there hasn’t been so much value placed in maintaining archives.

Archives = space. Space costs money.

When I worked in Leicester Square, what archives there were, were kept in the record library by the very knowledgeable librarian Clive Smith. Once he left, who knows what happened to them?

Luckily, there have always been a band of “enthusiasts” who have taped radio stations off air and filed the results away. This site seems to be a fairly large archive.

So whether you want to hear what Capital FM used to sound like, or how Atlantic 252’s Test transmissions turned out – along with airchecks from across the pond, this site may be worth a listen.

Radio in the past wasn’t necessarily better. But if you haven’t heard much of it, this could give you a snapshot.

Play My Song and I’ll Say What You Like

Wow – I love NRJ in France. They have all the big stars on air and on their TV ads:

But hang on – I love Capital FM in London the UK – and they’ve got a fantastic new TV ad too:

These artists can’t surely love both NRJ AND Capital?

Can they?

Both these adverts are great examples of bringing brands closer to the music. They take a huge amount of planning – but give so much payback. They aren’t necessarily the sort of thing you can do if you are a small station with little real-time access to the big artists. But for Capital and NRJ, with big events to draw these stars in, increasingly, they are part of the deal. I’m not sure if any money changes hands with these things, but let’s face it – if you get to associate your face/name/band with the big stations in the market, and they hold events/play music/ do contests promoting your album/single/gig – then who loses out? And they got Justin Bieber  and Rihanna speaking French too.

Of course, radio station TV ads don’t always need to feature the music you play or the stars of the station. But I can’t imagine NRJ or  Capital would ever run something like this!