UK Radio heads off on Tour…

OK – not quite a world tour, but Scandinavia.



I’m off next week to speak at a couple of radio conferences. Firstly, on Wednesday 23rd September at Radiodagen in Stockholm, and then on Saturday 26th September at Radiodays in Copenhagen. It’s my first couple of conference presentations, and I’m looking forward to them. I’ll be presenting a two-part session. Firstly, I’ll be talking about some of the creative treatments we used when I was at Capital FM to promote CapitalLive – as series of live concerts and artist days that ran in the Summer of 2007. Then, I’ll be examining some of the ways that I, and my colleagues at Pure Tonic Media have used to blend artist and music imaging perceptions into our station production. There will be lots of audio (so I don’t have to talk too much) – and hopefully I’ll have managed to edit it down by the time I get there (since it currently overruns by 20 minutes or so). If you are coming to the conference – come and say hello. And don’t forget, you can find me on Twitter – @jamesstodd


I’m also looking forward to meeting up with former colleagues such as Nik Goodman, Justin Kings, and Nick Piggott, along with people such as Clive Dickens from Absolute Radio and “media futurist”, James Cridland.

James and Nick have promised to bring one of these along with them…

Pure-Sensia-UIPicture from

It’s the new DAB radio from PURE – the Sensia. It gives you radio, and pictures and applications that allow you to see all sorts of fun and games such as Twitter status updates and more.

I think it looks great – though not sure how many people will easily find the £250 that it will launch at. Then again. DAB prices have fallen and fallen now – so I’m guessing it will be in the Stodd house within the next 12 months. And it looks like it has an iPod dock too – and I still need to buy something to play that through – so now it looks more tempting. Hell – maybe I’ll have one by Easter.

To find out how it works, the aforementioned James Cridland has already examined it along with @matt. And Nick Piggott can probably tell you more about it and RadioDNS too. They know far more about it than I.

It does look like a great big rugby ball though.

You’re gettin’ hit with the (blah blah) radio


I’ve been driving a lot around the UK recently to various family events and a couple of weddings. And one thing has become clear. I need to get a DAB radio in the car this Christmas. Partly for the need to be able to get FunKids. Partly to be able to hear BBC 6Music. But mostly to be able to hear Absolute Radio  in listenable quality.

A couple of things have struck me during these journeys. Firstly – the rollout of Heart hasn’t ruined local music radio. It’s eminently more listenable than many of the previous offerings found on the drive across country. Wall to wall classic hits, hardly any talk – “does what it says on the tin”. It’s not my choice – in fact hearing the same songs every day in a slightly different order would drive me insane- but you can tell it will probably work well for them in the short to medium term.

Secondly, it’s become really obvious that the BBC doesn’t really cater for my listening needs fully. In fact, if I had the previously mentioned in car DAB, then  I’d probably have a hefty dose of Absolute Radio on the menu.

Out of habit, my first choice station is BBC Radio 1. I like Chris Moyles (in small doses) and think Scott Mills does a really good job. And the odd times I catch people like Zane Lowe, I’m hooked – mainly by his energy and by his enthusiasm. I caught most of the chart show and the first part of Switch last Sunday night – and it made me wish I was 15 again – just the sort of show Radio 1 should be doing.

Radio 2 is rarely a listening choice. I occasionally catch a bit of Jonathan Ross at the weekend, but rarely get the chance to hear Chris Evans. And once the children are in bed – it’s usually stuff on the house, work or TV that grabs my attention.

And whilst I feel BBC 6music should be up there for me – I probably hear more of it’s output via the Adam and Joe podcast.

And that’s why this week’s Radio 2 news has excited me (though not my friend Steve – younger than me but far more musically diverse in taste – who is a staunch TOG). There will now be a real reason for me to listen at breakfast and possibly later in the day. Many people, such as Matt Deegan, Adam Bowie, Nik Goodman and James Cridland have written in detail about what these changes may mean and the opportunities and/or threats they will make for Commercial Radio. For a show and station like Radio 2 that is so dominating the audience figures – a change such as this could be catastrophic – particularly if they lose their core listeners. But it also presents an opportunity for everyone else

For me, I hope Evans brings something new to the mornings. Terry Wogan is genuinely one if the best speech broadcasters. It’s just his style doesn’t suit our frenetic routine in the morning. Now, I’m not expecting Chris Evans to replicate his old Radio 1 show again. But he’s shown in the afternoons that he can be entertaining, play great music and (more importantly) interact with every listener whatever their age. If he can do that – with maybe a little more pace in the morning- then so much the better. The rest of the daytime lineup isn’t so much my thing – though Jeremy Vine works well. What interests me is the talk of Simon Mayo coming over to do drivetime. My friend Steve thinks that if this happens, the BBC will have to issue everyoneone with free Valium. I however would welcome him – particularly if it created a show which were part music, part current affairs and had some if the classics 5live elements such as Mark Kermode as well.

I briefly mentioned Absolute Radio earlier. I wouldn’t discount them, though from all of this. Commercial radio keeps bemoaning the fact that it’s hard to compete and there’s no room for creativity. The fact they now have signed Dave Gorman to add to Frank Skinner in their weekend lineup shows that there are some operators who are slowly gathering their weapons to start taking on the BBC in the battle for my listening hours.

Capital FM’s Summertime Ball


Image (c) Global Radio
Image (c) Global Radio

Being one of the large collection of ex Capital Fm staff, I don’t necessarily love everything that they do. In fact, since leaving last September, I’ve not listened that much. But, with the Summertime Ball, they pretty much nailed it.

The problem for Capital has always been doing something new and sustaining the demand. The first few Party in the Park shows sold quickly, were major successes and innovative radio events. The last one – the year before Live 8 was a hard slog to sell and the lineup didn’t necessarily live up to all expectations. Live8 allowed the event to be “rested”-  since Capital graciously allowed Sir Bob to take their already booked date. The world got Live8 and Help a London Child got a big pot of cash from ticket sales.

So when Global Radio took over – there was always a thought that the station needed a big event to hinge the summer on. Plans were afoot to run Party in the Capital last Summer at the Emirates stadium, but the time to plan it was too short and it was pulled. I guess that by  testing the water last Christmas with the Jingle Bell Ball at the O 2 proved the demand. So the Summertime ball was launched on air.

For any Capital listener over the last few months, it’s been impossible to get away from. Non stop promos and talkup almost every link when tickets went on sale. And then the few weeks in the run up dominated by ticket contests – using the tried and tested pattern of creating hype and demand for “must have” tickets. And let’s face it; with a solid chart based lineup of acts like Dizzy Rascal, Calvin Harris, Katy Perry, Ciara and The Saturdays for Capitals younger end, plus Lionel Richie and the reformed Blue for the 30 something, they were on to a winner.

Whilst the production sound on air was fairly predictable, it was solid and really helped build the overall event to a crescendo. (though the big male voicover really is starting to grate now). Listening over the weekend, the coverage was spot on- as you’d expect from the team left there. Live backstage shows and interviews, news on site and the best of the live tracks ( whilst maintaining the main playlist alongside).

My main disappointment was the online offering. Bar a couple of video diaries and backstage videos, there was nothing for people who weren’t there to interact with. In fact – I’m not sure the online offering had moved on much from what you’d have seen at the last Party in the Park. Granted, the online team is pretty small these days – but some extras would have been useful. Stuff like a live blog, webcams, stage feed could all be set up – even if the stage feed had picture and no sound. What about an online running order for people at the event? Or a Twitter feed of backstage headlines, photos and “up next messages”. The interactivity of the event seemed to be missing something. I know it was a radio event – but the added extras add to the experience – particularly post event. Then again – with only 24 listener submitted photos currently on the site – is online as important as we keep being told..?

If  you compare it  with something like Radio 1’s Big Weekend -Radio 1 had webcams, interactive message boards, on demand backstage videos and afterwards, the majority of the live performances. Now obviously, Radio 1 had the full might of the BBC’s resources to hand – and a shed load more people working on their event. But a lot of these things would have been fairly easy to incorporate. It will be interesting to compare some of the upcoming festival coverage by Absolute Radio to see what they achieve with an even smaller team.

Apart from this minor negative – Capital should feel proud of this event. You’d hope that it will make an impact to the listening figures too. But it feels like Capital may have found it’s feet again. 

The fans obviously still love it:


Sounding great! My daughter is in the VIP room, thanks to a lucky ticket in the program, and is one extremely ecstatic Capital fan. Thanks so much Capital you rock!!


Just happened across the updated for 2009 (or so I guess) Ryan Seacrest website for his show – he is the master of self promotion. But is there anything radio stations can learn from “Brand Seacrest”?

Image from

This site is all about Ryan, where you can see him, where you can listen to him, and especially, who he’s been talking to.

But then, this guy’s show is something else – in terms of content and especially how it’s used. If you think that UK stations are networked too much – this show (and it’s many derivatives) are networked and reversioned around the world.

A couple of years ago, whilst I was still working at Capital 95.8, Ryan and his team (Dennis Clark – his Exec Producer, plus his team from Premiere Radio networks who look after his syndicated shows) came to London. They spent a week doing their L.A breakfast show from Capital’s studio. What was interesting was how they did it ; how much was live, how much was pre recorded “as live”, and especially how the content was used an reused. Let’s face it – when you’re on air as a breakfast show in Los Angeles – but also on air 10-1 or 1-4 or maybe 3-7 on maybe 2-300 radio stations- the brand needs to be about Ryan and his celeb friends.

Then there’s American Top 40 – or it’s variations. This alone needs a 2-3 hour weekly recording session, just to record the links for all the formats, plus various localisations for the stations that take it.

Of course, when a guest comes in on Ryan’s show – they put their headphones on, don’t care how they look and just think of it as a radio show…don’t they?

Not with Ryan… The studio often has cameras set up to shoot the guests and Ryan – they don’t wear headphones but have in-ear monitors like on TV…so the content can show on Ryan’s YouTube channel, or be used on his E! Entertainment show, or maybe as footage on American Idol. And of course, the branding on the walls is for “On Air with Ryan Seacrest” 


Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Anyway – back to the main point. His site is Web.2.0 and more in terms of interaction. You can share everything, link to everything, interact with everything.  You can link to his social networks – yes he’s on Twitter – and Facebook. And all of these platforms allow him (or his team) to post content that brings you into even more contact with him – and ultimately his show and ultimately the stations he’s on. You can even (should you so wish) share all of his content on your site – from a fully interactive player that gives you audio and video, to sharing any of his blogs or gossip feeds.

So if you’re not a KIISfm – but maybe slightly smaller, can you even hope to interact on this scale? Well, maybe not – but the tools for interaction and sharing are all out there – and don’t take the biggest brain to work out. His site is built on the WordPress platform (please correct me if I’m wrong). If you’re reading this blog – or have a facebook profile, there’s no reason why you couldn’t build something simpler but similar. And if you’re in radio, working as a producer and you don’t think you need to know how to do this – think again.

Stodd – out.

PS – Not everyone like’s his show though…

Bob gets the job. But “can he fix it?”.


So with a minor amount of fanfare and somewhat little surprise, the BBC Radio 2 controller job is going to Bob Shennan – former head of 5Live and most recently Channel 4 Radio’s Director of Radio (until they bailed out of radio).

Is this a good thing – and is it really a surprise?

Well – he knows the BBC politics inside out (having run 5Live for 8 years and launched 5Live Sports extra). And maybe Radio 2 needs a steadying influence over the next few years – to help recover from the blows it’s been receiving. Does it matter that he’s not got much music radio experience? He’s got the incredible music mind of Jeff Smith to steer the music – so no worries there. And he’s injected a large dose of personality (and ego) into 5Live – so maybe he’s the man to bring the new blood in.

But what are his main challenges?

1)Decide what to do when Wogan goes? Evans? Baker and Ball?
2)Protect Wossy. The pressure is being piled on him by the tabloids. Let the guy do his job and give him the editorial confidence to do it
3)Tweak the focus – let me know exactly what I’ll get when I listen.
4)Ignore all the armchair pundits – what do we really know?

The trouble with Radio 2 is that it has a really loyal core audience (much like Radio 4 – where it’s impossible to make any wholesale changes to the schedule without angering the career complainers). It’s a station with a split personality. At one end of the room, there’s the cool furniture where Chris Evans and Jonathan Ross sit- being entertaining and edgy. Then there’s comfy leather sofas where you’ll find Wogan and Ken Bruce chuckling away and delivering a warm cosy feeling. Steve Wright sits midway – doing the same sort of radio he’s always done. Jeremy Vine sits in a big chair by the window reading the Broadsheets (whilst secretly wanting to rock out all day). And out back, there’s the old time shows, musicals, big band – and buried away, the excellent documentaries

I want to like it – and I listen loads now. But I want to love it.

Will we get a killer lineup of Chris Evans, Jonathan Ross, Simon Mayo, Danny Baker (with Zoe Ball), Nicky Campbell, Stuart McConie, and Mark Radcliffe. Oh – and throw in a side order of Wogan at the weekends. And yes, Whispering Bob for late night Saturday night drives. And could we dare hope for Richard Bacon too?

It’s a dream job Bob. Enjoy…

I Want it All. I Want It Now. UPDATE


So I wanted it all – when I wanted it. So maybe it’s a pipe dream.

However – I can do some of it – sort of – and certainly on my iPhone on an app I randomly came across called Stitcher


It’s basically allows you to stream podcasts  – at the touch of the button – categorised by genre, subject and even brand. So you’ll find loads of BBC content  plus stuff from ABC, CBS, CNN, and pretty much everything else. And it does it over wifi and also when you’re out of a wifi hotspots (though not sure how your battery or data consumption will like it). Basically it pulls together loads of podcasts – but you can listen without downloading. 

Searching just now, I’m randomly listening  to KNX 1070 Notable News from Los Angeles – so for the sheer geek  factor of almost live radio from anywhere in the world – this is great. In fact – a lot of the U.S stations seem to update podcast content snippets of various parts of their output from the latest news bulletin to the latest weather. And since the application let’s you choose favourites into a playlist – I could build a playlist right now of the latest news for KNX 1070 Notable NewsL.A., plus weather for New York (because maybe I’m off to the airport to fly there)from the Weather Channel, followed by The Hollywood Minute – and finally BBC Radio 1’s Entertainment News from the UK.

So my “personalised” radio journey still continues. Maybe the BBC can start adding hourly news updates, Traffic Radio can add the latest  travel bulletin by county  and maybe Global Radio can get me a daily dose of the best bitching from Steve Allen (as let’s face it – he is the master of that genre).

If someone could give me the content snippets to pick and choose from – then I’ll be closer to getting exactly what I want.

Or am I maybe being too demanding?

Not missing commuting

What is it with your average commuter? You know, the one who treats a double seat as their own private property?

Maybe it’s a territorial thing. Maybe it goes as far back as when we were cave dwellers and protected our caves with fires. And that was to stop the wild animals getting in.

I’ve seen people use many methods to protect the seat next to them. Some simply cover them with loads of bags.Some drop food all over them. And some simply develop huge backsides to try cover both seats.

And could someone tell me exactly what the etiquette is when you eventually find a seat only to find that the person next to you hasn’t yet discovered deodorant? Is there a polite way to leave your seat? Is there an optimum time? Or should I just carry a peg to put on my nose?