Leave a Lasting Impression


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).



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.




(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


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**


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?


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.


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

Engaging with the audience (Justin’s House)


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**




Engaging with your audience (BOWIE Weekend)


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?


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


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


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

Creating an impact (PUNK BRITANNIA)


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)


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)


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



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


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…

Creating shareable content

Screen Shot 2013-03-06 at 08.47.33

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

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.

Is the jingle really dead?



So, apparently, the radio jingle is dead.

Or at least it’s dead to BBC Radio 1.

Or it is according to a report in The Guardian

This is of course not true, but it’s interesting what “real people” perceive as radio jingles and imaging.

Chris Moyles is a huge fan of radio craft and heritage. He’s worked on stations that used jingles as a core part of their station sound throughout his career, including stations such as Radio Luxembourg, Chiltern Radio and Capital FM. And he was on these stations when the station sound included huge chunks of sung jingles. And he worked with them extremely well. So it was no surprise that when he took over the breakfast show on Radio 1, he commissioned a huge number of jingles over the years. But he did this deliberately to create a brand for his show. These jingles were always OTT and deliberately had a very clear nod to the past in their mood and construction – pastiching the work of the huge US jingle companies such as JAM Creative Productions. And to add to that feel, he used original Radio 1 jingles from the 80s and early 99s during his weekly Golden Hour.

Since Chris is moving on, there is no surprise that radio 1 is “killing the jingle”. But actually,it’s not.

Jingles have always been a part of creating a station’s on air image. “Imaging” has always been around on radio, but wasn’t always called that. And an audio identity for a station is more than just jingles, Voiceover, production effects and music. It’s all about the personality of the station brand.

For a station like Absolute Radio and Jack FM, it’s about the voiceover,the way the promos and liners are written and the way they execute things on air. For BBC Radio 2, it’s as much about the jingles and VoiceOver they use and also the presenters themselves. Jingles are a part of it, but not all of it.

The pitching document for the new imaging package for the Radio 1 breakfast show with Nick Grimshaw states:

The Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Nick Grimshaw launches in late September. We are looking to commission a strong sonic identity for it.
The new Breakfast Show will sound young, exciting, big and confident. It needs to stand out and not sound like any previous BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Shows.
The new theme will need to sound slickly produced and original, including a significant element of live instrumentation and an identifying motif (logo).
Please steer clear of sung jingles and variants of Breakfast themes and identities past and present.
* update* The following line should be included in the imaging – ‘The Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Nick Grimshaw’ – Please use a voice you think would be appropriate.

Increasingly, the line between “jingles” and “imaging” has become blurred. Radio 1’s current on air imaging was produced in Europe by the jingle company Pure Jingles. It’s has a hugely distinctive sonic identity and energy that fits the radio 1 sound. And that’s essentially the crux of this. The station sound of any station needs to blend and be appropriate for the type of music the station is playing, the feel of the station and the personality that the PD is attempting to generate for their station. Sometimes that means traditional jingles will work. Sometimes that needs a new approach.

And there is no right way to do this.

When I was making Imaging at Capital FM in London, we were asked to change the station sound ( and on air name) a number of times. Each time, the on air sound changed with it. Sometimes we used vocals. Then we used a traditional package. At one stage, the imaging had no jingles as part of it, but used samples of old jingles within it.

The problem for Radio 1 is that essentially it has become 2 stations. The Chris Moyles Show is one part, and the rest of the station is something else. Both have completely distinctive sounds and both complement each other to a degree. But for a station that has to become younger and lose the older end of its audience, having a breakfast show with imaging that sounds like the station did 20 years ago, however ironic, doesn’t necessarily help.

So expect a new sound. No big vocal harmonies. And a more coherent sound across the whole station.

And once Moyles leaves breakfast, maybe the end of jingles.

But then again, he has a new show coming – so don’t count on total death of jingles quite yet.

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.

Be Brave. Be Bold.

James Stodd & James Rennie - C4 Radio Canterbury Summer 1992

There are some things that you need to see.And some you don’t.

Me in shorts with a dodgy haircut is fairly inexcusable. But it was when I was a student. And that makes almost anything forgiveable (apart from wearing headphones on a photo shoot).

This photo was taken during the Sunday lunchtime show that James & I used to do on C4 Radio in Canterbury (now long gone and part of CSRfm). The programme was called “Crucial FM” (ripped off from the name of a Lenny Henry show sketch). It featured music, talking rubbish, stories from the Magic Roundabout and other old records we found in a second hand record shop in town.And occasionally the appearance of 2 characters called “Pat and Val”(loosely based on the cleaners who used to clean our halls – Thorne Hall if you really want to know).

This was the Summer of 1992. That was the year I spent my summer working as the Management Runner at BBC Radio 1. That was the year that I blagged the most free CDs and gig tickets ever. That was the summer that I paid daily visits to McDonalds on the “bloat up” run for Steve Wright. That was the year that I took Simon Bates’ dry cleaning to the dry cleaners. That was the year I won my Student Radio Award.

It was a very long time ago.

My Original Student Student Radio Award (with others)

My prize for winning the award was a box of CDs (there was a Jimmy Nail CD in there) and a lovely certificate. I still have the certificate. It sits in our home office next to a few other awards and my Doctor Who picture. (Who has always been cool ever since the time I met Tom Baker aged 6. End of).

Tonight (November 9th 2011), this years Student radio Awards take place at the IndigO2.

There is some debate about the history of the awards. Before the SRA there was NASB. I’m sure something happened at some point and it was disbanded. I remember attending a meeting when the SRA was set up. It may have been at Hatfield Uni. It may have been in Hull. Whatever the history,the Student Radio Awards have been around in a few guises for a number of years. And winning one, even back then, meant a huge amount.

This is a Cassette. Better than Minidisc.

I still have my entry. Luckily for you (and me) it’s on antique technology. No, it really is. This kids is a cassette. It’s what we used to pirate songs off the radio before the Internet. I listened to it a couple of years ago – and it was pretty average. But back then, being a DJ was what I wanted to be. And Student Radio let me do it.

The problem with student radio is that many people now, like me then, wanted to emulate what is curently on the radio. Back then, when I ran the station, I wanted it to sound like the local commercial station. I had jingles from America. I had an American Voiceover. And there was a team of specialist DJs who hated all of that and wanted to do things very differently.

I wish I’d have listened to them.

Student Radio can be about making the station sound  the best it can be. It can be about being the best presenter. But  what it really offers is the opportunity that you may never get in a professional radio career.; to experiment and fail. To try new things. To experiment. It may well give you more creative freedom than you’ll ever get in the real world. But, hopefully, it’ll allow you to create something new and inspiring to those people currently running radio.

One of the reasons I’ve been a judge for the last few years is that I think these awards have such a huge ability to encourage potential. The fact that Radio 1 and much of the UK’s commercial radio support them is testament to that. I’m looking forward to meeting some of the new winners from this year; who knows where they will end up?

So to all of you nominated at the awards this year and to all of you aspiring to succeed in the coming years; be brave; be bold. And most of all, never have a publicity photo done with you wearing headphones.

Utilising User Generated Content

Photo (C) Metro
Here’s a fantastic example of using user-generated content to make a really interesting looking TV spot for BBC Radio 1’s Teen Awards. It’s a simple idea – but executed really nicely.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

There’s a little more background on the Earshot Creative review blog here.

I think there are huge opportunities for making great sounding, highly effective promos and imaging using this method. There are countless examples online of contests where bands have let fans download elements from their songs to create alternative mixes. There are also examples of online games where fans can “create” their own programme trails – like this one for the BBC’s Doctor Who from a few series back.

So – how about someone publishing some imaging elements online and giving their listeners the chance to create the idents for the station. Just imagine the creative treats that might emerge.

What’s Next (for) Rad.io?

So, apart from a clever name, what will the Next Rad.io conference bring us?

Loads of “suits” talking the same old stuff that pours out of “industry” gatherings? Great ideas that are all well and good if you have huge budgets and unending resources? Or something else?

It’s designed for people who like radio, who want to be inspired by new ideas, who recognise that technology will help it to change and adapt and for those who want to meet like minded people.

I’m hugely looking forward to this conference. And I’m really glad that James Cridland and Matt Deegan are putting it on. This promises to be a great place for discussing new ideas, looking at things in a new way, and making new contacts. If I was starting out, this would be the place I’d be heading; loads of people who actually “do” radio thinking about how we can make radio better.

And there is a future for radio.

Sure, there’s lots of doom-laden statistics floating around about how younger listeners are failing to engage with radio. But not all of them. And only if radio refuses to engage with them, interact with them on the platforms that they hang out on, and actually deliver them the content they want to hear.

And radio still is radio. But it can be enhanced in many different ways. And let’s face it, whilst some people may sneer at the many ways that stations like Radio 1 and others have used to “visualise” radio, what they are doing now is really just a natural extension of what has been done in the past. From meeting listeners at the County show or the Radio 1 Roadshow at Great Yarmouth Beach, to the BBC radio Solent magazine that I remember buying as a child – they are all ways of extending the reach of the radio station.

But the biggest positive I have taken from the last few months is that fact that my daughter (8) has now decided that she wants to be on the radio and maybe run her own radio station.

This interest was started when she came to visit me at work way back when I was at Capital FM. She was 3 – and recorded 3 links which we made into a radio show for her to play in the car. She was also fascinated last time that Radio 1 did their Access All Areas week – as can be heard in this recording as she describes watching Newsbeat going out online.

Now, she has taken it one step further. Over the last few weeks, she has been recording her own radio show. She brainstormed what sort of features she wanted to run, what music she wanted to play (mostly the Capital playlist) and even how she wanted to broadcast (she wants to be on Red Button and can’t understand why it’s a bit complicated to make that happen).

Radio Victory Car Sticker

She’s now started to learn how to make a radio show – in basic form using Garage Band to drag in songs and record her links. She’s even recorded a report from her day out at Brands Hatch a few weeks ago. Now whilst this isn’t necessarily radio in its truest form, it’s no different from back when I was her age, where I recorded the ads and jingles off Radio Victory, and sat in my bedroom playing tunes off a battery powered record player, talking to no-one except my brother, and playing in ads from an old mono cassette recorder. The difference is, now, that I can record her and share a little of it with you.

So, it’s a bit rough around the edges. But she wrote the jingle, recorded the keyboard part, selected the samples and the instruments and the sound effects. And she loved it.

Maybe Next Radio or an event like it will inspire her in the future to do it for real. But only if we all help make it a reality for Megan and her Generation  – and keep making radio a medium that is relevant to them as well as us.

You can follow all things nextrad.io on Twitter @thisisnextradio and the conference hashtag is #nextradio  Radio Today are covering it live here. I’ll be there, doubtless tweeting interesting bits. If you’re coming, it’ll be nice to catch up – and if you’re not, hopefully you’ll learn something useful.

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.

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…

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