20 years in 2 minutes


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

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.

Owning Big Events


Tonight sees the Brit Awards in the UK. Unlike the Grammy Awards (with over 100 different awards), the Brits are a more manageable affair – celebrating mostly British artists and talent with a few overseas categories thrown in (to make it a bigger show).

For many radio stations, this is a huge deal – particularly for stations Capital FM and Radio 1.

There was a time when the whole of commercial radio got involved with helping choose the British Single (essentially the biggest songs played on commercial radio that year). Now, it’s purely the preserve of Capital FM listeners to have their say. And it’s surely one of the biggest days in Capital’s music calender – along with the Summertime Ball and Jingle Bell Ball.

Back when I worked at Capital, it was a pretty big deal. We’d run packages supporting the voting, have weekend giving away tickets and of course do a couple of shows from backstage too. But now, it’s way bigger than that. Take a look at their website and it’s nothing but Brits. Listen on air for the last couple of weeks and its been all about the tickets. And today, it’s everything Brits. And let’s face it – it’s all about the music that (on the most part) is at the heart if their playlist.

They are absolutely owning it online already – watch this great backstage video


But as well as being jammed full of relevant, relatable content for their listeners, it’s obviously a huge opportunity for Capital to shout about their brand to anyone who listens. It’s live on ITV, so expect to see their current TV advert at every opportunity as well.

As with any radio brand, it’s all about talking abou t the content that’s relevant for your listeners. There are still many sales people in particular who have a lack of understanding of what brands would work alongside their radio brand. I doubt it happens as much now, but there was a time when even the sales team at GCap bought us promotions briefs for a dog food winning weekend.

And whilst Capital will be getting its branding in everyone’s face tonight at the Brits, I doubt you’ll see any of these on the tables – which I actually think are their best piece of targeted visual marketing ever. Beans Means Hits..?


Johnny Be Good (and his Jingles weren’t that bad either)

Big Ben by James Stodd

Last week, Capital FM‘s breakfast host, Johnny Vaughan left the station.

The reasons behind why he left have been discussed by people like Matt Deegan and Nik Goodman

For my money, Johnny was a great radio broadcaster, somewhat constrained by commercial radio from the start. When Johnny was in full free form mode, he was incredibly entertaining.

The Johnny who left Capital was a very different sounding one who started there. Sure, some of the gems came through, but he didn’t really fit with the punchy format that Capital now pumps out. I’m also guessing they’re looking for someone who can work equally well across the network. And Johnny is of course at heart, a Londoner – as his launch TV commercial showed.

Creating the production sound for a new breakfast show is hard. And it was for that show. Johnny was a big change from the previous Chris Tarrant breakfast show and the various interim replacements.

What we ended up with was a fairly esoteric sounding package of jingles and the like from the guys at Wise Buddah in London. They fitted his personality, his style and his quirkiness – and included the fairly memorable “Johnny on the Radio Now Now Now” theme which cropped up a number of times during the first half of his tenure.

Before we got there, we did explore other areas, and I found one bit of audio in my archives that may not have ever been heard before. Before settling on the guys at Wise Buddah, we worked on some demos with the team at Reelworld. These were based around Capital’s heritage sonic logo – and had a more US/Letterman/talkshow type of feel. Needless to say, they weren’t what was required at the time. However, I still think they are really good, and could work for someone somewhere. You can contact Reelworld here:

Johnny’s replacement is being announced tomorrow morning. I wonder if the replacement will get a song and dance number to herald in the new show? Doubting it..

UPDATE: Capital FM have announced that Dave Berry will join Lisa Snowdon as breakfast show host. Great choice – funny, punchy and full on Londoner.

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

Bringing the Summertime Ball Alive

Image (c) Global Radio

Yesterday, Capital FM hosted its Summertime Ball at Wembley Stadium for 75,000 rain-soaked fans with acts ranging from JLS and Nicole Scherzinger to The Wanted and Jennifer Lopez.

I spent the weekend in Cardiff, once home to another similar event when Red Dragon FM was around. Cardiff is now one of the cities that has Capital FM as its own radio station. And this weekend in Cardiff it was all about the Ball. And even though the event was over 2 hours away in London – it still sort of felt local. All the local shows talked about was the fact that they had last-minute tickets to give away. All the news bulletins led with the Ball – with a reporter backstage and loads of quick relevant scene setting. And on Sunday morning when Cardiff was being soaked in a torrential downpour, the local host had upbeat, excited callers on, getting ready for “South Wales’ road trip to the Ball”.

In fact, the weekend served as a warm up for Take That’s arrival in Cardiff – an event that it seems is so anticipated that one local fashion advertiser has themed their local campaign around the band’s arrival.

My personal road trip home from Cardiff joined coverage of the Ball at about 4, and it was good to hear Capital throwing everything at it – from backstage reporters to “live” interviews along with (somewhat surprisingly) live tracks too. Live performances are hardly ever as good as recorded ones , so this felt a bit of a brave move for Capital. But as a passive listener, it made me feel part if the show. They were also making much of the HD photos available online along with video interviews. And I’m sure they will be hammering home the amount of online content (both photos and video) available for listeners to check out in the next few days.

Little is made of the backstage effort made to make this sort of thing happen. I know there will have been a fairly small team of hugely dedicated people working long hours to make this happen from engineers to online editors to producers. Maybe Global should shout publicly about this a little more – they should be proud of the team.

But, the moment I heard Capital FM’s Greg Burns link to someone high above London in the Flying Eye describing the sight of the stadium and the bands arriving, it felt like Capital had really nailed it. I’m uncertain whether the Flying Eye is still even in existence on air on Capital. But it is radio shorthand to Capital’s past that still exists in the collective memory (certainly for the older part of the audience). It’s a simple device to paint pictures and create context. And it was a nice subtle link to Capital’s past heritage too.

I want it all (and maybe iCloud will give it to me now) UPDATE

Back in 2009, I wondered whether one day I’d be able to listen to what I wanted, when I wanted it on my commute to work. I wondered whether I’d be able to switch on my portable device and get the latest news, the latest weather and maybe a selection of content alongside the music I wanted.

Yesterday’s announcement by Apple of the new iOS and also iCloud made me think that maybe this idea could be getting nearer. It looks like, along with allowing me to sync up anything I’ve bought from iTunes, by using iTunes Match, I’ll be able to (at a small cost) match up what I already have on iTunes and sync it with the cloud.

But, surely, there’s more to it than that. From what I understand, and I may be wrong), I’ll be able to sync my iphone up wirelessly with my library. So I’m hoping that since my library not only contains music but also podcasts, that they will sync as well.

If this is the case, this surely offers some interesting options for radio broadcasters.

In a post yesterday, Radio Intelligence asked “is podcasting radio’s enemy?“. The conclusion is that it’s not – but there are some broadcasters who still disagree.

It would be oh so nice if the radio trades spilled some digital ink on these types of broadcasters rather than creating the impression that radio can simply step into a tricked out DeLorean where it’s always 1999.

There has been much discussion of how radio still has a place within the music industry. One of these roles is that of Music Curation. This could be as diverse as new music from Radio 1, or Capital FM bringing you the latest hit record first. Does this always-synced future from Apple now mean that Capital FM should be publishing Smart iTunes playlists that contain the weeks new releases? If you are a Capital fan, you could have this on your iTunes account. Each week, as it syncs, it would show you the new songs that Capital has added – and that you could then buy (maybe with a nice partnership deal for Capital and Apple to get a share of revenues).

But there’s more. If my iPhone now syncs podcasts, couldn’t Capital FM produce a daily podcast that is in effect a topical call to action, a setup of an online-only contest entry or quick excerpt of that days big guest from the breakfast show. Maybe there could be a series of short “blipcasts” – no longer than 60 secs – that have a showbiz update or maybe a daily contest. If there were a way to combine this into a smart playlist with the biggest songs from the Capital playlist – then maybe there’s a way of reaching potential Capital listeners who don’t listen on the move.

And, (thanks to Radio Intelligence for the Twitter suggestion), I’d call it Capital Fm On Demand

Now whilst this may not be possible yet – and indeed the iCloud may not yet offer this – maybe my hoped for future is starting to get nearer.

The Joy of 6 – new BBC 6 Music TV trail

This is the latest TV trail for BBC 6Music.  I particularly like the simplicity of the idea – all of the stations’ key talent actually building a radio station out of radios – and supporting the branding line of “building a digital home for music”.

TV ads/trails for radio stations are incredibly hard to get right.  Usually, it’s the simplest of ideas that work the best.

However, sometimes a simple idea doesn’t quite translate. Back when Capital FM rebranded first as Capital Radio and Capital 95.8, there was a TV ad that, whilst on paper looked great, in reality was a pretty hard watch. The idea was that Capital played music that made you want to nod along to it. The concept was great – that you’d see London from the viewpoint of someone listening to Capital on headphones  – but ultimately, was maybe asking just a little too much of the viewer.

Luckily, these days, Capital FM ads just do what they say on the tin – and BOOM – they work just fine!