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.

The Sweet Sound of Student Success

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Another year, another Student Radio awards.

As I write this, I’m guessing most of the students are still on the dance floor of the IndigO2 enjoying the sound clash from Greg James, James Barr and others.

It’s hard to know where to start really. This was another fantastic night that celebrates all that is good about Student Radio. It’s a far cry from when I did student radio, but it would be wrong if things hadn’t moved on.

This was a room full of enthusiasm and excitement – and frankly a radio awards show that both the Sonys and possibly Arqivas could learn from. It was hosted by Radio 1 breakfast host Nick Grimshaw and Capital FM Breakfast host Dave Berry. They made a fantastic pairing and gave the whole event a real sense of fun. And it was great to see Global Radio fully involved with the awards again. Whilst its easy to sneer at Global as the bad guys of UK radio, they should be a company that people aspire to work for; they have some fantastic brands and they really know how to market them. Their video that played during the event showed a slick operation – and it’s those sort of values that they translate on air too.

Last year I wrote that the most important thing about student radio is that it allows you to fail. And you need to fail and be given the room to fail in order to succeed. Good bosses and producers know that they need to let their “talent” do this in order to succeed. Whilst its hard to always get the opportunity to do this on commercial radio, it’s important to remember that creativity comes in all aspects of a job. And just because the format of the station you end up working at requires quick links, you need to be able to think of new ways to be entertaining in those short spaces.

It was nice to see this thought repeated in a blog by a recent Student Radio graduate, Robin Murphy.

It was somewhat appropriate then that he picked up 2 awards tonight for his station URN. They won more, but I’m particularly interested in one – that for Best Marketing and Station Sound.

You can hear an example of what their entry sounded like here:

I hope that Robin and the team at URN will come and describe what made their marketing entry award winning on a future Earshot Creative Review Podcast – and hopefully some of the other finalists will be able to contribute too. The guys backstage caught up with Robin to find out his reaction on winning

When I was on the tube home from the awards, I was chatting to a student from Bristol Uni. She said “you won’t have heard of our station. We’re pretty small and don’t have huge funding – but we’re getting better”. She was really fired up after the awards – and that’s really what they are all about isn’t it? And it’s worth remembering that not everyone is a URN or Fly FM – there are loads of smaller stations that are just as enthusiastic and striving to produce output as good or better than these stations.

So, if you won, you impressed a lot of important people. If you just missed out – it was probably by the slimmest of margins. And if you didn’t win again – go back and think what you can do differently this year. It’s not necessarily the awards that count. It’s what you learn whilst trying to win them that counts.

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.

Would Kenny Everett be allowed to flourish in radio now?

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Last week, I watched a wonderful drama about the life of the radio producer and broadcaster Kenny Everett.

For those of you born in the late 80s, or who aren’t from the UK, Kenny Everett was an amazingly creative radio broadcaster with an almost bottomless imagination. I never heard his shows on the radio. In fact, I never really watched his TV shows since my Mum thought he was a little vulgar.

He was an amazingly creative broadcaster who created a sonic world out of his imagination. All without digital editors, keyboards, and computer plugins – but a highly creative brain and some pretty deft production tools – using tape and multitrack recorders and pretty much any sound effect creating device he could find. And of course, a cast of thousands from one man’s voice.

There are numerous sites dedicated to him – this one seems a good starting place.

He made jingles for his shows. He wrote and produced promos. And he did it all himself.

And he broke all the rules. In fact, he was sacked many times for breaking those rules.

But how would radio in 2012 have reacted to this broadcaster? Would they have let him flourish or would they have trimmed his wings so that his creative expression was tamed? It’s interesting that the station that hired him after his sacking from the BBC was Capital Radio. Back then, when Capital started, it was a station that had everything to win. It took risks, had a range of shows from rock to classical, and it was huge. Here was a broadcaster that was also larger than life and took loads of creative risks.

What would Kenny have made with the laborious compliance process? Would it have curtailed his creative journey – or would the rules and regulations actually have helped him to refine his comedy?

One thing is clear – there is a real need for someone like Kenny in radio these days. Maybe someone to work in your creative or imaging department or maybe someone on air. Without people like Kenny, radio is slightly less interesting. If you have never heard any of his shows or production, you should take a listen – you might learn something.