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…

The Sweet Sound of Student Success

IMG_3978

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.

Moyles World Cup Commentary

I’ve just watched the first half of the World Cup match between Spain and Germany and was listening to the alternative commentary by Chris Moyles for the Spain v Germany match.

This was a really clever idea (though shame it wasn’t on Freeview). Clever use of radio talent to provide something extra. This was squarely aimed at Radio 1 Chris Moyles fans. And it wasn’t really commentary. It was Chris doing what he normally does – with most of his audio props. It’s not something you’d necessarily watch if you were a real footy fan – but for someone with passive interest, this was great.

I noticed the BBC did something similar for F1 coverage last year – with a CBBC aimed alternative commentary. It was another way of extending the output to new audiences.

Of course, not everyone is a Moyles fan. But this was a really clever (and entertaining idea). Hopefully it won’t be a one off.

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

A1DFD4

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.