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.

The Students are in town..

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Image from Bradford City of Film

The Student Radio Association is hosting it’s 2012 conference in Bradford. I think I came to a student radio here when I was at Uni – indeed it may have been the one when I won my student radio award – back in 1992. Then again, it could have be en Hull – we went there too. Wherever it was, it wasn’t as big as this conference.

In fact, there’s very little I remember from that conference, apart from a talk from a record plugging company, a panel with Liz Kershaw (who presented the awards) and a load of drinking. And I think we borrowed a few traffic cones. But that could have been the conference at Hatfield Uni. Again – its blurry. And I’m sure they borrowed them back when the conference came to Canterbury..

The conference in Bradford is a whole world away from that one:
There’s a search for the voice of the awards (previous entrants have ended up being used as Radio 1 station voices). There’s Demo Factor – where students face a judging panel to give them real honest feedback. Plus panels from loads of industry professionals ranging from news to show production to engineering and of course marketing and promotions (10am on the Tuesday btw..)

What’s exciting from events like these is that people are still excited by a career in radio. Sure, some want to be on air but many want to get involved in producing radio too. And it’s great to see a whole host of former student radio people who now work in radio giving up time to contribute to panels and discussions. There’s a full list here

The most important thing you’ll learn at events like this is the power of networking. Talk to people. Listen to people. And remember that those people will sometimes know the people that you really want to get to know. Build relationships online with these people – you never know when they could be a doorway to the one introduction that gets you into the job that you really want.

And don’t steal the traffic cones.