Monday, 21 December 2009

"Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let it Snow!"

And so as the large and silent snowflakes drift majestically downwards from a dark and dreary sky... and the view from my office window here in Windsor seems like it’s taken directly from a Hallmark Christmas card, it feels an appropriate time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. It’s been another fascinating year in radio as we say goodbye to the ‘Noughties’ and stand on the edge of a new decade (The Tens??). Imagine for a moment if we fast-forwarded a decade right now, I wonder what the radio business will look like in 2019 going into 2020?

There are many radio futurologists who spend a good deal of time thinking about the way radio will evolve, and much of their speculation is derived from and rooted in advances and changes in technology. There’s no doubt that technological advance has changed all media an unimaginable amount over the last decade, so it is reasonable to believe that the next decade will be no different.

I’m writing this as I’m listening to my shiny new ‘Pure Sensia’, which as many of you know is a device which does a pretty good job of integrating FM, DAB, Wi-Fi radio, Podcasts and my own music library at home. Having spent a few days with it, I find that actually after a while, it becomes pretty unimportant to me which type of technology I’m employing to listen; I just want the content that I want, there and then. And if an integrated device can bring it to me simply... great.

I’ve found a whole new seam of previously untapped stations and content to listen to, and so my time spent listening to audio entertainment (or radio as we used to call it) has increased of late.

So, if the technology advances in a positive way to make the user experience an even better one, the onus then swings back to programmers and programme makers once again. We have to strive for even more creativity to make sure our content stands out in the plethora of audio entertainment available. That’s easier said than done, but it’s nice to see there are stations and programmers who understand the importance of this right now. Spending some time, effort and yes... I’m afraid you’ll have to spend some money, in developing creative radio hosts and programmes is going to be vital for the next decade.

Programmers need to take more risks. I’ve seen stations become so nervous of making a mistake in tough economic times, they become a sterile, insular and unimaginative. Meanwhile the ones who are prepared to take calculated risks are sowing the seeds for a healthy future in the digital space. And making radio a ‘digital enabled’ business is vital in the commercial sector if radio groups worldwide are to compete with the internet for ad-spend.

But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Radio is evolving, but the pace of change varies from market to market. At least let’s try and plan the next 12-24 months ahead and see which way the wind blows. If the last decade is anything to go by, it may be a regularly changing wind which gives us a few storms along the way!

In the meantime, I wish all my lovely clients and radio friends from stations and media businesses across the world all the very best for Christmas, and a very successful 2010.

And now Dean Martin and a large glass of Mulled Wine await me...

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Radio 'Going Green' in Copenhagen


I’m in Copenhagen right now and it feels like the ‘place to be’ as the world’s leaders, and media, descend for final few days of the COP 15 Climate Conference. It seems every TV and radio reporter possible is here and every second person is carrying some sort of recording equipment.

From a ‘media operator in Denmark’ perspective, it’s great to have such a big event on your doorstep. The creative and ‘fun’ possibilities are massive. (Yesterday, the afternoon host at Radio 100FM talked to the gym instructor at the hotel where Arnold Schwarzenegger is staying to discuss his morning workout routine!!)

But how does a music radio station reflect upon the reason that the conference is taking place and bring the rather massive issue of Climate Change to an audience who tune in mainly for a diet of ‘fun’ and inoffensive pop songs?

At Radio 100FM we felt it was important to present the issues in a palatable and mainstream way. So throughout the duration of the conference, we’ve been running some imaging giving ‘tips for living a greener life’ which are presented by kids... or as they’re referred to on air, “The next generation of Radio 100FM listeners...”.

We also developed a series of short features called “The Green Minute”. These try and explain some of the big issues in a simple, conversational and easy to digest package, which is, you’ve guessed it... 60 seconds long. So things like De-forestation, Carbon Trading and Renewable Energy are all summarised and explained in these features which run in every daypart across the station. Naturally, we’re recycling lots of the content!

Add in some topical ‘Top of Hours’ welcoming the world to Denmark plus some other 'green' sweepers, and pretty soon you’ve tapped into the vibe and have introduced the whole climate change issue to a very mainstream audience, reflecting the significance of the event.

This is backed up with some good online content that is written with the brand in mind (i.e. not too detailed and not too ‘newsy’). And the final touch... change the station logo to a special climate change / green logo for the duration of the conference. (It's normally blue).

I believe all radio stations should try and reflect big events happening in their country / their ‘patch’, regardless of how it fits with their brand. There are many ways to do this and here in Denmark, we’ve just used a few of them.

When you work in an industry that mainly entertains people and plays pop songs, it’s nice to occasionally feel that you’ve done a little bit to introduce some weighty issues of global significance to a section of the public that may have not previously thought about them a great deal. The fact that their favourite music radio station is talking about climate change, may in a tiny way, help to bring the issues to an even wider audience across Denmark.

Now it’s up to the politicians to do their bit!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Terry's Leaving!

A great video from BBC Radio 2 with other broadcasters paying tribute to the departing Sir Terry Wogan...


Friday, 4 December 2009

Absolute 80's

Fans of 80's music... standby! A new radio station launches today at 18:00 GMT at www.absolute80s.com with back to back 80's hits. The full schedule, I'm reliably informed, launches in January.

An over-enthusiastic review will no doubt follow right here!!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The UK Radioplayer

For a while, the UK radio industry have been talking about putting together an online player that delivers the option to listen to all UK radio stations from one place, whether BBC or commercial. The aim of collaboration is simple; promote the medium and then allow consumers to choose what content they want to listen to. More radio listening = better for the radio industry.

This is a massive leap forward in terms of a whole industry realising that sometimes it’s in the long term interest of ‘radio’ as an industry, to work together... whatever side of the fence you inhabit.

The video below is a mocked up version of what it may look like, previewed by Tim Davie (The BBC’s top Audio and Music man) at the Media Festival in Manchester. I like the way it allows commercial stations to still ‘be commercial’ and not lose the revenue opportunities of having an collaborative industry wide ‘radio player’.

If it’s anything like the mock up, it will be pretty cool... especially when it goes mobile too!

Let’s not forget the share of internet listening in the UK according to the last RAJAR numbers is still only 2.2% (compared to 13.3% for DAB)... but anything which makes listening to a range of stations online will no doubt help to increase online listening.

I should say I am a multi-platform proponent, believing a “mixed economy” of DAB, DTV, Online and Mobile listening is where the future of listening lies. Let’s keep backing a variety of horses, and the industry as a whole will be a winner.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Is Cheese Back in Fashion?

Is the current Magic 105.4 ad for their Mystery Voices any better than the current Capital ad?



It actually reminds me a bit of those old cheesy 1980's Birthday Bonanza ads from Capital!


Capital FM - Good or Bad TV Commercial?


I saw this ad for Capital FM’s Jingle Bell Ball on TV last week. A few people commented at the time on the quality of the sound mix not being very good... and I think they have a point! But I was interested more to see what other people generally thought of the ad.

In my view, it seems a shame that when any brand spend a decent amount of money on TV airtime, they then air a commercial that has pretty low production values, it effectively makes the brand look cheaper than it actually is and devalues it somewhat. (The fact that the airtime may well be bartered in a reciprocal arrangement with ITV shouldn’t influence the production values of the spot)

There are lots of good examples of great TV spots for radio stations. But this isn’t one of them I'm afraid. And I’m not even sure if it would have had achieved its desired effect of driving new listeners to tune in either.

Great event. Bad TV commercial.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Radiodays Europe is coming!

Tomorrow (Monday 26th October) sees the launch of a new radio conference for Europe. It’s called ‘Radiodays Europe’ and the first one will take place in Copenhagen on 18th / 19th March 2009.

The idea behind it, according to the organisers, is to create a conference for European radio professionals that really understands the issues that many radio stations and radio related businesses across Europe have.

Last week I was asked to participate in an ‘ideas session’ for the conference and joined colleagues from the UK and Europe in discussing what kind of conference we, as fellow radio professionals, wanted to have.

I’m sure you’ll have your own views and I know the organisers are keen to hear them, which is why building the programme will be as interactive and transparent a process as possible.

For my part, I thought the conference should have the following attributes:

Fun – entertaining sessions with entertaining speakers. No more ‘dry’ lectures that go on and on!

Interactive – Building the conference should be as interactive and transparent a process as possible, with delegates contributing before, during and after the event

Inclusive Social Events – Conferences are as much about networking as anything else, so creating social events that people actually want to go to and meet new people, is important

Practical and Theoretical Mix – I believe delegates want practical advice that they can take away and use straight away, as well as a glimpse into the future and how things may develop. Getting the mix right is vital.

Non Radio Speakers – The best sessions at radio conferences usually involve a speaker from another sector giving their view on the industry, how they would approach it, or just talking about their own industry. More of these please!

I hope that Radiodays Europe will deliver on all these points and more. If it does, it will be a fantastic conference and an annual fixture on the European radio circuit.

I’ll be sure to keep you up to date on this one.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Facebook Group


If you're a 'Facebook-er', and you also occasionally read this blog, then you may want to join the associated Facebook group. Think of it as a smaller brother or kid sister!


It contains small nuggets of information, thoughts, comments and links to some interesting stuff... and due to the wonders of technology, updates will appear in your newsfeed should you become a member.

And in times of recession... good news... membership is free ;-)

Friday, 16 October 2009

"Alas... poor Radio"

The radio business can be the most fun business in the world to work in, but we can’t escape the fact that it’s a business. If you work in the commercial world, you’re more than aware of the tough trading conditions that we all currently face in markets all over the world. The last couple of weeks have reinforced to me the challenges of the business side of the profession I love.

The story takes place in Denmark, and although it’s quite a few miles from Elsinore, there’s a little of the ‘Shakespearian tragedy’ about the whole affair.

The owner of Radio 100FM, Denmark’s largest commercial station was John De Mol, the Dutch media tycoon, who’s company is probably most famous for bring Big Brother to our screens. He decided that he no longer wanted to be in radio, and having sold his Dutch radio business some time ago, wanted to dispose of his Danish station. However, rather than wait for a buyer to come along in a ‘down market’... he withdrew his funding, therefore forcing the station into administration and bankruptcy rather quickly. The station did not have large cash reserves to keep it afloat.

Danish commercial radio on a national scale has a history of financial problems with the ill fated Sky Radio, TV2 Radio and now Radio 100FM. Without going into too much detail, the financial structure that has been imposed on stations is more than burdensome (both from government and from rights holders), however Danish commercial radio is looking forward to a new era of the government understanding the issues more acutely, and encouraging growth of the sector as opposed to setting insurmountable financial barriers.

The downside of the bankruptcy was that a whole load of good radio people were made redundant and that’s not a pleasant process, regardless of which side of the desk you’re sitting on.

The good news is that the Managing Director, Jim Receveur (good name for radio!) has bought the assets of the old company (the name, the studios, a few of the staff) and the station is still on the air! The brand is such a strong radio brand in Denmark with around 1.3 Million weekly listeners (12+) and a loyal base built up over 6 years, so it’s just too good a proposition to let it go to the wall.

So, the station is currently being run on a skeleton staff. But this week there were some part time roles advertised in a bid to ensure that there are enough people to maintain the level of quality and service to both listeners and advertisers.

This is a positive move and although the future shape and level of staffing of the station is yet to be fully formed, it’s a move in the right direction to build the business back up again.

If there’s ever a time for radio programmers, producers, talent, journalists etc to appreciate the “business” of radio... it’s now. Keeping costs at an acceptable level and placing resource where it gives the best return is essential. Being creative and flexible with clients is vital. But more importantly, addressing the whole business model of radio actually the opportunity that this recession really presents.

The media landscape is changing so fast that radio needs to rapidly adapt its revenue models to survive in future. We can’t continue the over-reliance on the ‘spot ad’, reinforced with a dollop of S&P revenue along the way. If we ignore what is happening to media and the patterns of consumers as we approach a new decade, we do so at our own peril.

(Without trying to sound too much like Gordon Brown)... the setback is the challenge and the opportunity to learn.

And I’m certainly looking forward to the challenge ahead with this particular client.

Friday, 2 October 2009

They're Absolutely 1 Year Old...

Happy 1st Birthday to all the team at Absolute Radio!

There’s no doubt that they’ve done an enormous amount to establish their own brand identity in the first 12 months. I think they’ve done a great job in creating some fantastic content... not just great radio. Absolute are a company who understand the seismic shift taking place in the way media is now being consumed, and want to ensure their brand of audio and music based entertainment won’t be left behind in the ‘content land grab’ that’s going on every single day.

If there’s a current good example of a forward thinking ‘traditional’ media company in the UK, then they would be up there.
Well done guys...

Here’s a video showcasing their ‘best bits’.

Enjoy.


Monday, 28 September 2009

"I'd like to thank God..."

Radio Awards are funny things.

I say that, because I’ve had perspective from being both a judge and potential recipient of an award last week.

If you win at an awards ceremony, it’s obvious that the awards are a really important thing and “it recognises the efforts everyone made” etc... If you lose, then of course they mean nothing because... “it’s all about the listeners really” etc...

I’m happy to say that at the Danish Radio Awards 2009, one of the biggies... “Station of the Year”, went to Radio 100FM (where I am Consultant Programme Director). So of course, let me first say that this award recognises the efforts that everyone made throughout the year!!

I’m pleased, not only because I believe the station did some innovative and engaging programming in 2009 and the team worked exceptionally hard, but because it beat the ‘might’ of the public service station P3, which is a little bit like BBC Radio 1... only quite a bit broader in its output.

I was reminded of the nice pot of money that some public service broadcasters have given to them in some countries whilst I was speaking at the rather excellent Radiodays conference in Copenhagen at the weekend. The new shiny ‘DR’ headquarters was the venue, and boy... have spent a bit of money on their building!! It was so over budget when they finished it, that the DG lost their job! I think one of the toilet blocks is bigger than the whole Radio 100FM office space! But it’s not what it looks like... it what’s you do with it, right?

Meanwhile, last week I judged the Radio Academy’s Promotions and Marketing Awards in the UK. There were some great entries in my category and I look forward to meeting everyone on the night of 22nd October.

If you came along to either Radiodays session in Stockholm or Copenhagen... thanks for coming. Standing room only in both venues. And if you want the handout from the session, just get in touch.

Friday, 18 September 2009

A Converging World

I was discussing the rather small topic of ‘convergence of technologies’ with a client this week, and we were talking about how ‘audio entertainment’, including radio, may be consumed in future. There have already been several good posts about the timely launch of the new ‘Pure Sensia’ radio yesterday. It feels to me, that this is a real step forward and places traditional radio at the centre of audio entertainment, which includes downloaded music and personal music databases, internet radio, DAB and more traditional FM services. Combine this with a great user friendly touch screen with possibilities for great visualisation, and an intuitive interface... and you know you’re looking at a big step forward in ‘radio’ hardware.

It make the ‘iPod with radio’ look a little passé really doesn’t it?

However, the point of radio needing to be included in a 'Digital Future' is something that more and more stations are cottoning on to across the world. We all know that different markets are at different stages of adoption of new technologies... but it really is only a matter of time before it comes to your country if it isn't there already. There is a march of inevitability about it, and ensuring stations are prepared to take advantage of the possibilities and monetise them successfully is something I’ll be focusing a lot of my energies on in 2010.

Here’s a great ‘short’ that is very popular at the moment. It puts into perspective the theme of a changing media landscape. If you were unsure about the necessity to adopt and integrate new technologies into your radio business, you won’t be after watching this!



Thursday, 10 September 2009

FM Radio is Cool - It's Official!

So... Apple have finally realised that people do actually like listening to the radio!

Shock horror!!

I'm sure we could have told them that... right?

Monday, 7 September 2009

Good Morning Britain!

So... the UK’s most popular breakfast show is to get a new host. The widely predicted replacement of Terry Wogan from BBC Radio 2, with a certain Mr C Evans (of the same parish) isn’t exactly shocking in itself, however there are a couple of thoughts worth pondering today;

Moving younger... again!
There’s no doubt that Chris’ show will appeal to a younger demo than Terry’s. Just as there is more pressure on the “chilling” BBC to justify chasing younger audiences and generally being successful to excess (and to the detriment of commercial rivals) , they seem to stick two fingers up at the critics and announce a move that undeniably illustrates the point. Let’s not forget that in the last decade, Radio 2’s reach among 15-34 year olds has risen by 62%!

Certainly the show will turn off a section of the audience (mainly older Daily Mail readers!) who will still have the perception of Chris as a drunken buffoon who hangs out with Gazza all day and night. The truth lies a long way away from this, but Chris’s ‘youthful exuberance’ is an image he will retain for many years to come.

I believe the show will attract listeners from commercial radio... and probably more than it drives away from its existing base. Potential losers could be Absolute Radio, who despite having a very solid and listenable show with Christian O' Connell, may find that the offer of a big personality with a strong breakfast show track record, combined with a broader mix of music genres is a very tempting proposition for listeners. The somewhat ‘disenfranchised’ older listeners to the heritage ILR stations, (like Key 103 and Radio City) and newer regional offerings (like Real Radio) may also find that Radio 2 starts to pull at those all important 40+ demos.

Transition
After what will inevitably be a backlash from ‘middle-England’ / “disgusted from Tunbridge Wells” and a general outrage at the appointment of Chris to the role, this will die down (as it did shortly after Chris took over Drivetime) and people will get on with judging the show by what comes out of the speaker in the new year.

The differences in style between the current Breakfast Show and the Drivetime show on Radio 2 are vast. So the big question is... Will Chris adapt his style to the new time-slot to smooth the transition, or will he re-define the style of the ‘sound of breakfast’ on Radio 2? My view is he will do the latter, and shake up the show. Out go the ‘TOG’s’, and in will come a more bouncy, jaunty style of presentation complete with trademark ‘feelgood’ music beds and ensemble of characters. It’s a great formula that Chris has used repeatedly well throughout his radio career, and I don’t expect him to change now. Although Chris won’t go out of his way to alienate the loyal listeners to Wogan, I’m certain he won’t shy away from making the show his own within a pretty short space of time.

Salary
It won’t take long before questions are no doubt asked in the House of Commons as to “how much of licence fee payers money is being used to pay for the services of Mr Evans?” Will he be paid more than commercial radio could currently muster for a big breakfast show? Do BBC salaries distort the market? Well – I’m certain that if Mr Park and Co at Global really wanted a networked breakfast show and they felt Chris was the man for it, they would be able to find the money somewhere! (Mind you – can’t imagine Chris appearing on Heart somehow!) The cost of talent is a whole subject in itself, so I’ll save that one for another posting... OK?

Timing
I smiled a wry smile at the timing of the announcement this morning. It is no accident that Wogan chose to announce this on the very day that Chris Moyles becomes the longest serving Radio 1 Breakfast DJ in its history. Behind the smiles, the rivalry runs deep and there is a certain calculated timing in all this I feel! I’d love to have heard the phone calls between the Radio 1 and Radio 2 press offices today!

Chris
I’ve always been an admirer of Chris and his sheer devotion to radio as a medium. He consistently delivered some great radio shows on whatever station he’s been on.... OK... there were a few dodgy months at Virgin where the show (and Chris) “lost it” for a bit, but hey... haven’t we all had the occasional wobble?! He’s both a dream and a nightmare to work with, and certainly proves the point that ‘the best talent is the hardest to work with’. But he reminds me why I love working in radio.

In a period where traditional radio is coming under pressure from all sorts of digital offerings, (and providing you can set aside the politics of it all), it’s great news to have a real star like Chris heading up a flagship programme like the Radio 2 Breakfast Show.

I for one, will be tuned in.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

"God kväll Stockholm!" and "Det er dejligt at være tilbage i København!"

September.... the kids are back at school, the telly gets good again, and there’s a glut of great radio conferences to look forward to. RADIODAYS takes places every year in one of the world's most lovliest areas, Scandinavia, with Denmark, Sweden and Norway all collaborating to bring the best possible international line-up to appear in each country.

I’m pleased to say I’ll be speaking at both ‘Radiodagen’ in Stockholm on 23rd September and the sister conference ‘RADIODAYS’ in Copenhagen on 26th September.

The subject – “Morning Shows – the Secrets To Success” As we all know, Morning Shows are the backbone of music radio stations across the world. Having a great morning show is essential for success in any marketplace. The session will explore what the crucial ingredients are, and whether you can add these together to formulate the recipe for a great morning show.

But I’m not doing it on my own… oh no Sir! I’ll be joined by the wonderful Gareth Roberts. I worked with Gareth when he was the executive producer of The Johnny Vaughan Show on Capital FM.

Gareth started his radio career as a presenter and news reader before moving to Capital FM, London where he became Head of News. He then moved into programming, producing various big shows before becoming PD at 106 Century FM in the East Midlands. He returned to London in 2004 to become the launch editor and then executive producer on The Johnny Vaughan Breakfast Show on Capital FM. Following Chris Tarrant was a very tough job, but after a difficult start the programme went back to what many saw as its rightful place as "London's Number 1!". After five years of early starts Gareth has changed sides and is now Assistant Editor at BBC London 94.9, overseeing the programming and news output on the BBC's station for London, looking after a highly talented and varied schedule of presenters.

He’s a great guy and has a lot of good stuff to say, so I’m delighted we’re going to be working together again (albeit for 2 days only!!) at these forthcoming conferences.

We’ll be sharing our thoughts on areas such as character development, benchmarks, music content and features, comedy writers, zoo formats and stunts, as well as evaluating their importance in the overall recipe. Morning Show hosts, producers and Programme Directors should get plenty of fresh ideas to take away to try at their own radio station and hopefully be closer to finding those elusive ‘Morning Show Secrets to Success”!

If you’re attending the conferences in either Stockholm or Copenhagen, do stop by and say ‘hej’!

Friday, 21 August 2009

V Festival - Live on Absolute Radio

Making the most of the content you have available to you is really key for all radio stations nowadays. Especially when it comes to coverage of live events.

I say this confident in the knowledge that Absolute Radio will be ensuring they use all the cleverest technology available to them to engage listeners with their coverage of the Virgin Media ‘V Festival’ taking place this weekend in the UK. They’ll no doubt be uploading videos, stack of photos, interviews and doing a who load of live shows from the festival, plus I hear they’re bringing the full Oasis and Snow Patrol sets live on the radio too. Pretty good stuff I'd say.

The festival line-up is impressive. The aforementioned Oasis and Snow Patrol, plus Razorlight, Lily Allen, Keane, Katy Perry, Fatboy Slim... the list goes on and on. Take your pick. It also features a return from the great band Ocean Colour Scene, who I was reminded played the first festival that the station really covered live (back when it was called Virgin Radio)... V2000.

Having attended the event the year previously (in 1999), I realised that there was a whole load of great bands and fantastic potential on-air content and we weren’t really doing anything live from the event. So the then S&P Director (Rob Ramsey) and I (Head of Music for Virgin Radio at the time) decided that if he could get the coverage of the event sponsored, I would work on putting together a massive Outside Broadcast from V2000.

He stuck to his side of the bargain and duly got Sky Sports to sponsor it, so I headed the team that put together the music and programming side of things. 12 months later, and cue... one big tent, one mobile radio studio and production facility, lines to all the main stages, mobile trucks to do broadcast mixes of live sets, an acoustic stage, and furious negotiations with record companies to get all the appropriate rights.

Sure enough, that year the radio stations coverage of the V Festival was born, and I’m delighted to say, 9 years later it still continues, allbeit under the stations new name of Absolute Radio . Ocean Colour Scene came to play for us on our acoustic stage that year, and I sure hope they’ll be making a return visit to the Absolute Radio area this weekend.

Back in 2000, we were joined by quite a new band that I thought were pretty good and deserved some exposure. They were called Coldplay.
Whatever happened to them then?


So tune in this weekend if you get the chance. I’m certain the team at Absolute will do a great job

More Success at Radio Expres

It’s time again to give a radio station the credit it deserves. Congratulations go to client station Radio Expres in Slovakia. The latest MML ratings have been released there, and once again, the station is head and shoulders above the competition and its equalled it all time record reach figure. Take a look the growth of audience (on the orange line) since 2002...

Impressive isn’t it! Particularly in 2005, when they overtook the public service station Radio Slovensko. It shows that heritage public service broadcasters can be overtaken by commercial rivals if the product is focused in all key areas.

The team under the guidance of PD Ivan Antala, also work closely with Jochen Lukas the guys at Brand Support, who regularly provide them with great research to work with. As we all know, this is a really important element of any station’s success.

I’m travelling out to Bratislava next week to work with the team at Radio Expres on some creative activity for the ‘new season’ and thought it might be good to do a little ‘Q and A’ with Ivan while I’m there and get him to share why he believes the station has shown consistent growth. I’ll post this piece in due course. I’m sure it will make interesting reading.

In the meantime, here’s a recent video from their ‘summer morning show’, where guest female co-hosts (who were drawn from listeners that successfully auditioned to be a co-host) tried to put-off the ‘weekly weather guy’. This never used to happen when I was on air!!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Radio 100FM at Smukfest 2009!

Here’s a short video showing you some ‘behind the scenes’ action of the Radio 100FM coverage of Smukfest 2009!



And here are a couple of Outside Broadcast tips that working on this event reminded me of...

Planning
Plan, plan and then do some more planning! You can never be too prepared.

Technical
Invest as much as you can in the technical setup. If everything works well technically, then producing great content is always a lot easier

Location
Choose your location carefully. Too tucked away and you won’t get the visibility you need. But if you’re right in the centre of the action, it could be more difficult to control the environment

Roles
Make sure everyone knows exactly what their role is in pre-production, and on site. If everyone’s doing their assigned job, things should go smoothly

Brand Interaction
Have a reason for people to stop by and spend some time with your brand. At this event, we had an internet cafe where people were checking out their email and Facebook all day

Detail
It’s the small things that can make the difference and really make your brand look good. A fridge stocked full of cold beer for bands who drop by, or handing out branded umbrellas if it starts to rain

If you want to see some more videos and pictures from the event, you can visit the Radio 100FM Smukfest pages here

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Smukfest Update!

It’s Sunday morning. 15 hours of live coverage from Denmark’s Smukfest 2009 completed... and 7 hours still left to go.


The weather’s been great... the festival’s been great... and more importantly, I’m delighted to say that the coverage on Radio 100FM has been flawless.

The OB unit has really served its purpose well, both in terms of functionality and visibility.


And the content has been really engaging. You can see and hear a lot of it right now on the Radio 100FM website.

Interviews, live sessions and a fantastic array of ‘colour pieces’ have captured the unique spirit of this festival and communicated that to listeners right across the country.

The video camera has been in action and I’ll post some of the video I shot in due course and also share some of the ‘learnings’ that we’ve got out of the experience. Any major outside broadcast is always a challenge and it occasionally throws up the unexpected. Being flexible and being able to deal with issues as they arise is vital and I’ll provide you with some essential OB tips!

But for now, here’s a great way to ‘camp’ at a festival. In a Pig Pen!! They’re waterproof, equipped with electricity and camp beds and all the mod cons. What else would you expect from one of the major exporters of bacon in the world!



Wednesday, 5 August 2009

It's Festival Time!

I’ve just arrived in Denmark where I’ll be spending most of the next 7 days in a field. Let me explain.

Smukfest is one of a plethora of great festivals that Europe has to offer over the summer. A place called Skanderborg on the island of Jutland (about 3 hours drive west from Copenhagen) will be transformed into a mini tented city as hundreds of thousands of lovely Danes enjoy one big party, entertained by the likes of Kylie Minogue, Fatboy Slim, The Streets, Editors and also the finest Danish bands currently on offer. And Aqua.

Radio 100FM (where I’m Consultant Programme Director) will be presenting over 22 hours of live coverage of the festival and bringing listeners across Denmark the music, action and vibe of Smukfest 2009. ‘Smuk’ means ‘beautiful’ in Danish, and the setting is precisely that... beautiful. Acres of gorgeous woodland topped off with an idyllic lake, opposite which our OB wagons are being set up.

And why are we going to such lengths? Why do radio stations cover music festivals?

Visibility
It’s important for your brand to be seen, especially in the right places. A well planned and highly visible OB acts as a huge 3D billboard for you radio station if executed correctly

Music Image
All stations need to constantly reinforce their music image, and this can be effectively done by positioning the radio station alongside the right kind of event, both in attitudinally and musically. If you play a lot of Coldplay, being at a festival where they are appearing is probably a good idea. Your P1’s will see this as confirmation they’re with the right radio station for their tastes.

Content
Music festivals provide hours of great content for both on-air and online. If you’ve tied up the rights correctly, you can have exclusive performances from core artists to your station recorded from the main stages, interviews with some big stars, acoustic sessions and live shows that offer a real point of difference

Listener Engagement
Radio stations are often guilty of ‘hiding’ in their industrial estates or beautiful media style offices in the cool part of town, and as a result, the staff don’t get to speak to listeners enough. Having an opportunity to talk to and ‘touch’ listeners is a very powerful tool

Sponsorship Opportunity
Commercial stations can create a unique opportunity for a sponsor to be associated with the on air-coverage of a really cool event. Build in ticket giveaways, ‘best of’ shows, online coverage etc, and the value of the package can be quite substantial and deliver a welcome boost to revenue

There are plenty of other reasons to be there, but these are some of the main motivating factors that drove me to plan this Outside Broadcast. I’ve got a fantastic team of around 18 people working on the production, so it’s a large piece of activity to stage, but I’m confident that we’ll produce some quality radio for our listeners.

As the event unfolds from Thursday onwards, I’ll try and blog some updates with from the OB, and share with you how my vision for the coverage for Smukfest 2009 is turning into a reality.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Buzz Off!

I’ve just visited client station KRONEHIT based in Vienna, who are just celebrating audience figures (from their measurement system in Austria called ‘Radio Test’) that put them well over the ½ Million listeners mark. Well done to all the hardworking team there. One of the fun initiatives that I heard about while I was there, is a fantastic idea that I had to share with you.

In summer, as we know, there are a lot of insects about... especially mosquitoes, which if you are near any water, can be particularly bad. So KRONEHIT are offering listeners a 'Mosquito Free Summer'! How? Well... with a little bit of technical trickery!

They are embedding a silent tone of 14,850 Hertz in the signal, which imitates the buzzing of female mosquitoes. Therefore other female mosquitoes who hear this tone, are apparently repelled by the sound, and don’t come near it! Brilliant!

Therefore, the message is simple. If you’re outdoors, get KRONEHIT playing on the radio and you’ll enjoy your first summer without mosquitoes!! Genius!

Now, there’s a lot of debate as to whether high frequencies actually repel mosquitoes or not.... but that’s not the point. The initiative is quirky enough for people to try and it and stands out as something really interesting when you hear it.

When I was told about this, I didn’t know if it was some sort of whacky radio stunt or not... but they are actually doing it for real, with a real frequency generator on the transmission chain. And I’m sure they’ll be lots of listeners who say how brilliantly it works too.

It’s an example of a fun idea that’s very different, and creates standout for a station in a highly competitive market. It’s ideas like this one that have no doubt helped the station grow every book for the last 2 ½ years.

Well – that and playing the most music!
If you have any doubt as to how it works, here’s a handy video from the morning show producer to explain all...



Monday, 3 August 2009

I read the news 2Day... Oh boy!

By now, you may have seen the story about ‘The Kyle and Jackie O Show’ on 2Day FM in Sydney. The crux of the story is that a 14 year old girl admitted being raped during a live ‘lie detector’ benchmark on their morning show.

The mechanic works like this. One person who has suspicions about the behaviour of another person can arrange for both appear on ‘The Lie Detector’ and awkward and embarrassing questions are then asked. The results are there for all to hear, as a producer or polygraph analyst is there to say if the person being grilled is lying or not. It could work for a husband and wife, boyfriend or girlfriend or even on this occasion, a parent and child.

You may want to hear the item in question so I've uploaded it onto my You Tube channel...





This story has highlighted a few issues.

There’s a very thin line between genuine entertainment derived from real life situations, and really uncomfortable listening. I think you’ll all agree that this was the latter. It’s quite good fun to use a ‘Lie Detector’ to see if your boyfriend has stuck to his commitment of not drinking beer for a month... or if your wife has ever bought a pair of shoes and not told you. This kind of stuff is light, fluffy and pretty harmless.

Where 2Day FM got it wrong was taking a morning show benchmark, which should be about fun and entertainment, and inserting some very difficult real life situations into it. Any decent radio station has a moral responsibility to not recklessly exploit people for the benefit of ratings, and frankly... this was a disaster waiting to happen.

The producer or presenters would have met with the participants before hand, and should have checked ‘which way’ this on air item was going. Alarms bells should have started ringing, and you can tell by the tone on-air of both the parent and daughter, that there was obviously quite a tense relationship anyway. The girl states the whole thing is unfair. They simply shouldn’t have been allowed on air if there was any suspicion that it may go wrong. The producer obviously made the call... which proved to be the wrong one.

Issues such as underage sex, drugs and drinking are legitimate issues that could make for very compelling radio. However, probably not on a morning show and certainly not dealt with in the way we’ve heard here. I’m all for radio dealing with awkward topics, and there are some fantastic examples of when radio does this, but not in the name of entertainment.

To her credit, Jackie (the female host) did her best to get out of the situation, whist Kyle’s “And was that the only experience you’ve had?” response to the child’s revelation has to go down as one of the worst attempts at a recovery... ever. It’s almost Alan Partridge-like in its crassness!

The GM of 2Day FM said in a statement "Kyle and Jackie and 2Day FM were saddened by the turn of events this morning. In the normal course of preparing the segment all due care and consideration was given to the family and clearly we didn’t know anything about the incident."

"The moment we became aware of it was live on air and we shut it down as soon as we possibly could. As is only appropriate, we are offering all the assistance we can to the family, including counselling, in what is of course an extraordinarily difficult situation.”
So – what can we all learn from this?

Vet participants carefully!
Make sure you have the ‘right kind of people’ on the air for any listener participation piece. The more potentially risky the item, the more checks should be done. Giving away a pair of Madonna tickets should not require too many checks!

If it goes wrong... stop right away!
Sometimes more damage is done trying to perform an immediate ‘on-air recovery’. If you can stop an item and play another record... do so. Then you can buy yourself some time to work out what to say, and perhaps apologise if necessary

Use Delay!
If you plan something on air that has the potential to go terribly wrong, at least run it in delay so you can bail out of the show buying you the 7-10 seconds that you need to lose the most offensive bit.

The story is still ongoing and Kyle Sandilands, who is a bit of hate figure in Australia anyway, is certainly “persona non grata” currently. He’s been ditched from the ‘Idol’ show on TV... there’s talk of the police investigating... and the show’s been suspended while an investigation has been launched. The press are having a field day.

Personally, I think it's actually the mother who had arranged for them to go on the air, that should be hung out to dry! What kind of parent would want to do that? Perhaps the same kind that appear on The Jeremy Kyle TV show in the UK. Hang on a minute... what is it about the name 'Kyle'?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Who's Bad?

I’ve spent the last couple of days with my head ‘in research’ finding out all sorts of interesting things and generally reminding myself of how ‘fun’ a good piece of well executed radio research can be. (Feel free to reclassify me as a bit of a research geek now!)

One question that was discussed in passing over the last few days was “I wonder how Michael Jackson records will test in an AMT if you did one right now?”

After the increased exposure of most of his back catalogue on not only all formats of radio for the last few weeks, but constantly on TV, what are the audiences views on these records? Do they like them more? Are they all now burned to death? Does the fact that the albums are flying off the shelves mean that people are reappraising the songs and therefore mainstream radio should be playing more of them? What’s the best testing Jacko song on the planet right now?

I don’t have any of the answers... and couldn’t ask any of these questions in the piece of research I’m now studying, as he was still alive when we wrote the questionnaire!

But I wonder if there’s...

a) Any good data out there looking at this right now
b) If anyone has any educated guesses

Answers on a postcard to Nik Goodman, 88-108 Geek Street, Testville, USA
(Or just post a reply!)

Friday, 26 June 2009

Thrilling Radio

As I arrived home last night from spending the week in Copenhagen I settled down to watch to the BBC 10 O Clock News, saw the Michael Jackson story break at around 10:20pm and soon realised that we may be on the verge on something quite considerable.

Out came the laptop, on went the kettle and BBC News Channel / Sky News... and communications were established with the radio station I had just left. As I was hearing about the story on the TMZ website, which were the first to report Michael Jackson was dead, I started planning for the morning ahead.

I even managed to capture a screen grab of both TMZ and The LA Times as I went along ... a kind of strange ‘breaking news’ collector’s item of a momentous culturally significant event.

The timing was quite convenient (if these things are ever convenient, particularly to the person dying!) because it meant that most listeners in Europe switching on the radio in the morning would be hearing the news first from their favourite radio station, that Michael Jackson had died.

Therefore, there was a great opportunity to plan a ‘content packed’ show throughout the night and be ready for 6am... which is exactly what I did!

As consultant Programme Director for Radio 100FM in Denmark, I took charge of providing direction for that particular station in areas such as tone of voice, music, production etc... but I was backed up by a fantastic team who all came in early to ensure listeners got the best possible product. For good measure, all client stations received a bespoke 2am ‘advice’ email! :-)

What were the key ingredients?

Information – people needed to hear the facts about what had happened
Reaction – getting reaction from both listeners and celebrities on the breaking news
Mood Music – reflect the passing of a musical icon by playing lots of his songs
Tone of Voice – ensuring we found the right voice to demonstrate a genuine sadness at someone’s passing without being overly sentimental or mawkish
Production – capture the feeling and significance of the event with production the caused an emotional reaction

After 90 minutes sleep and a hastily arranged 4:30am conference call, we were up and running. The team on the ground put together a really excellent show and listeners were provided with some first class radio, balancing all the key ingredients.

I thought I’d share with you the some imaging that we had on air this morning, (produced by Imaging Director Bjarke Rasmussen) which has cuts of the station’s newsreader, a famous Danish TV host commenting on MJ’s death, clips of the press conference and of Michael himself, and a simple yet effective script. This was followed by an appropriate emotive Michael Jackson song and played at the top and bottom of each hour all day.


A sad day, but a great opportunity for radio to do what it does best.... react quickly to changing events, deliver information and capture the public mood. I hope your station took that opportunity.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Light My Fire

How committed is your morning show? How far would they go to entertain their listeners? Would they, for example, set themselves on fire? Hats off to Jacob Wilson from client station Radio 100FM, who's a host on their morning show ‘Morgenhyrderne’ who did just that! Take a look...



And if that wasn’t enough, a week later he tested a new summer remedy for bee stings and subjected himself to a being stung by some sort of killer bee, on purpose, just to test it for listeners... twice! Ouch!!



Radio hosts that are committed to entertain the audience by ‘going the extra mile’ are the kind of guys you want on your team. Nice work don’t you think?

Having a ‘liberal’ Health and Safety policy at your station also helps!!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Flavour of The Old School

This morning, at one of my daughters’ schools, it was “Fathers Into School Day”. They do this thing at her school a couple of times a year. It’s a kind of ‘open day’ where just the Dads can come and hang out at school, sit in on the lessons, see what goes on, help your kids with their school work and have some lunch. (Don’t worry – they have a “Mums Into School Day” too!)

My eldest daughter, Issy, is 6 and she thought it was great fun to have her Dad in her classroom, and show me everything she’s doing, and introduce me to all her mates (including her boyfriend!).

But actually, I think I had more fun than her! It was a great opportunity to just experience the school during a normal working day, and see everyone go about their business.

It reminded me of something we did many years ago when I worked at Power FM. We had a ‘Listener Open Day’. Listeners could turn up at the radio station on a pre-determined day, get a tour of the building, hang out for a while in the studios and see the DJ’s in action and generally get the vibe of the place. I even think we also asked for a small donation too, which went to a local charity.

I remember getting the feeling at the time that the process really helped to cement the loyalty of listeners even further, and acted as a real opportunity to be entirely transparent and show people what went on at the radio station which for many, was a significant part of their lives (i.e. they woke up with the Morning Show, listened at work, listened in the car etc)

Certainly, my experience today brought me much closer to ‘the brand’ (in this case, my daughters’ school) and made me feel much more of an emotional bond with it.

Winning the radio battle is as much about ‘encouraging loyalty’ as anything else... so any initiative that does that (at very little real cost to the business) must be something worth considering.

Most of the current thinking in many companies, regardless of sector, is how to create a dialogue with its customer base. This is a slightly harder job when you’re a bank or sell bread for example. But in radio, we’re good at communicating with people... so why not try removing the microphone and transmitter, and have a real dialogue with some real listeners for a change. Chances are they’ll tell some of their friends that they had a trip round their favourite radio station, and “...the guys at Radio FM were really nice you know...!”

And don’t underestimate the power of the building you work in! It may be just a workplace to you, but most people have never been inside a real radio station, so will probably find the experience quite exciting! You never know... in these recessionary times, a trip to your radio station may become the next hot ticket in town.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Athens Radio

When I’m on holiday, one of my guilty pleasures is getting out my portable ‘World Band’ Travel Radio and having a little trip up and down the FM dial to see ‘what’s what’ in the world of radio in my particular destination.

First stop on my (slightly early) summer holiday was Crete, where there was lots of radio available. Unfortunately, most of it was just terrible! The worst thing I heard was something that started off like a standard music image promo with short hooks of songs one after the other, but then they proceeded to play me about 8 minutes of hooks!! I felt like I was listening to an AMT broadcast live!!

Sorry residents of Crete, but all your stations seem to interrupt the listening experience far too much, and are way too commercial. The programming wasn’t ever allowed to breathe. There wasn’t a station I could find that was well put together and understood the basics. I hope there is one... it’s just I couldn’t find it!

And then, on to Athens...

Now that’s more like it! I sat on the obligatory sun-lounger by the pool with my headphones on. What started out as a little scan up and down with a few notes jotted on a napkin, turned into a couple of hours really interesting radio listening. It helps when you have absolutely no real pre-conceptions of the stations or their image. You can really listen to the output without being swayed by external factors. So, there are a few things worthy of mention;

Greek music is alive and well on the radio dial in Athens
There were many stations either offering what an untrained ear may call ‘Traditional’ Greek music, or ‘Contemporary’ Greek hits (and about every possible mix of the two in varying degrees, plus all the variants... like ‘rhythmic contemporary Greek’, soft AC Greek etc, etc) So it’s fair to say, the domestic music scene is very healthy and supported admirably by Greek radio.

Some of the commercial blocks are very long
Several of the stations offering a contemporary mix of Modern Greek hits and English language hits had commercials breaks which were in excess of 6 or 7 minutes each. They were just far too long. I felt sorry for the advertiser who was placed 13th in the ad break! In these cases both advertisers and listeners lose.

Sweeps of music work
For music stations, regardless of format, well programmed sweeps of music across the day just work. This is nothing new, but it’s interesting that some stations just ‘get it’ and put together really well programmed music sweeps with a great flow and musical treats, and some stations just interrupt you far too often. Guess which ones are more appealing to listen to? Not too difficult is it?

Standout Stations
A few stations broadcasting to Athens are worthy of mention:

Red FM - 96.3
These guys offer a really listenable mix of Modern Rock, Indie and Cool Classics. It’s a male skewed station, seemingly aimed at 25-39 year old blokes with a real focus on credible music and a well defined sound. Songs I heard over a couple of hours included:

Blur – Song 2
Athlete – Wires
U2 – With Or Without You
Rasmus – In The Shadows
Bryan Adams – Can’t Stop This Thing We’ve Started
Semisonic – Secret Smile
Blondie - Heart of Glass
Bob Marley – Is This Love?

96.6 (That seems to be its name)
Again, another male skewed station, but aimed a little younger than Red FM, probably more 15-24. The nearest comparison I can draw is with XFM in London. The running order is dominated by a stack of very cool and credible bands ranging from Foo Fighters to Razorlight, and the station has a really nice feel to it, with minimal interruption from DJ’s, who only really stop to tell you what band you were just listening to. They’ve just dropped a musical treat too... AC/DC – ‘Highway to Hell’! Nice production sound too. Songs I heard over a few hours included:

Muse – Starlight
Florence and the Machine – Kiss with a Fist
Verve – Sonnet
Moby – Natural Blues
Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
Alanis Morrisette - You Oughta Know
Razorlight – America

Lampsi 92.3
If you want a decent AC station, you’d be hard pushed to find a better one in Athens than Lampsi 92.3. It blends the biggest international hits with the best in current and contemporary Greek music. The format is clear to follow and the production sound is straightforward yet effective. News, weather, traffic bulletins... the whole nine yards are there for you to enjoy. It’s not the most exciting station on the dial, but it’s probably the least offensive, and many stations reach number 1 in the marketplace by being just like that. The adbreaks are a little on the long side, but they’re not alone on the dial in Athens for that! The lovely team at Radio Intelligence have done a good job in positioning Lampsi. Nice work. Songs I heard over several hours included:

Katy Perry – I Kissed A Girl
Lady Gaga – Poker Face
Duffy – Stepping Stone
Amy Winehouse - Valerie
Katy Perry – Hot N Cold
Enrique Iglesias – Taking Back My Love

So, as I wave goodbye to Athens in a few days, I’m pleased to report it has a vibrant and exciting radio market with loads on offer for listeners... both domestic and foreign!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

On The Beach...

On holiday right now, but hearing some amusing things on the radio worth writing about soon.

Nomal service resumes shortly!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Ross Recorded

There’s something quite sad about the decision that BBC Radio 2 have taken to ensure that Jonathan Ross’s Saturday morning show be pre-recorded. It shows how far the whole ‘compliance’ thing has gone.

It seems that the BBC think that one of the country’s most talented broadcasters can’t be trusted not to offend anyone on the radio, and therefore to avoid any potentially difficult situations, they’re going to record the show, and then some censorious figure within Radio 2 will edit out anything that may have the potential to offend... well... anyone really, I guess.

As we know, censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself and is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.

This super-sensitive and censorious approach has got to be bad for radio. Radio is best when it’s live and spontaneous and presenter has a sense of place and time, relating to the audience about the things that they are collectively experiencing at that moment. Pre-recording is always second best, and it’s a poor substitute for the real thing.

Of course, many listeners won’t know, and many won’t care... but the principle of the thing just feels wrong. I’m not against pre-recording music specials, or ‘best of’ shows or programmes going out over a holiday period. But a regular Saturday morning show from one the BBC’s most valued presenters being pre-recorded the day before, just in case he says something a bit controversial just feels that the ‘Nanny State’ mentality has seeped into the one organisations that I’d least expected to bow to this kind of thing.

It feels like this has the undertones of a very political decision. The BBC don’t want anything to cause a problem over the next 12 months that the tabloid press (mainly the Daily Mail!) will pick up on, (especially if it’s Jonathan potentially saying something stupid and risqué), as it would land them in a huge political storm with the probable next (Conservative) government who’ve already called for the BBC’s funding to be frozen. I can imagine the BBC hierarchy calling internally for a ‘safe’ period where controversy is avoided at all costs to avoid any ‘problems’ and safeguard the its own revenue situation. “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive...”

If you want to hear the most eloquent argument as to why compliance kills creativity, listen to former BBC Director of Radio, Matthew Bannister deliver a lecture at the Radio Festival in Glasgow in 2008. It’s called ‘Comply or Die’ and you’ll find it here. (Scroll about half way down to find it and listen to the audio. It’s well worth it)

So... what’s next. Moyles on Radio 1 pre-record his overnight in case he uses the word ‘gay’ inappropriately again? The Today Programme on Radio 4 reporting the news a day in delay, so it can check every line for potential Gilligan style problems?

The best radio, is live radio. I hope we can keep it that way for some time to come. The alternative seems a little too Orwellian for my liking...

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever.”

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Everyone's A Winner

Well done to all the nominees for the ‘Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards 2009’ which were announced tonight. Here comes a 'full disclosure' moment... I am a judge for this year’s awards and part of the judging committee that pulled together the shortlist.

It's great to be reminded that UK commercial radio has some fantastic talent both in front of the mic and running things behind the scenes in stations of all shapes, sizes and formats. Some of the entries were absolutely brilliant. Being honest.... some were very average too... and of course 1 or 2 were really pretty bad! But that’s the same in any industry really.

Commercial radio at its best is creative, inventive, challenging, original, inspired, moving, hilarious, simple, complex, educated, but mainly... delightfully entertaining.

I look forward to the ceremony in London on June 5th. And my lips shall remain firmly sealed until then!!

Mona Winehouse... or Amy Lisa?


Nice bit of marketing that my research consultant friends at Brand Support drew my attention to. It's for their client station, Capital FM in Switzerland. The positioning statement reads “The Greatest Classics... The Best Current Hits”

Reinforces classics and currents in a nice visual mash-up I think...

Monday, 27 April 2009

"The Biggest Balls In London"


It was almost like the clocks had been turned back a decade this morning as I listened to Capital FM at 8am to hear the first artists being announced for their big summer music show.

OK – so it’s not 'Party in the Park', probably for 2 reasons. First, the name is too associated with a cheesier image of a bygone Capital that they’re not keen to revisit. And second... it’s not in a park!

So Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium will be the setting for the ‘Summertime Ball’ which name wise, is consistent with their Christmas themed ‘Jingle Bell Ball’.

A couple of thoughts...

The artist line-up announced today looks really good so far; right in the centre of the CHR sound that Capital is all about. Leona Lewis, Akon, Kelly Clarkson, Calvin Harris and The Saturdays are the first of what will no doubt be a great show, with “many more to be announced”... so they told us this morning!

The sequence after 8am today was done really well... mainly because it was pre-recorded to ensure Johnny stayed on message!! (It sounded a bit too pre-recorded for my linking, but hey... it was tight, so who’s complaining!) And they’d teased it hard all weekend long, so they couldn’t really afford to screw it up.

The price of tickets was conspicuous by its absence on-air (unless it was really hidden away and I missed it). I checked to see how much they were... and £45 for the cheapest seemed a little steep for me, and I daresay it’s quite a big chunk of money for younger target listeners aged 18-29, particularly when everyone’s watching their pennies. If you and your 3 mates wanted to go... that’s £180 to raise between the 4 of you! However I guess that’s the going rate these days. (The more expensive tickets are £70 by the way).

At least “Help A London Child”, the very worthwhile Capital ‘in house’ charity gets some of the proceeds, with £100,000 pledged.

However, these size concerts are rarely a profit generating exercise, as the cost of putting them on is enormous. (Although the sponsorship from Barclaycard will no doubt be worth a few quid!) Capital will probably view it as a nice big marketing exercise... and that’s the line of budget it will fall under in the big spreadsheet!

The gig’s on Sunday June 7th... so be warned Capital listeners... you’ll hear of little else until then!!
But it looks really good so far... and nice to see a radio station do something BIG at a time when everyone in UK radio is talking about cutbacks.

Speaking Frankly

I love when something that happens on the radio makes the news.

And last week’s incident where Frank Lampard called London talk station LBC to have a go at presenter James O’ Brien, showed the radio’s still a medium that can generate headlines.

I’m sure if Frank Lampard had written a letter to a newspaper, or commented on a website about the topic, that it wouldn’t have garnered so much attention. The fact is, he picked up the phone and dialled a radio show to vent his anger. The audio is really powerful. You can listen to the whole thing here.

Frank makes a really good point where he acknowledges that radio ‘phone in show’ hosts deliberately say something controversial in order to get people to phone in to argue their alternative viewpoint, which is very true. They do.

James O’ Brien effectively described Frank as “weak” and “scum” due to the situation regarding his breakup and his kids, which, on the anniversary of Frank Lampard’s mother’s death, obviously tipped Frank over the edge and caused him to call up LBC.

Now, regardless of the rights and wrongs of the case (and I guess no-one really knows what happens inside someone else’s relationship) the LBC audio certainly made me think twice about the power a radio presenter has, and how within that power, there lies a responsibility particularly towards commenting on the very personal lives of celebrities.

Was James O' Brien putting across a legitimate topic for discussion or merely adding to the tabloid feeding frenzy around showbiz stories, which inevitably leads to less than accurate reporting.


I’m not really sure... but one thing’s for certain...
It made great radio.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Come and have a go if you think you're smart enough...

I’m in Copenhagen this week and being a Liverpool fan, I thought I’d see if the Chelsea v Liverpool match was on the TV tonight. Sure enough, it was on Danish channel TV3+ (hosted by Denmark’s own version of Gary Lineker... the legend that is Peter Schmeichal! Very good he is too!)

As good as the TV presentation and commentary was, I thought I’d check to see if it was being streamed anywhere on UK radio. Sometimes the matches are... sometimes they block them to international listeners, due to licence restrictions. However BBC London were streaming. So I listened, and although the web stream commentary was about 20-30 seconds behind the pictures on my TV, it was nice to hear the analysis.

The commentary on BBC London however wasn’t particularly good as radio commentaries go. (And I’ve listened to a fair few in my time). But beggars can’t be choosers I thought.

Then it went to half time, and the commentator made a pointless and smug remark about the whole of the second half being live on BBC London 94.9 and went on to say, and I quote... “Crackle, commercial and claptrap free...”, an obvious reference to national commercial station broadcasting on AM, TalkSport.

Now I didn’t know that TalkSport were running live commentary of the match. (In fact, I didn’t really think of TalkSport, so maybe that’s a marketing issue for them) But due to a petty and cheap remark from the BBC guy Phil Parry, I was alerted to another way of listening to the match... tuned in... and enjoyed the commentary of Jim Proudfoot and entertaining analysis of Danny Kelly of TalkSport much more.

I know knocking the competition can be a bit of fun and there are lots of historical and current examples of it, but is it just an ‘in’ joke that only makes radio types chuckle? It can backfire and it did on this occasion, as BBC London lost about 1 hour of listening time from me, by directly alerting me to another station to listen to.

Plus it annoyed me that BBC London felt they needed to have a swipe at a commercial competitor? For what reason was it really necessary?

So... PD’s and Producers... before you write all your witty liners highlighting your competitors alleged weak spots.... just think twice!!

PS – Even though we lost, it has to be was one of the best games of football I've ever seen... ever... in the world... ever!