The Buggles’ 1979 release was the first music video to be played on MTV but does it also serve as a premonition? Having worked on both audio and visual mediums over the years I have seen convergence happening – and embraced it. Media consumers are bombarded with content that’s instantaneous and accessible at the touch of a button, so it makes sense for both sides of broadcasting to progress in parallel, especially in this digital age.
The fact that ITV’s head of commercial and online, Fru Hazlitt, spoke at this week’s radio festival about the future of digital radio shows that video hasn’t killed off radio. One broadcast medium can learn a lot from the other as well as being used as tools to enrich content on an additional platform.
Sources such as student media can be full of ideas, which can be trialled out in a relatively risk-free environment with no external constrictions to creativity. When I joined the committee as head of marketing at Fuse FM, I had just bought a video camera and was eager to put this to good use. Our studios were situated next to the Academy music venues and it became common to have the likes of Frank Turner, Kid British and Zero 7 popping in for interviews between sound checks. I was interested in promoting the station on as many platforms as possible to raise station awareness within the student community. By filming interviews as well as recording them for broadcast / podcasts we could tap into a whole new listenership that spanned beyond the university campus.
Hits to the videos we posted onto the YouTube channel soared (there’s over 15,000 views on the video I filmed of UFC fighters who we interviewed!) I didn’t want this output just to be a visual record of what went out on-air; my specialism was marketing and I wanted to tap into the thriving nature of social media to make unique content. Together with fellow presenter Max Behr, we devised a visual concept that would be a parody. Max had a well established nostalgia show on the station, playing music from the 1920s to the 1950s, so we decided to flip this on its head with a send-up video called ‘Wannabe White Boy Rapper’ that used humour as a way to make the video go viral. It certainly got people talking around campus and has been his party piece ever since!
Now January is in full swing and it’s probably a bit too late to wish you ‘Happy New Year’, but I will do anyway. I only really got blogging regularly during the last quarter of 2011 and, because of that, missed out on writing about a lot of my adventures. In this digital age of mobile technology, I like to keep a record of the good things that happen in my life with photos, which are all dotted around on my various social media profiles. However, they are not available all in one place to tell my story of 2011… Until now!
A picture can say more than a thousand words, as they say, so I’m going to give it a go. I’ve had chance to reflect a lot over my highlights of the year 2011 and I will present them to you in three categories, all of which are very important to my life. Firstly, there’s my hobby that I adore: radio. Then there’s all my work in the television industry, a job that I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to do. As well as music; I would go as far to say that music provides the foundation to what all the great experiences in my life are built on. I love it and have been very lucky to see some awesome live gigs this year.
2011 started out brilliant for me and my radio work as I won the award for Pure 107.8 FM ‘Best New Volunteer Award’ and ‘The Basement’ show that I present / produce also won Pure’s ‘Best Total Access Community Show’ award. A great night was had all both during and after the party had finished! Here I am on the front row with the rest of the Basement team celebrating our successes:
A great start to the year that just kept getting better and better. 2011 was the year of great change for the BBC sector of the radio industry. With the focus on creating a less ‘London-centric’ feel to their output, MediaCityUK, was finally opened. Before this my local station BBC Radio Manchester was based at New Broadcasting House on Oxford Road in Manchester. Even though the building was tired and old it had lovely nostalgic nuances to it. I have had some great memories in there; it is where I started my broadcasting career when I had work experience years ago while at university. As well as where I received my valuable radio training in 2011. In October it was all systems go; the BBC had started to move into their new Media City home in Salford Quays. As a Radio Academy member I was lucky enough to one of the first to take a look around the Quay house building.
Attending my first ever Radio Festival was a huge highlight for me, an experience I will never forget. I blogged about it all extensively at the time so if you want to read all about it then scroll down to the relevant post HERE. It was a great privilege to be surrounded by so many talented people including some of the more famous faces. Just to whet your appetite for my Radio Festival blogs, here’s an exclusive photo that I didn’t post at the time. It’s the legendary Bob Harris, who I was sat opposite in the Lowry restaurant! (You can see my audio recorder in the foreground too.)
The freelance nature of working in television production is not an easy one. However, it is filled with facets that some people can only dream about. For example, during 2011 I was walking down the Coronation Street set one week and above the Emmerdale Woolpack set the next. Some people enter competitions to get the chance to do just that yet I was getting paid to work on it – amazing! I do appreciate how fortunate I am.
I started out the year working in ‘Calendar-land’ at ITV Yorkshire:
I would continue to take part in various projects at ITV’s base in Leeds during the year, but for the majority of 2011 my work was for productions being made by ITV Granada in Manchester. I worked on many different programmes in lots of different capacities, including:
- Love me, Love my Home – Logging.
- May the Best House Win – Research, casting and recce shoots.
- No Taste Like Home – Logging.
- Super Tiny Animals – Logging.
- Guess the Star – Running.
- …As well as post-production and gallery running too. Linford Christie ain’t got nothing on me!
Particular moments of the year that stand out for me include getting lost down a single track lane in Conwy, Wales. We were on route to film a fabulously enchanting 1-up, 1-down house and pottery workshop for series 2 of May the Best House Win. Unfortunately, that particular house didn’t make it into the final episode cut but it felt like we were in a Disney film while we were there!
Another experience that perhaps isn’t as glamorous but is a typical ‘Runner’s story’ for you now. I was the runner with responsibility for Granada’s studio 6 when working on the ‘Guess the Star’ pilot – otherwise known as the Jeremy Kyle studio. I had just got all the crew their lunches… apart from one where the box hadn’t been closed properly. No, this couldn’t have been sandwiches could it? Oh no, this was runny beef curry that had left a trail all across the floor, as well as on myself! Not the most attractive look when you’re stood next to the Coronation cast looking perfect after just coming out of make up! Sod’s law strikes again in that it was me who made a mess of Jeremy Kyle’s studio floor. (Not many people can say that though, I suppose!) Instead of wait for the cleaners I thought I better clear it up… all while Lee Ryan from boyband Blue was talking me. That was definitely my most surreal experience of 2011!
Radio has been a hobby of mine for almost four years now, I suppose I’m what you could call an ‘anorak’; I love all aspects of the medium. Whether that is producing, presenting or my specialism in marketing, you name it and I’ve done it at some point… Yes, that even includes dressing up as a panda in an electrical store – don’t ask!
You can imagine my excitement then when I got asked to be part of a team working on Radio Festival Radio, producing podcasts that would cover every aspect for the pinnacle event for the industry held over three days at The Lowry in Salford Quays, which is appropriately just across the water from MediaCityUK.
While most people were getting their stash of sweets and fancy dress outfit ready for Halloween on the 31st of October, I was off to the first day of the festival attending Foot in the Door. This offers budding professionals the chance to ask questions and network with people who are already well established in the industry. This was an invaluable session with plenty of information and inspiration to boot.
Later that evening I had signed up to the inaugural John Peel Lecture hosted by Radcliffe and Maconie and given by rock legend Pete Townsend of The Who. Pete was talking about the impact that the internet is having radio as a way for listeners to source new music (or “Peelism”, as he called it). I was the only reporter from Festival Radio covering this session, so had a lot responsibility. Little did I know the lecture would break the news and become the most read story of the day on the BBC website! Why? Well, one of the quotes from Pete’s speech called iTunes “The digital version of Northern Rock” – controversial to say the least! Pete used the safety net of what he called his “inner artist” to deliver any criticism of Apple’s products, a bit of a cop out if you ask me. Although, the irony of all this is that questions from listeners were being taken via an iPod!
[This lecture was broadcast live from the Quays Theatre for 6Music. If you want to listen to it then it’s available on BBC iPlayer for a week and I’m sure snippets will be around on YouTube long after that.]
Day two is always a busy one at the festival and I was covering the People Power session, focusing on managerial methods that can be utilised within stations. Interestingly, insights here were given from those in fields outside of the radio industry. The panel included Barry Hearn and Tessa Sanderson from the world of sport as well as Dragon Duncan Bannatyne to give a business perspective. An interesting session where I thought the best moment was Duncan admitting that he isn’t a “people person” (despite the session being called ‘People Power!’) I asked him about this when I interviewed him after for the Festival Radio podcast… then I was ‘out’ and off to edit it all!
There were a lot of sore heads the day after, a good sign that the PPL Hall of Fame Dinner held at Gorton Monastery went down well then! Congratulations to Andy Peebles, Peter Allen, Jane Garvey and Sir Jimmy Young CBE, who all were inducted this year, as well as Ronnie Wood who was given the lifetime achievement award. I started Wednesday up in the Compass Room covering Terry Underhill’s session on playlists. The panel included controllers from BBC network and commercial radio who discussed the importance of audience research when deciding what music is the best fit for each station. A gut instinct is also required though too of course; something that BBC Radio 2 and 6Music music must rely on a lot, as it was revealed that they compile very little research in this area.
After a short break, the next session I covered was exploring a fairly recent development in radio which is something getting increasingly prevalent in our whizz-kid society – social media. This session was hosted by Scott Mills and featured Ken Benson from P1 research who had flown over from California to give his insights. Brett Spencer, interactive editor for BBC Radio 2 and 6Music, gave praise to BBC Three Counties’ John Vaughn Show for getting the, now infamous, ‘Angry Melvin’ rant about the Royal Wedding onto AudioBoo while that show was still on-air. Marketing expect Rachel Clarke then told delegates what not to do when utilising social media. The key lesson here being: “Don’t be stupid”.
Back to the production room to edit the content, then within a flash the final podcast was uploaded and my Radio Festival experience for 2011 was over. It has been a pleasure to work with so many talented people who I’m sure all have bright futures ahead of them – just remember that you heard them on Festival Radio first! Special thanks must go to Kate Cocker and Heather Davies for their advice and encouragement over these past few days.
If you want to listen to Festival Radio’s coverage of the Radio Festival then the podcasts are available to be downloaded here: http://www.radioacademy.org/podcasts/ For more details on next year’s festival stay tuned – as we say!