Live from a Moving Train...
Last week, I looked at 50 years of commercial radio in the UK and some of the highlights from my time at Magic Radio.
I was also fortunate enough to be Launch Director / Content Director for Virgin Radio UK, which saw us launch a brand new national DAB station live from a moving train. Wireless Group had the franchise for Virgin Radio, this was in 2015 before News UK bought Wireless.
I had worked with Virgin Radio legend and President of International Radio, Ian Grace before, he and I had big success with the Spin 1038 brand in Dublin, so when the chance to work with him and the Virgin organisation came up, it was too good to miss.
Launching a National Station
I also got to do my favourite thing in the world, which is to launch a station from scratch. I’ve done it a few times now, Spin 1038, Spin SouthWest with the legendary Nessa McGann, Spin Jordan and well, you can probably see a theme there.
So, I built an amazing team of talent at Virgin, Edith Bowman, Matt Richardson, Kate Lawler, Tim Cocker and my now business partner Jamie East. We also had Angela Scanlon, Russell Kane, AJ Odudu and more. Along with the on air talent, I had brilliant music director Stephanie May, and some amazing producing talent including Katie Boden and Jayne Cheeseman who is still there today. It was a brilliant team and such an exciting project.
It was also remarkable to work with the Virgin Organisation, such a dedicated and enthusiastic bunch of people, who always went out of their way to make sure everything was on brand and delivered on time.
Can I have a Train please?
At each meeting they always asked if there was anything else we needed, so at one meeting, I asked for a train…
I’d had the idea of doing a live show from a moving train for a while, I just loved the drama of it, the whole idea of different carriages, along with a route that you could predict and prepare for. So, when it came to the time to launch Virgin Radio UK on DAB, it seemed like the perfect stunt.
And in fairness, Virgin did provide a train, they wrapped the London to Manchester train and even renamed it The Virgin Radio Star.
We worked with Phil Critchlow and his amazing team at TBI to make it all work from a technical point of view and we had live music, interviews and Edith Bowman and Matt Richardson live on air from a moving train…
If you’re interested in more about how we did it, Phil wrote a great piece on the technical aspects.
Speaking of Engineering and Technical marvels, Ann Charles from Radio TechCon which takes place in London on Monday 27th of November, dropped me an email about a new bursary scheme they are launching…
It’s part of a new drive to recruit engineers for the radio industry from more diverse backgrounds, so Radio Tech Con and their sponsors are providing 20 free tickets for people from backgrounds that are underrepresented in broadcast engineering, or for those who face a financial barrier…
The 20 people who get the tickets also get a year’s free membership of the Radio Academy, to help them network and connect with people in the industry.
If you’re interested, there’s a form at www.radiotechcon.com/2023/tickets/bursaries/ and the closing date is November 5th
Shows that make you ANGRY!
On an entirely separate note, I got a message today from a friend and colleague, who wanted to know, “Did you ever work on a show and get angry at how much better you could produce it if you were in charge?”
It made me laugh, and there are definitely shows and podcasts I listen to where I get genuinely annoyed at the way they’re produced, or the stupid things that the presenters do or say, which I feel the producer should have caught.
There have also been times when I got annoyed listening to the station I was in charge of, but that’s probably a story for another day.
It’s one of those things, where you have to trust your ears and your instincts. You can’t always explain why something is not right, but you just know it doesn’t work.
In a real life example, we just did some research on a show, which has a number of regular features, and one which drives me demented. I just felt the bit had run its course, that it was dull and repetitive. However, it has a sponsor, so it’s not easy to move or replace.
I put some research in the field, testing familiarity of each of the show bits, and asking people if they liked / disliked the feature. I was particularly pleased today when I got the research back and the bit I hate, is the most disliked by the audience.
Little things that give you a certain amount of comfort in your gut’s decision making abilities. We’d already moved to change the feature, we created a new mechanic and it’s on air already, so I’m doubly pleased!
This has been the 17th official edition of the RAudio Newsletter
Just to recap, each week I’ll be taking a look at big stories in radio, podcasting and audio.
Any feedback, questions or potential topics are welcome – you can get me on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/liamthompsonconsulting/ or on Twitter @Maxliam