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December 31, 2013
by johnco
Comments Off on 40 Things about Radio Clyde

40 Things about Radio Clyde

Radio Clyde turned 40 at 1030pm on Hogmanay 2013.

I was 10 when it launched and vividly remember tuning in to the test transmissions on 261 metres on my wee transistor radio in Grangemouth. Then the station went to air and it somehow sounded much more local than I could ever imagined, even though it came from the impossibly glamorous city of Glasgow.

I’ve listened almost daily ever since and thought I’d come up with a list of 40 ‘instant memories’. They’re not exactly in any order – just the way they came to mind.

  • Did Alex Dickson really read all those books he read?
  • Super Scoreboard trouncing Scot – when Scot had commentary
  • Dave Marshall’s sig tune
  • Mark Goodier going on holiday and never coming back
  • Dr Dick’s Midnight Surgery
  • Brian Ford – the epitome of slick on Homeward Bound
  • Half Way Down Robertson Street
  • Captain George patrolling the Conga Line
  • Jim Waugh in the overnight with lots of talk
  • Stick It In Your Ear – the tightest music mag on the radio
  • Richard Park doing football commentary
  • The first time I went in there and thinking OMG
  • The colour red. Everywhere.
  • Kids singing songs for Tiger Tim
  • The recipe on Steve Jones show with Sheila Duffy
  • ‘The Big Day’ with live music all over Glasgow in 1989
  • The early ‘Clyde Festivals’ in Kelvingrove Park
  • The way it sounded huge in the Bobby Hain era
  • Frank Skerret’s turntable going round and round with old songs and bad jokes
  • A local 2-way family favourites – ‘Radio Clyde Worldwide’
  • The way I felt a wee bit disappointed in people who left Clyde to join the BBC
  • Mike Riddoch pointing out the management leaving the building in their helicopter
  • Thinking I’d hit the big time when I was finally allowed on Clyde 2 in 1999
  • Donald Dewar hosting a Friday evening phone in between stints as an MP
  • Ronnie Bergman’s tiny football OB that came in a shopping bag. Ours came in an estate car.
  • Jimmy Mack proudly (and ostentatiously) using a BBC programme box for his show
  • Ross King on the chart on a Saturday morning using an amazing edit of Ah-Ha’s ”The Sun Always Shines on TV”
  • The jingle for Ashfield Motors, featuring a Frank Sinatra soundalike
  • Bill Smith’s old ‘Smithsonian Institute’. Pop fodder & banter it may have been, but I loved it.
  • Billy Sloan’s brilliant Simple Minds programmes around the time of ‘New Gold Dream’.
  • The launch of Clyde FM – a production tour de force
  • The switch from 95.1 to “Stereo Live, 102.5”
  • Riddy on Breakfast. At his best, the Gold Standard of morning shows.
  • Mike Holloway “in your ear”. Nuts but a brilliant music presenter.
  • Donna Summer’s “Love’s Unkind” at Number 2 on Clyde’s Tartan 30. 10 days before it was released.
  • The fact that it had a swimming pool when it moved out to Clydebank.
  • McLaughlin’s Ceilidh, listened to by “grannies oan trannies in single ends and butts & bens…”
  • Lots (and lots) of speech programming
  • A dim memory of Glenn Michael (of Cartoon Cavalcade fame) having a regular show
  • Me Mark Page at his singular best on weekends. I couldn’t understand how he was so knowledgeable about Glasgow until the penny dropped.

UPDATE:

There’s a ton of old Clyde audio out there and this set of cuts produced by Bill Padley in 1985 popped up on Soundcloud. In many ways the retrospectives concentrate on the 70s, but in the mid-80s the station was at the peak of it’s powers. I joined the BBC in January that year and moved to Partick and finally became a loyal local listener. It’s fair to say that what they did then influenced everything else I’ve done since. Incidentally, can you name the male lead on these jingles?

https://soundcloud.com/billpadley/radio-clyde-jingles-1985

December 4, 2013
by johnco
Comments Off on A Tale Of One City

A Tale Of One City

This is a revised version of  an article published in the excellent e-radio on 4th December. That article started out at 900-odd words and i was asked for 500-700. This version takes a view slightly more distant view and re-incorporates some of the elements I dropped for space. It also makes a couple of corrections and additions.

The tragedy at the Clutha Vaults in Glasgow will rank as the biggest news stories of the year – especially in Scotland, where the bar is one of the most famous in the city. It was also a game changer in how the news was covered.

At Clyde, Content Controller Davey Walker spotted early tweets shortly after the police helicopter crashed into the roof of the busy pub. Real Radio Scotland’s Paul Harper initially thought the social media flurry was one of those ‘twitter rumours’, but he lives nearby and could tell something was going on.

While Walker was talking to Brian Paige (Clyde’s Content Director), Harper went down to the scene, arriving shortly after the initial rush of activity. “Amazingly, my iPhone was fully charged – on a Friday night – so I grabbed some interviews to send over to news, who I knew had been scrambled.”

Walker and Paige almost immediately agreed that Clyde 1 and Clyde 2 would both come off the network and ‘In Demand: Scotland’ presenter Romeo was doing a separate programme to the network by 1120pm. “I think he really captured the spirit of the city” said Paige, with 2 news reporters in the studio, phone reports from the scene and social media to paint the picture. It was a raw, in the early stages faltering broadcast. But it caught the emotion of the moment.

The rest of Bauer’s Scottish network programmes carried additional news bulletins and continued something resembling their normal form, but in Glasgow it was different.

Meanwhile presenter Paul Harper and Programme Controller David Treasurer sat and crafted a new music log and discussed what the most appropriate tone would be. The call was made to only use calls and social media where it actually added to listeners’ understanding of the story. Paul anchored from before midnight as Real Scotland left the network and began rolling coverage. Having been at the scene, there was a different feeling to the broadcast, with the audio he captured at the scene and input from the reporters who, by now were filing from the city centre.

Like the other Scottish stations, news at Real was extended with the Bailieston team feeding overnight bulletins to the network in addition to providing live material for the station itself every 20 minutes.

Meanwhile a mile from the Clutha Bar at the BBCs Pacific Quay HQ, Radio Scotland resolutely stuck to it’s schedule of pre-recorded content within a music show. The live bulletin at midnight had some information, but the pre-rec continued until the station joined 5 live’s excellent coverage. The presenter was there with a built show and nothing to do other than play out the scheduled interview, play a toned-down running order and trail the next bulletin. This continues a trend for the station where despite having reporters in the field, they have serviced other outlets and failed to go live locally.

This certainly raised eyebrows, both inside and outside PQ, where programme teams felt ready to go to air long before their 1am join to Salford with the material they had available to them. Sources close to to the station lamented the lack of live coverage or even signposts to the coverage on Radio 5 live. After the relay of 5, they returned to cosy and jolly local programming that didn’t reference the crash until the schedule permitted local production.

The first long-form locally produced content on Radio Scotland was a very thorough Good Morning Scotland at 8am and for the remainder of the day the style and tone of the network changed and various news specials were aired. A police press conference also was given precedence over football commentary. Having come late to the party, the station really had depth and breadth in it’s coverage.

The tone of Knoxy’s Radio Clyde programme, which started in Glasgow at 4am captured the mood of many – “It’s four o’clock on a Saturday morning and like you, I’m trying to come to terms with what’s just happened”.

Capital Scotland were faced with a difficult situation. A heavily networked brand and short bulletins were never going to work in the crucial overnight and small hours. PC Stuart Barrie and Head of News did an excellent job of tweaking their music and running extended local bulletins. The bolstering of their local operation in subsequent days by reporters from elsewhere in the Global family added to the breadth and depth of their coverage which maintained the tight, immediate style they have become known for. A special note that like others, Capital also used social media to get the info out there with numerous tweets and  boos of bulletins and interviews.

At Real, David Treasurer was really proud of the stations work on a difficult night. “I’m very proud of the news and programming teams effort, professionalism, and sensitivity through what has been a tragic story to report on”.

In Clydebank, where Scotland’s first commercial station is weeks away from its 40th birthday celebrations, Brian Paige summed up his feelings, “I’m really proud of our team. We really captured the pulse of the city.”.

So did the city’s radio stations.

November 17, 2013
by johnco
Comments Off on Doing Old Right

Doing Old Right

I’m ‘properly’ middle aged. I turned 50 back in April. Therefore, I’m well out of range of any number of young brands. The models in the Boden catalogue that wear the shirts I love to buy are lucky if they’re half my age. The Music, video and TV channels tend to avoid the likes of me in their big mainstream offerings.

Despite being in the demographic at the peak of it’s financial powers, commercial broadcasters aren’t particularly interested in me.

When they do – particularly in radio – I’m treated like I’m either a reheated 20 year old or already clutching my bus pass.

The stations aimed older seem to have ‘nice’ presenters saying not very much and tunes that are chosen not to excite me. It’s safe, sensible and probably wearing a beige cardigan.

I was in my mid-teens when glam and prog gave way to punk. Sure, Top of the Pops was sanitised but there was a real surge of excitement as the new bands came through. The 80s certainly has a lot of gloss, but the gender-bending of the New Romantics changed everything that followed.

The same can be applied to the intervening 30 years. Music presenters were personalities, who cut through the incredibly regulated 90s adding personality and relevance to their music. At Radio 1 there was a lot of cheese (it was on the ILR stations too) but I grew up with DJs that talked between the tunes. Stations sounded exciting – and listeners wanted to be part of it.

It wasn’t by any means perfect. Listening back a lot of it is toe-curlingly awful with under-prepped jocks doing little more than hit the post in an American accent. And the same can be said for the scattergun, unfocussed recreations of old stations

If the radio industry has learned one thing, it’s that you can capture the excitement of the stations folk like me grew up listening to and rework it in a modern way. The broadcasters are there and they’ve had a big enough fright to understand the need to be focussed and economical. They can even be trained to keep off the music.

Do that and they’ll bring the thing that others can’t: a sense of entertainment & event. Listen to John Morgan or Robin Galloway or many others work an audience on air. Building suspense or involvement, just through great communication and not being afraid to open their mic to engage with listeners.

Oldies radio in the UK as almost uniformly bland and beige. The creativity and excitement are lavished on the up-to 45s.

Surely it’s time to pay the same attention to the people o the Digital/ AM stations and increase the energy? WCBS-FM or KRTH in the US demonstrate that done right, it really can win.

Getting into the audience’s head (or even face) won’t make the 45+ demo switch off. It’ll frame the content the way they grew up listening to it – in fact transporting them to a better time. It’ll cost almost nothing to do. Just a little effort, creativity and a willingness to try something new old.

November 7, 2013
by johnco
Comments Off on Radio Hero: Derek Cooper

Radio Hero: Derek Cooper

Coop (courtesy Your Radio)

Coop (courtesy Your Radio)

Sometimes my radio heroes are market leading megastars – sometimes they’re people who influenced me along the way. But other times I’m simply blown away by their creativity and their willingness to go the extra mile.

My daily routine 16 years ago was to get into Qfm’s less than bijou studio in Paisley, prep my own show and then do the mail. This was before the days of zillions of emails pinging around. I would chat to the news guys, catch up with what sales were up to and stick on any cassette demos that landed in my in tray. That was always a great part of the job. You never knew what you were going to hear next. One ran the obligatory five minutes and I didn’t get round to switching it off. 30” of silence was followed by some non-RA language. That person got a polite reply!

The one that really sticks in my mind from that time is one that almost made me late for my show as I listened to it thee times. The guy had a ridiculously broad local accent, but his command of the language was spot on. ‘This guy can communicate’, I thought. He did all the DJ bits really well. But what really jumped out of the speakers was his creativity and his ability to tell a story. A couple of hours later I was on the phone to Derek Cooper with a view to getting him in ASAP for a chat. Days later he found himself doing an overnight shift (those were the days) which I stayed up way to late to check out. He was superb. Long story short, Coop jumped the queue and became a real project – rising to every challenge we threw at him On top of that, anywhere we scheduled him he built audience and really engaged with his audience. In many ways he was 10 years ahead of the social media curve as the things he would do lent themselves to the way people like to programme now. The things he chose to talk about were almost always spot on and he could take the slightest thing and give it talkability. (“So why… why am I doing tonight’s show naked. It’s all because of a bus.”)

I was moved on and eventually Coop moved on as the revolving door of radio turned. Replaced by a great jock with the smoothed-out tones of the typical Scottish broadcaster. The fact that people who sound different and don’t have a classic ‘radio voice’ do really well (Jonathan Ross? Graham Norton?) was overlooked in favour of sounding as much like the competition as humanly possible.

One of the most ridiculously talented people I ever had the chance to work with makes way more money in retail than some of the daytime jocks on big stations could hope to earn. But he’s back, once a week on a chippy little radio station just outside of Glasgow. Your Radio’s Friday nights sound unique, special and local.

When I’m out and about (and after ‘Any Questions’ has ended on Radio 4) he does a show that feels like Friday night ought to. He’s loving it – and I have a feeling the listeners do too. I just don’t understand why he didn’t pop up on the ‘big’ brands in the Central belt. An enormous talent that’s just a little different.

And that’s why he makes the list of my Radio Heroes.

October 23, 2013
by johnco
Comments Off on Where has BBC Radio Five Live Gone?

Where has BBC Radio Five Live Gone?

I produced programmes for the original incarnation of BBC Radio 5.

A grab-bag of programmes from all over the place stuffed onto 693 & 909 under a completely lovely controller who seemed totally out of her depth marrying the disparate parts of her network. Radio 5 had some of it’s own shows, some shared with the regions, others with BFBS and some random OU items.

It was a well-intentioned mess.

Thankfully it moved on and Jenny Abramsky arrived with a vision of a news & sports network, following the success of the “Scud FM” service on Radio 4 FM during the first Gulf War.

BBC Radio Five Live was an instant hit. It married news, sport and BBC values perfectly. It was also perfectly cast with Jane Garvey & Peter Allen on Breakfast, Eddie Mair at lunchtime and Inverdale at Drive.

Over the years the schedule evolved with Julian Worricker, Simon Mayo and Victoria Derbyshire excelling in their ability to manage light and shade in their daily strip-shows.

Now 5 Live is a mess.

Breakfast is still strong with great casting and direction. But the new schedule means that casual listeners don’t know whether they’re getting chalk or cheese (Peter Allen or Adrian Chiles) midday and then an afternoon show that manages to falter and halter like a car that needs a trip to the garage, stat.

Some of this is casting. The on-air team has changed rapidly since the station moved to the southern outpost of Salford, meaning that a number of the best voices were lost.

But other errors have been in the recipe.

Different presenters on midday shows in a nonsense that died everywhere else in the world 20 years ago. Listeners need to build a daily bond to keep them loyal to the station.

The formatics are confusing: at one point yesterday they pointed up the news of a shooting in Ottawa and, rather than go straight to it, they trailed an audio clip on the station website!

Five Live ought to be a jewel in the BBC’s crown.

Instead it mucks about with sport discussions and attempts to pull the listeners’ heartstrings. It’s at it’s best when it’s all about the live stiff.

Sort out your formatics guys – particularly your service elements.

Otherwise Global’s LBC will eat you alive!

September 21, 2013
by johnco
Comments Off on Finally, a chance to end ‘churnalism’

Finally, a chance to end ‘churnalism’

There’s a lot of grumbling about ‘news hubbing’ in Scotland, with the moves at Bauer to rationalize their news operation. Individual stations will have bulletins presented from Glasgow after 10am, but will retain locally presented bulletins at breakfast – albeit with reduced staffing to reflect the lower number of bulletins read at each site.

I’ve looked around at the folks who are complaining about this and I’m starting to get annoyed!

The bulk of complainers see every move like this as ‘the death of local’, in the same way as every move towards shared resources and use of modern technology is another nail in the coffin of quality.

Most of these guys (and they almost invariably are guys) love radio. They love radio so much that they want to work in it (or perhaps used to). And they equate  paid jobs in small stations with successful local radio. They’ve got it wrong. They’re locked in the radio of their teenage years.

I know well that few of the smallest stations made enough money to keep broadcasting, never mind invest in the future. The mega-groups are looking to taking their brands truly multi-platform and that kind of expansion requires money. Now DJ Dirk Dingler might want to play northern soul on a Friday night, but the giant leaps required of these stations require investment. It’s not just money lining the pockets of ‘fat cats’ –it’s generating profit to invest.

Similarly, the most important people in radio – the listeners – have voted with their ears, demonstrating a love of these stations that’s growing.

I’ve argued before that when it comes to music radio, it simply doesn’t matter where the Rihanna-playing-DJ is sitting. What matters is that they’re playing the right music and connecting with the listener.

It’s the same with news.

When I ran small stations, we had a news team of 2 or 3. In any day, 2 of those staff were stuck on shift at the station reading out a combination of IRN copy and following up on press releases. One of my news heads used to bemoan the fact that there was little time for what they called ‘real’ journalism and what they were doing was merely feeding the beast.

Of course there will be cost savings in the way that Bauer produce bulletins will help the group invest in their digital future.

But the most exciting thing to me is that the regional journalists will finally be able to go and ‘do’ journalism without having to rush back for a bulletin. I expect that coverage of events across Scotland will actually be more critical, more local and more relevant. Every second a journalist spends doing something other than reading out the same copy as their colleagues in 5 other stations is a second they can spend digging and questioning.

In a time when Scotland is asking some big questions about its future it’s more important that stories are properly reported. Putting reporters on the road instead of in a news booth ripping and reading isn’t just a plan – it’s an imperative.

September 13, 2013
by johnco
Comments Off on Radio. Like the priesthood.

Radio. Like the priesthood.

The thing I really don’t understand in education is the artificial divide between so-called ‘academic’ and ‘vocational’ post school education.

As I understand it (remember, I work in education) academics are reflective thinkers. People who gather and assess evidence and use the knowledge gained to go on and make new discoveries. Meanwhile the vocational bods make and mend things, using their craft skills and the sweat of their brow to do so.

I was brought up Catholic, and that gives me a second meaning of ‘vocation’: it’s a calling to do something. While I associate it with a calling to the religious life I expect that anybody who has a burning desire to do something has a vocation.

And that’s where media/ radio finds itself in a funny place. Increasingly I visit academic institution who have superb facilities dedicated to the making of programmes. In them, students learn the craft skills involved in making content.

Now I’m sure these students go away and reflect on their performance and that reflection, combined with the understanding it generates will make them batter content creators. But it strikes me that they are actually following up on their vocation.

Radio broadcasting is a bit like the priesthood. Unsocial hours are the norm and you often find yourself the only person you know working on the Sabbath. The wages are low and over your career you’re likely to move around a bit. When you’re not doing your thing in front of the congregation, you’re still thinking about radio, listening to it and coming up with ideas. When I see the zeal of many students it’s almost as if they’ve had some kind of religious moment.

Now I know that politicians often believe that vocational education is about wearing uniforms: overalls, work boots, beautician’s tunics, chef’s whites and so on.  But that’s too simplistic.

True vocations are about passion and a burning desire to ‘do this thing’. In the courses I’m lucky enough to teach that vocation is for radio and the very best will do whatever it takes to get better at what they do, to network and learn from their experiences in the professional environment we give them.

In fact what matters isn’t whether our skills are taught in an academic or a college setting.

What matters is that it’s taught honestly and realistically. The people doing the teaching need to really know their industry so that they don’t just teach skills – they add real-life experience and access to contacts in industry.

When the students emerge, then the learning really begins.

August 24, 2013
by johnco
Comments Off on Why I’m Looking Forward to Monday

Why I’m Looking Forward to Monday

There are a couple of station programmers who do a thing I like a lot. It’s not that they’re talking to me (though I admit it’s always good to catch up). I like it because they call for a chat about talent. Who’s sounding good? Who’s coming through the ranks? Any students they should be picking up on early?

That interest in new talent is what really drives the industry forward. Of course the ‘A’ team inhabit daytime and there are other players hoping to break through. But in my opinion  working with brand new talent and trying to mould it so that it can shine is one of the best parts of the job.

That started for me in the late 80s when I moved sideways from Audio at BBC Scotland into a producing a programme called ‘Bite the Wax’. (The founding producer, Quentin Cooper, reckoned the title was three-quarters of the mandarin for ‘Coca Cola’.)

Now BTW and it’s successor, Earshot, were both meant to be speech-heavy programmes aimed at younger audiences. They were meant to get an audience and they had to reach a standard. But they had another purpose – give new talent a place to start. Over a few years  both programmes gave an early platform to countless people whose names I’ve long forgotten. But there was a hard core of people who either used the programme to get noticed or even to take fist steps into feature making. I’m avoiding a long list of names – they know who they are.

After going over to the ‘other side’ I found myself getting further and further away from the ‘finding new talent’ part of the job. And the more time I spent away from it the less fun I had.

Talent is the key to radio, and to most media. You can have the best content in the world, but if your presenters don’t cut it, neither will your audience figures.

In the past few years, being ‘talent’ has been difficult. As owners tried to squeeze every cost out of their business there has been ever more programme sharing, networking and voice-tracking. That squeezed out lots of people,, including a lot of on-air staff. But cutting is a ‘one-time’ saving. There comes a time when you’re as efficient as you can be.

Then the best way to improve the bottom line is to produce genuinely compelling content – and for that you need talent.

The big groups have schemes where people can be identified and brought into the system. This (often paid for) activity has replaced the old school way of getting in that involved answering phones and doing menial tasks. All of this in the hope of getting a shot at the mic. These processes are an excellent way of doing short courses and ‘testing your vocation’. Schemes and academies like this are great and get people into stations.

But there is another way.

Next week my new group of HNC students pitches up to West College Scotland. The course is a way of getting a minimum of 432 hours of radio training and access to events and competitions. I love doing this as it gets me back to the best part of the gig – finding and shaping new talent. For some it’s about upskilling and for others its about beginning the process of polishing a diamond in the rough.

And for a couple of programme directors who are looking for talent that has committed to a year of training in an environment where the the core business and passion is about the new starts and not a broader set of priorities, it’s about getting a heads-up before their opposition do.

August 20, 2013
by johnco
Comments Off on Radio Hero: Bryan Burnett

Radio Hero: Bryan Burnett

Get_It_On_with_Bryan_BurnettFor my money, one suite of skills sets the commercial presenter in Scotland apart from the BBC one. It’s the set of abilities that drives home the station and it’s brand promise. It extends to a well developed ability to keep listeners listening longer. The commercial raison d’être is pretty simple – the more hours your listeners put in, the larger market share you will have, making your product more attractive to listeners.

Add that to (generally) better studio skills than the rest and a willingness to work very, very hard on their gig and you have a great commercial radio performer.

Which is why this radio hero is such a legend.

It’s about 20 years since Bryan Burnett jumped from the commercial world to the BBC in Glasgow. He’d worked around both Northsound and Clyde, carving a niche as someone who lived and breathed new music. His recommendations were things you actually went to check out either live or at a decent record shop.

I first met him as a board member at UKRD’s ‘Clan FM’ when I was MD there. His understanding of the industry and the economics of commercial radio was invaluable at our meetings.

But it was as a presenter that I really understood just what he’s capable of.

After UKRD sold up I elected to freelance for Neon Productions, and was quickly assigned ‘Brand New Opry’, which BB presented. I’ve never known a jock bring more to the gig. He didn’t want long lists of questions for his interviews – he prepped them himself. He had developed an encyclopedic knowledge of country and Americana – and he always had a nearby encyclopedia nearby for when that failed him.

His love of the music comes through in every link and he never sounds like it’s less than a pleasure to be on your radio. Now as host of the nightly ‘Get It On’ on BBC Radio Scotland he demonstrates his real depth as a presenter in handling many genres and styles with seeming ease. And when he gets to interact directly with listeners he does it in a way that makes the listener the star.

Then there’s the gentle hooking and teasing – keeping listeners listening longer and more engaged. Often presenters on his current station don’t sound so engaged with their content and sound like that they’d rather read an essay about every song. This can often end up with a programme sounding like a lecture, turning it into hard work. Brian’s hugely commercial style is what makes his shows popular and engaging.

To many, Bryan Burnett is best known as the guy that hosts athletics events up and down the country and runs (a lot) himself. But to me he’s one of the best there is. His commitment to his gig and his deft and light touch with whatever content you throw at him is an example to presenters on both sides of the divide.

And that’s why he’s my latest radio hero.

August 7, 2013
by johnco
Comments Off on It’s Radio, Stupid!

It’s Radio, Stupid!

My Old Bush

This old Bush valve radio still works – it has a ‘lovely tone’.

It was a gift from John Cavanagh who presented ‘Earshot’ on

BBC Radio Five/ Scotland (while I produced) over 20 years ago.

Two things caught my eye in the last 24 hours that have started me worrying if people that make radio are in danger of losing sight of the medium’s hundred year heritage.

Yesterday Bauer announced a series of new promotions as their radio business moves towards regional management. They’re a truly multiplatform business operating across a wide range of media, with print, online, TV and radio all contributing to the bottom line. The thing that worried me is at first a no-brainer, but overnight I’ve had second thoughts.

The new managers would previously have been called Programme Directors – they’re now called ‘Content Directors’. I get it: they make much more than just radio – they’re responsible for material across a wide variety of platforms. The change in job title reflects the companies aspirations as a 21st Century publisher.

BBC radio made the switch years ago. In Scotland Content Assistants work with Content Producers to create programmes and ancillary content. Again this reflects the extension of the old bi-media approach, when radio and TV teams started working together, with the addition of online and other initiatives.

I wonder though if TV would do the same. Jeff Stelling is a TV presenter, synonymous with Sky TV’s Saturday Football coverage. This despite the fact that their coverage appears on a multitude of devices and in many formats.

Or newspapers. David Dinsmore of The Sun seems to be a newspaper editor – not a content editor. Even though the Sun operates right across the media with print, audio, video and a premium online offering.

In fact the whole business still seems confused. This morning the great Robin Galloway tweeted:

“Sharleen from Texas chatting on the show right now. The Robin Galloway Breakfast Show available on multiple platforms across Scotland.”

What are ‘multiple platforms’?

We know as practitioners that it’s a multiplatform world where radio dovetails with video, social media and online. But do the listeners?

I have a feeling that the 90% of Britons who listen-in don’t consume content in a multiplatform environment. I think they listen to the radio.

A wise old sales director once told me that you don’t sell the sausages – you sell the sizzle. By extension, the last thing you want to do is complicate the issue by letting them know what’s actually in the sausage.

The same is in danger of happening to the medium I love – which I reckon happens to be the medium best placed to benefit from digital developments.

We’ve had a century or so to tell our ‘listeners-in’ that they are consuming ‘radio’, even though it’s just the name of the transmission technology. . The word is used all over the world in dozens of languages. To end users that one word is instantly recognisable as a kind of content. Radio.

Yet the people that make the stuff seem desperate to cast off the word as if all the other ‘platforms’ are somehow cooler and sexier. Many former colleagues started in radio and went off to TV and print. Interestingly they describe their industries by the traditional name – despite working in a ‘multi platform’ world.

Radio has changed before, from AM to FM; short wave to internet. But it remains largely the same thing. One broadcaster, speaking to hundreds of people individually at the same time.

The industry’s ability to add video to the mix, support its audio with written content on the web and even mount outside events doesn’t detract from the thing that gives it the sizzle. It would be mad for it to abandon a word that’s existed 20 years more than ‘television’ in the public mind.

The amount of positive brand value that’s been built up over the years, when the device we use to consume has the same name as the medium is worth millions. Even the new entrants who don’t really make radio in any sense I recognise like to use the word.

The consumers know what radio is and isn’t thanks to it’s heritage. And the consumers know, without prompting that producers don’t make sausage-filling content.

They know that the magical thing we produce is… ‘Radio’.

 

a subbed and no doubt improved version of this article can be found at the lovelyallmediascotland.com website.