March 16, 2016 by johnnyseifertradio
Whenever I have worked at a radio station it already exists. There are staff. There are lots of people that do lots of things. Fundamentally there is a studio. The only time I had been involved in the launch of a station was when I was at University and we put on a two week station rebrand for Scratch Radio with heavy reliance on twelve songs an hour. With Talk Radio there is no music. With Talk Radio there was no studio to walk straight into. With Talk Radio we had an outlined radio clock for four hours that needed a shit load of content to be filled with.
Let me take you back to Tuesday 1st March 2016 at 09:30 where I was sitting in the Wireless Group cafe surrounded by building work , uneven floor and unpainted walls. There were builders having their standard twenty minute coffee break and myself with a hot chocolate and my thoughts. Slowly, over the next hour an amazing thing happened. The cafe started getting invaded by all these new producers who had joined this brand new radio station. We all had something in common. We all loved radio. We all had a mutual friend. At one time or another we had all worked at LBC. Now was the chance for our creative ideas to be put on the radio map. We were bought into the boardroom where we were welcomed by management. From that two hour meeting I took away two ideas:
1) Laura Whitmore sleeping with Leonardo Decaprio is as important as the EU Referendum.
2) You will want to tell your parents and friends your news daily.
Three weeks on I have not looked back since. Every lunchtime and home time I call my parents to tell them the latest celebrity we have booked in for the Breakfast show. I tell them the latest anecdote or feature I have heard. I am on the best show on the station. However, if I could I would work on every other show. Every show has great guests lined up. Every show has a game I want to play. Every show has a producer that is so knowledgable in their expertise that I want to listen to their anecdotes all day.
When I was at AudioBoom for a year I was taught by my mentor David Marsland how to angle news stories and it has helped me so much being creative with news stories to make them fun and relate to our audience. For example, what can one do with ‘National Jelly Bean Day’. The second thing that helped when I was at AudioBoom was communicating with agents. This has meant I have booked some big guests for the first six weeks that I have planned for. I have celebrities with stories and real people with stories. Without a degree in communication I am not sure I would have been able to have that rapport that I have built to break into those stigma, insecurity stories that I want to bring to air on Paul’s show. Obviously, for every acceptance I get five rejections. This is not a reflection of my work, it is not a reflection of the station is the fact that some celebrities expect a big fee to be on air. As the station progresses this will change. We will have friends to the station. Think of how Chris Moyles has that relationship with John Bishop, Davina McCall, Keith Lemon, Andi Peters and Keith Chegwin.
Over the past three weeks my priority has been building a massive spreadsheet that contains guests that we have sourced that will interest you, experts that we can use to inform you, special features for National days such as National Jelly Bean day to entertain you and a list of release dates for film/tv/books for you to relax to. This spreadsheet is essential. It has also been important to utilise the calendar on Microsoft Outlook as it can be shared by various members and means we can see a clear guide as to who we have booked and at what time slots when we are working away from the production office. By having three weeks to book guests it has meant that we have put in the calendar for the first two months and can spend post-show production focussing on pushing the content in as many multi-platform places as possible with experimentation.
Experimentation is the key here. We are going in blind. We have planned some features that we would like to do. We know how we are going to set them up, we know how they will be executed. However, what we do not know is what you, the listener will think about it. We may have no callers on a topic or feature and we will have to drop it. In contrast, we may find that we get an overload of callers and need to work out how we revisit the topic in more depth with a new angle or how to make the feature bigger. Every day we are moving items around the four hour clock or to a different day.
It is not just me. I am part of a team. A team that is amazing and more then I ever hoped I would be part of. I have a producer, Alex. Alex and me are Ying and Yang. We are both very different and that is why we will work together. I love entertainment and celebrities which he does not care about. He loves news and politics which I do not care about. We need both to have a balance of light and darkness. The key to this is we both respect each other’s interests. Away from work me and Alex have found common ground at laughing at people (we can not help it). Then there is set up producer Rachel. In the past three weeks Rachel has worked so hard in compiling a list of contacts that we can use. In essence she has the hardest job and I have the easiest. For me, I need to turn to work at 04:30, flick through the papers, answer the phone, have four hot chocolates, have a natter with Paul, go on to the street do an interview, play a game with Paul and then the show is over. At 10:00 we have a post show meeting to talk through what went well and what is happening tomorrow. Rachel takes over here and has to plan the whole show for us. She needs to have experts lined up who will be awake at 06:00. She will need to check that all guests that have been booked for the next day are happy to come on air still. She will need to write a rough guide for the interview that we can turn into a brief and questions for Paul. Remember, I just come in have a hot chocolate and a laugh and go home. Then there is our king, our saviour Paul. The ‘banter’ between myself and Paul has already started. He is so knowledgable, he is experienced and he is fun to be around. These three people I will get to know better then I know my family after twenty-three years. I am sure we will disagree on matters but for every disagreement there will be four laughs that will be had. These three people I will be waking up at 03:00 to, going home at 12:00pm to and speaking to late afternoon! I do not even speak to my latest chirpse that much!
The job is not a normal job. Firstly, I do not have normal 9-5 hours I am 4:30am-12:30pm. Secondly, it is a 24/7 operation. There maybe an idea you have sparked by a tweet or an article that you have read. The great thing is , this can be turned into a feature or an interview for the next day. In addition, it may be the case that the traditional meeting does not take place in a meeting room but happens over WhatsApp or Slack with your team. This is the best way to bounce ideas when they are fresh in your mind when you are not physically sitting together. Finally, securing guests with agent intervention is always a hard one. Think how many emails agents get for that one guest when they are plugging their latest programme or product, everyone wants a piece of them suddenly. Therefore, being on email is really important. I have made it my mission to check my emails for an hour when I get home and late evening incase an agent has got back to me after I have left for the day so that I do not miss them. There is nothing worse then waiting two days between emails from agents when you just want to get something booked in! My brain may never switch off but I would not change anything for the world!
This job at Talk Radio was made for me!
Paul Ross will wake you up on Monday at 06:00 on DAB Digital Radio.