Chris Evans announced he was leaving BBC Radio 2 on Monday 3rd September. The station has 15 million listeners. He’s moving to Virgin Radio Breakfast, a station with 400,000 listeners.
For radio presenters this sort of rumbling has an enormous impact, whether you present on the station or not. What other changes might this lead to? Does this affect me? For the better? For the worse? Where are the opportunities?
Ultimately, you have to ask yourself, have you done the work to deal with the outcome – whatever it is?
My first hearing of this latest seismic news was a loud “Wow?!” from upstairs as Mr C got the news that Chris Evans would be joining the Virgin Radio family (Tim is the Evening Show Host on the station).
Then I have that mad succession of thoughts… but out loud:
“That’s amazing! Oh wait. What does this mean for you? What is the worst case scenario?… hang on what is best case scenario?! Ahhhh, remember when we used to watch Chris Evans every morning on the Big Breakfast and he was a hero? Wait… hang on… have you called your boss?? Call your boss!”
This is me in “Wife of Presenter” mode. No doubt, these are the thoughts of the presenter too, but they are happening internally! Tim just asks me to stop talking! He is very excited, his mind blown, he’s considering all his colleagues, and then, he phones his boss 🙂
The fact NO ONE saw this seismic shift in the UK radio landscape coming is testament to the News Corp/Wireless team for keeping the gossip mongers out, and it is also a timely reminder that you don’t know what’s going on inside a station boss’s mind!
Anything can happen at any time, so what can you do to be ready for a seismic shift?
1. Build Relationships If you are already in the gig it’s easy to make sure you are building in positive relationships with your boss and your production team. Make a brew, be proactive, have ideas, make stuff better. A coffee and a chat goes a long way. Oh and – don’t be a dick.If you aren’t in a job already – you have some graft to do. Building relationships starts with building familiarity and then getting in front of people. Networking events are good, emailing is good, oh and don’t be a dick.
2. Have Patience and Tenacity You will never get a job or a promotion from randomly sending some audio, once, to your favourite radio station’s boss. A station production team has to trust that you will be able to steer their ship while you are on air, and fit their brand. This trust building takes a long time. Your aim is to make sure that you are next in line. This takes a lot of graft: building relationships, listening to advice, networking and learning.
There is something to be said for being the last man/woman standing, cos while you will get replies that say “No”, you’re more likely to get no reply whatsoever.
Bide your time. Just. Keep. Going.
3. Collect Experience (in audio form) Keep all your best audio. Make it a habit.
It takes time to build your 3 minute demo, the last thing you want is to be starting from scratch with nothing from the last year. A client and I have been working on gathering audio for the last few months, and we have been back and forth regularly about what we need for the demo and what could be better. It will make for a solid showreel as a result.
But it doesn’t have to be about finding the next job…
4. Create Opportunities through Sharing Audio Regularly When you are proud of something you have done, bank it so you can send it to your boss, and other members of your team. Not everyone can listen all of the time. And it is always good for the sales team, or the PR team to know what you are up to. It makes it easier for them to tell the stories to the people they come into contact with.
If you are trying to break in to the industry, send your demo but ask for advice rather than a job, and get feedback.
Make sure you follow up with more audio that has taken that feedback on board. If you don’t get a reply, follow up with more audio anyway. You are aiming initially to build familiarity, and getting your name in the station boss’s inbox regularly will go some way to do that.
5. And Finally… Get Your Finances In Order I know this seems really obvious but it is a lot easier to make decisions about your career, when you aren’t doing it for this month’s bills. While we can’t all be on hundreds of thousands a year, especially when we are just starting out, financial management means you can take risks without the worry of finding the money to pay your rent.
The basics apply – stash some cash away at the beginning of the month for you, allow for the “holiday pay”, keep your receipts, and save 20-25% of it for tax payments. If you don’t have one already, get an accountant!
The person taking over from Chris Evans will, in theory, leave a gap that will need to be filled that will leave a gap that will need to be filled, and so on and so on. It might be that it’s your opportunity this time, it might not. But this is a long game interspersed with seismic shifts, that you will always need to be ready for.
Radio Industry Award Judging is in full flow, with both ARIA and SRA entries currently under the microscope. I’ve been really lucky to judge a few awards over the last couple of years and I am always struck by a couple of things that I thought would be useful to you when you’re deciding whether to trawl through your audio or “forget it this time”.
1. There are never as many entries as you think
Just like there are never as many texts into a radio studio as you think, there are never as many entries as you think. So you will always have a better chance of being nominated than you presume.
2. You never know who will be a judge
When else do you get industry people listening to you intently with the will for you to do well? Your next boss could be judging your category.
3. Never assume
The biggest mistake people make in editing their entry is assuming that the judges know what’s going on. Because you are on air every day, you assume they’ll have heard it.
But… The judges can’t judge you on what goes out on air every day, they can only judge you on your entry audio. Start from the point of view that the judges have never heard of your show, feature or the presenters, and include audio that sets out your stall at the beginning of the entry.
Good luck if you have entered anything this year. Remember getting a nomination is as good as winning: you get to go on the night and you’re in the programme.
If you want to know how to engage and build your difficult “youth audience” (those pesky under 25s) then Next Radio is the place to be: Monday 19th September.
This last couple of weeks I’ve been coaching some of the speakers lined up to do Next Radio. So, I have a sneaky heads up on some of the content on the day and there is a bit of a theme…
There will be people on stage speaking from hands on experience about how to actually use live streaming, how your business can adapt to the youth audience, how to work with You Tubers and what to be aware of when it comes to employing the next generation of radio professionals.
These are all things you will be able to take to work and put in to action on Tuesday 20th September. You can get the final tickets for Monday here.
You know when you are going about the daily grind, and then something leaps in to that space and makes you smile ? It can make your day completely different, and give you a story to tell your mates later. It happened to me yesterday – so I am telling you the story now 🙂
On the Cross Country train from Manchester to Birmingham the announcer came on the tannoy to announce the next stop…
But there was something different about this announcer. He had broken from the mono syllabic style and was chatty. His vocal tone was real and relatable. I could see the ears on the people in the carriage prick up.
In the next announcement he told us that the train would be stopping so “if you’re getting off here make sure you have your luggage, belongings, and any people you need to take with you”… He made another joke and people in the carriage LOL-ed.
In the next announcement, he did an impression of Mr Bean…
(This brought the house down)
His final bit began with the words “standard train announcement now…” And finished with a line like “thanks for travelling with Cross Country Trains, not that you had much of a choice cos this is the only one that runs this line”….
The coach gafawed, and the woman two seats behind me said (I kid you not): “that guy deserves a promotion”!!
Now I’m sure that any train driver getting a promotion will be judged on their skills and experience as a train driver, but to me it signified something. Personality, being “real”, has an affect on people.
My friend John Ryan (see his radio website here) experienced something similar the day before…
So he wasn’t about to give his train driver a promotion – but he was moved enough by it to write a Facebook status about it… and he made us (his mates) laugh in the process.
Authentic personality is a magnet. It means taking your listener out of their daily grind and lifting their mood, or doing something that means they want to talk to their friends about it (this is the best kind of marketing).
The train companies are doing it, it won’t be long before everyone is. Now more than ever radio should be authentic and brimming with personality. It matters.