A few weeks ago, a lucky team of ten from OMD were offered the chance to spend a fully immersive day at 96.4 Eagle Radio in Guildford. The aim of the visit was to highlight the benefits local radio can provide to clients and give the team the opportunity to record and produce their very own radio ad and show, to show the flexibility and creativity enabled by local radio.
After arriving at the station the team received a brief introduction into 96.4 Eagle radio from head presenter Simon Rose, who quickly instilled in everyone that 96.4 is the number one station and local heartbeat of Surrey and Hampshire. This moved onto a tour of the building and live studios, a practice recording to warm the vocal chords (in prep for the radio show later)and some examples of real-live radio bloopers to put everyone at ease for when the time came to record their own.
Post-tour, the teams were split in two to start preparing material for the radio ad and radio show they were about to produce. The team at 96.4 Eagle gave advice on how to structure each, ideas of topics to cover and made clear the importance of having a script as a reference point (no matter how loose); something people would come to appreciate later on! They then stepped aside to let the OMD crew run amok in the studios…
Josh Tovey, Media Buyer, shares his experiences of producing a radio show:
What did you enjoy most about producing your own radio show Josh?
At first we were nervous about how we might sound on air or come across when talking about the various topics we had scripted for the show. It flowed quite naturally though. I enjoyed the random banter that developed in our conversations, including material on the horsemeat scandal, the Eden Hazard ball boy affair, and our varying (unfulfilled) New Year’s resolutions! It was fun being able to make up stories as I went along.
What kind of things did you guys talk about? Was it topical?
First topic of the show was the horse meat scandal; this raised a few hot debates on whether or not we would shop in Tesco anymore, or eat in Burger King! We also spoke about the ball boy affair, with a few different viewpoints coming from the situation; was Hazard in the wrong? Did he even kick him?!
Did it give you a new understanding into how radio presenters work?
Yes, at first we thought radio presenters put on a radio voice; in fact, it’s how the equipment tunes your voice that makes it sound so ‘radio’. We found that it’s a lot more difficult than you think to talk in a clear and concise way as well as stay on track with your chosen topic. There’s a lot to think about and we found ourselves stuttering quite a bit. Luckily, there was the rest of the team on hand to help if we slipped up. It was also important to keep referencing 96.4 Eagle radio in between songs and ad breaks. Advertising the station is a big part of the show so we had to keep this front of mind throughout.
What were the biggest challenges? Any technical hitches?
The biggest challenges we faced were mainly in the timing of the weather and traffic updates and when to switch on and off the microphone. We found ourselves speaking over adverts quite a lot!
What was the funniest part about producing the show?
The funniest parts definitely occurred when having the chit chat in between songs and advert breaks, the conversations often diverted and went down paths we did not expect! Particular highlights include some of the make believe characters that called in to the chat show, especially the ‘Scouse-Welsh’ lady (a result of a Liverpudlian accent gone badly wrong).
Does it make you want to work in radio?
It was great fun and I can imagine with practice that the confidence in your own voice and personality will shine through on a regular basis. On the face of it, it doesn’t sound too strenuous. However, you’ve got to be on the ball at all times and constantly aware of what’s going on, from news and traffic updates, through to the timing of advert breaks and mixing together tracks.
What take-outs would you share with your clients for how local radio could benefit them?
Local radio is huge and it gives the listener a lot more local information that they use and need, therefore they build trust and affinity with the station. By using this affinity to the listener, brands can capitalise on this and build trust and awareness with this audience. Local radio is all about the community and advertisers can tailor their message to these communities.
Charlotte Cowling, Communications Planner, shares her experience of the radio ad production:
Being able to write and produce our own radio ad was brilliant; it made a bunch of novices (us) sound like professional pros! I think by the end of the session we all felt convinced we could have pulled off the sultry Marks & Spencer voice-overs too, such were our obvious “skills” when it came to radio broadcast. It was also a fantastic chance for 96.4 Eagle to demonstrate how flexible radio can be and how much creative control you can have; because it is creative and that’s what made it fun. We were able to inject our humour and personality into the piece and that’s exactly how you make radio engage with listeners.
We had an hour to script, revise, rework, re-jig and record, which we figured was plenty of time (it wasn’t). We nominated Citroën as the brand we’d produce the ad for based on the fact their car launch for the new DS3 Cabrio went live mid-February so the timing was spot on.
Turns out, thirty seconds is quite a chunk of time you need to fill with dialogue, sounds and narrative. After scripting the first couple of sentences and doing various recording re-takes, we were slightly disappointed to find we had only ten seconds of ad space filled. And over half an hour of our time gone. The producer was getting slightly nervous. The challenge was to keep it succinct and punchy, convey a story of some sort, make that story interesting, then fill up all the ad space…no mean feat for the inexperienced five in the room.
We opted for a tease-and-reveal scenario, playing on the fact that the DS3 Cabrio is this summer’s “must have accessory”; the girls in the group were recorded giving compliments to a mystery woman who was, as we later unveiled, the fashion-statement Cabrio showing off ‘her’ design, colour and stylish accessories (most notably the defining rooftop feature). The male-lead took the part of an ‘impartial observer,’ cutting to the chase to reveal the cars identity from a distance at the very end; “that’s that new DS3 with the top down!” An apt observation, we felt.
We even interjected the obligatory Ts&Cs, sped-up for comic effect. Admittedly, this was because we still had eight seconds of ad space to fill and there were only so many times we could weirdly prolong each syllable of the closing strap-line Escape The Ordinary before it sounded like we were doing an advertisement for hallucinogenic drugs. This resolved that slight issue and, we argue, added natural realism to the piece.
Overall, a rip-roaring success! The task forced us to be tightly focused and cliché as it sounds, work collaboratively as a team, which was genuinely important because we didn’t have that long to pull it all together. Everyone had a part to play. Plus we got under the skin of one of our client brands, tailoring the creative idea to them; we’d frequently stop and ask “does this fit Citroën’s brand image?” which helped us to throw away less suitable ideas.
So thank you to 96.4 Eagle for letting us run riot in your studios, it was an excellent day and as immersive as you could get. I’d really recommend this hands-on experience as it is much easier to understand the benefits of a media channel and its role for clients when you’re directly involved and can put all the talk into action. Thanks to OMD, 96.4 Eagle and First Radio for organising this; we’ve since been able to communicate to clients the importance of considering local (not just national) radio on plans because we have first hand insight into how it can work for brands. It’s fun and flexible but the part that stood out to us most was how much of a community there is behind local radio. People are really proud of their local station and they’re loyal to it. By infiltrating communities that genuinely care about what their station has to say, there is a great opportunity for clients to reach their audience on a much more personal level and show they’re thinking about the interests of local groups too.
Post by Josh Tovey, Media Buyer, and Charlotte Cowling, Communications Planner