Revisiting The Radio Festival 2013

It’s quite a brave move to attend such a prestigious event in the British radio calendar
where the biggest figures in the medium unite to share their thoughts
and celebrate the box of noise.

But when knowing that many of the big boys and girls in the industry ultimately share
a genuine love for radio, it helps you to fit in better and that’s exactly how I would sum
up my first , and hopefully not final visit to the annual Radio Academy Radio Festival.

Set in the delightful surroundings of Salford Quays, not too far from Media City,
many of the UK’s (and overseas) finest convened for a series of talks and debates,
but rather than go through it all as a whole, here are some of my personal highlights.

30 Under 30: The Sound Of Now

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This was really innovative.

A great way of putting this year’s Radio Academy 30 Under 30
alongside their senior colleagues and asking them about
their own routes into radio.

Produced by Folded Wing’s Karen Pearson, and recently appointed Radio Academy CEO
Paul Robinson, this showcased this year’s inductees in probably more ways then
they could have thought themselves.

Not least with BBC Engineer James Hamilton’s interview with James Rea from LBC
and many in the auditorium agreed that the modest James Hamilton should
take up a career as on-air presenter with his fantastic well-spoken voice.

This event shouldn’t be repeated next year. Oh no.It should be a mandatory part of every Radio Festival from now onwards.

“What The F**k?”

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It’s no secret that I find swearing in broadcasting to be hilarious.

The reason being is because of knowing that it is wrong, when used in innapropriate
times and a fiery panel lead by Radio 4’s Mark Lawson discussed how to deal
with breaking taboos in broadcasting.

From the live uncensored performance by Rage Against The Machine on 5 Live,
to the fuss over “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead”, this session brought out
differing opinions, and a lot of uncensored obscenities
but above all it was entertaining.

Perhaps the most hilarious element was the fact that panellist
Paul Smith, Head Of Editorial Standards at the BBC had a secret
life operating Gordon The Gopher with Philip Schofield whilst
at the same time hiring the likes of Andi Peters, Zoe Ball and
Toby Anstis.

The ultimate radio talent spotter, I guess you could suggest.

Sound Found (Simon Elmes)

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As a sound effects obsessive, I knew I had to attend this session
looking at how it takes a lot of work into creating the perfect audio
effect or soundscape.

Ideally placed at the beginning of the second day, the lovely skies
from outside the Compass Room helped set the scene for an amazing insight
into the effort that goes into making something really polished by
just taking an audio recorder into the street and recording ambiance.

In an age where it is easy to grab atmos from a sound effects CD,
you can really tell when in a documentary, or even a feature film
when a sound engineer has made the effort to record their own
sounds, and this talk showed off the art form for all it was worth.

“My Biggest Nightmares” (Jeremy Vine)

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Without a doubt, this was my favourite session of this
year’s festival.

A charismatic Jeremy Vine gave an insight into the lesser
proud moments of his career such as dismissing any
signs of sympathy on air for a listener’s thoughts for
a dead dog, and donning a cowboy suit during an
election broadcast.

It also looked at examples of how the rule of the presenter
not turning a broadcast into a personal soap box had been
broken using examples such as Noel Edmonds’ Sky 1
series “Noel’s HQ” and the 1976 film “Network” which
I’m pretty certain was the direct inspiration on the former
Fox News broadcaster Glen Beck.

Jeremy’s own experience in television, from a personal perspective
helped him to provide what was the most entertaining session
of the whole festival, and proof that “vanilla” broadcasters,
just cannot provide incredible radio.

A definite festival highlight.

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Special mention must go to the hosts, Fi Glover and Jayne Garvey who
along with Jon Holmes in Room 2 brought a blend of wit and authority
to proceedings, but ultimately gave a sense of warmth,
which ultimately is the word that sums up the broadcast medium of radio,
that draws it’s biggest fans every year to Salford Quays.

And it felt really good to be sat among them this year.

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About Robin Blamires

I live in Canterbury and really enjoy radio and audio producing. I currently present a show at community station CSR FM called "Blam Jam" where I play a wide selection of soul, jazz and electronica music, and elsewhere in the station I help out with producing the station sound, creating on-air idents and sweepers. I would love to bring my skills into professional radio and continue to learn more.
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