To sum up this year’s Radio Festival in Salford would leave me
with a choice of two words.
Either “inspiring” or “overwhelming”.
I’d be in one mindset at one time, inspired by those who gave off amazing ideas
to take away from the event, but overwhelmed through circumstances that have me worrying about not being as further up the radio ladder as I would like to be.
I shall try and use this blogpost to focus on the “inspired” which I guess makes sense seeing as I spent the latter part of this summer helping to run a radio station
in Surrey with that very name.
And also because I wouldn’t want to give a too exhaustive rundown of every session although many of them were really good.
Sir John Hegarty
This session took me by surprise, as it explored the many different meanings of creativity as suggested by the advertising expert.
In a style similar to Sir Ken Robinson (which I hope Hegarty would take as a complement) it was when he divulged into there being two types of creativity,
“Pure Creativity” and “Applied Creativity”
The former relating to Da Vinci, or Matt Groening for coming up with a whole succesfull concept from scratch off their own accord, and the latter being someone for example who would lend their own ideas and progression to an already existing product.
It certainly left me feeling less pressured about where I want to be in radio as I believe that an ideal route in would be to propose and hopefully realise ideas for an
already existing radio programme which would help build confidence to develop further original ideas of my own.
Iain Lee and Katherine Boyle: “How To Do Radio”
One from slightly more closer to today as my memory can’t really stretch that far (surprisingly) Iain Lee and his BBC Three Counties
producer Katherine Boyle with the not-at-all-arrogant-sounding title “How To Do Radio”.
In spite of the session’s name, it felt really down to earth and both Iain
and producer Katherine gave a relaxed conversation about what sounds
really good on air even if it does mean breaking the rules.
And when you have a caller who is revealing or controversial for that matter, it’s worth cancelling a scheduled news or travel bulletin to spend more time
getting right into the heart of the issue, with the audio example being played being that of a convicted sex offender who had spent 10 years in prison,
contributing to a discussion on paedophilia.
Though Lee’s show does have it’s lighter and more wittier moments,
as this example hilariously illustrates.
Iain Lee stands out in the sea of “vanilla” that is BBC Local Radio, and I’m hoping
that many other creative and adventurous broadcasters are allowed to follow
on this vastly underused but potentially rewarding platform.
Kirsty Young: “Girl Friday”
The theme of this year’s festival was “Forward Looking” which automatically
answers a question posed on an earlier blog post as to why this year’s Radio Festival wasn’t doing anything to celebrate 50 years of Radio Caroline.
But this session proved that it’s more than rewarding to look back on a radio institution that is still running and gaining new generations of fans
(helped by having the best radio tie-in podcast ever)
and has been running for over 70 years.
This time the tables were turned with Kirsty Young in the castaway’s chair,
though this was an interview about the show as a whole sort of preventing us
from finding out what Young’s 8 records of choice would be.
That’s not to say the interview wasn’t entertaining through finding out that interviewer Jane “Lady Garv Garv” Garvey’s song she would save was Ronan Keating’s
“Life Is A Rollercoaster“.
A suggestion that caused plenty of laughs in the Quays theatre, though I’ve no problem with that choice, seeing as it was co-written by the man who
wrote The New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give“.
Unless you’ve read the comments on Twitter, or any press coverage on this interview, this would be one session that when it’s uploaded to the Radio Academy website, I’d recommend listening right to the end for Young’s comment
on a famous Welsh performer.
The most inspiring session shows how from a personal view, this year’s event
has gone full circle.
On arriving at Euston Station on Sunday morning prior to the event,
I checked on my tablet, and noticed that everyone was chatting about an interview with radio legend Simon Hirst on the Stephen Nolan show on BBC 5 Live
revealing that the former Capital Yorkshire breakfast host was undergoing a change to becoming a woman, and changing his first name to Stephanie.
I was a little surprised at first, but on listening to the interview
on the train heading North it was such a compelling story revealing the deeper thoughts of Hirst’s sexual frustrations, and in no way did it change
my opinion of the broadcaster and the one radio anorak who is worse than I am.
In fact it may have been the best piece of radio I have heard this year.
Everyone in attendance at this year’s festival was also complementary
and hats off to Hirsty for making her first public appearance as Stephanie
in front of an audience of people who share that same love for the medium that
many hope she will be back on the air presenting.
And I’ve gotta say, she looks amazing.
Two years ago I was in a nervous state before my first “Foot In The Door”
at the Radio Festival and I got sent a piece of advice from Hirsty via a mutual friend;
“Show them the real Robin Blamires.
They’ll be people in that room trying to be someone they’re not
and by being yourself, you’ll be the one everyone remembers”
It’s more than satisfying to now know that after so many years, Hirsty has finally shown her own real self, and I’ve never seen her happier.
To rewrite a line from her favourite jingle
“# She’s still having fun, and she’s still the one!”
Overall an amazing festival and even if I felt a little muddled and nervous in places,
the enthusiasm and overall love for that little box of noise,
(and big screens of visual noise) was present throughout.
We’ll do it all again in 2015, yes?