Trevor's Blog

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Two writers

In the week that we lost another of the great communicators, here are a couple of reflections on radio, neither quoted with permission but both worth passing on.....

First, here's Will Buckley writing about the BBC's Test Match Special in the Dec 3rd Observer:
"New technologies may abound, but often they merely serve to demonstrate the virtues of the old supposed dinosaurs. Cricket is made for radio. A brisk listing of the field and the play is set. The action assists rather than hinders conversation. The background hubbub allows you to easily imagine you're in a faraway continent. It is all wonderfully evocative and strongly nostalgic ...... a cocooned and magical place."

And here's a passage from Nick Hornby's bestseller "A Long Way Down". Maureen, a single mum with a disabled child, is hearing Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left for the first time:
"This is how I feel every day, and people don't want to know that. They want to know that I'm feeling what Tom Jones makes you feel. Or that Australian girl who used to be in Neighbours. But I feel like this and they won't play what I feel on the radio, because people that are sad don't fit in."

Not 'arf.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Nick Clarke

News of Nick Clarke's death reached the Radio At The Edge conference during the morning. To those of us who didn't know how far his health had deteriorated since his surgery it was a big shock. His former colleague Tim Maby, who's now working on podcasts and audio streams for The Guardian, paid a moving tribute to Nick during his session and I'm sure the Academy will find the right time and the right place to recognise Nick's enormous contribution to journalism and radio in general and to the art of political interviewing in particular. We send our condolences and good wishes to Barbara and their children.


Radio At The Edge

Radio At The Edge has become one of the Academy's brightest stars. Thanks to Matt Honey and his energetic committee we were treated to a demonstration of how to stage a compelling conference. The speakers were concise and to the point. They avoided the jargon, they brought plenty of clips for us to listen to and they brought new perspectives for us all to consider. The stand out performer as ever was Fru Hazlitt who f'ked and bollocked her way through a bravura demolition of medium wave. Richard Maddock from Radio City had put up a sterling defence of AM citing the bouyant audience figures of Magic 828 in Leeds and the success of KFI 640AM becoming no.1 in Los Angeles. But he was blown away by Hurricane Fru. I wonder if she's ever had an argument with Emap's Dee Ford - some of us would pay good money to see that!

The theme of the confererence for me was money. Speaker after speaker showed us evidence of a demand for 'visual radio' and interactive services and all kinds of textual healing, but no-one had much idea how to fund it all. Of course the BBC can do it, but in commercial radio, where even producers are as rare as Spurs fans at the Emirates, who's going to source all these pictures and create all this extra content? And who will pay for it? I was pleased that LBC picked up the Innovation Award for their premium podcast service. Finding a way to persuade consumers to pay for radio is truly innovative.

Our good friends at blue barracuda are making a podcast from Radio At The Edge as I write. So if you didn't mange to get there you can hear a flavour of the discussions at

And do have a look at John Plunkett’s entertaining live blog from the conference at

Thank you to the committee of the Radio Academy's Scottish branch who have withdrawn their threat of UDI. I spent a lovely evening with them in Glasgow which was further enhanced by the news that the Bhoys had dispatched the Mancs despite the traditional provision of a last minute penalty to even things up. My how we laughed!. It turns out that Radio Scotland head honcho Jeff Zycinski is a reader of this blog. But he's critical of its frequency - he manages to write his every day! (Check it out at I'm ashamed of myself Jeff and promise to do better in future.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


wiggly wireless

The thought of two conferences in a week wasn't exactly thrilling but the contrast between NAB Europe and PodcastCon 2006 couldn't have been greater, or more inspiring. Rome was a more elegant venue than Smithfield Market but while the big boys at NAB (and they were all boys - I think Rachel Jones from Radio 1 was the only woman on any panel) fretted about regulation and digital migration and monetising audiences, the free spirits of podcasting crackled with enthusiasm about their new medium.

Now I don't think it's a new medium at all. I think they're making 'radio'. It's just that their programmes don't get heard on 'a radio'. But by by-passing the traditional gatekeepers of broadcasting they're about to give some of the big players a bloody nose. Take Heather Gorringe from the sustainable gardening company Wiggly Wigglers. No, bear with me. Last year at the first PodcastCon she was inspired to go back to her farm in Herefordshire and start waffling into a microphone with her husband Phil and an assortment of real-life Archers. One year later she has over 20,000 subscribers via iTunes alone! And her mail order business is thriving. I asked her if she'd ever considered advertising on radio. Her response was chilling: "no I haven't," she said, "people don't listen to it." But what about the gardening programmes? "They're all rubbish." Heather knows a thing or two about rubbish and recycling and it seems she knows a thing or two about how audiences are fragmenting, how to reach disenfranchised listeners and how to make money from audio. We'll get her along to a Radio Academy event soon.

I also met Brian Fielding this week, the founder of, who's taken his spoken word business from zero to $64 million US dollars a year in just 4 years. He's persuading a large number of Americans to part with a few cents to enjoy time-shifted NPR programmes like All Things Considered. And he's desperate to sign up BBC brands like From Our Own Correspondent. Mmmmm, once upon a time we all said we wouldn't pay for television didn't we?

See you at Radio At The Edge.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Nab is fab (with apologies to Adrian Henri)

Ciao from the European conference of the National Association of Broadcasters in Rome where I've come to see what we can learn for the Radio Festival 2007.

The opening session was like a Ryder Cup of radio with David Goldberg from Yahoo USA pitched against Phil Riley from Chrysalis. After a negative reading of radio's prospects across the pond from David, Phil gave us a spirited defence of the medium in the UK . He recognised the problems presented by rival attractions like the iPod and the internet and admitted that Galaxy's revenues were down 40% over two years because media buyers are following the fashion for You Tube and My Space without looking at the data (52 mins consumption per month for a teenager compared to 453 mins a month). But he argued that with 50% of young Birmingham tuned to Galaxy and 30% to Kerrang, commercial stations were still able to attract under 25s and that the US experience will not be replicated in the UK because we've already understood the advantages of interactivity via text and websites where the US stations are lagging behind. 1-0 to Europe in the first head-to-head.

Elsewhere James Cridland from Virgin announced that at several times of the listening day numbers on the station's 'alternative' platforms (DAB, DTV, internet etc) actually outnumber their nationwide AM listening.

Digital has been the theme of the day. Switzerland will switch off FM in 2010. Norway wants to do it in 2014. Digital is cheaper to run and allows more choice. So how are the big radio groups going to deal with migrating listeners to the new platform without losing them to rival brands? Can individual stations cope with trailing 'rival' services on DAB? Do the PDs want to turn high-cost FM listeners into low-cost DAB listeners? Watch this space, or rather don't.

Skip Pizzi (real name) from Microsoft explained that the issue for heritage broadcasters is to accept that 'radio' is now two businesses - content provision and service provision. And you can't be in both. He said it took the arrival of World War 2 to get World War 1 classified as such.

The moon is in the sky like a, .......... er, well a big pizza pie. Arrividerci.


Notts triumph! (but put radio in the title so the search engines see it)

It was scant consolation for Notts County's abject dismissal from two cups this week (don't ask) but the domination of the Student Radio Awards by URN, the station based at the University in god's own city, was at least one reason to be cheerful. They won six (or was it seven? it was one of those evenings) prizes at the ceremony presided over by Scott Mills and Jo Whiley at the New Connaught Rooms in London. It was like the Sony Awards but with more swearing. Chris Moyles' revelation of the size of his salary in front of 400 students who do radio for nothing, was roundly booed. But otherwise he was on good form. I particularly liked his description of a certain midlands DJ as "bi and large." My favourite entry in a really impressive field came from the University of Southampton where Nick and Moggs had mixed together the voice of BT landline texts with the original track of Queen's 'We Will Rock You' - you've got blood on YOUR face, you're a big disgrace - very funny. And congratulations to Steve Lamacq who's stepping down after three years chairing the awards. If you were there, then yes Steve's story about me was true. If you weren't, I didn't get mentioned, honest.

I was also thinking about my home town and about comedy at Jeremy Nicholas's wedding on Saturday. I first heard Jeremy hosting local football shows for BBC Radio Nottm in the mid-80's where he managed to make the dullest local sports news not just bearable but compellingly funny with a barb here and a grimace there. I brought him down to GLR where he formed the much-loved partnership with Kevin Greening on what I think is still my favourite radio breakfast show. Off air Jeremy was acerbic to a point which wasn't likely to endear the top brass. At the height of Nigel Chapman's campaign to take music out of GLR, someone cut out a photo of Nigel with some children from the pages of Ariel. Jeremy added a speech bubble - "one more disc Trevor and the kids get it."

As you may have seen on the Radio Academy site, Nicky Campbell has kindly agreed to interview me at Borders on Oxford St in London on Thursday at 6.30. Please come along. It's free, there'll be some refreshments and you can probably force us to sign copies of our books if you're so minded. Nicky's will of course be the bigger pile.

The Festival 2007 committee met for the first time last week round half of John Bradford's old desk. We've ordered a proper meeeting table and I'll show you a photo as soon as we've worked out what IKEA's hieroglyphics mean. I think the Festival will answer all the criticisms of last summer's but if you have ANY ideas or suggestions please get in touch.

Welcome to Abi Willey (pronounced Wiley) who's joined the HQ team. We're now fully staffed - Lucy Mackay with Lauren Beer in the events team and Becky Ross with Abi running the office, liaising with the SRA and our regional committees and supervising the website. Call them to say hello when you can : 020 7255 2010.

Arrividerci from NAB Europe in Rome. "You wouldn't go if it was in Rotherham" (Mrs Dann). More on what they're talking about in Radi-Eu next time.


Friday, October 27, 2006


It's radio Jim but not as we know it.....

A trip to the US is always good for UK radio ears, reminding us just how rich and diverse our broadcasting is. There's innovative stuff coming from America of course but it's mostly to be found on the internet and on the increasingly popular digital networks. Here in New York the most curious offering is Imus in the Morning, a breakfast talk show hosted by the splenetic veteran Don Imus for WFAN-AM. In a 'bi-media' initiative which would have pleased John Birt the show is also transmitted by MSNBC TV where we see Imus with his trademark cowboy hat and stethescope-style headphones willfully ignoring the camera as it it flits around the studio showing us various plasma screens and the backs of peoples heads. Meanwhile the director cuts up 'relevant' video clips: a call from St Louis complaining about the War On Terror? Here's some shots of angry Iraquis for you.

It reminded of me of a particularly batty idea which came out of the bi-media years at the BBC. When Matthew Bannister and I were setting up GLR we were told to take the soundtrack of Newsroom South-East, the regional TV opt-out. But what will we do about the captions? Well, came the answer, you could read them out. What, while an interviewee is talking? Oh, how about you split your stereo signal and do a commentary on the pictures in one channel while the soundtrack continues in the other? Not so much Greater London Radio as Barking FM.

I was sorry to read that Paul Walters has died. He saw off the Birt purge of the late nineties by resolutely pretending that it wasn't happening. Not one for strategy papers or awaydays, Pauly got on with inventing what we now call user generated content, the letters and then emails which became the lifeblood of Terry's show. A true pioneer.

Y'all have a nice day

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


You're Trevor Dann aren't you?

There I was in reception at the BBC's Media Village when a woman I'd never met came up to me and said "you're Trevor Dann aren't you?" I had to admit that I was, indeed am. "What are going to do about that Radio Festival," she demanded,"it was......." "I know I know," I said, "not enough women, too many middle aged white blokes. Yes, I'm going to do something about it." She said this was good. "Oh and get some people from BBC news there." Thank you for the feedback, Claire Prosser (for it was she).

Nice to see our incoming chair John Myers reclaiming his birthright at Century in the north-east following its sale to GMG by GCap. Will our canny lad be tempted back on air?

pip pip


Sunday, October 15, 2006


Rehab FM

Thank you for all the replies to my first blog. Yes I know it looks as though there was only one - nice one Magz - but more than 30 people did send me email comments including many offers of help and support for which I'm very grateful. I think people may be reluctant to add public comments to the site because you have to open an account with Blogger in order to post a reply. So when Sam the RadAcad Webmeister gets back from his holiday we'll work on making it easier.

If I had any doubts about plunging into the blogosphere they were dispelled on Thursday at our Promotions & Marketing Conference where Tom Webster from the US pollsters Edison gave a sparkling talk on what blogging can do for you. Apparently a blog can lift you to the top of google, make your customers love you, give you access to authentic feedback about your service, help you understand your own workforce better, wash the dishes ...... well I made that last bit up, but blog is the definitely the new black.

The P&M event was a great success. Only Nick Button, the committee chair was disappointed - a whole day in London really got in the way of his gardening! Andrew Harrison of the Radio Centre gave us a spirited call to arms about the medium's future and I was pleased to hear him embrace the podcasters and audio streamers in the radio family. "Wherever it's made", he said," and however it's delivered, it sounds a lot like radio to me." Another highlight was Ande Macpherson's proposed promotion for Magic on Kiss ....... are you ready for Rehab FM? Thanks are due to Richard Park who hosted the awards evening. And congratulations to all the winners.

Thanks also this week to John Breach who organised the fabulous Woman's Hour 60th birthday tribute. The panel, including Sure MacGregor and Martha Kearney, were in expansive mood and it was terrific to hear the anecdotes and archives from other eras. I especially liked the warning that some of us might be shocked to hear that couples are living together out of wedlock. And the advice to empty out the water before I "park" my kettle was life changing.

Pip pip!



October 2006   November 2006   December 2006  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?