Keren Haynes
Keren Haynes
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Lessons Learnt: Running Your Own Radio Station

With trepidation, and ten seconds to go before the computer clock turned 1100, we pressed “Play” and Shout! Digital Radio was broadcasting.  And actually, for the one day we were on-air, it went really well.    

All our content for the six hours we broadcast last Friday (12th April, 2019) was pre-recorded and I think that was the right decision.  It meant that we could edit down and air the very best content from the amazing line-up of speakers who joined us.    I have a background as a radio and television journalist, which involved umpteen (sometimes heart-stopping) live broadcasts; but, for Shout! Digital Radio, there was reassurance in knowing all the interviewees were there – no one was going to be lost because of technology or on account of them going to our old studio address!   

Shout! Digital Radio was a way of reaching out to our clients and potentially new clients – a marketing tool.  We were never going to get the attention of RAJAR (the organisation that measures radio listening figures on behalf of the BBC and commercial sector) in terms of our audience reach.   It was more about how we used the content, before and after our broadcast.    

I felt, particularly on LinkedIn and Twitter, there was quite a buzz about what we were doing – as far as we know it was the UK’s first ever radio station focusing purely on PR, so it was a bit different.  Several thousand people read our posts and saw the programme schedule ahead of time and the Listen Again stats so far have been encouraging.    

In terms of lessons learnt, we should have prepared the content earlier – so it was available to be used on social and on our own website.   But, the last minute motors we are, that didn’t happen.   We are however in the process of turning the interviews and panel discussions into all sorts of things:   podcasts (which will sit alongside other podcast series we’ve produced about broadcast PR – go to iTunes and search for Shout! Communications);  blogs for our website and we will offer to other PR related sites too; clips for Twitter;  also content for our bi-annual newspaper Shout! Out.   

So, is this something you might think about commissioning for your company or clients? 

There are 3 main things to consider if you are.    

1. The technology.   It’s quite simple: you choose whether to broadcast “on-air” or “on-line”.   The former is slightly more expensive and requires more paperwork; plus you are restricted to the geographical area over which the particular frequency you acquire is broadcast.   But it’s more conventional and puts you on par with every other regular radio station out there.   Alternatively, you can broadcast on-line using an encoder box which streams the audio content to a web page; this was our chosen option and you can see what we did by going to the tab called Shout Digital on our website.   

2. The content.  Arguably this is the trickier bit and in considering this you must first ask yourself:  who are you targeting?  Content needs to be tailored to suit that audience and it must be as engaging as possible.   Doesn’t that make it sound simple!  Whether or not a listener enjoys something is obviously a very subjective thing, but there are some guidelines that might help make your content a success:   

  • Less is more.  It’s a mistake to have very long programmes.   30 minutes maximum and even then you’d be well advised to have a variety of voices within that.   A one to one interview must be really amazing to carry off that amount of time, let alone a monologue!   Think about it this way:  30 minutes is as long as most TV news bulletins – just think how many different people would be included in that.     
  • Add some music or sound effects to jazz it up.   Variety is the spice of life and good radio is made up of different layers and textures of sound.    
  • Make sure the audio quality is good.   By good I mean studio/broadcast quality.   No interviewee, no matter how amazing, can compensate for poor sound.   Unless you’re on location, and the background sound adds to the story, you’re better off recording or broadcasting in a studio.    

3. Promoting your station.  No one is going to tune in unless you tell them about it.  Pre-viewing content and guests is the best way of doing this.  And encourage your interviewees to do their own self promotion too!    

At Shout! Communications we would of course be delighted to support you in the production and running of a radio station.   If you want to bounce some ideas, or even go as far as commissioning us, do drop us a line:   hello@shoutcommunications.co.uk   or call 020 7240 7373.    

To listen again to Shout! Digital Radio go to www.shoutcommunications.co.uk/shout-digital-listen-live.   

 

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