The People

I worked out the other day that I have been at the birth, or involved in some way in the birth, of I think 15 radio stations in my career. I’ve also been at the other end of the life cycle a few times too, but most have been a transformation into something new, or different.

This blog of mine has never been a place to comment on current topical events or news stories about media and I’m not about to start now. In fact, it wouldn’t be entirely appropriate to comment either.

One thing I can mention, and indeed want to talk about is the people.

It is the people that MAKE the radio stations. They are the day to day, cut and thrust of making anything successful (or not). When something ends or events happen, it is always the people that you miss the most.

The team I have been working with are all fantastic, and due to the size of the operation, multi-tasked, multi skilled and deserve all due credit and praise. So, here goes (in absolutely no particular order)… a role call…

Tim Smith. Tim and I worked together many years ago when he was in Leicester Sound, then he went to Spain and back a bit before winding up in the team before I even joined actually. Every station needs a Tim Smith! As my deputy, he was the one who would take on a few projects, look after some detail around a particular project, or just get stuck in. He is a great sounding board, confidential ear and alternative viewpoint. Tim is that guy, who on a Friday night when there is a problem with the playout system or something, and he is out with his mates, he would leave them and get a taxi to the building to fix it! He’s the one who will log in at the weekend, late night or early morning to put right something or finish a weekday task, or tweak something because it would improve things. He was also the person who donned protective gear and went into the building when it was closed due to a covid outbreak and restart a vital computer which just needed a physical button press so that someone else could work!

Owen Hughes. Owen had been in the business for a long while when I joined. He has immense digital, online and social skills and that was his day to day. Then staff changes meant we needed someone to look after and develop comedy and Owen more than stepped up. He blossomed into full colour. He has an incredible knowledge, skill and understanding of comedy and the people who make it. He has ideas and creative concepts to make content. Couple that will his brilliant organising skills and you have a total all round production unit! His crowning glory has to be his work at the Leicester Comedy Festival this year, where from the moment that to programme was published, he had organised a spreadsheet with shows, comedians and dates and venues, coded to those who he knew, or had worked with before and incredible detail. He produced a daily show, covering the festival and incorporating dozens and dozens of interviews from around the festival, most also videoed and used on social and online. All of that whilst also doing the day job. If comedy is the new rock and roll, then Owen is a Rock Star, (roadie, rigger and promoter) rolled into one.

Ed Crofts. I first came across Ed when he was at Uni and I judged a category at the Demon Media Awards at De Montfort University in Leicester. The show he did, “Ed and Neil” was outstanding, funny, creative and clever and rightly won. Ed developed his skills producing and worked with some amazing talent at a local, regional and national level. Its always more powerful when other people say you are great, rather than yourself- and when I was looking for a Breakfast Producer the ringing endorsement I got from those I respect about Ed was deafening. It was pandemic lockdown time and Ed, having been in Malaysia at the time had come back home. I knew that if I didn’t hire him, I would miss out on the perfect candidate and would always kick myself. The difference between success and failure or even just ‘meh’ is the people who put in the effort to make things work- Ed made all the difference. Initially from me not quite being able to ‘hear it’- he helped the team develop something which worked really, really well. Couple that with a great sense of humour and fun, energy and focus and you have someone who any team should be thankful to have amongst its midst.

Matt Tyler. Matt was another person I met when he was at Uni. He contacted me and we chatted a few times and I think we actually met for the first time on a tour of Leicester Square prior to the SRA Awards. His work on the “Matt & Grace Show” at URN, quite rightly propelled him to a gold win for Multiplatform Award. Matt is a creative ball of fire. He is unafraid of ‘new’ and embraces change and ideas with an eager energy. There is much which Matt is doing for the first time- and he brings a fresh take on the everyday, every day. He is skilled in graphic design, video, audio, radio, social and fun! He doesn’t see a barrier to something living across a multi-platform and thinks across platforms with content as a natural default. He has a huge desire to learn, try things out and see how new ideas might work. Working with Matt was great fun and I’m thrilled I got the opportunity.

Charlie Hockin. Charlie worked for me in Bristol back in the day, and was new into an audio producer role, having moved from a sponsorship co-ordinator role. That gave him a wide view from both sides of the road, which was really useful. You need to have a unique set of skills for what Charlie did. Creative and inventive, coupled with organised and logical- so left and right brained. Meet Charlie Hockin! Given the creative freedom to invent, he came up with some great, comedic and inventive ideas and audio and daily would suggest and write new production and ideas. He then had the immense skill to organise that creative output and methodically work it through, get it made, get it loaded and sorted on time and in the right place. More than that, he would also be the first to offer help, jump into systems out of office hours to fix things and tweak things to improve the outputs. Couple that with an abundance of just ‘being a nice person’ and you have a stalwart of any organisation and a pleasure to work with.

Nina Vasu. Nina, like Owen, was in place when I joined and had been around for a few years. Nina is one of those people who has a keen desire to learn and help out. She picked up holiday cover from programming to traffic and looked after the tasks that needed to be done to stay operational. Her developing skill came with music and based on a passion for current music, she grew in that area- looking after the scheduling, timing, and content for that output. Matching people’s skill with their desire always produces better results and Nina quickly started to get immersed into the finer detail of music scheduling and refining the on air content. She has an energy and interest which would put many to shame and always is on hand to help out where needed.

Trevor Marshall. Trevor and I go back a long way to the days of breakfast in Milton Keynes. I think that was when Trevor and I first worked closely together and he was a consummate professional. Working together with him again was really enjoyable and he continues to be the creative, energetic and professional unflappable guy he always was. There are a few ‘radio guys’ for whom the medium is a perfect place- they have an innate ability to communicate and craft the radio output deftly and seemingly effortlessly, and Trevor is absolutely one of those.

Adam English. I’d not worked with Adam before and he had joined straight from student days and winning an SRA award a few years before. We quickly got on well and it was clear that he has a drive, energy and creativity that is just chomping to get out. Adam made some big moves whilst we worked together and those moves took guts, determination and trust to both see them through and make them work. I absolutely admire his ability to ride through all of that – it is no mean feat. I enjoyed our time, analysing, talking, debating and crafting new ideas and refining old ones.

Jim Rosenthal. Jim is a broadcasting legend and anything I might have to say is but a dot on an ‘i’ of an encyclopaedia of media greats. I would have been entirely appreciative if Jim had been dismissive and uninterested in anything I might want to point out to him or suggest. After all he has done it all, worked with some amazing talent and I’m sure had a belly full of managers and producers with ‘views’ on what he might do differently. Jim was totally the opposite. A warmer, kinder, interested and respectful guy you would be hard pressed to find. For all of his vast experience, Jim took on board any feedback, suggestion or comment with grace and genuine interest. The end result being that we had a good bit of fun and did something a bit different. It was an immense pleasure to work with Jim and its easy to see why he is so well respected and loved by those who have come into contact with him.

Paul Easton. Paul I had known of for many years but not actually worked together. I’d read his blogs and he had read mine in years previous, but we actually never met until our first meeting in Jury’s Inn in Oxford in late 2020. Paul’s knowledge is huge and his calm, reasoned manner is delightful. He is a gentleman. We worked closely together on music and scheduling and Paul and I saw eye to eye. Sometimes if I had a thought about something, a song or a suggestion I would be cautious if Paul would agree, but in reality we were in lock step and he would be thinking the same thing. Paul said some nice things to me privately for which I thank him greatly and he deserves huge respect for his legacy in the history of UK radio, but also for the knowledge and skills that he has and still demonstrates to this day.

The problem with naming names is where do you stop and the truth is ‘somewhere’. The people above are the ones which would be in close orbit but of course its not everyone who deserves credit and praise. Jo Summerbell, Laoishe, Katie, Richard, Andy, Hannah are all heroes. Caroline, Kat, Hamish, Gabriel, Donnach and Ian and Clive are all responsible for producing something for which I’m proud and thankful for the opportunity.

So… whats next?

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Published by Dick Stone

Radio...its always been radio.

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