Swallow Place: A Eulogy

I never really intended to talk much about work here on the blog. It would be uncomfortable if people looked at this as inside track of what my firms up to or my opinions on it. I dont intend to get sacked if any employers take umbrage to what I write.

However, I wanted to write a little piece on the move of Classic FM from its current home in Swallow Place down to the mighty Leicester Square. You see Im a radio person through and through. I find theres something magical about being in a studio and broadcasting to people. It doesnt really matter whether its five people on a campus or a million people at a national radio station.

Ive always helped out at Classic when theyre in need of someone to play out a show or man the phones. I think its something thats important to do. You can commission all the research you like, but you get a true felling for a station playing it out or speaking to its listeners.

So, here I am, tapping away on the computer in Studio 3 pressing some buttons whilst a million people listen along in their homes or cars. As media diverges I expect that that number 1 million wont be reached very often and I feel very proud to be able to be a part of something that reaches that volume.

Anyway, today is a bit odd, because as I look out from the studio theres a plethora of boxes, and packing, and labels as most of the stations been packed up for its journey down the road. Theres also loads of stray bottles of beer and wine, obviously better to drink it than bother anyone to have to move it…

Our Leicester Square offices have been a hive of activity for the past few weeks as the 2nd floor has been transformed into a veritable Classic FM World. Shiny new studios, freshly painted walls and new computers will greet the staff on Monday morning. Itll also mean nearly the end of the Oxford Circus offices. Its the place I turned up to in the first week of February 2001, nervous, and was walked round the building given my laptop and phone and told to get on with what it was that they wanted me to do.

As GWRs London office, but not head office, it housed Classic, us corporate bods, large interactive group and Opus, our national sales team. Someone once told me that when a big boss turned up after it had opened and saw this huge national sales team for the first time he was floored, and asked the question are all these people here to sell for us?.

Its a place where lots of friends have been made, arguments been had and great ideas created. Its also been a place where theres been lots of laughs with a genuinely nice bunch of people. Its also the home of Frank, easily the best security guard Ive ever known. Franks got loads of endearing characteristics, whether its a witty way with emails that make you laugh while telling you not to leave your bike in reception or an ability to seemingly remember the name of every person whos been to the building – staff or guests, greeting them by name when they return. Hes also got a picture of himself with anyone famous whos walked through the doors, something that hes always happy to share when youre waiting for a lift or a cab. What a brilliant treasure to remember his time with. As hes not someone whos making the move, he will be someone who I will miss.

So, farewell Classic FM House and the DCS dump buttons that have never worked, farewell CDs that arent where theyre supposed to be and farewell bloody IVT. On Sunday when the networks taken by Sam in Studio 2D itll leave the building without its main reasons for being created and thats a bit sad. Well, for a moment, anyway.

Having been a Leicester Square resident for sometime, the team will find its a great place to work, with loads of very different people in one building, and thats something thats very refreshing and makes you think about what you do in a different way, which I know Ive certainly got a lot from.

Anyway, Swallow Place is dead. Long live Leicester Square.

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