A couple of weeks ago I went up to Leeds to go to the Student Radio Conference. I’ve been an on/off visitor to SRA conferences since graduating nearly ten years ago (gulp) and they’re always an interesting thing to take part in.
They’re also good opportunities to catch up with people. No, not the students… the other speakers! This year I was asked to chair the final session of the conference about how to win a student radio award. This was somewhat different to my normal job of rabbitting on about digital and new media, but I guess I was asked to do it as, alongside Helen and Chris, I look after the judging process for the awards.
Partly it was nice to do something outside of my comfort zone as I had to ‘present’ loads of information and interview/lead a discussion between Greg James and Hugh Stephens from Radio 1 and Duncan Wallace and Dan O’Connell from Galaxy. We also had lots of audio and video to play in, which gives any presentation a dangerous ‘will-it-won’t-it-work’ edge.
Overall I think it went very well, and we had some good questions from the students, even some we could answer.
Whilst I was on at the end, on the Wednesday, the conference started on the Monday. I was only planning on going up for my day, as it’s hard to justify three days out of the office, however when I saw the line-up of speakers, I made an exception. I genuinely think that the people they had speaking would give something like the Radio Festival a run for its money.
The first day included sessions with Ben Cooper, Deputy Controller of R1, an interview with Steve Lamaq and a great piece on multi-platform from James Cridland (which I just made it up for). The second day kicked off with a keynote by Ashley Tabor. I think this is pretty much the first time he’s spoken at a radio event and an amazing coup to get him there. He gave an impassioned view of where he saw the company going and wasn’t afraid to talk about things the audience wouldn’t like – eg networking. Though I think he managed to curtail the negative responses by announcing the Global Radio Academy at the same time! The one thing that I thought was a bit cheeky were his slides that ‘proved’ that the Heart rebrand was working. With some stations on six month RAJAR periods and the dates at which Q4 covered (ie all pre-launch) actually he basically proved that the last days of the One Network were most successful. However, I thought I best not ask any questions…
Second on was a session with another stellar line-up about compliance that included both Global Radio and Radio 2’s heads of compliance as well as Nick from Kerrang and David Burkin form Ofcom, ably chaired By GTN’s Will Jackson.
Whilst I nipped off to do some work on Tuesday afternoon, the students got to hear from more great people including John Hirst (Global Content and Podcasts), David Garrdio (Radio 1), Mike Smith (Head of OBs at talkSPORT), James Whale and Jonathan Richards (Head of News, Global Radio), Jimmy Endicott (Marketing Manager at XFM/Galalxy), Alex Jungius (Head of Imaging, Galaxy), Ben Newby (Head of Station Sound, R1), Matt Priest and Chris Martin (NME Radio) and Sam Potts (Columbia Records).
I think what’s great is that it shows some top class people willing to give up their time to help people learn about the industry and how to get on.