Next Radio 2014

I love working in radio. I love the fact that we all do something that entertains or informs nearly every person in the country. I love it as a medium. I love that it’s having to evolve to better look after our listeners. I love digital, I love the video, I love the website. I love someone I’ve never met, talking to me through a speaker. Making me laugh. Making me cry. I love hearing songs that activate a memory. I love hearing songs I’ve never heard before. I love looking up from my desk and saying to my colleague Joe, who sits next to me, “Did you hear that?”.

I think the thing I love the most is that it’s an industry based on ideas – things individuals or teams come up with. I love hearing about them, whether that’s through a mate, a tweet or at a conference.

James Cridland and I decided a few years ago that we wanted to create a radio conference based on ideas. So, every year, we get around 25 brilliant people to tell you about ideas, concepts or the things that they do. Each session is either 9 minutes or 18 minutes, there are no boring panels and it covers all of radio – presenting, production, online, sales. It’s called Next Radio and this year it’s on Monday 8th September at the Royal Institution in London.

We also wanted to create an event that’s as cheap as possible to go to as we know, from experience, that your boss won’t always pay (that’s if you have a boss). The Earlybird price (open for a few weeks) is just £99 and at the price we only lose a little bit of money per ticket! Yes – it’s the worst business model ever! Luckily people like Broadcast Bionics generously sponsor so we can keep the price as low as we can.

If you love radio and ideas as much as we do, we would love to see you this year. Not sure? You can see what we get up to by watching videos of sessions from previous years at http://nextrad.io/. But come on, it’s actually really easy. If you’re the sort of person that reads this blog then you’re the sort of person that should come to Next Radio.

We’ll be announcing the speakers in the coming weeks. But there’s people booked from the BBC, Global Radio, Bauer, Orion, the Government’s website and radio stations from around the world who can’t wait to tell you their ideas. You can find out more (and get your tickets!) at http://nextrad.io/.

Next Radio 2013

This is really easy. If you read my blog, you should come to Next Radio.

Next Radio’s an event that James Cridland and I created a couple of years ago. It’s a one-day conference for people who love radio and want to be inspired by others to learn more and do better work.

We’ve done everything we can to keep the price low. It’s £99 (if you sign up before August 9th) and that’s pretty much the cheapest we can make it. Venue hire, credit card fees, lunch, coffee, insurance, delegate badges all need paying for. Indeed, we wouldn’t be able to get it down to £99 if it wasn’t for great sponsors like Broadcast Bionics, Ignite Jingles and the RAB.

It’s a full day of around 22 speakers. Every session is either 9 minutes or 18 minutes. So, if one’s not to your taste, another one is definitely along shortly. If you want to see what kind of things we cover in the sessions take a look at the last two years’ worth of videos. They’re all free to watch.

We’ve announced about half of the speakers, but there are some more brilliant ones to come.

Get a ticket and come and see for yourself.

 

 

Next Radio Review

In our spare time James and I created a radio ideas conference called Next Radio. There’s been two of them. The last one was last month. It was designed to fix all of the things we didn’t like about other radio conferences. It’s evolved into something that:

  1. Has its own personality
  2. Is relentless (this year there were 24 sessions in one day)
  3. Is quirky (we’ve had the first two at the Magic Circle)
  4. Is reasonable (it costs £99 to go)
  5. Not exactly an entrepreneur’s dream (of the £99 about £90 goes on our hard costs)
  6. Helps people who like radio and want it do well, learn about new ideas and thinking.

We work really hard to make it as inexpensive as possible. We want people to come who love radio and want to make it better. About a third of people who come pay for themselves with the balance mainly being paid by employers.

Some may see conferences as an unnecessary business expense, which I think, again, is disappointing. I’m just writing this after a Learning Lunch the BBC held for its radio staff. It’s a voluntary session where A&M staff can come along and hear a review of recent conferences there colleagues have spoken at. In the case it was Multi-Media Meets Radio in Turin, Next Radio and a European Digital Conference. It meant that the learning the few got, was shared with, maybe 40, other people. We know something else similar happens at Tindle and other radio groups too.

The BBC session was a great one, Sam Bailey and Brett Spencer recapped the things that really struck them as well as the things they thought it was important for BBC staff to know about. We helped them out with some slides from our brilliant presenters and are always happy to help other people do similar things too.

In the spirit of this sharing the knowledge, James and I have just put live, for free, all the videos from this year’s Next Radio. We urge you to watch them (they’re great!) and also share them with your colleagues on Facebook, Twitter and email too.

Hopefully you’ll be as inspired as we were and come along to the next Next Radio too. If you can’t wait till then, you’ve got a day left to register at the current prices for the excellent Radio Festival, as I think the prices increase tomorrow.

Next Radio Videos Go Online

In September, me and James ran a radio conference, Next Radio, which went down really well! It was a radio ideas conference and we had a fantastic selection of speakers talking about loads of different topics.

We’ve had lots of requests to put the sessions online, so i’m pleased to say that we’ve just put the vast majority of the videos live on the Next Radio website.

If you came to the conference you’ll be able to watch the videos for free (you should have received an email from us how to do that). If you didn’t come, then it’s £10 to buy a subscription to watch them.

We’ve thought a lot about whether to make them free or fee, so this is a bit of an experiment. If you want to see what they’re like – we’ve put one up on YouTube here. The people who paid for the conference (and the videos) were the delegates and our sponsors, so it seems right that the people who watch them contribute as well. However, agree or disagree, i’m very interested in your views in the comments below.

I think you will get something from each of the sessions, but three that cover very different areas, and are a great place to start are:

1. Brett Spencer’s session on local radio and social media.

2. Sam Bailey and Joe Harland’s take on visualisation.

3. Somethin’ Else’s Steve Ackerman talking about video games and audio.

The First Next Radio

I mentioned a little while ago that James and I were running a radio conference. It was a week last Thursday and was an amazing day, delivering beyond both of our wildest expectations.

It’s the first conference that me and James have both been responsible before. We’ve been on committees for events before, but basically with those, someone else does the main bit of work. This was very different partly because we would be out of pocket if it all went wrong! Mainly for my memory, but hopefully as something helpful to others, I wanted to write up some of the things that have crossed my mind when putting it together.

Venue

The venue was at the Magic Circle in Euston. It was great. Everyone’s asked me how I found it.  I think I just Googled ‘London Event Venues’ or something similar. It just stuck out and the numbers were perfect for what we hoped we would sell. They were incredibly helpful and friendly and the rooms were the perfect size for us. It was also different! We wanted to do something new – and the venue massively helped.

Ticketing

We used Ticketleap for the ticketing, which worked really well. Managing over 100 different transactions is difficult. TicketLeap have a great system which can use Paypal, making the whole process pretty easy. We only used about a fifth of their features, but that fifth was great. Taking credit cards, using a management service and coping with Paypal fees isn’t cheap though – around a fiver of the delegate fee goes on that, which still seems expensive to me. It’s clearly a good business to be in!

Price-point

I reckon over 75% of people who went paid for themselves. We wanted to do a conference that ‘radio do-ers’ could go on and keeping the price low meant that could happen. I was really pleased to see some students/recent graduates choosing to invest in their own careers by coming along.

£99 is tight

When you’ve paid for food, venue, ticketing, printing, insurance and photography there isn’t much left out of the £99. Getting the right price for food and venue makes a significant impact on the total cost.

Food

Our initial idea, to keep the costs low, was to have Pizza Hut pizza for everyone. We thought this would be fun and quirky! However all venues specify a caterer or selection of caterers you have to use. The lowest you can get food, some coffee breaks and the staff to serve it is £19.50/head. But that doesn’t really get you much. I met up with Simon from Squires Catering and we talked through the event and what we were after. They made some great suggestions and did a brilliant job for a good price. We’ve only heard positive things about the food, which we’re really pleased about.

Magicians are expensive

We wanted some close-up magic for the day. But not at £400/hour. We’re clearly all in the wrong business.

The Programme

Producing the programme – in reality one massive PDF which was also the first outing of the Media UK radio pocketbook – was made considerably easier by quick printing turnarounds afforded to us by digital printing. The programme actually went to print on Monday morning, and was delivered on Wednesday: useful for last-minute changes! We worked with Thinkpad Print and Design to produce them, printing a few more than we needed. The costs for that, paid for by Media UK, were £5.28 an issue.

Next time. No QR codes.

You have lots of ideas when you try and do these things. Sometimes just say no. I suggested that it would be really cool to have a QR code on the delegate badges linking to that person’s contact details. It stopped being a good idea when I had to manually create them all, and then manually do all the badges. All 150 of them. The QR code was then too small for some readers. Gahhhh. The delegate badges were also actually individually printed  business cards from Moo.

Presentations

Most conferences ask for presentations in advance. They rarely get them. I’m useless at doing it and generally turn up with my laptop asking whether I can do it from that? We bullied all of our speakers into getting them in advance. James then imported them into Keynote. He also fixed and harmonised video, audio, imagery and aspect ratio. This meant that there was no laptop swapping and all of the AV worked pretty flawlessly over the day. It also meant that we could keep the day on time. It was a huge amount of work – but very worthwhile.

Timings

As I was explaining the day to Catherine at the Magic Circle a week before the event, the look on her face suddenly made me very worried. It did seem ridiculously ambitious – loads of short sessions and a short lunch. I had a bit of a panic we’d bitten off way more than we could chew.

Luckily there were some things that kept us completely on time all day. Firstly was, again, bullying our speakers in keeping to time and getting them to do their presentations in advance. We also had an excellent floor manager in Helen Grimes. Helen’s been a Sonys and Radio Festival producer, in addition to her regular radio job. Having an experienced person to get the speakers ready and briefed before they went on stage is massively important and she did a great job. We also had Will Jackson at the front controlling a big screen with a countdown on. As a speaker, I found this invaluable to keep me on the straight and narrow.

No Questions

Not going to the audience for questions also helped massively. We curated twitter comments and added our own, but this allowed us to better manage the flow of each of the sections.

Sponsors

Having Ignite Jingles, the RAB, Hallett Arendt and particularly Broadcast Bionics on board really helped us to fund the day. It also meant we could afford better food and get the day filmed too.

Photography & Filming

This is expensive. We got a great deal from both of ours – Dan Smyth – for the photos and Create for the filming. It’s also good to have some people that you can provide initial direction for, and then just leave to get on with it. There’s a limited amount of things that you can actually do on the day – so having a good team doing those things was massively important.

Direction

Whilst not really being conscious of doing it, providing a strong ‘brief’ for everyone really helped. We knew what we didn’t want and we were also inspired by things like Ted – something that we could easily point to so people understood what we were after.

An Authored Event

Again, something that wasn’t apparent when we were doing it, but the event wasn’t just a branded experience – Next Radio – me and James were very much connected with it. For many of the delegates, even the ones that we didn’t know, it felt like they thought it was definitely from the two of us. Obviously on the day we were on stage a lot but also all the website material was written in a very personal way and even the email to delegates a few days before was from us personally – not the impersonal Next Radio ‘brand’.

I think this generated a significant amount of goodwill from the audience and helped the atmosphere on the day.

The Pub

We looked a bit into doing a sponsored drinks thing in a nearby bar, but in the end it didn’t really come off. Instead we signposted a particular pub to go to afterwards – I was amazed how many people came along – and then stayed! It was a sunny day and a really lovely way to end it as well.

Speakers

Every conference i’ve been to has been made or broken on the quality of the speakers. We picked a really great bunch. I think pretty much each session has been described to me as someone’s favourite, which is great. Also by giving them a short time to speak and by making them provide their material in advance, I think helped them be even better speakers.

Women

It would have been nicer to have more female speakers, we had quite a few extra that we really wanted, but for a variety of reasons they couldn’t come and do the day. In fact far more women turned us down than men. Maybe we were just unlucky? Maria Williams is doing a great job with Sound Women – so hopefully this will start to change. However, what’s also interesting is how few women wanted to come along. This was an event that was really open to a broad selection of people – young/old, new/established in their careers – I really don’t know why more women didn’t want to come? It can’t all be down to the fact our speaker line-up was very male, could it?

Good People

For it to all work it’s imperative that you have good people working on it. Sharing the bulk of the work with James made it all the more manageable. I don’t think it’s something that i’d been keen to do on my own. We both had complimentary skills that helped the workload greatly. On the day as well as Helen and Will, having Joe and Luke looking after delegates and registration and then having an extra pair of hands with Dave helping with all the technology meant the key areas were covered off by people who we trusted to just sort stuff out.  It was really valuable.

Summary

Overall, it was a fantastic day. We’ve had some great feedback something that’s been quite humbling. If we do it again it’s going to be hard to beat.

Next Radio Conference

I’m a big fan of ideas.

I read about them, seek out things I can watch or listen to that have them in and, where I can, go to conferences where people reveal them.

Obviously I spend a lot of my time doing radio things and i’m always keen to hear what people have been up to in my sector. The difficulty is always finding events where people are prepared to share their ideas and where it’s cheap enough to go.

I’ve been talking to James Cridland about this. He’s been to loads of conferences – often because they get him to speak – and we’ve been comparing notes. We’ve chatted about events that have done something clever, have had great speakers, have been fun, have been drunken, have been rubbish, have been cheap, have been expensive and a million other things. We’ve been thinking about the Radio Festival, Music Radio, Radio at the Edge, the Academy’s monthly events, the Student Radio Conferences, RadioDays, the Radio Production Conference – all of them really.

We’ve been keen to find out if there’s a different way to do a radio conference. Can you make something inexpensive, fun and interesting? Can you create a radio conference that someone would take a day off work for and pay for themselves to go to?

So, we’re having a go.

It’s a radio conference about ideas. It’s called Next Radio. There’s just 120 tickets. It costs £99. You can get yours here.

We’ve been inspired by the TED Conferences and want to create something that’s driven by ideas and passion and is routed in radio. We’ve got sessions planned about talent, music, advertising, radioplayer, archives, social media and even memory. Today we’re announcing the first of our speakers, but we’ve got a few more to announce over the coming weeks.

There’s more information at the Next Radio website. I can’t wait to see you there.