This week on my podcast I chat media interviewing, storytelling & facing fears with Actor, Writer & Perfumer Richard E. Grant.
Richard E Grant was born in 1957 and grew up in Swaziland. He moved to England in 1982 and made his acting debut in 1987 with Withnail and I, Bruce Robinson’s cult film. He has since starred in numerous Hollywood films and TV dramas, including Gosford Park, Dracula, The Iron Lady and most recently Logan. Richard has also showcased his interview skills on Sky Atlantic’s ‘Richard E. Grant’s Hotel Secrets’.
He is the author of a book of film diaries “With Nails: The Film Diaries of Richard E Grant” and the novel “By Design: A Hollywood Tale”. He has written for the Sunday Times, Observer and Vanity Fair. An exploration of his life-long love affair with scent, Richard E. Grant’s Jack perfume has also been a huge success.
“SiriusXM made me an offer to return that I couldn’t refuse,” Gervais said in a statement. “my own playlist and absolute freedom of speech,” he added. “It’s the perfect platform for me, and hopefully the listener too.”
My guest on this weeks podcast is Jack Murray, who is the CEO & Founder at All Good Tales + MediaHQ.com. In this episode we discuss all things storytelling and how his beautiful book ‘The Storyteller’s Manifesto’ came about.
While Dropbox (or whatever cloud service you use to save your files) is now the go to place to store old word documents, ideas and doodles, it was just a few years ago a trusty USB key or a concrete block of a external hard drive was the only way of keeping your files archived and safe.
Only yesterday while rooting in a wardrobe did I find an old USB Key marked ‘Ideas 07-10’. Instantly it felt like finding an old scrapbook in an attic. Plugging it into my macbook I was greeted with a ton of old photos, random text files and a scattering of MP3 tunes. One file that my attention was immediately attracted to was a folder entitled ‘IDEAS and BITS’. In I clicked and there was whole host of radio/tv/online ideas that I had either produced or left to ferment like a bottle of fine wine (or potentially a bad batch of home brewed beer). Great memories from my days of setting up the programming of iRadio and later during the 3 years of producing the “Breakfast with Hector’ radio show.
Some ideas good, some ideas not so good.
I thought though I would share with you a small selection of the ones I think grabbed attention and cut through. Hopefully it might spark some ideas and encourage you to go searching for the USB you think you’ve left in a drawer somewhere.
The iRadio Naked Bus
This was by far the strangest charity competition i’ve ever run but ended up being incredibly successful making all the national news outlets. We used rising fuel prices (this was in 2007) as the premise for people to ditch the car and take public transport naked all in the name of charity.
The station invited listeners to participate in the “Naked Bus Challenge”, whereby they were collected from their homes and driven to work naked. The bus delivered one person per day to their place of work.
The completion element was simple: whoever raised the most money would be named the Naked Bus champion winning a load of prizes. The promotion was very visual with a fully wrapped bus driving through every town in the staton franchise area. It drove huge awareness which in turn put the ratings through the roof. This was before Twitter, Instagram and Facebook really took off. A huge hit on BEBO 🙂
The Birth Notices
Believe it or not in Ireland the ‘Death Notices’ is one of the most listened to radio segments on local radio. Basically one person reading out funeral arrangements for about 10 minutes straight. It’s usually the biggest time block success for local stations that drives huge listenership. My idea was to do the opposite and broadcast the ‘Birth Notices’ once a week to welcome brand new listeners to the station I was working for. We created specially branded baby bibs and the segment was inundated with families trying to get on the slot.
Here’s some audio
Granny Gran Prix
How can you not love a daredevil Granny?
The premise was simple – Could we find the fastest granny in Ireland? To make sure the show did not encourage or glorify speeding, the show requested that any granny applying was doing so in the knowledge that they needed proper professional help to make them a better driver, and ‘Breakfast with Hector’ would give them the vehicle (pardon the pun) to do so!
The shows host invited callers to share their granny stories which provided some fantastic on-air moments. From hundreds of nominations, we selected our Top 10 Grannies including the previous year’s champion and brought them to Ireland’s top racing track Mondello Park to compete in an intensive time trial race! The promotion proved to be a huge success particularly with families looking to nominate their grannies!!
2nd Chance Debs
Very simple mechanic. A chance to relive or have your debs/prom for the first time. People won tickets by sharing their horror debs stories. Worked brilliant on air and the night itself as you will see below was incredibly fun.
Ah yes jumping on any Irish roots connection story….. From the original press release below.
“A regional radio station in the midlands will change its name to Obama FM tomorrow when it broadcasts from the Irish ancestral home of US president elect Barack Obama. i105-107 FM will broadcast all day from Moneygall in Co Offaly on the eve of the historic inauguration. We just thought we should do something to celebrate Barack Obama’s Irish roots. It will be such a historical occasion, we had to mark it some way,” said Alan Swan, i105-107 FM programme director.
We ended up winning Irish radio Innovator of the Year at the Irish Radio Advertising Awards 2010 and a ton of national & international press. It cost very little and delivered massively for the fledgling station.
‘Ireland’s Biggest Simultaneous Aerobics Class’
Limerick gym instructor Richie Clifford was the break out star of TV Show ‘The Gym’ on RTE Television. Following an on-air call with Richie, The Hector Breakfast Show decided to plan ‘Ireland’s Biggest Simultaneous Aerobics Class’.
The idea was to try and convince as many gyms, schools, and offices to switch on the breakfast show at 8am and join in on a live aerobics class from one of Ireland’s biggest sports arenas at the University of Limerick. Yes… an aerobics class on the radio did sound like a ridiculous idea but somehow it captured the imagination of our listeners and caused huge talk-ability.
Over 600 listeners took part in a live outside broadcast while the show received enormous social media feedback and national press. You could do this idea again and pursue beating the record of the longest ever aerobics class which stands at 39 hours 20 minutes.
Tommy and Hector Podcast
One of the highlights of being the content director at iRadio was launching the Tommy and Hector show. Way too much fun. I look about 10 in the video below.
The latest episode of my podcast is now available for download! My guest is writer and broadcaster Scott Solder where we talk all things body language, the art of interviewing & Donald Trump’s use of simple terminology.
Scott Solder is an expert in language, advanced communication and human behaviour. He is a co-author of ‘You Need This Book To Get What You Want’, a popular psychology book focused on personal performance, influence and persuasion which is on sale around the world and translated into several languages.
He is an experienced journalist and live broadcaster and has appeared as a commentator on BBC1, BBC2, Channel 5, Sky News and BBC radio analysing the language and behaviour of key public figures.
As well as his specialist expertise, he has a strong news sense having been an Executive Producer and Editor in BBC News & Current Affairs and Programme Director of LBC radio. He has covered the biggest stories of the past two decades both out in the field and in the newsroom.
Had the pleasure of being on a radio playlist discussion panel for Hard Working Class Heroes, Ireland’s Annual Showcase Festival & Conference for New Music last Friday. Really interesting chat and it was great to meet so many new Irish acts for the first time in person. As so much came out of it I thought it might be useful to do a post on some of the key points that got raised.
Here’s my top 5 takeaways for new acts looking for radio play. Hopefully it will save you some time, money and heartache.
Research who you’re sending tracks to. Nothing more frustrating then getting a track that’s not suited to your show or station. Personalise the message if possible. You have to build a relationship and be patient with who’s listening to your tracks.
Don’t waste your time sending massive CD packs in jiffy bags with sheets of paper and moody looking pics. In my opinion it’s a complete waste of time for everyone involved. Save some money and send a stream link, Spotify, Soundcloud or download link. If possible don’t set an expire date on the download. Don’t fill up peoples inboxes which huge WAV and Mp3 files.
If you insist in sending a CD please make sure it’s labelled with contact details. No blank CD-R’s with ‘track 1’ scribbled on it. It should be all about the music but unfortunately presentation does matter and you will be judged on it. Be clear, concise and straight to the point.
Don’t forget the producers of the shows. Naturally you’ll think of the presenters but showing some love to the backroom staff never hurts. They often have the ear of the playlister.
Tour, tour, tour. Play your songs to an audience before recording and sending them out. Although technology has made it so easy to record and distribute your music, it doesn’t mean you should. Gauge the live audience reaction to your tracks and take it from there. If you’re honest with yourself you’ll know when it’s ready.
….and I’ll throw in a sixth. (Top 5 takeaway sounded more catchy in a radio sense but I digress…) Have a story. I don’t really care what studio you recorded it in or that the engineer produced X,Y,Z. Think about how the presenter/journalist/blogger is going to introduce you to the listener/reader. Think of angles. It’s all about attention these days so how are you going stand out from the crowd??
Best of luck getting out there. I’m always happy to answer any questions about submitting demos/tracks so if you need to know anything specific, drop me a line via twitter @alanswan or on email here
When I was a teenager Oasis was one of my favourite bands of all time. Spent many a day daydreaming away to “Live Forever”, “Rock ’n’Roll Star”, “Wonderwall”, “Whatever” and my favourite Oasis track of all time “Slide Away”. Noel Gallagher was in my eyes the greatest songwriter in the world.
I never thought 22 years later that (A) I’d get to meet the man and (B) that he would record a track in our 2fm studios that he was so happy with that a year late15r he would include on his new album ‘Who Built the Moon?’. The track ‘Dead In The Water’ recorded in RTÉ 2FM’s legendary Studio 8 and engineered by the brilliant Damian Chennells is sublime and it’s a real honour to have RTÉ 2FM associated with the album.
I love what I do for a living. 15 Year old Alan would have lost his little mind if he knew that this would happen in the far off year of 2017.
What an incredible finale to 2fm Live, our week long celebration of live Irish music.
2FM’s DJ MO K and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra performed ‘The Story of Hip Hop’ at Friday nights Electric Picnic, accompanied by guest vocalists Mango Dassie, Erica Cody, Jafaris and Jess from BARQ. The party continued afterward with 2FM’s Jenny Greene with the Concert Orchestra once more performing a ’90s club classic set with vocalist Gemma Sugrue.
First review in from The Irish Times “Perfect festival formula; musical prowess and unadulterated pop fun. An absolute triumph”
Niall Horan kicked off his Flicker Sessions world tour and unveiled tracks from his upcoming debut album at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre on Tuesday night. Niall then joined us at RTE to perform an intimate set as part of ‘2fm Live’, our week long celebration of live Irish music.
Excited to announce that RTÉ 2FM are to recreate U2’s Joshua Tree with a whole host of Irish acts including Gavin James, Kodaline, All Tvvins, The Academic & many more.
A project that U2 have given their blessing to will see the release of the album called “The Joshua Tree – New Roots” set for release this October by Universal Music Ireland
We are inviting listeners to design the new album sleeve for this special release. The original “The Joshua Tree” cover was designed by Irish designer Steve Averill, who be among the judges. The information on how to enter is here.