2fm Xmas Ball raises over €500,000

What a fantastic night at the RTÉ 2fm Xmas Ball last night in aid of ISPCC Childline! To all the acts who gave so generously of their time and talents, The Script, The Coronas, Róisín O, Gavin James, Hudson Taylor Hermitage Green,  Little Hours & Wild Youth, to all at MCD, 3Arena, RTÉ 2fm and numerous generous suppliers we are truly grateful

A staggering and vital €500,000 was raised for Ireland’s 24 hour listening service for children and young people. This support will help ensure the ISPCC remain there for children and young people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The USB key is the new scrapbook

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.

Obama FM

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.

Looking to get on the playlist? Some tips to help you be heard

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

Joshua Tree New Roots

2fm to recreate U2’s Joshua Tree

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.

All proceeds from the sale of “The Joshua Tree – New Roots” will be donated to the LauraLynn foundation.

Photo by Álvaro Serrano

My 5 favourite podcasts over the last 12 months

Podcasts suffer from the same issue as Netflix. You spend more time looking for something to watch on it then actually watching something full stop. Whatever podcast platform you use the same issue pops up, so much choice and not enough curation. Have to say one site that has helped me greatly in discovering new shows is Podcast Chart. Beautiful clean interface, easily accessible download links  and one of the best curated lists of podcasts online. I’ve been listening to a ton of podcasts over the past 12 months, here’s my favourite 5 over that period, each description taken from Podcastchart.com Happy listening!

How I Built This

How I Built This is a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. Each episode is a narrative journey marked by triumphs, failures, serendipity and insight — told by the founders of some of the world’s best known companies and brands. If you’ve ever built something from nothing, something you really care about — or even just dream about this is for you. How I Built This is hosted by Guy Raz.

S-Town

S-Town is the most recent podcast from Serial and This American Life, hosted by Brian Reed, about a man named John who despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks Brian to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But when someone else ends up dead, the search for the truth leads to a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life. The audio below is an in-depth interview with it’s creator Brian Reed.

Inside VR & AR

Inside VR & AR is a deep dive into virtual and augmented reality, with the latest news, fascinating guests, product launches, and lots more. Technology titan Robert Scoble hosts this action-packed podcast, and your definitive guide to VR & AR.

Song Exploder

Song Exploder is a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. Each episode features an artist discussing a song of theirs, breaking down the sounds and ideas that went into the writing and recording. Hosted and produced by Hrishikesh Hirway.

The Tim Ferriss Show  

Tim Ferriss is a self-experimenter and bestselling author, best known for The 4-Hour Workweek, which has been translated into 40+ languages. Newsweek calls him “the world’s best human guinea pig,” and The New York Times calls him “a cross between Jack Welch and a Buddhist monk.” In this show, he deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc.), digging deep to find the tools, tactics, and tricks that listeners can use.

If you’re looking to create your own podcast I wrote a post on this last year.

Post Photo by Álvaro Serrano

You can't please them all

You can’t please them all. Here’s a way to stop trying

You can’t please them all. You’ve poured your heart into creating something. The response is pretty good but one negative comment has popped up and now it’s all you can focus on. You start to question your work, you ask “Why don’t they like it?” and completely ignore the positive reaction to what you have achieved. Sound familiar? It’s a common problem for content creators and something that I used to constantly struggle with. Trying to please everyone. That was until I heard the story of how tv viewers reacted to Neil Armstrong walking on the moon in 1969.

I’ve blogged before of my love for the James Altucher podcast. It’s a great show with a really solid mix of conversations ranging from marketing to meditation. One of his most recent guests was the author Ryan Holiday who was on publicising his wonderful new book Perennial Seller, a book on the art of making and marketing work that lasts. During the conversation Holiday revealed an absolute gem when it comes to creating something new and coming to terms with the fact that you will never, ever please everyone.

“When the moon landing happened,” Ryan told James, “It had 93% market share. That’s incredible. “But think about it. That means 7% of the audience turned on the TV, saw Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon and said, ‘oh, this is boring. I’m going to change the channel.”

Not everyone is going to like what you do. In fact there will always be someone who HATES what you do. Unfortunately it’s human nature to focus on the negative. You might get 50 kind social comments but it’s the one negative post that you will pour all your energy into.

Don’t.

No really, don’t.

Next time, pause, take a deep breath and remember that image of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. A man walking on the moon in 1969. Then think about the 7% who couldn’t have cared less.

Smile. Move on. You will never please everyone, even if you are walking on the moon.

Empathy

Empathy. Who are you creating content for?

When you’re creating content one of the most important skills you can have is empathy.

Can you put yourself if the shoes of your listener, customer, consumer?

World renowned, Academy Award winning composer Hans Zimmer does for every project he works on. In a recent Rolling Stone interview he revealed who he writes for. Guess what? It’s not everyone.

“And I realized that,” he says with a pause. “I have a fictitious person I write for. And she’s called Doris, and she’s from Bradford and she wears a raincoat and she has two horrible little kids that are giving her nothing but grief. And you know, the man left her a while back. And she just, in the rain, everyday, trudges to work and she works hard. … And so if she puts her hard-earned money down, we better give her an experience. And we better put everything in just like she put everything in to get there. … When I finish writing a piece. Sometimes my music editor says to me, ‘What do you think? Do you think Doris will like this one?'”

So next time ask yourself who are you creating for? Who is your Doris?

How to interview a Rock ‘n’ Roll star, Howard Stern style

In my opinion Howard Stern is one of the world’s great interviewers.

In the clip below listen to his recent conversation with Liam Gallagher. Stern is fully prepped, puts his interviewee at ease and then hits his guest with an incredibly personal queston about his father. Gallagher opens up completely and it’s by no accident. Stern is a master of his craft.

This is how you interview a notoriously difficult Rock ‘n’ Roll star.

RTÉ2fm Music Highlights

Well what an unbelievable weekend of music content on RTÉ2fm! Friday saw arguably the world’s biggest music star Ed Sheeran co-present our drive show in a one hour special with Eoghan McDermott. On Sunday U2, in a world exclusive premiered their 2017 version of “Red Hill Mining Town” on the Dave Fanning show to commemorate The Joshua Tree’s 30th anniversary.

Bank Holiday Monday saw 2fm broadcast a new batch of music documentaries, one on Irish singer/songwriter Gavin James and another on “Cork Rocks”, looking back on the Cork music showcases of the 90’s. Finally 2fm as part of Cruinniú na Cásca, a Creative Ireland initiative presented by RTÉ broadcast live from Smithfield Square in Dublin with live performances from a whole host of new Irish acts including The Academic, Soulé, Aine Cahill & many more.

The excitement continues this week with 2fm Live – Jenny Greene & RTÉ Concert Orchestra performing this Friday night at Dublin’s 3 Arena!!

An acronym from the 1960’s is simply perfect for 2017

KISS is an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid”, a design principle used by the U.S. Navy way back in the 1960’s. While some deem the phrase old fashioned & cheesy, in 2017 this acronym has never been more relevant. The attention of your audience is so fickle, it’s vital to simplify your ideas and in turn the content you create. You have to make it simple to grab their attention and then make the message so clear they don’t forget.

Simple is beautiful.

Views expressed do not represent the view of RTÉ.

Photo by Jeffrey Wegrzyn


For more posts on content creation & creativity follow me on twitter @alanswan or on instagram @alanswanirl