A free content creation masterclass from Hamish & Andy

If you’re a broadcaster or a producer, actually if you’re any type of content creator the 47 minute talk below is essential viewing. It’s a masterclass in content creation and broadcasting from Australian duo Hamish & Andy recorded by Commercial Radio Australia, the national industry body representing Australia’s commercial radio broadcasters.

Hamish & Andy are an Australian comedy duo formed in 2003 by Hamish Blake and Andy Lee. They currently host the radio program ‘Hamish and Andy for The Drive Home’ which airs in Australia nationally on the Hit Network. Masters of grabbing attention and creating a unique connection between them and their listeners, the duo mix traditional radio techniques with sometimes off the walls ideas. When it comes to content creation nothing is impossible.

Grab your favourite beverage of choice, a notebook and take an hour out today to watch this. It’s that good.

2 key takeaways for me. I love their thoughts on being authentic.

“Really the number one critical thing that we always try and make sure we hit and are in check with is that level of authenticity. If, this is just yesterday, sure it’s not the greatest example of all time. I have a chicken suit built that I was very passionate about, but I really wanted that first moment when Andy saw it to be authentic because he … That’s the real reaction. What we’re trying to give, what we try and do in our show in every afternoon is to try and hit that level of authenticity so we’re all enjoying the same moment as the listeners at the same time”

Hamish adds.

“I think, again that the trap to just make sure that nothing goes wrong with it you can fall into is over preparing something and then having to fake or reenact a genuine reaction when it comes around to 4:00 in the afternoon. Trying to keep that authenticity and that realness as a present really that you’re giving the other guy on the show because they’re the funnest moments. When something happens for real, we take that really seriously. I know when I get kicked out of the meeting for half an hour it’s a good thing because I’ll be given some sort of present that afternoon. There can usually be a highly embarrassing situation, but that’s the fun. We know that when 4:00pm happens, we’re not just trying to recreate something funny that happened in the meeting. We’ve saved the fireworks for the afternoon”

According to Andy when it comes to being prepared you have to have balance.

“It’s about finding that magic balance between prep and leaving enough spontaneity in the show. For us, we’ve found there’s sort of 2 ends of the spectrum, over-prepared and not prepared at all. Not prepared at all is also …”

Hamish “Dangerous.”

“Just sailing the ship. It’s about going, and so for our show, and this is different for every show, but for our show, as Sammy would know, you know every mic break, we’ll just have one word or one line of what we want to do in that slot. For us, that works, about 1 sentence to describe 5 minutes of content seems to be about the right ratio for us, but it took a fair bit of trial and error to figure that out”

One of the most inspiring teams in the radio world, I can’t wait to hear what they create in 2017.

Episode 14 ‘The Outerview’ – Lynn Barber

“The Outerview” is a podcast on the art of media interviewing. Each episode I look to explore what it takes to conduct the perfect interview from dissecting classic interviews to discussing techniques with some of the worlds leading broadcasters, podcasters and journalists. This week my guest is Lynn Barber.

Lynn Barber is widely regarded as one of Britain’s best celebrity interviewers. Her interviews have won five British Press Awards and a ‘What the Papers Say’ award. A memoir of Barber’s career as a celebrity interviewer, A Curious Career, was published in May 2014. She has written for Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Observer. She now writes for the Sunday Times.

An Education, a 2009 coming-of-age drama film is based on the memoir of her life. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards in 2010, including Best Picture.

Show notes: During our conversation we discussed her interview with Jimmy Savile.

To listen back to past episodes, you can find our archive here

Views expressed do not represent the view of RTÉ.

Episode 13 ‘The Outerview’ – Craig Bruce

“The Outerview” is a podcast on the art of media interviewing. Each episode I look to explore what it takes to conduct the perfect interview from dissecting classic interviews to discussing techniques with some of the worlds leading broadcasters, podcasters and journalists. This week my guest is Craig Bruce.

Craig is the former ‘Head of Content’ at Southern Cross Austereo in Australia. His true passion has always been the development and mentoring of young talent. He now works as a talent coach and radio consultant. His podcast ‘Game Changers‘ features intimate conversations with the men and women who have known success and failure in their radio careers. The podcast is the end result of an idea formed after working for more than 20 years in Australian radio. You can hear the latest series here

To listen back to past episodes, you can find our archive here

Views expressed do not represent the view of RTÉ.

A creative lesson from my wonderful 2 year old daughter

Finding it hard to be creative? Stuck in a rut?

Yesterday I spent the afternoon blowing bubbles with my daughter. It still is one of the simplest ways of keeping my little one amused, she loves it. After much running around my daughter reached for the bottle of soapy water and proceeded to put tiny pebbles from the driveway into it. I immediately scolded her, “Serena, please don’t put pebbles in the water, you’re not meant to put stones in there”. Her face dropped and instantly I regretted telling her off. It was in that moment that I asked myself “Who was I to say whether it was right or wrong to put pebbles in the bottle?”. So I called her back and let her work away. She stayed putting pebbles in the bottle for almost 20 minutes straight, shaking the bottle furiously and laughing away. To her it made complete sense. To her it was the most natural thing in the world.

It’s easy to forget what it’s like to be a 2 year old. At that age nothing is right or wrong. You experiment and it’s in those moments you discover new fun possibilities. When we get older you worry about what people think, you fear it mightn’t work out, you sometimes get stuck in tried and trusted ways. You stop being creative.

Today why not drive to work a different route? Why not read the news from a different website than your usual source. Why not have chocolate for breakfast? The list of things you could do differently are endless, you just have to let yourself go and have some fun. These different experiences often end up helping to reignite your creative fire.

So today why not put some pebbles in a bottle. As Serena will tell you, it’s great fun.

Views expressed do not represent the view of RTÉ.

Episode Twelve ‘The Outerview’ – Jarlath Regan

“The Outerview” is a podcast on the art of media interviewing. Each episode I look to explore what it takes to conduct the perfect interview from dissecting classic interviews to discussing techniques with some of the worlds leading broadcasters, podcasters and journalists. This week my guest is Jarlath Regan.

London based Jarlath is a comedian and creator of the award-winning Irishman Abroad Podcast, a series of weekly conversations interviewing Irish people about their lives and insights into the experiences of Irish people abroad.

To listen back to past episodes, you can find our archive here

Views expressed do not represent the view of RTÉ.

Improve your show prep with this dinner party trick

Are you struggling to get the best out of your show prep? Finding it hard to get your team to reveal some great stories?

There is a wonderful lifestyle blog called a ‘Cup of Jo‘ which I like to browse through every now and then when looking for inspiration. In a recent post author Joanna Goddard described how while at a dinner party it’s host requested that all diners partake in a round table ‘Ice Breaker’. Initially they all shuddered at the thought but surprisingly it would reveal a whole host of conversation starters.

Goddard revealed.

“She asked us to go around the table and share three fun facts about ourselves. Sitting to her right, I was the first person to go. I scrambled to come up with offbeat stories and ended up spouting random things: “Um, I have a twin sister… Uh, I don’t drink coffee?”

She added.

“But by the time we got halfway around the table, people had warmed up and were telling EPIC tales. One woman could remember everything she’d done every day of her life (but never realized that was weird until she saw a 60 Minutes piece on endless memory). Another woman had married her husband twice — first at 20, then they divorced at 21, then re-married at 22. A third woman revealed that she had spent years working as the personal assistant to a major celebrity. The party was a huge success — we were laughing so much, and people shared things that would have never otherwise come up. It was the ultimate conversation starter. Every contribution sparked a dozen more questions, and the game lasted the whole night”

Who would have thought something as simple as a quick ice breaker question would reveal so much about the company that Goddard was keeping. Sometimes in the daily grind of things you forget to sit around as a team and ask some simple questions.

So in your show prep team meeting tomorrow why not share three fun facts about yourself. You never know what might be revealed?

Views expressed do not represent the view of RTÉ.

Photo by Kevin Curtis.

MMA Journalist Ariel Helwani on how to kickstart your career

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the world’s most successful MMA journalists Ariel Helwani for my podcast “The Outerview”. While our conversation was focused mostly on the art of interviewing, Helwani offered some great advice on how to approach potential mentors in media.

“A lot of people do email me and I’m somewhat disheartened if I’m being honest, by what they write. Because they say to me, “I would love to be an MMA journalist, what do I have to do? “,  “Can I come work for you?”, “Can I come work for your site?”, “How did you get started?”, and to me, if I’m going to reach out to someone who I look up to or I want advice from, I will do my research first and I feel like my story has been told enough times now where you can get a sense for “Okay, what was my road to this point”, and maybe then you read the interviews and then maybe you can ask a few follow up questions, but to be honest, when I started that website, it was fairly easy for me to come up with the idea, “Okay, what do I have to do?”

Helwani adds.

“We live in an age where people are accessible, so everyday I decided that I was going to write 30 to 50 Myspace messages,  just wrote to fighters, and you know, if one or two responded, great! Now I have one or two interviews, and all I was trying to do was get one interview out a day, because I love the art of interviewing. I love talking to people. To me, you give me a room with two chairs, a desk, maybe two cups of water, and that to me is the greatest set in the world. I realised that “Okay, let me reach out to these guys and put out these interviews”, and so when people reach out to me, it’s like “Okay, what do you want to do? Be different”. Look at everyone else, be different, what’s your style, and so sometimes I feel like, you know if I’m being honest, I feel like the younger generation is a little lazy and they want someone to just hold their hand and tell them exactly what to do and give them the big opportunity, but it doesn’t work that way. I’m still scratching and clawing. I’m still trying to make it as well. Sometimes it’s good, but sometimes I will say “Oh my gosh, you know, you could’ve looked it up and come at me with some better first questions to make this good first impression”.

It might sound like simple advice but you would be amazed at the amount of media students who reach out to me on a regular basis who want to take the short cut and land the big gig straight out of college. Helwani’s advice of doing your research and figuring out what initial direction you want to take will stand you in good stead. No one is going to hold your hand and give you the big gig. But there are those who will give a helping hand and point you in the right direction. You’re going to have to graft to stand out.

So what’s your first step?

You can hear the full interview with Ariel below or via iTunes here.

How to deal with silence from Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong is one of the most controversial figures in the sporting world. His recent interview on Newstalk’s Off The Ball revealed a fascinating insight into his character, but the 30 minute interview also showcased one incredibly important lesson that has put the fear of god into broadcasters over the years. The fear of silence.

In the clip below listen to an absolute stunning moment (at 11min 40 secs) where interviewer Ger Gilroy asks Armstrong a well researched, smartly constructed, hard hitting question. Armstrong answers, Gilroy not satisfied with the question continues to probe and is greeted by silence.

Now for what feels like an eternity the interviewer could have panicked, broke the tension and tried to approach the question from another angle but didn’t. He was brave enough to use the silence to his advantage and put Armstrong on the back foot. It’s a broadcasting masterclass from Ger Gilroy.

Next time you’re faced with an uncomfortable silence, enjoy it. The world hasn’t stopped, you haven’t committed a broadcasting sin. In fact used sparingly, silence can grab attention and make the listener turn you up. Everyone loves a little bit of tension and in the case of this interview there was only one person who didn’t enjoy the silence and that was Armstrong himself.

Photo by Sebastian David Tingkær

Views expressed do not represent the view of RTÉ.

When Bruce Springsteen wrote a shit song

Irish stand up comedian Des Bishop has recently started his own podcast and it’s a brilliant listen. One of his most recent guests was comedian John Bishop. During the conversation John revealed how Bruce Springsteen inspires him when it comes to creating a new show.

“I’m a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. I read something once, and it’s brilliant. I hope it’s true, because it sums up a lot of what I think. I always have in my mind now, particularly if I’m developing a new show, you’re considering what you’re going to talk about and where it’s going to fit in, from your life and everyone else’s … He wrote a song called “Can’t Have You”. The words of the song are: “I’ve got Rembrandt’s hanging on the wall, but I can’t have you. I’ve got houses across the country, but I can’t have you.” It has something to do with a split with his wife, or whatever, the reasons for the song, but the song was all about, I’ve got more wealth than any man can stand, but I can’t have you.

He played the song for Little Steve Van Zandt. Steve Van Zandt said, “What’s this shit?” He said, “I’m just saying what I’ve got. I’ve got houses across the country. I’ve got Rembrandts on the wall. I’ve got cars.” He said, “Why are you singing about that?” He said, “That’s what I’ve got. I’ve got this, but I’m splitting up with my wife.” He said, “Why are you telling everyone what you’ve got?” “That’s life replied Springsteen.” Van Zandt then says “They don’t want you to tell them about your life. They want you to tell them about their life”

He adds.

“That is what you’ve got to have. Sometimes if you’ve never been at that position … For me, if you want to talk about class or life experience, the more experience you’ve got, the more you can relate to a wider audience of people”

That line “they don’t want you to tell them about your life. They want you to tell them about their life” says so much. John’s observation is bang on, it’s not what you share from your life, it’s how you share it. Remember that line next time you’re looking for relatable content to cut through, it will serve you well, time and time again.

To hear the full podcast listen here I highly recommend Des’s conversation with Jason Byrne. An hour of incredible storytelling.

Springsteen Picture by Shayne Kaye

Views expressed do not represent the view of RTÉ.

Waiting to be picked for that perfect presenter role?

Are you waiting for the phone to ring? Waiting to be chosen for that perfect role?

I just finished a wonderful book called “The Art of Creative Thinking” written by Rod Jenkins. One chapter “Be a generator” tells the story of an actor who hates having to audition because his fate was in other peoples hands. He realised it would be smarter to try and create a role and not wait for a director to pick one for him. The actor discovered an interesting book about a boxer that he thought could be the perfect vehicle for his talents. He believed this story needed to be told and he was the actor that would play him. After carrying the story around for months and showing it to an endless amount of people he eventually convinced a producer to finance the film and get it made. The story was Raging Bull, the actor was Robert De Niro. The rest they say is history.

Jenkins advice is clear.

“To produce anything worthwhile , you have to be proactive and generate it, not sit around and wait”

So if you are waiting for a producer to hand you that presenting role then you may be waiting a while. Here lies the beauty of podcasting. Create the show you would like to present. Get it out there and let the world hear it. Otherwise it will stay in your head and that’s never a great place to live.

Still waiting?


Photo by Jonathan Velasquez