JV: Tell us a little bit about the One Network and what your responsibilities are there.
Adam: The One Network is just one of several formats owned by GCap. The One Network consists of around 40 radio stations and is a CHR format. There’s a team of us guys here working for that. The actual department I work for is called Program Services, and there’s probably about seven producers here, working on different areas of it.
We’ve got guys here that do S&P, people who mix live music sessions when bands come in, and show producers. There are music schedulers and all sorts of people that work for Program Services that don’t work for a specific radio station but work for the group in general. I would say my role is the imaging of the shows and the stations. 90 percent of my work is network shows and imaging. I recently re-branded commercial radio’s national chart show, and was responsible for a complete re-brand of the network at the end of last year.
JV: What do you mean when you say you re-branded “commercial radio’s national chart show”?
Adam: I’m talking about Hit 40 UK. It’s the national chart show that is run out on commercial radio. It’s basically the original chart show that’s got the most heritage. There are two main chart shows in the UK. There’s the one that’s run out on commercial radio, which is Hit 40 UK, and then there’s the one that the BBC provides. The one that’s run out on commercial radio would be very close I guess to what you guys call AT40. It’s basically that kind of thing. It’s the old Pepsi Chart, and it’s got a lot of heritage. It goes out on pretty much every commercial radio station in the country. It came in house, into GCap Media, around Christmastime, and I re-branded the chart show at that point. GCap now owns that chart show and supplies it for the commercial radio networks — for itself and the other companies within the commercial radio network.
JV: What would you say is the basic philosophy behind the imaging for the One Network?
Adam: I did the re-brand for this network probably at the end of summer last year. The way it came about was there were originally two companies that merged. One was the old Capital Radio Group, and one was GWR. So when the two companies merged, the purpose of the re-brand was to make a unified sound, a GCap unified sound. So that involved a new voice, a new sound design package, and a slightly hotter feel to the production — clean and solid but a little bit hotter, a little faster paced than what had gone before.
JV: Do you do any imaging for the local stations on the network?
Adam: Each local station has either its own local producer or an audio controller, and it’s really their job to kind of look after the bits and bobs at the local level. But if they’re on holiday or they’re unable to do something or maybe they’re just run down with so much work, then we lend a helping hand. But largely, if we make say music promos, music demonstrators, sweepers and IDs, it’s for the group as a whole and not for any one specific station.
JV: It seems UK producers were some of the first to introduce beat matching in their promos. Are you doing a lot that these days?
Adam: We go through phases. It’s a tough one because you’ll get some programmers that really like it, and you’ll get others that don’t think that it really works. They feel that you’re listening maybe to one song because the tempo of the piece of production is the same. It kind of sits in the background and people don’t take note of it. It doesn’t feel like variety is there. What’s really tough with a lot of what we do in this department is that you’ll find that there is no one size that fits all. You’ll never please everybody all of the time — such is life.
And beat matching is very time consuming. You’ll spend just as much time working your way through the playlist and working out the BPMs of those songs as you will actually producing the promo. You find one song that might work, and then you’ll find some with the same BPM, but they just don’t really gel together. It just takes a long time and a lot of prep for that type of promo. But when I do them, I try not to do anything too extreme. I don’t like changing the BMP of a song any more than three or four BPM either way from the original. Otherwise I feel that it just kind of sticks out a bit. It starts to sound unnatural.
I will go through the playlist and stick the songs into Pro Tools, and I’ll use a plug-in called Serato, which I just couldn’t live without. It’s brilliant. You can highlight four bars of a song, punch the four bars into the plug in, and it’ll tell you the BPM of that song. I jot that down, and once I’ve gone through the newest additions to the playlist, I can then start to think about what songs will work well together.
JV: Your approach to imaging, would you say it leans more towards the quick no frills style of imaging, or do you venture into the theater of the mind style of content quite regularly?
Adam: I would probably say it’s safe to say it’s more of the no frills style, kind of strong and quite rich. But not so much the theater of the mind stuff.
JV: Is that because that’s what the programmers want, or is that just your style?
Adam: I think it’s probably my style because it’s what I’ve been exposed to from the beginning. Also, there’s not really a lot of outlet for the whole theater of the mind stuff on the shows and the bits and pieces that I work on. It’s not really there to do that with.
JV: What about time restrictions on promo — do you have some guidelines because you’re a network?
Adam: Because of the network, most promos need to be 30 seconds. When radio stations are in network time everything has to kind of fit together. So if we can get them all hitting 30 seconds then that keeps the programmers happy. It’s a shame because sometimes it’s a little bit constricting. When you’ve got a good idea going, and you want a bit more time to play with some ideas and stuff and the extra time isn’t there, it’s a bit annoying.