R.A.P. Interview: Arden Hanley

JV: Capital has undergone some recent ownership changes in the evolving UK radio market. What’s the latest?
Arden: GCap Media owned Capital up until the end of May, and now we’ve been bought by a group called Global Radio who have also bought one of the other big radio groups in the UK called Chrysalis who owned one of Capital’s competitors in London, Heart FM. So we’re waiting to sort of be joined together with them and welcome old foes into the fold, so to speak, so that we can all start working on the same thing now.

In the UK at the moment, Global probably are the biggest radio group. There’s also a group called Bauer, which is probably the second biggest media radio group in the UK, who own stations all across the country as well. And there’s another group called Absolute Radio, which is quite new on the scene. They’ve only owned very small stations in the UK up until this point, but they’ve just completed buying Virgin Radio in London, which is a national radio station.

At the moment, the UK market has three big commercial radio groups. Then the BBC as well, in the UK, is quite a force to be reckoned with. That’s a public broadcaster, and they have quite a number of radio stations, one of which is Radio 1, which is a youth-targeted radio station and is a national radio station that for a long time has been right there at the top with all of the commercial radio stations. That’s another interesting change from Australia as well, and I think that’s a difference from the American market. In the UK, the national public broadcaster is such a strong force to be reckoned with, and that keeps the whole commercial radio industry on their toes.

JV: Congratulations once again on your trophy winning promo from the latest RAP Awards! Tell us a little bit about the promo and the creative process involved?
Arden: First a little background on Bam Bam. He was quite famous in UK radio for saying things that he wasn’t supposed to say, and he racked up a number of broadcast fines in his time on a rival radio station in London, Kiss FM, when he was doing the breakfast show there. So when James Stodd, Scott Muller and myself, were talking about how we brand Bam Bam, since he’d been signed to Capital Radio to do the night show, we sort of started at the point that what came out of his mouth could be potentially dangerous for everyone involved.

I think the promo that won the award began life as a brainstorm session, which sort of spanned about 2.5 days in all, as we sort of looked at every possible angle that we could take with Bam Bam’s character and Bam Bam’s show in the imaging sense. We wrote at it from a lot of different angles and a lot of different creative treatments. Finally, we got to the point where, I can’t even remember which of us, at the end of the day came up with the idea of having an eight-year old read sections of Bam Bam’s show opener. But we had an amazing time, the three of us, thinking about what we could get the eight-year old son of our marketing director to say that would give the impression of him using some rather blue language without getting our marketing director into horrible trouble at home with his wife.

JV: How much time did you spend actually producing it?
Arden: I think that particular piece I probably spent about three to four hours producing. Some of the sound design at the front, especially using some of the different clips, a lot of those came from film and TV and pieces from artists that we had intermixed with voiceover people as well. There’s a fair bit of production detail in there, which took up the bulk of the time. As often happens with quite simple ideas that turn out to be the best ones, the faster part of the promo to produce, was the ear-catching part with our young boy giving the disclaimer towards the end of the promo.

JV: Before we wrap it up, you have your own company called Ruptured Spark. Our readers might be familiar with an advertisement or demo they heard on the CD recently. Tell us about Ruptured Spark.
Arden: Well, I started Ruptured Spark while I was at Nova 100 in Melbourne. I was having difficulty finding the type of sounds I wanted for my production from what was available in our market at that particular time. There were a lot of great libraries out there during my time there, but unfortunately, a lot of our competitors had them licensed. So I was stuck in a situation where I had to image a radio station, and I was missing that imaging effects library, one of the essential tools you need to do that. So I started getting home at night and putting together my own sounds, initially just in mind for taking care of the one radio station I was working on. Then as my library of material grew, I started to think that they might actually be useful to some other radio stations around. So I sent out some feelers to a few of my colleagues, and they expressed an interest, and from there Ruptured Spark was born. I started off with that first CD in 2003, and in 2007 I completed the second CD with a similar idea in mind.

I approach a lot of the material that I use for Ruptured Spark first thinking about what I need for the radio station I’m working on and the kind of things that I need that will work really well for me. Then I construct them in such a way that they’re easy to break down and easy to customize. They’re in workpart form, so that hopefully they can be used by other people out there as well.

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