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Promotional ideas and technique. Always radio, always positive.

Reasons to be cheerful. Number 4.

50p

Radio is cheap to make.

My first studio job involved making the sound effects on The Archers. It’s tougher than it sounds. You have to make the sounds believable, correctly time them, be in the correct spot in the stereo image and get the perspectives right. When Jennifer Aldridge pours the tea it shouldn’t sound as if her arms are ten feet long. Oh, and pouring hot water sounds nothing like cold. Try it.

During those sessions under the direction of Vanessa Whitburn I learned how quite elaborate set-ups could be created on radio simply, quickly and cheaply. For example, we once made a whole lambing season with a single pot of yoghurt, and not a fancy one either.

Radio production can be a low-cost activity, requiring neither the number of people nor the budgets of television. Unless, of course, you hire top-drawer tv talent. And that’s no guarantee of success.

One way to make great radio is to find somebody who has something to say and put them before a microphone. Alastair Cooke’s famous Letter from America was nothing more. Ok, he probaby received an appropriate fee for his work but you get the idea.

Some student and community radio stations succeed on tiny production budgets – their costs being largely regulatory and organisational. Making the content itself, especially with volunteer effort, can be a relatively insignificant burden.

The basic components of engaging original radio – such as a good idea and an interesting way to express it – simply don’t need the money lavished on other media. So when budgets are shrinking, as they are right now, imaginative radio need not be the first victim. After all, in radio you save little by being dull.

Tomorrow: Power

By the way, after writing last Friday’s post about listening I came across this excerpt from a book by Libby Purves in the Independent. Thanks to @jemstone for the tip-off. Super piece.

Photograph: 50p by supersy, on Flickr. Used under licence.