Sound masterclass with Ben Townsend
In a workshop session at The Student Radio Conference in 2014 Ben Townsend from Wise Buddah Jingles took us through how he works to generate creative ideas, some inspiration and showcases some production techniques from his recent work for Bauer Media and Mega Hits.
Ben loved the fact that the job is very varied in writing music for radio – this could be from big-room electro to christian hip-hop to full orchestral scores. There’s a lot of variety in his role.
Station sound is more than just a jingle or an ID- although that works, its very standard and there’s very interesting things you can do. Think about your production around all the production work.
We explored some examples of really great creativity:
This example works because there’s limited production – just one sound effect but had lots of character in the VO. You can tell from the production exactly about the humour and brand of the station. You get a sense of what they do.
Production didn’t have station name check. You didn’t need it. You can tell its Absolute Radio from the Matt Berry sound. No sound effects needed – just clever and effective scripting.
Interesting piece of production that gets listeners engaged. Tells a story, wasn’t just a standard programming trail, stood out on the station.
Engaging trail using the presenter personality as part of the story to help get the message across about downloading show podcast. Really nice use of the trail and how the presenter becomes the hero in the story.
Ben talked about examples from when he was at Student Radio and the Student Election Show. It was tricky to try and make the election stuff interesting. They created funny songs about the elected candidates on Facebook. This was a fun way to bring dull content to life and gave it stand out. A great way of being creative to make a silly feature more entertaining.
Ben played this audio to us in January 2011 for the Earshot Creative Review podcast – take a listen here.
Putting it into practice
So, how can we put creative idea thinking into practice:
There was two key things to think about particular for the student audience.
- You’re the target audience – make the most of it – test out the idea with the target audience
- Student Radio has the unique advantage of being acceptably, wonderfully haphazard – draw on this.
- Give it a go – try ideas – don’t be afraid to get things wrong. Push the boundaries!
We then looked at Wise Buddah’s production process with the recent Bauer Place Portfolio for UK.
Case Study: Bauer Place Portfolio
– Feel-good, upbeat, warm, NEVER cheesy”.
Listen to the audio: http://earshotcreative.com/2014/02/new-sound-imaging-for-bauers-place-portfolio/
The production needs to needs to be warm and represent the humanity of the brand and needed to include a memorable sonic logo The teamed created a 5 note sonic trigger designed to reflect in imaging work parts as well sweepers and branding. The 5 note sonic trigger has been designed to use on air, online and offline through central production and by station producers. We counted that the 5 note sonic trigger logo was used SIXTEEN times in the pitch audio.
Wise Buddah won the brief – but the jingle was changed. We explored how there was so many variants in a five note jingle. The logo had to recognizable and people would join along.
It was discussed how music production is for pop is frequently based on four chords – Ben’s university training is actually in classical music so he had to work on the skills for writing pop.
The session also explored how a sonic jingle can be used within the full part of the radio station imaging package – eg. beds, competition rounds, online pre-rolls. It could take a day and half or longer just to create 30 seconds piece of music. You need to be strict with your timings to make sure you can answer the brief to deadline.
In Summary – a real insight into a imaging production work at Wise Buddah and again, the importance of creativity being the key.