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Student Radio Conference 2011

It seems the future of the radio industry isn’t going without a fight! This week I left the London office for the day to join over 350 students from all over the UK, join together with people from all sectors of the radio industry for three days of training, networking and partying at the Student Radio Conference 2011, hosted by Crush Radio at the University of Hertfordshire.

As a conference virgin, I joined the events on the first day  with a sense of intrest and nerves. However,  iwas thoroughly impressed with both the energy and talent being displayed from the students present but more so with the level of support and the calibre of the speakers and guests who gave up their time to support the Student Radio association. I think the fact that the conference venue was less than half hour from Kings Cross/Central London – helped gather support, but nevertheless – the ‘guestlist’ was a ‘Who’s Who’ of radio.

I started my conference experience joined by Gemma Parkinson, Brand Manager of Capital Network and Talia Kranes, Entertainment Liaison at Bauer Media along with others at a ‘Radio Surgery’ organised by the Student Radio Association. The surgery was devised to start the conference with the opportunity to provide one to one sessions with students who wanted to find out more about radio. It was really good fun to start the day meeting students and also to hear about a really exciting opportunity available at Global Radio called the Global Academy, which was actively promoted by Gemma. Good to know that the scheme is actively praised and encouraged to others by Global Staff!

I then popped along to the conference welcome speech by the current SRA chair – David Walker. After a few technical errors (c’mon it’s a radio conference!), it was clear there was a general excitement for the event to start!

Conference Keynote Panel

The first session was the key note panel, which included industry leaders Rhys Hughes, Mike Hanson (both BBC), Tony Moorey (Absolute) and John Simons (GMG) providing advice to wannabe radio stars such and their view to the future of the industry.

Monday afternoon saw a variety of speakers provide insight into Events, Marketing and Promotions. Clara Raven and Richard Burnham started the afternoon talking about events. Clara examined the Radio 1 Big Weekend in depth and provided a deeper understanding into both the challenge and successes of the events delivered by the team at BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra. Richard then followed with a presentation into some of the elements explored by him and the team at Global Radio when organising large, group events such as the Summertime Ball and Classic FM Live with some real practical advice for any budding event managers of the future!

Afterwards, I chaired (a rather scary experience!) a session with my S&P counterparts from Absolute, Global and Bauer. The session aimed to motivate students into generating revenues, partnerships and money making activities for student stations by looking at some of the practices and insight from across commercial radio.

Liz Cunningham, Head of Commercial Programming at Kiss Network spoke in depth into the coordination of the recent ‘Kiss Chosen One’ promotion with Blackberry and provided students with an insight into delivering creative and multiplatform campaigns. Heidi Humphrey, Commercial Programmer at Global Radio gave the student audience a sense of inspiration when describing her career journey from student radio in the US into working both on and off air at GWR into her more recent roles at Global with Capital and Xfm. Lauren Stone, Promotions Account Manger at Absolute Radio demonstrated some of the ways that online is used as a ‘selling’ tool to potentional clients and reinforced the need for creativity when coming up with ideas in order to win business against other media (and other radio brands!). A massive thanks to Heidi, Liz and Lauren for giving up their time to be on the panel and to Carina Tilson at Global Radio for her support in putting the session together.

After the session – the four of us spoke with some students who had a serious interest in the promotions/commercial sector of the industry and asked some more detailed questions. Students from Birmingham University spoke of their work with the Heart FM Street Team and how they’re finding it a useful ground to ‘get their foot in the door’. I couldn’t agree more!

One student, Matt ‘Shaggy’ Marchat took the proactive approach of coming up to me in the bar afterwards and handed over a demo. “Nothing new that!?” I hear you say. What really surprised me about Matt’s six track demo – was the first five tracks were examples of his commercial production and wasn’t just a CD full of ‘that was, this is’ links and live reads. This was someone who made a Demo CD of adverts!

I finally got around to listening to the adverts and I must say are extremely strong. The creative treatment is well executed and delivers the clients key messages well on all six occasions – especially the ‘My Mate Robert’ advert for Roberts Radio. If you’re looking for a new commercial producer or fancy giving someone that big break – I’d recommend getting in touch with Matt – he’s on Twitter @shaggymarchant. (Matt – when you’re earning millions from com prod, I want 10% – OK?)

My afternoon was finished catching up with old colleagues and joining other radio folk in the SU bar (with amazing beer prices!) to catch up on all things radio and watch a live recording of Steve Lamacq’s afternoon show on BBC 6music.  Steve is a great supporter of student radio and his university challenge-esq game show featuring fellow BBC staff versus students was a great end to the first day of the conference.

Steve Lamcaq BBC6 Music Show from #SRACon

Demo Factor

I really wanted to stay for the entire three days as I believe a variety of more high profile speakers at breakout sessions coupled with entertainment ranging from Westwood DJing, Tulip and Greg from Radio 1 hosting the quiz, ‘Demo Factor’ hosted by Adam Catterall – were presenter demos were critiqued and ripped to shreds by an industry panel in front of the crowd and the ‘I Love Student Radio Awards’ hosted by Iain Lee were a must see! The #SRA hash tag seemed alive with excitement from students all engaging into what seemed like a fantastic plethora of activity for the trainee broadcasters.

In Conversation .... Geoff and Dave Gorman (Absolute Radio)

A massive congratulations to the SRA Exec and Crush Radio (the host station) for executeting a strong and well-planned event. The range of opportunities and insight into the industry was extremely powerful and was delivered with a steller selection of talent/speakers from all levels of the industry from big wigs to those at junior roles too. I do hope students who went take out the advice and learnings they were taught, and keep in contact with any new contacts made from the twitter addresses and business cards that were being handed out.

I look forward to continuing my involved with the Student Radio Association by supporting the annual Student Radio Awards again in 2011. Student Radio is a great pool of talent both on air and off air, the conference was an incredible opportunity for students to meet people and take their first steps in the industry. I hope it continues to get the support it deserves from BBC and Commercial Radio and delivers opportunities and avenues nurture the talent further.

Disclaimer – All posts and views are my own, and are not endorsed or representative of any current or previous employer.

Image Source: Ila Desai –

One Comment

  1. Student radio is not only fun to participate in but a great source of potential radio stars of the future for commercial and public radio stations too. It’s nice to see the respect in which student radio is held when the big names of broadcasting turn up and contribute so positively. Keep it up!