Scrap The Poor Quality Before You Scrap The Radio Set

So, the BBC and Commercial Radio have launched an ‘old-radio’ scrappage scheme in advance of the eventual analogue switch-off which may or (more likely) may never happen in the near-future.  Here’s the link to the full BBC News story:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8693613.stm

I’m all for this, especially since most UK households have 5 or more analogue radio sets, and therefore the cost of replacing them like-for-like with DAB sets is cost-prohibitive.  I have an image in my mind of someone turning up at John Lewis with 10 analogue sets and demanding a free DAB set in return – how wonderful!

DAB radio sets are great, they do what they say on the tin.  You tune by name not frequency, you have more choice of stations and, if your DAB set allows it, you can do clever stuff like rewind and record.  Tech-tastic!

BUT…I’ve been a DAB listener since the very first sets came out, and while over those years, the technology built in to the sets has improved, and come down in price, what hasn’t changed is the general poor quality of the broadcasts.  DAB is advertised and sold to punters as the height of high-quality sound…CD-quality, etc…  I hate to be the one to tell you, but many radio stations do not even broadcast in stereo via DAB, and many of those that do don’t broadcast at 128kBps (CD-quality).  This is because of the amount of bandwidth that is allocated by the DAB network providers to each station.  Consider the BBC national networks…The main stations are well provided for with bandwidth as you would expect, but the ‘all-new’ services, those that are used to sell the concept of DAB e.g. Radio 7 is broadcast in mono.  Many commercial radio stations are not allocated a full 128kBps stereo bandwidth.  And be careful, because not all DAB radio sets have stereo speakers!

And then there is the issue of what stations you can receive on DAB.  Of course, all your favourite local and national stations are on there.  And then there are some new ones you’ve possibly never heard of.  These includes 80’s and rock and indie and classical and international stations.  Nearly all the music channels are mere ‘jukebox’ stations, a computer pumping out track after track with some pre-recorded DJ links thrown in.  However, some are truly excellent (may I direct you to Absolute 80s and Absolute Classic Rock?)  But beware of DAB’s promises…what if the BBC closes 6 Music and Asian Network?  We have already lost the finest example of original and popular programming when One Word Radio was unceremoniously shut down by Channel 4 Radio (which then failed to launch – why did Ofcom not require the relaunch of One Word, eh?).  DAB promises much, but the reality of running radio stations is that, eventually, you just get the same old stations you got on FM/AM.  Radio stations cost money to run, and there aren’t advertisers out there spending money on radio!

Now, don’t get me wrong…DAB is an inevitability (possibly!).  If any MPs grow the balls to pull the plug, we may actually switch over to full digital radio sometime in the next 10 years.  If we do, DAB coverage has to improve considerably, and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t buy a portable DAB player if you value your hearing – the DAB signal does not travel well, especially in large towns and cities.  DAB may not have all the static of FM/AM but it does have digital noise, which in extreme cases could cause hearing damage!

One aside…even though the UK developed and pushed DAB technology, we are now lagging behind the rest of the world.  The Govt. and UK radio have put so much into DAB v1 that they are reluctant to make the move to the much improved DAB v2, which offers better bandwidth useage and sound quality.  The rest of the world is looking to move to DAB v2, and manufacturers are moving in that direction.  But will the UK?  Oh no, because that would mean punters who have already bought sets would have to…wait for it…scrap them and replace with new sets!

So..DAB has certainly brought benefits, but it hasn’t brought a revolution.  It’s ANOTHER way to consume the UK’s generally great radio output…yet many people are now listening to radio via their Digital TV services.  The biggest hurdle for DAB, apart from the problems with living up to expectations and delivering on promises, is getting the sets in to cars.  DAB needs Ford and Toyota and others to put DAB car radios in their vehicles as the default.  But to do that the UK and Europe and Asia and the US need to be using the same DAB system, that way the cost of installing such sets drops significantly.

I doubt whether any MP will have the balls to switch off analogue radio, so this is possibly a moot argument.  But then, who knows?  I would never suggest you don’t buy DAB, some of the sets are superb with great additional technology and fantastic sound.  All I would say is think first before investing…and don’t believe the hype!

The Queen Is Dead…All Hail The Queen!

Another case of ridiculous knee-jerk reaction by BBC bosses has reared its ugly head…and once again it is because of a harmless joke about the Queen (bow, scrape head along floor, hand over all personal freedoms and await the mighty one’s permission to breathe!).  Here’s the story from the BBC website today:

BBC ‘sorry’ for WM presenter Queen death joke

The BBC has apologised after a radio presenter said the Queen had died.

(c) BBC

(c) BBC

Danny Kelly who works for BBC WM in the West Midlands, played the national anthem as he made the joke during his Birmingham-based afternoon show.

A BBC spokesman said it had been a reference to an item on one of his internet pages.

Mr Kelly will not present his show for the remainder of the week and a formal apology was made at the start of Tuesday’s show at 1400 BST.

A BBC spokesman said presenter Mollie Green would take over the afternoon show until next Tuesday.

The apology on BBC WM at the start of the programme said: “Yesterday afternoon Danny Kelly made an inappropriate remark about the Queen during his radio show here on BBC WM.

“The BBC apologises unreservedly for it.

“BBC WM takes these comments very seriously and due action has been taken.”

Earlier, a spokesman said the comment had been made during a “light-hearted piece about social media friends” and that it had been corrected on-air immediately after it was made.

Danny is a superb broadcaster, contributes across the BBC’s local and national networks, and has spent many years learning his art and perfecting his craft.  Why oh why does a simple joke about the Queen being dead, which was in context, and even (outrageously) apologised for on-air at the time, in any way requiring the removal of this talented individual from his post for a week?

We live in a Parliamentary Democracy, not a Monarchial Dictatorship. Why does the BBC insist on these disgusting punishments for gags about our Queen?  Where does it say in law, or even in broadcasting regulations (or the increasingly pointless BBC Royal Charter) that her Maj is sacrosanct? I understand issues of good taste, of potentially upsetting weak-willed and lilly-livered punters, even of the fear of the Daily Fail reaction.  So yes, require the presenter to apologise where necessary, but to remove them from air?!  Such punitive action smacks of institutionalised grovelling and pandering.

So come on BBC…grow a pair and start standing up for your talent.  The Queen is fair target for comedy.  And if you don’t want to risk such humour, then stop hiring talented, comedic presenters.  Then you can be like the iPods you so fear are taking away your audience!

The Death of Common Sense

As you know, I have worked in UK radio for almost 20 years, in pretty much every capacity, from technician to presenter to producer to programmer.  Over those years I have been responsible for, and witnessed, some quite monumental cock-ups on-air (and off-air!).  Live radio has an inherent risk of cock-up.  it is what makes being on-air so exciting.  It is what is missing from 99% of TV, that elusive, electrifying near-fear of the cock-up.  When it almost happens you get shivers, you thank everyone and anyone that it was averted, you sit in the studio for hours afterwards in a state of nervous ecstasy.  When it DOES happen, then you have to get out of it.  Your brain either fries or goes in to overdrive.  9 times out of 10 you manage to get past the mistake and move on.  The listeners get a laugh but then move on with you.  and 9 times out of 10 no-one else at the radio station notices.  If the boss does hear it, or you come clean, the intelligent, experienced and clever programme controller works through the cock-up with you, you learn from the mistake and, possibly with a reprimand, you move on.  Rarely do you lose your job over it…because, and let us make this point in big capital letters…IT IS ONLY RADIO!!!  Sometimes, if the cock-up is sufficiently large, you might lose a shift, or be moved on to a less prominent programme.  And of course, if you break one of the cardinal rules of radio (swearing, blasphemy, losing advertisers’ money) you may well be fired.  But a sacking is a rare and, usually, well-considered move.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ORIGINAL NEWS STORY

By now, if you follow the radio or entertainment news, you will have heard about the BRMB (Birmingham commercial radio station) presenter who was sacked because he cut short the Queen’s speech on Xmas day.  According to reports he had cocked-up his timing and the speech was going to over-run and he decided to cut it short.  He then, as a stand-up comedian as well as a radio presenter, made a poorly tought-through gag…he referred to the Queen’s speech as ‘boring’.  This resulted in the radio station receiving a small number of complaints from ‘offended’ listeners.  The presenter was then sacked.

Right – let us look at this in some uninformed detail:

[1]  BRMB as a commercial broadcaster decides to transmit the Queen’s Speech (presumably supplied via feed from IRN).  This is a little unusual for a commercial station, but fair enough.  The programme controller and head of music will then, you will hope, have programmed the hour so that the speech, always around 5 mins long, fitted in with room to spare…possibly including a spare music track the presenter could easily drop if things got a little tight?

[2] There were actually people tuned in to BRMB to hear the Queen’s speech rather than viewing it on the BBC, or listening via national networks.  Odd, but maybe they were travelling or were such die-hard BRMB fans that the thought of going elsewhere for a whole 5 minutes freaked them out to the point of apoplexy! We shall return to these people later…

[3] On the day, the presenter was aware that he was (a) doing the shitty shift at some ridiculously low rate of pay (no doubt) and that (b) traditionally very few people are tuned in.  That said, as a professional, and I presume, wanting to please the boss and maybe get better shifts in 2010, gave the show his all.  Bear in mind that this man is also a stand-up comedian and was no doubt hired because of his comedy talent and notoriety.  Having done many a Xmas day shift I know you get one of two things from the bosses – (a) a good heads-up about all they want and expect, the special items they have programmed in and the flexibility you have to throw in things like callers, jokes, Xmas jingles, change music tracks, etc… or (b) no communication at all and you are left to turn up and figure it out for yourself.  I don’t know what the case was here.  The experience of the station boss leads me to think it would have been the former, but who knows.  For something as seemingly important as the Queen’s speech I would have to assume that the presenter was at least told how and when to take the live feed.

[4] The hour of the Queen’s speech would have been programmed with music, jingles, adverts and news.  Since the speech is approx. 5 mins long, there would have been one less song that hour.  The presenter says he messed up his timings and had to cut the speech short, in order to stay on time.  THIS is where the cock-up happens.  There is nothing in an hour schedule that HAS to be on time except the news and if you are linking in to a network.  Now, in this case, the programme was being networked across several other radio stations (another cost-cutting lazy piece of modern radio programming) which would have put some pressure on the presenter IF he was having to back-time the end of this hour to hand over to another presenter from another station.  These hand-overs need to be done to the second or networks go somewhat awry.  If this was the case then I sympathise with the presenter…network timings are sacrosanct and it is drummed in to us that we HAVE to be spot on or the computers all go out of sync and the network collapses (one of those amusing little white lies engineers use to try to ensure they don’t get called on days off by panicking presenters!)  However, I believe the Queen’s speech was AFTER the start of an hour, not up to the end of one…so I do not think that this can be the explanation.  If the presenter thought he was going to miss an ad break or not have room for all the music then he was very much in error.  Ad breaks can be played late, music tracks can be dropped or cut short.  Even in network mode these are fairly simple ways to fix an over-running hour.  I am perplexed by just what he thought was so important that he choose to cut short the speech…very odd.  But no matter what, this was a cock-up, simple and that is that!

[5] EXCEPT…after cutting the speech short he quipped that it was ‘boring’.  Let me repeat that so terribly offensive word…BORING!  Oh dear, oh deary deary dear.  Ooops.  Can you hear the edges of our society starting to crumble? Listen, you can hear the screaming of children from middle-England.  There is a wailing and a gnashing of whitened teeth from the good burghers of the West Midlands!!  It seems from the reports that the presenter’s gag at the Monarch’s expense upset/annoyed/offended a handful of listeners who had nothing better to do with their Xmas holidays than to write in and complain.  I have to say at this point that I am a card-carrying Republican (not the US sort) and believe the Royal family are a leech on our country and have no place other than as a tourist attraction that should be sold off to Disney.  However, that said, I also believe that there is no reason to ever be offensive towards anyone.  But BORING?  Is boring an insult?  Maybe if you are a poet or a lecturer or a public speaker.  But calling the Queen, in fact the Queen’s speech, boring?  That is not, cannot be, nor ever will be an insult.  I am certain Her Majesty has taken worse blows to her ego over the years – she is married to Philip after all!  So he wasn’t sacked for being offensive to the Queen then, not really.  No sane or realistic boss would consider that a sacking offense (get it?!)  So why was he sacked?  Let’s go back to those listeners:

[6] A handful of BRMB listeners are tuned in on Xmas day and hear the Queen’s Speech (which is, let’s be fair here, overwhelmingly dull and of little relevance to about 90% of the population).  The speech is cut short and the presenter refers to it as being boring and then dives in to “10 Xmas hits, back to back, with no ads – that’s a BRMB guarantee!” or some such commercial radio nonsense.  These few people are so offended by this they put pen to paper, or font to email, or chisel to stone tablet possibly, and complain to the BRMB bosses.  WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?!?!  What is there to complain about?  I would understand if they complained solely about the cutting short of the speech.  Admittedly I am still confused why they have gone to BRMB to hear it, or why they can’t just use the BBC’s iPlayer, or the internet to watch the damn thing again later in the day.  But to purposefully complain about being offended by the word ‘boring’?!  I would hate to meet these people for fear of any word I use in passing offending their genteel easily damaged constitutions!  Are they all extras from Emma?!  For some reason they believe that THEIR offense is shared by the Queen but that Her Maj can’t stand up for herself, so they have to vent their upset and ire on her behalf.  Do these people use the Daily Mail to build papier-mache shrines to the Royal family and burn copies of David Icke books?  This is something of an over-reaction.  Let’s hope they never accidentally tune in to James Whale when he is calling for the abolition of the Monarchy…he’d be sacked (again) in a heartbeat!!  Now, if you think I may be over-reacting, understand this…the presenter has had death-threats because of this situation.  DEATH THREATS?  For one word?  Do we live in a free-speech democracy or should we all just give up and bow down before the vocal minority who espouse such hatred and violence?

[7] So, these ‘upstanding’ citizens complain to the BRMB bosses who, once they have removed their backbones, take immediate action and sack the presenter.  Here’s what they said:

David Lloyd, group programme and marketing director, said: “On Christmas Day, one of our presenters, Tom Binns, made some inappropriate comments surrounding the Queen’s speech. We do not condone what he said in any way; whether said in jest or not. We are making contact with the small number of listeners who were offended by Tom’s comments and have complained to us to convey our apologies, and have also apologised on air.”

OK, some questions:

  • WHAT is so inappropriate about the word ‘boring’?
  • Surely you do not need to condone his joke, but you can defend his right to make such a joke.
  • You say a SMALL number of listeners…why such an over-reaction then?
  • You have apologised on-air…Tom could have been asked to do the same and that could have been the end of it, why sack him?
  • WHO are you running scared from, it can’t be the Queen, is it the local press?

For me, this is another example of the way that broadcast media, especially radio, has been running scared and pandering to the vocal minority and the trash print media for the past 2-3 years.  Everything from Ross/Brand to guests swearing on-air…if just one person complains, or might complain, then the bosses go in to knee-jerk reaction mode.  Radio is an art form, an entertainment, a place of fun and education and information.  It is a place for comedians and broadcasters and poets and writers and performers and artists to learn, develop and master their craft.  As my first boss in radio kept telling us, RADIO IS ENTERTAINMENT.  Why will the bosses not grow a backbone and defend their talent?  If they don’t want the risk of live radio why not just programme it all into computers (as much of the overnight and weekend programming on your so-called local radio station is already)? What is the point of running a radio station if you always pander to the minority?

So…if I had been the boss, what would I have done?  First of all I would have ensured in advance that the hour in which the speech was being broadcast in was well-programmed and that I had gone through this with the presenter in fine detail, making sure he understood the importance of the speech and how to deal with it technically. (Of course, if I had been in charge we wouldn’t have been wasting the airtime on a pre-recorded speech by an anachronistic leech on society in the first place!) After the fact, had it happened, I would have required the presenter to apologise on-air AND to reply in person to each of the complainants. To his replies I would have added a note from the station apologising for the fact that the individuals had felt offended but defending the right of my talent to make jokes and be entertaining, explaining that a joke to many can sometimes be less than funny to some.  As the employer it is my responsibility to defend and protect my employees as far as possible.  And in this case, short of a demand from the Palace for his “‘ead to be chopped orf” I would defend my talent.  There was simply nothing inappropriate about the gag other than its timing and because the presenter chose to cut short the speech.  If he had built the gag into a link later in the show it would have been fine and I believe no complaints would have been made.

But he has been sacked, and once again the vocal minority win the day.  It is about time some of the old laws of the land were re-evaluated.  Blasphemy and ‘speaking out against the Queen’ have no place in a modern society.  If your monarch or religion are so fragile they can’t take a few jokes or counter-arguments then maybe you should consider the foundations on which these institutions are built.

And on a simpler note, let us try to define what is actually OFFENSIVE and what simply ANNOYS you and is counter to your point of view.  If you want to put the Royal Family up on a pedestal and bow before them, give away your freedom, your individuality and your right to be an equal, then go ahead.  But many others do not wish this.  Many are happy to have the Queen there, but do not see her as superior to themselves.  Others, like me, see the Royal family as a waste of money and resources, an elite who put themselves above the rest of us and expect us to see them as superior humans.  They are not, they are there due to history, war, politics, suspicious in-breeding and wealth (accumulated through OUR hard work, not theirs!)  Much like many politicians believe themselves to be worthy of superior status because of the  job they do, the Royals sit in a position of power only because we allow them to.  I am certain that they will continue to do so for the rest of my life…but it doesn’t mean that I have to show them any deference, protect them from any slings and arrows, and certainly not to pander to the ‘offence by proxy’ feelings of others who see them as some kind of rare and protected species.

Tom…if I were still running a radio station I would happily hire you.  As it is, if you have any ideas for radio docs, features, etc…gimme a call and let’s see what we can develop together.  Talent shouldn’t be punished for a cock-up.  But then again, it happened to James Whale, it happened to Nick Abbot, it happened to many others and they are all back on air, at other stations…stations with bosses who have backbones.  Maybe Tom should give Absolute Radio a call…

NG in the Radio Magazine – Nov 2009

So, every now and then I get asked to do an interview for various industry magazines, and this month it was the rather splendid Radio Magzine, which manages to prove every week of the year that the radio industry is chock full of interesting and relevant news items, something magazines like Broadcast fail to achieve. So huzzah for the Radio Magazine, and for those of you interested, here’s my 15 mins of printed fame.  To read the article just click on the images:

I Wanna Be Xmas #1!

Me!

Me!

So, way back when, in the year 1995, I worked at a radio station called B97, which was a rebrand of its original name Chiltern Radio 96.9…this is in a town called Bedford in East Anglia in the UK.  The station had partnered with the local commercial TV network (Anglia!) to raise money and toys for the annual Anglia TV Kids Toy Appeal.  As well as promoting it on air, and running trails for it and encouraging the listeners to send in toys, the programme controller, Derek, decided it would be a fun idea for us to record and release our own Xmas single. So, being the only musician at the radio station, he came to me and asked me to write it, record it and sort the whole thing out.  To do this I had to include the breakfast show team (as it was to be ‘their’ Xmas song) and the whole station was to help promote it and sell it.

So what was I to do?  Yes I was a musician, a bad one!  I play bass guitar, but I am no Paul McCartney!  So I got in touch with an old chum from the radio station, Paul garner (now very well-known for his comedy writing for the likes of Ali G, Bo Selecta, etc…).  he was a much more accomplished musician, played guitar,piano, drums…he could even sing!  We spent a few evenings thrashing out the concept, and then arrived at the final song.

The old Chiltern Radio

The old Chiltern Radio

Meanwhile, the breakfast show team had done a deal with a local recording studio, The Bunkers, to allow us time and studio space to record and master the song.  So, over a couple of long evenings, Paul and I, and the Bunkers team, set about recording our silly, comedic Xmas single.  As a sound engineer I loved the sessions…not just getting to play my bass and sing, but to watch paul do his thing, and help out with all the technical stuff!  We decided we wanted a big chorus type affair for the, well, choruses, and for the big ending, so we arranged for all the radio station staff, friends and family plus some mad volunteers from Yamaha who were based up the road in Milton Keynes, to come down to the Bunkers one afternoon and sing a few lines like a bunch of nutters.  Anglia TV even filmed it and we got our ugly mugs on the telly that evening.

Finally the song was finished.  Colleagues at the radio station had done a deal with a local duplicating house to get the track manufactured, and all the WH Smith stores in the region agreed to sell it for us.  We debuted the single on the breakfast show with Neil & Tim, then set about promoting the heck out of it.

Did it sell?  Yes it did actually!  We made a decent amount of money from it, and I believe it charted somewhere in the high hundreds (terrible, really!).  It was a lot of fun to do, helped a great cause, and allows me to say that I have released an Xmas single in my life!!

And now I reckon it’s time for its revival.  Xmas 2009 is rushing towards us and I think we need a serious threat to the X-Factor dominance of the Xmas #1 spot.  So have a listen to our wonderful song, and let me know if you’d support us releasing it for Xmas.  Money would go to the Stroke Association if we were to do this.

So here it is…”Floppy Gifts For Christmas”…slightly crappy quality as I grabbed this version from a cassette copy – just clicky the PLAY button below…….

Written by Paul Garner & Neil Gardner

Performed by Paul Garner, Neil Gardner, Neil Bentley, Tim Page, B97 Crew, Yamaha Crew

Recorded at The Bunkers, Bedford

Thanks to B97/Chiltern Radio & all who helped make it possible.

Radio Production Awards Are Launched

RIG Logo - SMALL BWIt is a very gratifying day…after almost 5 years of pushing, cajoling, encouraging, developing and shouting about, there are finally nationally recognised awards for those who work in the production side of UK radio and audio!  The RADIO PRODUCTION AWARDS have just been launched, a joint effort by the Radio Independents Group (the trade body that represents UK independent radio production companies) and the Radio Academy.  Sponsored by HILL DICKINSON LLP, the awards aim to bring some much needed recognition to the hard working, underpaid and over-stressed producers, researchers, engineers and others who make UK radio happen 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

RA logoIt is a strange thing, but radio is the only entertainment media that to date has failed to award its production staff.  TV does it at the BAFTAs, film does it at the OSCARs, the music industry does it time and again.  Which is odd, because radio is the one medium that is run on small teams (often just one person being the writer, producer, editor, etc…) and ridiculously low budgets.  Yet for years now the industry, through the SONY and NEW YORK and PRIX ITALIA awards have recognised the on-air talent, the programmes, the stations and even the programmers…but not the writers, producers, engineers, etc…  And radio is, just like TV and film and music, an art that generally requires some technical help to bring the talent to the public.  I could name countless celebrity radio presenters who only sound so slick and professional on-air because they have someone ‘running the desk’ for them, and aproducer prepping the show in advance.  And in production radio…documentaries, dramas, music specials…not a single ‘expert presenter’ or broadcaster would be heard reporting on the latest cultural trend, or great actor heard in an afternoon play, or fantastic band heard in an ‘as live’ set if it weren’t for the producer and engineer making the programme.

So it has always bewildered me why our industry…one which has for years made a big thing of its small production teams, one-person-bands,fast-turnaround production ability, low budgets…has failed…yes, FAILED…to reward the tireless and poorly paid efforts of the real talent behind the airwaves.  The on-air talent makes the money, gets the gigs, receives the press and the plaudits, while the production teams get the aggravation, the insults, the long hours, the stress and the low wages.  The very least the industry can do, since it can’t guarantee jobs, offer training, or seemingly fight for its own continued existence, is to give a few award statues to some production personnel!

And that is what is happening…at last.  And it has happened because of the independent radio production sector.  Radio indies produce approximately 10% of the national BBC radio output (not much compared to TV indies getting to make well over 25%!), have been around for several decades, develop new talent, find UK-wide programming ideas and do all this against a backdrop of political apathy for the sector and resentment from the BBC for having to work with us.  So we’ve felt for some time that we wanted to improve the lot of those we represent, and those we employ.  For indies the on-air talent is a bolt-on, but the production teams are our bread-and-butter…they keep us going, they win us work, they make the programmes that earn us money.  We love and appreciate our production teams – hell, most of us ARE our production teams!

I recently stepped down as Chair of RIG, after spending 5 years helping to establish the trade body and make it truly representative of the indie community.  There are many things I am proud of achieving, but the Radio Production Awards is one of the proudest achievements.  It has taken a good few years of voluntary work by a group of 5 or so indie colleagues to make it a reality.  We have had financial support from a wonderful legal firm called HILL DICKINSON LLP, and now the Radio Academy has partnered with us to jointly organise and produce the annual event – adding weight and legitimacy to the awards (the academy also run the Sony Awards!)

Hill Dickinson Type 296

The aim is to make it as cheap to enter and to attend as possible, since those entering are individuals and don’t have access to marketing budgets!  The awards night will be part party/part networking event. The whole thing is to be far less bloated and over-long than other media awards events.  We are talking small but beautiful!

AND it is open to everybody on the production side of UK radio, whether you work for an indie, the BBC national networks, BBC in-house production teams, local BBC radio, national commercial radio, local and regional commercial radio, AND those podcasters who aspire to produce output of radio-quality.

So…fancy taking your go at entering?  Why not?  And this is just year 1.  I hope to watch these awards grow in stature as the years pass.  Here’s the flyer, and a link to the relevant website for entries.  Good luck, spread the word…and join me in a hearty hooray for the production teams…we simply wouldn’t have any radio without them (an since 90% of the UK listen to radio every week, it would be a shock to the system!)

RPAs flyer

http://www.radioindies.org

http://www.radioacademy.org

Stuff Wot I Made You Can Buy!

It’s quite extraordinary but some of the radio and audio productions I have produced are available to purchase from the luminaries at the BBC.  So, in the spirit of wanting to make some cash to pay for the cats’ food, I thought I might introduce you to some of these rather wonderful audio products, and offer you links to where you can buy them…please buy them, many many of them, and then buy some more for your friends and families…all the oney goes to a good cause (well, the BBC and then a little to me, sort of!)

The Brightonomicon 7 CD box-set

The Brightonomicon 7 CD box-set

THE BRIGHTONOMICON by Robert Rankin

13 half hour episodes / full-cast audio drama / award winning production / as heard of BBC Radio 7

starring David Warner, Andy Serkis, Rupert Degas, Sarah Douglas, Martin Jarvis, Jason Isaacs & many more

written by Elliott Stein & Neil Gardner / music by Jeremy Paul Carroll / edited, produced & directed by Neil Gardner

a Ladbroke Productions / Hokus Bloke co-production for BBC Audio

“A stellar cast including David Warner, Rupert Degas, Andy Serkis, Mark Wing-Davey, Michael Fenton-Stevens & Martin Jarvis bring Robert Rankin’s extraordinary fantasty tale to life! This is the tale of two incredible people – one who knows he is incredible and the other who learns to be incredible. Set in 1960 in Brighton, self-styled guru and magus Hugo Rune rescues a young man from drowning and persuades him to become his assistant and partner in solving 12 mysteries. Rizla (for such is the young man’s assumed name) agrees to help as he has lost his memory and has nowhere else to go. There then follows 12 of the most baffling, surreal, exciting, head-scratching and downright far-fetched mysteries ever written…all based in and around the suburbs of Brighton. Across the mysteries Rizla and the audience learn about the Brighton zodiac, the chronovision, time travel, centaurs, a dastardly plot where the NHS kidnap vagrants for body parts, space pirates, the real history of Victorian Britain, Brighton pirates and the fate that awaits mankind should Hugo Rune fail in his task. And of course, there’s a very bad man involved indeed – Hugo Rune’s arch-nemesis of the ages, Count Otto Black – who wants to rule the world (what else!) You will never hear anything else quite like this in your lifetime. Yet another slice of far-fetched fiction in the Rankin tradition.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY FROM THE BBC SHOP

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes The Brightonomicon (Unabridged)

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The Stuff of Nightmares

The Stuff of Nightmares

DOCTOR WHO: HORNETS’ NEST (1): THE STUFF OF NIGHTMARES by Paul Magrs

1hr 12mins enhanced reading

starring Tom Baker & Richard Franklin

recorded & edited by Neil Gardner / produced & directed by Kate Thomas

a BBC Audio production

“Tom Baker reprises the role of the Fourth Doctor in the first of five thrilling brand new audio adventures, with Richard Franklin as Mike Yates. ‘Wanted: retired army Captain for light household duties and fireside companionship. Must tolerate mild eccentricity and strong scientific advice. Knowledge of Giant Maggots, Super Intelligent Spiders and Prehistoric Monsters a positive boon.’

Responding to an advert apparently worded for him alone, Captain Mike Yates (retired) is reunited with a ghost from the past. But why has the Doctor, that mysterious traveller in Time and Space, sent for his former UNIT acquaintance? Trapped by a horde of vicious creatures in an apparently innocuous English country cottage, the two old friends are on the brink of an enormous adventure. As the Doctor relates his recent escapades, it becomes clear to Mike that they – and the Earth at large – are facing an enemy of unimaginable power and horrific intent.

The nightmare is only just beginning… With Tom Baker as the Doctor, Richard Franklin as Mike Yates, Susan Jameson as Mrs Wibbsey and Daniel Hill as Percy Noggins, The Stuff of Nightmares is the first of five linked stories written by the acclaimed Paul Magrs.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY FROM THE BBC SHOP

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes  Doctor Who: Hornets' Nest 1 - the Stuff of Nightmares (Unabridged)

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The Dead Shoes

The Dead Shoes

DOCTOR WHO: HORNETS’ NEST (2): THE DEAD SHOES by Paul Magrs

1hr 05 mins enhanced reading

starring Tom Baker & Richard Franklin

recorded & edited by Neil Gardner / produced & directed by Kate Thomas

a BBC Audio production

“Tom Baker reprises the role of the Fourth Doctor in the first of five thrilling brand new audio adventures, with Richard Franklin as Mike Yates. What is so special about a pair of ballet shoes on display in Cromer’s Palace of Curios? When the Doctor meets Ernestina Scott there in 1932, they discover the horrific truth together. The second of five linked stories written by the acclaimed Paul Magrs, The Dead Shoes also features Susan Jameson, Clare Corbett and Christian Rodska.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY FROM THE BBC SHOP

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The Year of the Flood 14 CD box-set

The Year of the Flood 14 CD box-set

THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD by Margaret Atwood

14hrs 30 mins unabridged reading

read by Lorelei King

recorded, edited & produced by Neil Gardner

a BBC Audio production

“Adam One, the kindly leader of the God’s Gardeners – a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, the preservation of all species and the tending of the Earth – has long predicted the Waterless Flood. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have avoided it: the young trapeze-dancer, Ren, locked into the high-end sex club; and former SecretBurgers meat-slinger turned Gardener, Toby, barricaded into a luxurious spa. Have others survived? And what are the odds for the human race? By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful and uneasily hilarious, The Year of the Flood is Atwood at her most effective.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY FROM THE BBC SHOP

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes  The Year of the Flood (Unabridged)

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6000 Postcards radio feature

6000 Postcards radio feature

6000 POSTCARDS

27mins 30secs radio documentary / as heard on BBC Radio 4

presented by Chris McManus

produced by Richard Bannerman / executive produced by Neil Gardner

a Ladbroke Radio production for BBC Radio 4

“Chris McManus uncovers the secrets of a collection of 6000 dusty old postcards that turned up in a forgotten cupboard in the Psychology Department of University College London. It started with two medium-sized cardboard boxes. When Richard Rawles of the Department opened them, he found the cards, with postmarks dating from August 1953. They were addressed to the BBC Television Service, and the search was on to find out how they came to be there and what information they contained.”

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes  6000 Postcards

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Bridging The Gap radio feature

Bridging The Gap radio feature

BRIDGING THE GAP

27mins 30secs radio documentary / featured on “Pick of the Year” / as heard on BBC Radio 4

presented by Simon Fanshawe

produced by Tamsyn Challenger / executive produced by Neil Gardner

a Ladbroke Radio production for BBC Radio 4

“Simon Fanshawe visits an ambitious community project in Bridging the Gap at 1100 on Monday 7th August. The gap in question is the cavernous void between young and old that breeds mistrust and anxiety. Pat Stewart and Rob Burley run the On the Streets project in Gorton, Manchester. Their aim is to develop in young teenagers a sense of their community and show them there is more to life than spiralling from ASBO to serious crime.In the programme, the 15- and 16 year-olds talk frankly about a life they feel has little to offer them – with few or no facilities, threats from gangs, and nothing to occupy their time.The programme attends an events day run by Pat and Rob at the Angel Community Centre, where one highlight is the hand massage session that not only gives the over-60s a chance to relax and enjoy a bit of pampering, but more importantly, a chance for young and old to talk and exchange stories from their very different lives.The campaign itself has won awards for breaking down barriers and helping to develop communication and common interest across generations, and Pat and Rob are determined to “take young people out of the thug mode and elderly people out of the victim mode”. As one of the documentary’s producers, Tamsyn Challenger, says, “To hear a 14-year-old talking about 80-year-old Lou on his estate is heartening when there is little positive coverage of 14-year-old Manchester lads living in depressed areas.” Simon Fanshawe discusses the project both with the scheme’s leaders and also with the police, and guides us through the On the Streets story.”

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes  Bridging the Gap (Unabridged)

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Giants On Our Hands radio feature

Giants On Our Hands radio feature

GIANTS ON OUR HANDS

27mins 30secs radio documentary / featured on “Pick of the Week” / as heard on BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service

presented by Adam Fowler

produced by Adam Fowler & Anna Scott-Brown / executive produced by Neil Gardner

a Ladbroke Radio production for BBC Radio 4/WS

“For 5,000 years and more, elephants have served humanity, as a living tractor, pile driver, fork-lift, tank, and 4WD. But the working elephant is now at the end of its economic usefulness. Adam Fowler explores the plight of thousands of captive elephants in Asia and their historic and changing relationship with man.”

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes  Giants On Our Hands: The Unemployed Elephants of Asia (Unabridged)

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Rembrandt 400 radio feature

Rembrandt 400 radio feature

REMBRANDT 400

43mins 30secs radio documentary / as heard on BBC Radio 3

presented by Neil MacGregor

produced by Richard Bannerman / executive produced by Neil Gardner

a Ladbroke Radio production for BBC Radio 3

“Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, marks the 400th anniversary of Rembrandt’s birth. He visits Amsterdam, where Rembrandt made his home for the major part of his creative life, and where he painted the masterpieces that hang in galleries around the world. Rembrandt’s birthday is on July 15, and Amsterdam has marked the year with all kinds of events, from a new musical on Rembrandt’s life to exhibitions looking at every aspect of the artist’s work, from the epic painting of The Night Watch to small-scale etchings and drawings. Neil MacGregor, a longtime enthusiast for Rembrandt’s work, begins the programme in the house where Rembrandt lived in Amsterdam from 1639 to 1658, when bankruptcy in his later years forced him to move. Here, from the basement to the attic, are the everyday objects that Rembrandt would have known, from his box-bed to the huge collection of antiques and curios from all corners of the Dutch-traded world, which Rembrandt made use of to bring the excitement of the exotic into his work. Nearby in the Rijksmuseum, an exhibition puts Rembrandt’s major paintings against those of his slightly earlier Italian counterpart Caravaggio, showing the play of light and dark which gave both artists’ work that gleaming, arresting quality, and which lent a powerful drama to the Biblical or classical scenes they often depicted. In Rembrandt’s case, he turned away from images of beauty or flattery to depict people in all their human frailty – their tenderness, uncertainty, pain, and mortality. It is these qualities, as Neil MacGregor says, that make his paintings reach out so directly to us today, as well as impressing the spectator with their mastery of skill and often dazzling richness.”

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes  Rembrandt 400 (Unabridged)

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The Forever Trap 2 CD exclusive

The Forever Trap 2 CD exclusive

DOCTOR WHO: THE FOREVER TRAP by Dan Abnett

2hrs 20mins reading / exclusive adventure from the BBC

read by Catherine Tate

recorded & edited by Neil Gardner / produced & directed by Kate Thomas

a BBC Audio production

“Catherine Tate reads this exclusive thrilling story, in which the Doctor and Donna are imprisoned on the Edifice – and become neighbours to a terrifying assortment of aliens.  When the TARDIS is invaded by a holographic marketing scam, the Doctor and Donna find themselves trapped on the Edifice, a purpose-built complex of luxury apartments in space. Their new environs leave much to be desired: millions of beings from across the Universe have been gathered to live side by side in similar apartments. Instead of creating neighbourly affection, it’s led to terrible battles being waged in the corridors and on the stairwells.   The Doctor and Donna must cross the paths of deadly alien mobs as they search for the Edifice’s ultimate authority. Who – or what – lies at the heart of the incredible complex? What destructive scourge is eating away at the Edifice itself? And are the Doctor and Donna trapped forever in this living hell?   The Forever Trap features the Doctor and Donna, as played by David Tennant and Catherine Tate in the hit BBC Television series Doctor Who. Written specially for audio by Dan Abnett, it is read by Catherine Tate.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY FROM THE BBC SHOP

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes  Doctor Who: The Forever Trap (Unabridged) (Unabridged  Fiction)

“So…just WHAT is it you do?”

That's me, in my natural environment...a radio studio...between Tom and Richard!

That's me, in my natural environment...a radio studio...between Tom and Richard!

Isn’t social networking strange?  Since the early days of message boards, then forums, then yahoo groups, the move to MySpace, then the big jump to Facebook, and on to the paradigm shifting experience that is Twitter…I have found myself in the rather wonderful position of having a goodly number of people I now consider good friends, but whom I have never met, and who don’t come via my working life.  They know me as Neil, or as HokusBloke, or as the fellow who does the silly poetry, or the FICTS chap, or the man behind the Robert Rankin audio/radio series…or a hundred other ways.  And on average, about once a week I get asked “So…just WHAT is it you do?”.  In order to try and be helpful, I thought I would give you a very brief description of what I do for a living, and then give you some examples.

So…I am a radio blokey.  What’s that? In my case I am the owner and MD of an independent radio production company based in the South East of the UK.  Independent radio production…does that mean adverts?  No.  You’ve no doubt noticed that large numbers of TV programmes are made by independent production companies, like Endemol, Zeppotron, RDF, etc…  Well, the BBC has an obligation to have 25% of its TV output made by such non-BBC companies.  In radio, there is no such requirement, but the BBC still offers up around 10% of its radio output for independent radio production companies to bid for.  Throughout the year companies like mine, Ladbroke Productions (Radio) Ltd, develop ideas and talent and take them to the various national and regional BBC radio networks in the hope we will be hired to make the programmes we propose.

Ladbroke Productions is the oldest such company in the UK, launched in June 1975.  It was also the first company to be hired by the BBC to independently produce a radio series (BBC World Service back in 1990).  I worked at the company from 1999, starting as an engineer and audio producer, gradually working my way up to being the Creative Director and Executive Producer by 2008.  Then, in Sept 2008 I was given the chance to buy the company and take it away from the parent firm.  Of course, I took the opportunity, even though it was a massive risk.  There is no guaranteed work for radio indies, and the budgets are miniscule!  But I had dreamed of owning and running my own radio/audio production company and here was the chance.

So, it is a year on, and even though the year has been a tough one, I am earning a salary, paying the partners and freelancers and we may even make a small profit!  But most importantly we are making more radio and audio programming than ever before.

So what do I do? Apart from the business side of running a small business of course, I come up with ideas for radio programmes, I work with others to develop ideas, seek out and work with new talent (presenters, broadcasters, writers, journalists, composers, etc…), I work with my 2 partners to then write up and pitch these proposals to the BBC, I handle all the budgeting and contractual stuff, handle all the copyrights and so on…but I also produce my fair share of the programmes.  Producing and directing radio is very different from TV and film…for a start most radio programmes are made by a producer, a presenter and, well, that’s it!  The radio producer is also the researcher, the writer, the runner, the sound engineer, etc…  This is why most of us do it, because the end product is very much our own!  So I produce documentaries and features, I also direct dramas and readings (and write them!), I adapt other people work for radio and audio release, and then I also do a job called Executive Producing.  This is like keeping an eye over another producer’s shoulder.  I don’t tell them what to do or how to do it, but keep an eye out for technical or legal issues, check that the programme is made to the mammoth BBC guidelines and isn’t going to fall foul of the increasingly paranoid compliance procedures.  I do this for Ladbroke programmes, as well as for several other companies.  And finally, because I started out as a sound engineer, I also mix and master pretty much all the programmes we make, and offer this service to other clients.  When you see me tweet about editing, this is usually what I mean…I am tidying up and putting together someone else’s raw audio, to make a beautifully crafted radio programme out of the parts!

So, I do all this for my own company, Ladbroke Productions…as well as for other independent radio producers.  Between us we work on programmes for BBC Radios 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Live, 6 Music, 7, 1 Xtra, Asian Network, BBC Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.

But a man cannot live on one client alone.  So this first year has seen me working to build up some commercial clients.  The first, and biggest has been BBC Audiobooks.  Yes, the BBC again, but they are commercial and not a part of the licence-fee funded BBC.  BBCA are the people behind the Doctor Who audiobooks we all know and love.  It has been a massive joy for me this year to be taken on board as a producer of Doctor Who universe productions…a childhood dream!  I also produce non-scifi audiobooks for them, such as Margaret Atwood and PD James.

So that’s me in a short sweet nutshell.  I love radio, I love audio…these are the two most important mediums we have and I am unashamed of backing them to the hilt.  You’ll be hearing a lot more about new audio projects as the year progresses…there are some exciting new things just about to happen, which I hope you will support me with.

In the meantime, here’s a list of the BBC radio programmes Ladbroke Productions have produced since Oct 2008 and up to the end of 2009, I hope you’ll see that we do a massive range of things, bring value and quality to the BBC audience, and most importantly, you keep listening (or start!) to the radio.  Oh, and if you would like to hear any of the programmes, we do sell them at very reasonable rates 🙂

BBC RADIO 2

  • The Judy Garland Trail – 6×30 mins – Presented by Michael Freedland – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Nat King Cole: From Jazz To Rock’n’Roll – 4×30 mins – Presented by Clarke Peters – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Race With The Devil: Gene Vincent Story – 1×60 mins – Presented by Roger Daltrey – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • The King of Motown: Berry Gordy Story – 1×60 mins – Presented by Marshall Chess – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Feelin’ Love: Donna Summer Story – 1×60 mins – Presented by Paul Gambaccini – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Blonde On Blonde: Marilyn Monroe – 1×60 mins – Presented by Mariella Frostrup (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Hollywood Charmers – 4×30 mins – Presented by Michael York – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • I’ll Still Love You Tomorrow-Carole King Story – 3×30 mins – Presented by Pete Waterman – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • The Elvis Trail – 6x30mins – Presented by Michael Freedland – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Development Hell – 1×60 mins – Presented by Adam & Joe – Produced by Neil Rosser & Neil Gardner (Exec – Richard Bannerman)
  • My Word Is My Bond – 6×15 mins – Read by Sir Roger Moore – Produced & Directed by Neil Gardner (Exec – Neil Rosser)

BBC RADIO 3

  • The Essay-Henry:King of Kings – 5×15 mins – Written & Presented by Various – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • The Hidden Composers – 1×44 mins – Presented by Lowri Blake – Produced by Richard Bannerman (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Theatre & Conflict – 1×44 mins – Presented by  TBC – Produced by Richard Bannerman (Exec – Neil Gardner)

BBC RADIO 4

  • That’s No Job For An Asian! – 1×30 mins – Presented by Yasmeen Khan – Produced by Yasmeen Khan & Neil Gardner (Exec – Richard Bannerman)
  • Afternoon Play-On Ego – 1×44 mins – Written & Directed by Mick Gordon (Exec – Neil Gardner & Richard Bannerman)
  • The Deighton File – 1×30 mins – Presented by Patrick Humphries – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Twin Sisters, Two Faiths – 1×38 mins – Presented by Anna Scott-Brown – Produced by Adam Fowler & Anna Scott-Brown (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Who’s My Half-Brother? Where’s My Half-Sister? – 1×30 mins – Presented by Kati Whitaker – Produced by Kati Whitaker & Richard Bannerman (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Three Rivers – 3×30 mins – Presented by Hardeep Singh Kohli – Produced by Richard Bannerman (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Inside the Bermuda Triangle-The Mysteries Solved – 10×15 mins + 2×60 mins – Presented by Tom Mangold – Produced by Adam Fowler (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Blondin of Niagara Falls & Ealing – 1×30 mins – Presented by Hardeep Singh Kohli – Produced by Richard Bannerman (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Protected By Faith – 1×30 mins – Presented by John Waite – Produced by Neil Gardner (Exec – Richard Bannerman)
  • Tea & Biscuits – 5×15 mins – Presented by Hardeep Singh Kohli – Produced by Richard Bannerman & Tamsyn Challenger (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Scott of Slimbridge – 1×60 mins + 1×42 mins – Presented by Frank Gardner – Produced by Merilyn Harris (Exec – Richard Bannerman)
  • Coast 2100 – 2×30 mins – Presented by TBC
  • Friday Play-Deep Cut – Directed by Mick Gordon (Exec – Melanie Harris)
  • Home Grown – 1×30 mins – Presented by Yasmeen Khan – Produced by Yasmeen Khan & Neil Gardner (Exec – Richard Bannerman)
  • In Search of A Shtetl – 1×30 mins – Presented by Michael Freedland and Jonathan Freedland – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Mataphor For Healing – 1×30 mins – Presented by Dr Phil Hammond – Produced by Jane Feinmann & Richard Bannerman (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Football Fights Back – 1×30 mins – Presented by Hardeep Singh Kohli – Produced by Adam Fowler (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Afternoon Play-Grace – 1×44 mins – Written & Directed by Mick Gordon (Exec – Neil Gardner & Richard Bannerman)
  • Afternoon Play-Mayflies – 1×44 mins – Directed by Neil Gardner (Exec – Dirk Maggs)
  • Afternoon Play-Cry Babies – 1×44 mins – Directed by Neil Gardner (Exec – Dirk Maggs)
  • A Failure To Provide? – 1×30 mins – Presented by Yasmeen Khan – Produced by Yasmeen Khan & Neil Gardner (Exec – Richard Bannerman)
  • Afternoon Play-Cancer Tales – Directed by Merilyn Harris (Exec – Richard Bannerman)

BBC RADIO 7

  • The Brightonomicon – 13×30 mins – Written & Directed by Neil Gardner (based on the novel by Robert Rankin)

BBC WORLD SERVICE

  • The Mind’s Tibet – 1×26 mins – Presented by TBC – Produced by Neil Rosser (Exec – Neil Gardner)
  • Twin Sisters, Two Faiths – 1×26 mins – Presented by Anna Scott-Brown – Produced by Adam Fowler & Anna Scott-Brown (Exec – Neil Gardner)

BBC AUDIOBOOKS

  • Doctor Who & The Dalek Invasion of Earth – 4xCDs – Read by William Russell – Produced by Neil Gardner
  • Doctor Who: Hornets’ Nest – 5xCDs – Starring Tom Baker – Edited & Sound Design by Neil Gardner
  • Sarah Jane Adventures: The White Wolf – Starring Elizabeth Sladen – Produced by Neil Gardner
  • Sarah Jane Adventures: The Shadow People – Starring Elizabeth Sladen – Produced by Neil Gardner
  • The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood – Read by Lorelei King – Produced by Neil Gardner
  • Talking About Detective Fiction by PD James – Read by Diana Bishop – Produced by Neil Gardner

If you’d like to hear excerpts or learn more about Ladbroke Production please check out our website – http://www.ladbrokeradio.com and if you are on Facebook, do seek us out and become a fan 🙂

A Couple Of Fascinating Radio Programmes For A Sunday

Made In Manchester Logo

The following two radio docs were made by my friend Ashley Byrne’s radio indie Made In Manchester, and both are on-air on the BBC today.  If you have the chance, check them out!

WALKING WITH WHITMAN

Stuart Maconie meets devotees of Walt Whitman in Bolton and explores the history of the town’s unlikely yet enduring relationship with the American poet.

A group of devoted fans established the Whitman Fellowship from 1885 onwards, and, although he never visited the town, Whitman developed strong ties through his correspondence with members of the group. Today, Whitman devotees gather for the annual Whitman Walk, to recite his works and share from Whitman’s Loving Cup, a gift presented to his followers in Bolton in 1894.

Stuart joins this happy band of walkers and Whitmanites to discover why the poet is still celebrated there, nearly 120 years after his death.

  • 1630-1700 (BST)
  • Sunday, July 5th 2009 (Repeated at 23.30-0000 BST on Saturday 11th July 2009)
  • BBC Radio 4
  • 92.4-94.6 FM LW 198 on line, Dab digital radio, Freeview, Sky or the BBC i-player for 7 days after broadcast.
  • Presented by Stuart Maconie
  • Produced by Russell Crewe and Andrew Edwards
  • Executive Producer: Neil Gardner

·         A Made in Manchester Production for BBC Radio 4

GAY LIFE AFTER SADDAM

Aasmah Mir investigates how life for gay or LGBT people in Iraq has got much worse since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The programme contains harrowing testimonies from gay, bi and trans Iraqis and shocking descriptions of murder and torture which some listeners may find disturbing.

  • 1900-2000 (BST)
  • Sunday, July 5th 2009
  • BBC Radio 5Live
  • 909/693 MW, on line, Dab digital radio, Freeview, Sky or the BBC i-player for 7 days after broadcast.
  • Presented by Aasmah Mir
  • Produced by Ashley Byrne and Gail Champion
  • Executive Producer: Russell Crewe
  • Actors: Ashley Byrne, Samuel Barnett (History Boys, Beautiful People, Mrs Henderson Presents, Desperate Romantics) and Paul Kendrick (Consenting Adults)

·         A Made in Manchester Production for BBC Radio 5Live

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