During the first couple of weeks of production, as a group we came together with ideas of what our pop up station should be about and coming up with a name that effectively represents our station. Our final result was to set up Atlas London Radio, a London-centric radio station that specialises in representing the cocktail of cultures in the city. We would achieve this by playing music from different countries, in different languages, and largely stay away from what you usually might hear of bigger, more well-known stations. When it came to choosing a name there were lots of suggestions, I threw ‘Oyster Radio’ into the hat (to focus on the London connection) but eventually we settle on Atlas London. Finalising the name took a bit of time as there were a couple of radio stations already with the key word in their title, meaning that getting a domain name for the website or set up accounts for social media would prove a bit more complex.
During our production meetings it was also decided that my role would be ‘Sales Assistant’, this involved helping Callum (Head of Sales) gain commissions for adverts, as well as scripting and editing the adverts.
Pilot 1 – 17/02/20
For the first pilot, our broadcast would consist of a talk show (30 minutes) and a music show (1 hour). This meant that there were lots of adverts needed to fill the time required and also have a high rotation of the course of the broadcast. Sadly at this point we had only three adverts made, although seven had been commission. I think Callum and I realised that writing a good, punchy advert script takes a little more time that we realised! Plus trying to find an appropriate voice is a whole other challenge! The feedback was as expected – we need more ads!
Pilot 2 – 24/02/20
By this point Callum and I had managed to secure a few more commissions and we now had a total of five adverts in the mix for the final pilot, however, at this point hoping to step up on the editing so we have a nice selection for the launch show!
Show 1 – 02/03/20
It’s launch day! Atlas goes live! Callum and I have by this point got a good mix of adverts ready to go. Personally, I had made the University of Westminster advert using myself as the voice over, usually I wouldn’t have opted for myself but as I am a student of the university it felt appropriate. As I previously mentioned it was proving very difficult to secure appropriate voices for the adverts, especially when Callum and I couldn’t pay the actors. I know Callum had a tricky time trying to secure a suitable voiceover for the Kingsfields Arms advert. I know we both would have like to found an Indian – preferably male – voice as the Kingsfields Arms serves Indian cuisine. The feedback for the adverts was generally good, although it was suggested that we should try secure more multicultural voices to match our station brand. Since I had been asking friends at Global, particularly at Radio X, the adverts were taking heavy white male tone when played back to back. So our plan for the following week was to try and source more multicultural accents.
Show 2 – 09/03/20
This week I had been working on trying to find a suitable voice for an advert I had scripted for The Royal Albert Hall’s Late Night Jazz series. Initially I had wanted a female voice, with a cool tone to match the theme of the advert. I had asked Margherita Taylor from Classic FM/Smooth as I thought she would be a perfect fit. Sadly she declined to lend her voice, so the ad fell on the back burner for a while. With the weeks flying by, in an attempt to get the ad done, I again relied on my Radio x crew to voice the ad, so at least we had something to work with, but then after the feedback from the previous week (about a range of voices) I thought it best to not produce the advert at all unless we could find the right voice over. I think if we had broadcast the advert with another white male voice, it really would have oversaturated the adverts.
Show 3 – 16/03/20
Sadly I wasn’t able to make this week’s show as I was at a funeral. What’s even sadder is that this turned out to be our final show as the next broadcast was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Show 4 – 23/03/20
As mentioned this show didn’t go ahead due to coronavirus. Instead we focused on organising the sales documents in the folders for submission. I finalised the asset table, which featured the list of companies we had contacted for commissions to make an advert for them. The table also featured names or ideas of the voices we had secured and what the advert should sound like. The other document I tidied up was the advert scripts, there were a few ideas still to finish up on their that never made it to recording.
Overall I found working on the advertisement/sales really creative and interesting. It was a whole new area for me which I’d never worked on in previous projects. I learned that my editing skills are actually pretty decent! And I also really enjoyed the creativity of script writing. I learnt that sometimes a stripped back advert (i.e a simple script and a mellow bed) works just as effectively as an advert with layers of voice and sound and music. When it came to writing the scripts, first off I found it really difficult just to start! My first script was writing the advert for the Hawley Arms pub in Camden. I’ve been there a few times so it helped me to know what the customer experience is like when writing the script. This advert in particular is noticeably long compared with the later ones I made. I was afraid to cut ideas in the Hawley Arms ad, especially as the script almost came in two parts (the scene in London, then the scene in the pub). I felt that hacking away at the audio would have lost the message a bit too much. However when it came to scripting and editing future adverts, I listened to lots of radio adverts of voiceover artist’s portfolios to get a sense of how I would start my next script. Another thing I learned to do during this process was to write more than I needed. As in, I would structure in extra lines that I could cut or switch quite effortlessly in order to produced a tight sounding advert.
The one thing I would improve upon if I had to do this again would definitely be reaching out to more actors and agency and to do this earlier on as well. It was very difficult to source a variety of voices. If anything, the adverts are probably one of the first things that needs attention in running pop-up station. I feel towards the end the sales team weren’t really needed on the show days. We could have had a variety of adverts in terms of voices and also produced more of them, had we started the process earlier and we a tad more urgency!