I am currently refurbishing three radio broadcast desks at the moment: Two are Sonifex Sovereign MX25 models, the third is a Soundcraft Series 10.

Now Sonifex are still going strong, in fact they have expanded many-fold in recent years, with an ever-increasing range of products; they are most definitely the exceptional success story in what was once, relative to the size of the market, a buoyant industry. Soundcraft on the other hand, in terms of radio studio kit: Who remembers them?

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VMR: Virgin Megastores Radio & My Part in It (Part 2)

In part 2 of this blog about my time at Virgin Megastores Radio (VMR) I recall some of the higher profile events that I was involved with, the stations wind-down and subsequent closure.

Outside events
From 1996 to 1999, Virgin Retail signed a sponsorship deal with the V and the Reading Festivals. To support this, VMR, during shop opening hours, was broadcast live from Reading and Chelmsford leg of V.

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VMR: Virgin Megastores Radio & My Part in It (Part 1)

This blog came to being after a post I saw on a forum enquiring into what became of HMV Radio, the in-store station for the chain of UK based HMV record shops.

One of the posts mentioned Virgin Megastores Radio, the equivalent, and I would stop short at saying rival, service produced by Virgin Retail for their store outlets. In the early part of my freelance career, resulting from me being made redundant from a studio installation company, I gained the station as a client.

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A Bad Workman Always Blames His Tools

Is, in what seems is half the World’s perception, Donald Trump, at the very least, a gaff-prone buffoon?

Now there’s a question.

I can’t in all honesty say one-way or the other. I accept that he is obviously excellent at creating wealth for himself and, probably, jobs for many people. He also appears to have views on a great many things not to his liking, which I find offensive.

But is he an idiot? I'm not sure.

Hang-on, yes I am. I do know he is an idiot in one area I am qualified to comment on.

His microphone technique is utterly useless.

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Idly looking though Youtube the other day I found a complete concert by Oasis, staged in 2005 at, obviously, the City of Manchester Stadium. (As if the Gallagher brothers would have stepped into that place in Salford to do the gig!)

As the Jimmy Jib camera zoomed over the audience, I saw their hands in the air, some holding the electronic equivalent of the cigarette lighter, phones with the flash light on, swaying along to “Wonderwall”.

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(or why, when you are spending $250,000, you choose wisely)

Ohh! Controversial words and metaphorically shoot me down in flames if you like, but with his lyric-play and less commercial ear, John, possibly, wrote the better songs (Sorry Paul, but Octopus Garden?) and sure The Beatles were, and will remain, mega-popular but, with one exception, I think their recording output wasn’t exactly ground breaking.

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This blog is the result of hearing a radio report about the redevelopment of Trent Park, a former stately home in North London, into a number of luxury flats. Of particular interest to me was the its use as a Prisoner-of War camp in the Second World War to hold captured German Generals.

Trent Park

Trent Park: Holiday (Prison) Camp for Hitlers Henchmen

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Or "Don't Try These, You May Not Like Them"

When the time comes to take your business to the next level I strongly recommend you consider signing-up with your local Sandler Sales Training franchise and use their system in part of your “sales winning armoury”.

I’m really at the start of this journey, but already it’s been highlighted to me that, one of the things that hold us back from converting prospects into sales, is ourselves and the baggage we carry around in our heads.

For instance, a fear of rejection making us paralysed at the thought of approaching a prospect or even, heaven forbid, cold-calling. (In fact Sandler teach you that, if you do your preparation properly, there should be no such thing as a cold call.)

Talking about money could be a big issue too. You may feel uncomfortable talking about the prices you charge, or your hourly rate.

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It’s a given that to survive in business, you have to do more than a little marketing and, if you can, have a “hook” to hang it all on, such as a special day: Either align yourself with an existing one, like the brewers and pubs do with St Patrick's Day. Or make one up, as the greeting card industry did with Fathers Day.

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Where did those five years go? It only seems like last year that we had the first coalition government since I don’t know when and now we are preparing to vote in, perhaps, another one. It’s also that time when the broadcasters, especially the BBC, gear up to cover the 100s of counts up and down the country, to give us the results and slice-and-dice what it means.

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With the possible exception of that bible of electronics design “The Art of Electronics” virtually every other book on professional audio is out of date fairly soon after publication.

In fact my experience is that the information contained in out-of-date publications can sometime be more troublesome that helpful.

The obvious place to go for useful info in the ‘net, so here’s a short list of sites that offer useful, accurate and relevant information connected with professional audio.

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Apart from two years when, being a newbie to the world of work and not really knowing what I was getting in to and kind of lost the plot, I was building nuclear missile guidance systems (yes really, and my signature on the Official Secrets Act proves it) my entire working life has been in the broadcast media, and radio in particular. 

For over a quarter of a century I have been connected with this wonderful medium in one way of the other.

From presenting on hospital radio, building radio studios, selling advertising, station management and even station ownership. Not wishing to boast, but in its voluntary, commercial or state sector guises I have pretty much done it all and, in what seems unusual for these times, I have also made a living from it too. So I feel I am in a position to comment on what makes radio “good”. 

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Radio stations frequently prompt the benefit of radio advertising to prospective advertisers yet spend very little marketing themselves. 

The usual reply is: “It costs money”. 

But stop and think for a second: What do the companies who run adverts on your station do? They are spending their money with you. 

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In professional AV and broadcast technology one thing is for sure:  The price of the equipment keeps coming down. It may not seem like it, but consider this. Compare the function and facilities you get on say an effects unit of today and one that was produced 10 years ago. The price has stayed pretty much the same, but look what you get for your money. Or conversely, look how much you don’t pay for the base model in a mixer range.  £30 for a note-pad model is not uncommon. I recall when Soundcraft broke the £400 barrier with the Spirit Folio range and we all marvelled how they could do it for the price! And don’t be fooled by the notion that a cheap price means poor audio quality either. With surface mount technology, CAD layout of PCBs and flow-solder manufacturing, you simply don’t have to pay a premium for quality audio specifications any more.

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In part one of this two-part blog I wrote about how you could, and should, make your studio equipment, the very kit you used to make programmes with, do more than just make a sound. It can be used as promotional tools too. In part 1, I outlined three ideas and part 2 covers four more.

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