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Radio Interviews

Joanna McCrostie

Group Head, Commercial Production | 26 Aug 2005

“Radio can get in your car, in your bathroom… Radio can deliver messages in such close proximity to purchase that a consumer could just go out and buy a product. Television can’t get that close, television has a different relationship with the consumers. Radio is seen as much more personal, intimate and there are enormous greater possibilities in the fact that radio is ambiguous.”

GCap Media Plc, one of the largest radio companies in UK, has 54 local, regional and national radio stations and over 100 digital radio stations. Capital Radio, Classic FM, Capital Gold and XFM are some of the leading brands from the GCap Media stable, which was formed after the merger of Capital Radio Group Plc and GWR Group Plc.

Joanna McCrostie, Group Head of Commercial Production at GCap Media Plc, is currently managing a creative team that specialises in radio. Jo, as she likes to be called, joined Capital Radio in 1993 as a commercial copywriter/producer and won her first award for the ‘Media ales pitch of the year’ two years later.

Kenya-born Jo, who did her education from England, is a theatre lover too. An opportunity to study acting at The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London prompted her to start her own theatre company after graduation.

In conversation with Sumita Patra of exchange4media, McCrostie talks about radio as a medium, the latest trends in radio, the effectiveness of radio advertising, etc. Excerpts.

Q. What is the difference between creativity in radio commercials vis-a-is the creativity in TV commercials?

I think the general perception is that not enough time or effort is invested in radio creative. It just falls too frequently as a cheap immediate medium, and to be honest, the power of the medium is not really great. I don’t think anybody has exploited the creative opportunities of the medium as they have done in the case of television.

Q. Since the commercial space on radio is less compared to TV, how can radio stations retain the listeners’ attention and prevent them from switching on to other stations?

I think this depends on the programming, which is not really my area of expertise, but the way things are in London, there certainly are a large number of radio stations that a listener can choose from. They, therefore, expect their radio stations to be absolutely relevant to them and reflect their lifestyles, it’s got to mean something to them, they’ve got to have a relationship with their radio station. So, you need to find the relationship between the listener and the station.

Q. Radio has an audio appeal, unlike television, which has a visual impact as well. So, why do you think advertisers should consider radio as a viable medium for placing their ads?

Because radio is enormously powerful in different ways than television. Radio can get in your car, in your bathroom, you can have different bits of copies different times a day. Radio can deliver messages in such close proximity to purchase that a consumer could just go out and buy a product. Television can’t get that close, television has a different relationship with the consumers. Radio is seen as much more personal, intimate and there are enormous greater possibilities in the fact that radio is ambiguous.

Q. No doubt radio is an interactive medium, but how will you define it as an auxiliary medium?

Radio is often consumed one is engaged in doing something else. You hear it even though you are not really listening to it, and because it’s consumed in this unique way – as kind of a medium in the background – it means there is possibility of branding and sonic branding to catch the listener when they are not really consuming the medium.

Q. What is sonic branding? How can it help the marketers?

Sonic branding is a huge opportunity because sounds are memorable. It exploits emotions really, and sonic branding is very flexible whereas a visual logo is quite static. Sonic logo or sonic identity can move around and touch the consumer in different areas where they consume sound and is capable of delivering different messages while still maintaining brand consistency.

Q. How can radio propagate word of mouth?

To create word of mouth you need to stay close to the listener, you need to have a relationship with the listener, and radio has that relationship. People choose to listen to their radio, you need to feel that you’ve got a conversation going on between the radio and the listeners, as I said feel that they talk back to their radio more than any other medium. It’s a medium that talks to the consumers on their level, one-on-one, so it’s always like a conversation, it’s like a dialogue medium, and this is why as soon as you start that dialogue your word of mouth propagation has started already.

Q. How can the quality of radio production be improved?

Spend time, invest more money in it, it is important. Find the right voice for the right job, think whether you are going to use a voiceover or an actor, don’t scrimp on the budget, allow yourself enough time to find a studio and a director who can deliver. You can do a sketch or a demo of your commercial and take it to the studio first to just play with the idea and lift it off the page just to get more ideas and introduce more of a natural delivery or scene into it.

Q. Do you think radio can be used as a medium where brands can establish themselves?

Yes, absolutely. It’s all about ideas, you come up with the right idea and you use the medium the right way, you can do anything.

Q. How important is it for radio stations to continuously innovate?

Absolutely essential. The industry evolves all the time, particularly the contemporary radio stations who are often seen as innovating pioneers, the first place to hear a new song and the first place to hear about a new film, in fact, they need to drive listeners to respond to things.

Q. What are the latest trends that you can foresee for this industry?

The radio has a digital future At GCap Media we are investing in digital radio and it’s very exciting because we talk about radio as a sound medium which is ubiquitous and can be consumed everywhere. And we have this medium which has got 55 or more different channels. So, we’ve got a lot to learn. There is a lot more that this medium can do.

Q. How do you see the growth of radio in the global scenario and what is the scope?

The growth is huge. The way radio has grown so rapidly in India in just three years is amazing and there is going to be a lot more happening. There is going to be a massive amount of choice for the listeners. Advertisers are going to have great choice as they can target their consumers very precisely, and I think it’s going to be about targeting and engaging and in terms of commercials inviting responsible reaction from the listener as well. I think there are many opportunities out there, it’s very huge.

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