Jamie Cawdell is Producer Jamie
Updated: 4 days ago
Jamie Cawdell is the Assistant Programme Controller at Radio Essex in England. He is also the curator the CHR Prep Service which is used on radio stations around the world including Virgin Radio in Canada and Z100 in New York. Over the years, we have seen many of radio's best branch out into other facets of the business. Whether it was John Mielke in the 90's starting his Milkman Unlimited business, Matt Fogarty or Drake Donovan shifting from Creative to voice imaging, or Bob & Sheri or Humble and Fred taking their show independent, there is always entrepreneurial latitude in the radio space.
In this episode you will hear how Jamie got started in radio, the ins and outs of producing a breakfast radio show, and why he started the CHR Prep Service. We also get into what preparing for your show really constitutes and what radio talent is looking for before they head into the studio every day to perform OR record.
If you are a regular listener to the show, please consider the one month free trial Jamie is offering.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:00:01
The Sound Off podcast. The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill starts now.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:10
This week, we head to England to speak with Jamie Cawdell. If you've listened to of the show, you've heard me talk about producer Jamie. He puts out the CHRP service, which serves radio personalities with a healthy dose of show prep. Like all of us who listen to this show, he has a relationship and affinity for radio and that comes with a radio story. So I figured we should get his right after I tell you that the show is brought to you by The Chris Service. You can get a free trial right now by going to Prodjamie.com. And my thanks to Jamie for being an ongoing supporter of the Sound Off podcast. Jamie Cotta joins me from the studios of Radio Essex in England.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:50
Why do you get up at 330 in the morning?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:00:53
Partly for the prep service, to sort it all out, check it all okay before it gets sent out. And then also my other job is producing a morning show on a station here in Essex. So, typing quite nicely, I can finish what I'm doing with the prep service about 05:00 a.m. Getting the car about 05:15 and then takes me about 35, 40 minutes.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:12
How did you ever get into radio?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:01:14
It's funny, actually. I wanted to join the police and I think I was listening to your podcast with nails and he was obviously joking about how everyone sort of has the same answer for how did you get into radio? And actually, weirdly, mine is not that normal. I wanted to join the police. I did all the qualifications in school and college. I'm a qualified scuba diver, open water. I'm a qualified mountain leader, so I can take groups of schools and business retreats, those sort of groups of 30, 40 people at mountains safely. And I did all this stuff to join the police for my application. And then the application needed voluntary experience and I went and did it at hospital radio, which I don't think is a massive I don't think you guys have it in Canada, do you?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:56
No. You're going to have to tell us what hospital radio is.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:01:58
Okay. So hospital radio is a fantastic thing here in the UK. And I don't know whether it's every hospital in the UK, but most hospitals here in the UK have what's called a hospital radio station. It's a voluntary radio station. It's based in the hospital, can be heard only in the hospital. Not so much nowadays. It certainly used to be just within the hospital. Some of them now have it online. I don't think any of them are on sort of FM or Dab or anything like that. And they're all run by volunteers and they've been going 50, 60 years. The Hospital Radio Association. And it's a bit like student radio, but it's just that anyone can do it. Some of them are incredibly well set up. So some of them have studios that I've seen commercial radio stations envious over. Some of them are in a cupboard and you basically go there and you do voluntary radio. You do whatever you want. You be a producer, you'd be a presenter, you can read the news. Some people do five shows a week, some people do one show, some people record them, some people do them live. But they're fantastic organizations. They're a great way for anyone that didn't initially choose radio before school and college and things like that, and didn't get the chance to go and do media or student radio university or whatever. So I went and did that for my police application. And there was a guy there that used to be a teacher and he was one of those sort of real old school teachers where he would like he was really supportive, really helpful, and we had heart to heart and he sort of said, you're really good at this and you've seen so enjoy it. And it seems like something you're definitely interested in. And I think before I'd finished my college course for joining the Police, I already knew I wasn't going to apply and I've never applied since. I've never even filled the application out, never sent off an application, never even looked it again. Maybe in like ten years I might look at it again. But, yeah, I went straight into radio from there. So I came out of hospital radio and joined a promo team, a street team, here at a station in Essex, and then have been with the same station since I was 18, so I'm now 27. So I've been with them coming up to a decade and have gone from sort of street team. The breakfast presenter had an argument with the PD, they'd got rid of him and then they'd moved the guy on drive time to breakfast and they bought in to do drive summer, a guy from a station we owned elsewhere in the UK, but it was pre recorded and it was all done on a play out system called Genesis. I don't know if anyone in Canada has Genesis, but it's not really set up for voice tracking or prerecords. Fantastic. We have software live, not great for prerecorded, so they needed someone to come in and literally play out these dry voice links that he'd recorded into audition and play them out on air. So they hired me off the street team and I've just sort of stayed here since.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:04:50
What about appearing on the radio? Do you have a role appearing on the radio at all?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:04:54
Yeah, I do a little bit. So I work with the morning Show now as a producer. And the morning show has a historic show within Essex, where I'm based. So they've been on in the county for 22 years this year. So it's a duo called Martin and sue. And before it was Martin and sue, it was Martin on his own for an extra two or three years before that, even. So, collectively, they've been on Aer and Essex in some guys for 25 years and they've always had a sort of very token producer sort of character on the show. And when they moved to us, I was already producing the morning show that was there before them, and then it just sort of snowballed. I was only supposed to be with them for two or three months whilst they learned the system, because it was a different play out software. They'd been off for a year because they used to be at what was happening before it all got networked. And then after three or four weeks, we all sort of sat down, we're like, we all get on quite well, we all have a laugh, so we just asked if we can just stay like this, moving forward, and then I just stayed with them and it's been like that since.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:05:58
You're going to have to explain a little bit about the role of a morning show producer. We don't have a lot of them in North America because we're over saturated with radio stations, so some markets have like 1516 radio stations and that doesn't leave a lot of money for additional staff. So in Australia, I've seen teams of eight and nine.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:06:16
Oh, yeah, they've got like whole offices, haven't they?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:19
Yeah. So tell me about your role and what you do to contribute to this Heritage morning show.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:06:24
So my role is very much making sure I've always said the role of a morning show producer is less being a producer, it's almost like being some sort of like concierge butler type service. My sole role, summed up in a line, is make their life easier so they don't have to worry about anything other than being entertaining on the radio and that's it. So if that means sorting out a script. If there's a live reader or read that we have to do for a competition. And I've read it and I've got you know what. I don't think that's how they're going to read it. Because they're a double headed show or Martin says things this way and sue like saying things this way. I will rewrite it for them to make it easier. If that means making a coffee so they don't have to, that's my role. If that means sorting out callers, sorting out stuff, that's also my role. But then there's a sort of followup role after the show in that because they leave at 10:00, we don't pay them past 10:00, so once the show's done, they're gone. I'm in the office until 01:00 in the afternoon and then I am the link between the overall radio station and them and the show. So when account managers come to me and say, we've got a promotion, we've got a client that have listened to Martin ASU for years, they want to do this is this something that we can do? I can sit there and confidently represent both of them and say, yeah, I mean, that's something they do. I think Martin would want to do it this way. Or Sue's always had this idea. Maybe we can do this instead. And I can sort of represent them in the radio station past 10:00. Which I think often is vital because the amount of times that there's been opportunities where something could have been organized in a way where I know they're not going to enjoy it. They're not going to like it. Or they're going to disagree. Or they're going to go.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:05
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:08:05
We did this at this stage. Maybe we should do it this way. And I've been able to avoid that just because I've been there and can be that link between the office and the sales staff and the marketing teams and the breakfast show when it's not there in the office physically.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:19
So I think it's fair to say that you would be able to tell me when Martin and sue nap.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:08:24
Martin naps from about 1030 onwards and the moment he gets home, that's all he does. It's a running joke on the show. All Martin does all day is what we like to call slouch. So he slouches on the sofa all day long. Sue doesn't really nap. Sue is a bit like me, where she likes to try not to have a nap. If there's going to be an app, it's 510 minutes on the sofa, but that's about it. But they're very opposite, the pair of the martin naps all day every day and how he gets to sleep at night is beyond me. Sue and me don't really nap. We sort of go on the thinking that if you're tired through the day, you'll sleep better at night anyway.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:59
What are you looking for? For show prep? So you're getting up at 330. I don't want to say that that's when the show prep starts because you mentioned that you leave the station at 01:00 and then I think you are collecting show prep after that. Mentally, in your head, when you're compiling it at 330 in the morning, what are you grabbing from and what exactly are you looking for in terms of content?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:09:20
So it varies, obviously. Early in the morning, I'm doing stuff for my own prep service, my own business, and then there's stuff that I'm getting for the show specifically. So there's not really a set kind of template in terms of the morning show and what they're going to use. And that's something that we were quite hot on when they first started. They liked the fact that I picked up on what they like talking about, what they don't like to talk about, what they're good at, what they're not good at, all, that sort of stuff, very early on. So I don't really follow a set. This is what we should talk about, this is what we shouldn't talk about it's more. If I see a story that I know if I read a story and I can hear Martin saying something, I know exactly what he's going to say. When I read this out, that's a fantastic story. Vice versa, if I can already predict what they're going to say. I know it's a good story to use, but to be honest, they're quite good at bringing their own content where they've done it for so many years. They come in and chat for ten to 15 minutes whilst they're having a coffee before the show starts. They effectively have what I would consider an hour long programming meeting in the space of 15 minutes. They don't really require a lot of content upfront, they do a lot of it themselves. They're very easy show to work with.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:33
Do you schedule any of the music on the show or on the station?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:10:36
I do. I work with the music team closely, because at 27, for a hit music station, I'm sort of spot on with what they want to hit in terms of target audience, but with the show specifically, we're quite lucky in the sense that we can change stuff as and when we please. There's not a massive amount of strictness around what we can and cannot change. So, for example, the other day, obviously, Kate Bush is back in the charts because of Stranger Things and Everything, which is a fantastic show if you haven't watched it. We just thought we were talking about it and we just thought, you know what, we'll just play that. We'll play this song, we don't have to ring anyone and say, I know it's eighty S and we're in a music station, but can we play it because X, Y and Z, so we're quite free in that sense. We don't have to ring anyone, which is quite nice.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:23
So you're telling me Kate Bush has made a comeback. What's next, Top Gun?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:11:27
She's made a comeback somehow, she's done it running up that hill. And you know what? Obviously I loved it beforehand anyway, but it's just fascinating to see the amount of 13 and 14 year olds on TikTok and things who are just like, this is the best song ever, and just rediscovering it. But, yeah, she's back in the chart, certainly here in the UK, anyway. I don't know about elsewhere, but I think it's played twice in the whole of season four and that's it twice for about 30 seconds, maybe a minute each. So in total, she's probably actually only had half the song played and has just rocketed back into the charts, which I think is brilliant.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:58
Do you think that's because a lot of us really love the song, but we never told anybody we love the song because we might have come off as a little silly?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:12:07
Yeah, maybe. I do think some of it has something to do with there's definitely a trend at the moment with artists sampling old songs anyway, that seems to be a massive thing at the moment, so I think that probably has something to do with it. The sort of general music that's popular at the moment seems to be songs that's basically 80 songs anyway. They've just got a new drum beat underneath them and a different singer, maybe. So I think that's definitely something to do with it. The initial thought would be it's because people listening to it would have gone, oh, my mum and dad used to listen to this. But a lot of the people listening to it now, like on TikTok 13 and 14 year olds, their parents wouldn't have even really listened to it. So I think it's just down to the fact that most chart music nowadays seems to have some kind of sample in it, or is it a remix?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:12:54
What's the video strategy for the morning show? Because I know you've got a great webcam right now. Do you have any video strategy that you use for the morning show? And how do we get the video out there?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:13:05
We don't, I'll be honest. It's something that I do think is important. It comes down more to budget in that we did go through a phase of setting up webcams and recording the whole show, and it was a very rickety set up in that it was basically just recording this huge file. It wasn't switching between cameras automatically, it wasn't cleverly logging it all somewhere that was easy to reach on a computer with editing software. It came down to more that we could record the show, but we didn't necessarily have the manpower to then sit and edit it all and schedule it all on social media. And my thinking was, if we can't do it well, let's not do it. So there isn't massively. We do a lot on social media, so if there's something funny martin were very lucky. When they're not lucky, they've been on air for 25 years, so anyone that has listened to them for a long time knows their characters very well. They're very strong personalities as well. They're very strong opposing personalities. So when they do stuff in the studio, we can social media eyes it and take videos and Instagram stories and stuff. So in that sense, we do a lot on social media. But in terms of what I would say, the industry standard, certainly here in the UK, the industry standard of video, we're nowhere near, and that comes down to more budget stuff like that.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:14:26
Tell me about, like I know you produce demos, so what makes a good demo for talent?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:14:32
Good demo for talent? I think it needs to be interesting off the bat, something that I think anyone can do. What I like to call an impression of a radio DJ. If you gave someone a script and said, I need to say that was Ariana Grande, this is radio station Save the strap line and then talk about Harry Styles for a bit. Anyone can do that. And then put on the whole DJ voice. I think a demo that is really good has to be able to show your personality. So if you took your demo and you played a family member three or four demos and they all had the voice modulated and they all got pitched down, or like they do on crime shows, they have to be able to pick your demo and go, that one's. You not on how you sound, just on what you're saying. The personality within the demo, I think people focus too much on, does it sound clean? Do I sound like a radio DJ? I don't think the stations nowadays, I think stations are moving more towards personality than people that can necessarily sound like a radio DJ.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:15:39
I want to talk a little bit about recycling content within the show, and it could be some show prep that you've come up with on a Monday that you bring back on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, or maybe you bring it back later in the hours. So can you talk a little bit about recycling the best bits on the show and bringing them back and how you would approach that?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:15:57
Yeah, so we don't necessarily recycle content. Martin and sue are what I would consider content powerhouses, so they very rarely run out of things to say. They very rarely run out of content. And that in itself is a beauty, in that we don't have to do a huge amount of work going, well, we've got this story, maybe we can save it for this day in case we don't have a loss or it's a slow news day, or there's very few times we ever set aside a story and say, we might use that later. Bank holidays, that's about it really realistically. We'll say stuff in case we need to record a bank holiday show.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:16:32
What about recycling it onto social media, though?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:16:35
Yeah, every now and then we've done stuff like that. So big competitions, or if there's been interviews, things like that, they don't necessarily post it afterwards. They're often of the thinking. Kyle Sandilands from Kissing, Australia said it in interview ages ago, but it's the same sort of principle. Their thinking is, why would we give someone an option to listen to the best bits of the show in, for example, a five minute podcast of the best links from that morning kind of thing, when we're trying to get people to listen to the radio? And obviously, radio stations aren't just radio stations nowadays, but at the end of the day, the listening diary that goes out once a quarter is the lifeline of the radio station. And if people aren't listening on the radio, listening to it live, then it doesn't go towards figures and that then affects sales. So their thinking is people either hear it live or they miss it and if they miss it, and they have a friend that listens to the show and they go, did you hear that thing this morning? And they have to sit there and go, no, I didn't, I missed it. That's their problem, they've missed it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:17:36
So you brought that up about the diaries. Tell me about the measurement system in England. So in London, would they be using Ppm and diaries and ethics?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:17:45
No, not a chance. No. Every station here uses what's called radar. Radar diaries. I couldn't possibly tell you what radar stands for, it's radio audience and then everyone in the industry falls when they get to the J. No one can really remember what it stands for. So it's a diary system. You tick for a week which station you're listening to every 15 minutes, one tick equates to 1000 listeners, so if you get six ticks more between eight and 815, you've just gained 6000 listeners. It's a good system when you have a good book, and it's an archaic system when you don't have a good book. It's also wildly unweighted towards hits music stations. And as the station format gets older. It seems to become more fair because old people are at home during the day and old people like old these stations. And therefore they actually fill the diaries in. Whereas when they come around knocking on the door of someone who is 30 and has a full time job. They're normally not ever in and therefore they're too busy during the day filling out diaries and they normally forget or they don't do it. Or it becomes less accurate as you get younger in format. But it's a wildly archaic system and they've looked for years at finding better ways of doing it, and no one has come up with one that everyone can agree on. But all of the stations use the same system. That is the one thing I will say is fair. From national radio station owned by multi million pound group to local station that serves a broadcast area of a fraction of that size, that has maybe 50,000 listeners a week, they all use the same system, which I do think is somewhat fair.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:19:33
Is there somebody who really does go around and knock on the door and ask if somebody would like to yeah.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:19:38
There'S people, they send them around and they tell you the dates as well. Like they say, this is the date we're going to be sending out the diaries, this is the date we're going to go and collect them, this is the week that they're going to be serving. So it's really easy to program a radio station to go, okay, well, this week we're going to be giving away £100,000. But they have people that go round and hand the diaries out. And since COVID, I mean, they didn't do anything for three quarters, maybe the full year, they didn't do anything because they couldn't go around people's houses they couldn't knock on doors, they couldn't do it. And the way the radar books work is you take an average of the last four books, and I don't know if that's the same in Canada or elsewhere, but an average of the last four books. So when you then don't have any audience figures for the last year, and coincidentally have just bought in a Heritage Breakfast show and spent a lot of money on Heritage Breakfast show that's been on air for 25 years, and their old radio station is still coasting off their figures for the last year during COVID, it's an absolute nightmare. But, yeah, they have people that go around and knock on the door and I think they're trying to find other ways. So I think the last audience date they did something with the BBC, where they'd compiled some figures, they'd also gathered, which seems somewhat sketchy, but that's my own opinion. And they combined them somehow. But, yeah, for the most part, it's people knocking on doors, giving out paper diaries.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:01
If that person came to my door, I would be taking them to the pub.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:21:05
We had a technician a couple of years ago who said, oh, yes, someone knocked on my door and offered me a diary. But I'm a good person. I told them, I can't accept this and I work for one of the radio stations. And we've got account managers furious at him because we're sat there saying, why didn't you just take it in? You didn't even have to tick that you were listening to us all day. Just tick a little bit extra. But, yeah, you'd think that it would be more modern, but they just never found a way that the big groups and the small groups and everyone can agree on and they've just never I mean, if it's not broken totally, why fix it? But they've just never found a better way of doing it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:41
Well, we have that here in Canada, outside of the five biggest markets. But they do the recruiting by telephone. Like anybody answers the telephone anymore.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:21:49
Nobody has. I don't have a home phone. I have a home phone number. I came with my broadband, but I have no idea what it is or how I would use it, where I'd use it. I don't even have a home phone.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:58
In just a second. More with producer Jamie as we break down everything show prep. Like how did he get the idea to come up with a business idea for the Chris service? What are some of the challenges with dealing with clients globally? And why your show prep is probably format agnostic? There's more. There's always more. Including a transcript of all the words we email@example.com.
Sarah Burke (Voiceover) 00:22:23
Transcription for the Sound Off podcast is powered by Poddin. Your podcast is an SEO goldmine. We help you to dig out start your free trial now at poddin dot io IO
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:22:37
The Sound Off Podcast.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:22:38
Service, the same way most ideas happen. No one else was doing it and I needed a solution. So how long has it been going? We've been going for four years now, I think. So four years ago, we were using a prep service in the UK, I would say was probably considered the biggest prep service. I mean, everyone used it, there was maybe one other, but this was the main one, just everyone kind of used. And it was admittedly it was about 1015 pages more than mine. It was 35, 40 pages long, it was £35 a month, which I guess works out about 40 Cad45 roughly. And it covered a lot of stuff, it covered a lot of everything, but not actually a lot of what we wanted. So we used to do a feature that was called by the Top Three, and it was the top three stories you can talk about around the watercolor and they would be like fun studies, or they'd be an artist story or a quirky story. Man gets trapped in a car and finds a bear in the back, or something like that sort of stuff. And it was becoming increasingly harder to find three stories that we would actually use. And I was chatting to the presenter at the time and I said, it's weird, because everything else in our industry, from imaging libraries to music research to most things, are broken down into formats. So if you buy an imaging library, you buy one for an oldie station and it's got branded Intros for Prince and Queen and stuff like that, or you buy a hit music one and it's got stuff for top 40 artists. And I looked around more just to solve my own problems. As opposed to business research. To try and find like a hit music or a chur formatted prep service that only did news about artists that were in the top 40. Stories that are pop culture. That a modern top 40 station would talk about. Stranger things. All that kind of stuff. And there just wasn't anything in the UK. And I looked around outside of the UK and America had, to their credit, a couple of ones that were like country station formatted or rock stations, and that was about it. But there was nothing that I could find, and to this date, still nothing I have found that is CHR formatted. So I thought, well, then I'll do it, because I need to do it for the show anyway, and then we'll just sell it. So for two or three years, I did it on my own, spent way more hours than I care to divulge, not sleeping, because I was doing this, writing it all, searching it all, doing everything. And then after a while, it sort of started growing here in the UK, and then there are a couple of stations outside of the UK, and then, as with most things in the. Industry, just word of mouth. It just started spreading more and more. And now, I would argue most countries, I think probably we've got a list somewhere that we had, we did a year ago of countries we're not currently being used in that every now and then we focus on we look at it, we look at it up and we go, okay, Ecuador, let's see what stations are in Ecuador and get in touch. And it's just grown, just growing beyond the UK. And now it's not just me, it's a team of people, and it's just growing and growing.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:25:52
But I'm guessing that most of the American show prep is really irrelevant by the time it gets over to the UK. Because of the time difference.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:26:00
Yeah, time difference plays a massive part in it. And obviously with a Top 40 show prep service, that was the other weird thing about the fact that there wasn't a Top 40 show prep service. It's the easiest show prep service to do because Dua Lipa is doing something every day, and Ed Sheeran's gone and done something every day. It's constantly changing, so it's constantly new news. But the time difference was something that was at the back of my mind as it started to get out of the UK. Luckily, we never had intention of it actually being used outside the UK. So it was never really an issue we'd thought about. And then after more and more stations started using it, I kind of did think some of these stations are going to have a great time because I think with Canada, I think you guys get it the night before, even. But then there are stations we've got in Australia, so we're on in Kiss in Sydney, and I don't think they get it until 10:00, 11:00 in the morning, so their morning shows missed it completely by a day. And it was something that we always worried about, but hasn't ever cropped up as a massive issue to customers. It's never been something we've had whenever someone cancels a subscription, we always get in touch and say, Was it us? Was it you know, is there anything we can do better? And it's never cropped up as an issue of, oh, well, yeah, it's fantastic, I get it a couple of hours later and I need it, and that's too much of a problem for me. It's never been a massive issue. Weirdly. But the first thing I thought of was, well, time difference is going to cause an issue, but it just hasn't caused as much of an issue as I would have thought it has.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:29
I also think that the format don't really matter either, because people in rock and country know Ed Sheeran and they know all the people that you're talking about in the CHR side of things because they're all over TV.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:27:42
Yeah. And that's the other thing that was a surprise, was certainly when it was a smaller team and even when it was just me, whenever we get a new customer, I'd look it up and I'd go, okay, where are they based? What do they do? Who's using it on air? And there were stations that were oldies stations and rock stations, and hiphop stations, stations that weren't even touching top 40 music. And that was always something that was very reassuring, was the service itself was being enjoyed by shows and stations who weren't even using half of it. They weren't even using any of the stuff. Like the artists, they were bidding that off completely and just using the sort of studies and quirky stories and pop culture stuff and all that kind of stuff, and it was still useful to them. And that was a massive reassurance that the product itself was good. When we have an oldie station in Dubai who uses it and they pay the same price as everyone else, but they're using half the service and it's still something they want to continue using, it's not even necessarily format specific now. It's sort of gone beyond that.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:28:51
Is it possible that Chris very uniform around the world, because in the would look at UK charts, and in the Go who's Robbie Williams and why should I care? And there was a time in the 80s when the Human League and Duran Duran obviously broke there first, but it took a long time for it to cross the ocean. And inversely, Pearl Jam only has a select few songs that are popular in the UK because rock really didn't export very well.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:29:18
No, never. We really don't have a lot of rock formatted stations here in comparison. Yeah, I think top 40 stations, for the most part is similar. The only real difference is there are artists that have not crossed over from one country to another. So what we started doing very early on was we would look through the global airplay charts on the basis that if every station in the world is playing this Edge Sheeran song, then Edge Sheeran must be relevant to the most people. So we use a combination of a global airplay chart that takes into account every hit music station. We use a UK airplay charts on the basis that a large amount of customers are still in the UK. I'd say it's coming up to 60% now, but it certainly used to be a lot higher. And we used US airplay charts and then with a sort of combination of the three, we sort of come up with, okay, here's who we want to cover. And there's still artists that maybe we've covered that are still huge in Canada and the states, but maybe have fallen off the airplay chart a bit in the UK. And there's artists that are massive in the UK at the moment that are starting to make noise elsewhere and in other countries, but maybe they're not top ten material yet, and it might be another week or two until they appear in the charts there. But we've worked out a pretty good balance between global airplay charts. UK airplay charts. US airplay charts. And then combining the loss and sort of going. Okay. This is a good overview of the artists we can cover that will guarantee the most success. That when someone elsewhere in the world or wherever opens up their music log for the day. The most chance that we're going to have a story for the artists they're playing.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:31:08
What country would I Be surprised? Has a lot of popular English radio. I know. I was surprised when I saw the downloads from Nigeria, and then I had to remember, oh, yeah, Nigeria, English speaking country. A lot of hunger for some radio discussion.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:31:23
Funny story, I nearly accepted a job with a radio station in Nigeria. Who had a radio station here? It was a community station here, but then they had four commercial stations in Nigeria, and I was really sort of skeptical about it. I don't really want to change where I'm going career wise at the moment. But then they said, oh, you would have to relocate to Nigeria. And I thought, I don't really want to relocate to Nigeria. I would say the United Arab Emirates. Obviously not English speaking. I don't think natively. I'm bad at geography, but I don't think natively English speaking. But loads of expats and English stations in the UAE. I don't know necessarily how many are percentage wise English speaking as opposed to native, but, yeah, we've got loads of customers in the UAE, oman, Dubai, lots of them have expat stations there, and they're often English presenters who relocate. So I've got two friends that relocated to a station, High FM, in Oman, and they love it over there. They get set up, they get paid well, which is not common in the English UK radio industry. There's not a lot of money in radio here. It's constantly warm, and they get these stunning apartments for half the price that it would cost to live in London.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:39
Are there any non English stations that you will have subscribed to the service who the presenter? Just knows English and will just translate it into their own language?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:32:47
Yes, we've got a couple in Holland, which is where I was initially born, lived for like a year or two. So I was like when I saw they five, three eight signed up, and obviously I lost my mind because I was like, oh, my God, that's like the big hit music station where I used to live. We've got a couple in France, believe it or not, France. There are some areas in France that it's not that common. They speak English, which naively of me. I was surprised that because whenever I've been to France, they all speak English. But whenever I go to France, it's always tourist areas where they have to speak English. And I went over to visit one of the stations using the service, and I got to the reception and buzz the reception and said, oh, you're right, I'm here to see sir. And so I had no idea what I was saying and we had to go and find somebody in the office that spoke English. And Holland is not natively on air. Do they speak English? But most people in Holland speak English. Trying to think where else we've got stations where they wouldn't necessarily be in English, but would translate it. I suppose. Parts of Spain. There's a couple of stations in Spain. When I've listened. They're all Spanish. I have no idea what they're saying. We had one in Romania, which definitely wasn't English speaking. There's definitely stations that are using it to translate it as they go. I suppose that's down to the presenter more than it is the station. But, yeah, there's definitely presenters who translate it beforehand and then use it on air in a different language, which is cool. Oh, there's Malta. One in Malta used it. Forget the name of the station now, which is really bad, because I listen to them every now and then. But there's a station in Malta that translates it into Maltese. I don't know what language they speak in Malta.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:25
It's probably for nails, anyway. For nails? Mahoney. He's in Malta.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:34:29
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:31
You mentioned you have a team. How many people are working on this?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:34:34
So we've got a varied team around the world. And the fun fact is, we have never, ever met each other, but we talk daily. So we've got a writer in Florida. She used to work with iHeartRadio, doing stuff for them, writing specifically for them. She was a diamond in the rough. Just appeared out of nowhere. An amazing find. Incredible writer. We've got a writer who is based up north, so Scotland, here in the UK, never met him either. We've got Courtney, who looks after the customer services and just general emails. She's not full time, but she is still with us and has been for probably the longest. And then we've got a guy who is based in Holland who does like the website. Once again, not necessarily full time, but considered part of the team. I suppose he does like the website, the payment systems, all the techie bits. I don't know. He looks after that. But we've never met. We talk almost daily, but we've never met. And one day I'm going to go fly to Florida. I'm going to meet June over there who writes the service. One day I'm going to go all the way up to Scotland. One day I'm going to go and meet all these people. But for now, it's just zoom calls, because for the most part, we started acquiring people. We started acquiring most people when it was coveted, knocked down, so we couldn't fly anyway.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:45
Is this service a creation that came out of the Pandemic?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:35:48
No, this has been going since the end of 2018. The end of 2018.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:54
Did it take off during the pandemic?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:35:57
No, it's been slowly growing since, to be honest. There hasn't been one point where it's just suddenly rocketed. It just has slowly grown. It's nice, it's never taken. There's never been a point where I've looked at it and gone, all we need to do some marketing or we're going downhill this month, or this has been a bad month, or whatever. That's the beauty of a subscription based business, is you very rarely suddenly have a bad month. It's just sort of slowly grown from there and it's one of these sort of snowball effects, whereas it's grown more people talk about it, or other presenters go, what's that you're using? And they have a conversation about it and it's grown quicker and quicker, but it's never had a sort of initial spike of interest. It's just been slowly growing since then.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:36:40
What sort of feedback do you get from your clients that surprises you? That. Oh, you like that? I had no idea that and now I'm going to give you more of what they like.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:36:50
That's a good question. I wouldn't say there's one specific bit. Obviously, I'm somewhat biased, but we've never had a stage where the product wasn't hitting the spot. It's just through pure bloody chance that it's just always been very good at what it does, because it always had a very distinguished USP. It was always intended for Top 40 radio stations, and if this is the kind of music you play, and this is the kind of stuff you talk about, it's right up your alley. And there's never been a point where we've had a huge amount of feedback. We've changed something and someone we've had five or six emails the next day going, why is this change? We don't like this. Yeah, there's never been a point where it's not been a good product. I personally feel it's got better and better as it's gone on, but there's never been a point where it hasn't hit the nail on the head, because from the very start, the idea was so straightforward that so long as we were reporting on Top 40 artists, top 40 stations never had an issue with it, because it did what it said on the tin. So, yeah, I wouldn't say there's ever been a point where we get feedback that is surprising, because it's always been if that makes sense, it's always done what it does. We do every year, we do a customer feedback survey around about Christmas time, because we take normally we're very rare with days, we're not publishing the service. Normally it's bank holidays here in the UK, but at Christmas we often pause the service for three or four days in a row, and it's about the only three or four days that we're ever not running. And we do a customer feedback survey and it's normally very survey type questions. It takes literally 30 seconds to fill in. But it's stuff like how easy are the stories to read on a one to five scale? How quickly do you think we react to things, how helpful do you find service? How much? This service saves me a lot of time from one to five. How much do you agree with that? And the thing that I always found funny is we would get stations that would reply going sometimes the content is too UK based and I'm not based in the UK and I need stuff that's not as UK based. And then you'll flip to the next, literally the next bit of feedback that's come in and it would be a station from the UK going sometimes it seems a bit too American. We want it more UK. And that's always fun. There was one feedback where they'd said, I'm an Irish based radio station, I need more stuff about Ireland and things that are happening in Ireland. And it's difficult to respond to that from a product point of view because it's never going to happen. It's always going to be roughly very generic and we're very good at because we've got so many people in different countries, obviously. June who writes it is our headwriter. She's based in America, I'm here in the UK. Alex is up in Scotland, courtney is based in I think she's Netherlands based somewhere. Cause we're very spread out. It's very easy to spot things very early on before we publish it in that June can go, just a heads up, X-Y-Z that's not going to make any sense to stations in America. And I can see stuff she's written when I'm going to go, just a heads up, June, that doesn't make any sense to anyone in the UK and we can sort of solve that quite early on. But to loop back around to your original question, there's never been a point where we've had a huge amount of feedback that hasn't been positive.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:40:03
I should probably be asking your coworker in Holland this, but when it comes to ringing the credit cards through, is it more presenters or more corporate companies who are making the purchases?
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:40:14
It's more presenters. I would say presenters and producers for specifically shows. So the beauty we had, or say we, I mean, in the early days, obviously it was just me when I first started it, the problem I had with the service, the prep service we were using, it wasn't hitting the spot, was that it was 35 £40 a month, which is a lot of money. So the problem with that was that an individual presenter that was a lot of money to an individual presenter. Maybe you can put it on expenses or whatever, but as it stood, 35 £40 a month was a loss of money to an individual presenter. And if you were a volunteer or your student radio or hospital radio here in the UK or community radio that was even more money because you were not being paid. And it just seemed weird that this service was a huge amount of money. The big stations that could afford that had producers and people finding this, they had people doing all this for them. They didn't need to pay a prep service company, but individual presenters who didn't have teams of producers and stuff, necessarily providing stuff for them, that was an expensive price point. So we set the pricing point very low on the basis that it would then appeal to more presenters individually on an individual level. So we've got some stations that pay for it. There's a group in Australia that pay for it for a whole group of stations, but mostly it's just individual presenters for individual shows or producers that are going to use it on one show and maybe they expense it back or something. But it's more presents and producers than it is whole stations and groups. Yeah.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:41:48
And the price is kind of similar to other subscription services that people would buy, like, say, Netflix or Hulu. You're at that subscription level for what is considered a reasonable for a month. And I don't know why we think that way. Why do we have to think that, oh, I'm going to get the chip prep service for this price. It's kind of similar to Netflix and I'm getting the same value out of it. I think we're all sort of very subscription savvy.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:42:11
Yeah. And I think if you look really carefully, most really popular subscriptions are at the same kind of price point. I guess it seems the popular thing most people do is they always say it's a cup of coffee every day, it's that kind of price. But I think we did the maths. And I can't remember off the top of my head because I'm dyslexic and bad at math, but I think it works out at something like 50 P, which I guess is $70. I'm not quite sure the conversion rate a day for 25 pages a day, which then worked out 500 a month or something like that. When you actually break it down, it's almost pennies for the time that it assumes saves presenters and makes their life easier. But yeah, once it's around, a subscription is about £10 or $1213. It does seem more in line with Netflix and stuff like that. And then I guess it doesn't seem as bad. But that was always the thing that I hated about the other service we used was every time, I pay it every month, regardless of how helpful, and it wasn't that helpful in the end, but even if it had been really helpful, I'd still look at my bank statement at the end of the month and go, £35 is a lot of money.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:43:20
Yeah. And there's people in radio in the accounting office who that's an easy cut when things get tough. It's probably the first cut.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:43:27
Yeah. Well, why do we need to pay for your service and a lot of presenters? That is something we found a lot of presenters pay for it themselves because it's just £10 a month. It just wasn't worth putting it through expenses or going to the PD or the content director about it. It was £10 a month. It was a Netflix subscription.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:43:45
Jamie, thanks so much for telling us about this and being on the podcast and sharing your story and talking show prep.
Jamie Cawdell (Guest) 00:43:50
That's okay. I love listening to your podcast. I can already see myself driving into work in the morning listening to this and going, I'm on the podcast to listen to.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:43:58
But thanks for supporting the podcast more than anything.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:44:01
That's Sound Off podcast, written and hosted by Matt Cundill. Produced by Evan Surminski. Social Media by Courtney Krebsbach. Another great creation from the Sound Off Media Company. There's always more at soundoffpodcast.com.