Local Radio For Paisley

The first job I had was with Paisley’s local radio station in the late 1990s.

It no longer exists but I’m a firm believer that the return of such a channel would be good for the town and surrounding area, especially in today’s modern media environment and with all the possibilities that entails.

It’s disappointing that once again what appeared to me to be credible bids for community radio licences have not been successful in OFCOM’s latest round of community radio licence awards. I wasn’t involved in any of them but I had hoped one would have been successful. It has not at the time of writing (15/12/17) although it does appear that neither has been wholly rejected – they just have not been awarded in this latest round.

I’m not particularly a believer in the community radio route and it’s for that reason I’ve never been involved in any of the bids. I would be more in favour of a purely commercial operation and this of course carries with it far greater risk and barriers to entry which is why I haven’t been involved in that either!

The fact it that while various radio and media professionals see the value in a broadcast channel for the town, the general population does not and the business community would find it difficult to give its financial backing at least until the station had a proven track record of success.

And so my position is simply this: I’d like to see a dedicated radio station return to Paisley and Renfrewshire. I have no interest in directly becoming involved in any community licence bids but wish those that do well and would be happy to discuss or provide support on an informal basis to anyone who asks. I’m not in a position just now to commit to the pursuit of a full-time licence and in any event, have the view that for a Paisley radio station to have any chance of succeeding on air, it would first have to gain significant traction on-line.

That’s why we have created ‘Renfrewshire Weekend Radio‘ – a ‘holding’ station which would allow anyone with an interest to broadcast via the internet (and me when I can find the time) and which would immediately close upon the successful licence award to any group bringing a radio channel back to the area.

Anyone with an interest in working with us – follow the link and get in touch.

UPDATED to make clear that the 2017 community radio bids have not been flatly rejected by OFCOM but merely have not been awarded in this latest round. The same bids could, in theory, be awarded at a later date.


How does your business speak?

When I discuss this issue with clients, we often turn to social media, press releases, media interviews etc and sometimes they’ll pull out brand guidelines or ‘tone of voice’ documents which they’ve developed.

All of these can be useful and have their place.

But what if we take the question literally…how does the business actually speak? How do the staff speak to each other? How do managers speak to their team?

I’ve just sent off a complaint email to a major high street retailer after hearing a manager haranguing a colleague – in front of customers – at one of its stores in Glasgow.

It was a disgraceful display of aggression and unprofessionalism and if the member of staff is subjected to this regularly then I’d suggest that amounts to bullying. Needless to say I left the store without buying my magazine and won’t return until my complaint is resolved.

One incident, involving one member of staff, has tarnished that brand, perhaps irreparably, in my eyes.

The way we speak says a great deal about our attitudes and values. How we treat people. How we see ourselves. And when we get it wrong – when the stress and pressure of the job is too much and spills over and we start snapping and barking at colleagues – we undo all the carefully thought through good work around social media, websites and PR campaigns.

And I’ve realised I’ve been guilty of this too. Last year, as many of you know, my wife Emma Baker joined our business full-time to lead on our corporate video and live event streaming activity. At a recent event, while setting up the equipment and with a tight deadline, I snapped at her while looking for a microphone in a way I never would have spoken to a client or other colleague. It was nothing like what I’ve just witnessed at that particular store, but it wasn’t good enough.

Let’s all endeavour to think about our tone and how we speak to each other. And if stress and pressure is causing us to behave in a way we know is less than our best, then we should take steps to deal with the underlying cause rather than taking it out on a colleague.


What song does Lucie Jones’ Eurovision entry remind me…

Watching Eurovision last night I was struck by how many of the songs sound like other recent hits.

Several of the dance flavoured tracks seemed to borrow inspiration from Calvin Harris and our own Lucie Jones did a great job with ‘Never Give Up On You’ but I wonder if the chorus might sound a little close to ‘Mysterious Times’ by Sash. Take a listen.







Lucie Jones


Ed Sheeran recently amended the writing credits for his hit ‘Shape Of You’ to include two of the writers behind TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’.

You can hear the similarities between the 2 tracks below:

Might there be a case then for the Blessid Union of Souls to suggest that Starley’s current hit ‘Call On Me’ takes some influence from their 1995 hit ‘I Believe’? Have a listen to them both below:


Blessid Union of Souls

And what about Katy Perry’s ‘Chained To The Rhythm’? Can I hear a bit of Carly Simon’s ‘Why?’ in the background?

Carly Simon

Katy Perry

Just my opinion of course, but let me know what you think.
(Image of Lucie Jones used under Creative Commons Licence, with full credit to Mykola Swarnyk. )


Teaching Digital

You’ll have seen the usual suspects yakking about Skyscanner getting sold to China and ‘where’s Scotland’s next billion pound tech company going to come from?’

If we’ve to have any chance of achieving our country’s digital ambitions…how about we stop schools from teaching children that digital is bad?

That’s right…not only are some schools failing to teach the essential digital skills for the 21st century workplace, they’re actively giving young people the impression that digital is bad.

Our Scottish Schools Radio project aims to give every school in Scotland access to their own live streaming internet radio channel and a package of digital journalism resources to help them find the balance between fun and self expression and reflecting the work that goes on in schools and the community around them.

Already we’ve heard some brilliant examples of work from the pupils, as they produce their programmes with just the right amount of support and encouragement from enthusiastic teachers who, like so many of us, passionately believe in the relevance and importance of digital skills in the classroom.

Where it causes extreme frustration is when teachers are, for example, unable to upload the MP3 audio files to our Dropbox folder because DROPBOX IS BLOCKED. They then turn to their email and attempt to send the files that way but can’t because…SENDING AN MP3 VIA EMAIL IS BLOCKED.



You and I know these networks aren’t really blocked.

You and I know that by ‘blocked’, what they mean is ‘come and ask permission and we’ll set it up for you.’


Make it clear to local authority staff that they can make use of those channels, they just need permission, and then give the IT folks a rocket up the backside so they start giving that permission.

There’s a world of difference between ‘this site can’t be accessed right now, dial 412 and we’ll sort it out’ and ‘this site is blocked’.

Stop treating teachers like criminals because they want to use technology in education.

Stop putting education professionals with the best intentions of the pupils at heart in positions where they look like fools because they can’t get a bloody email to work.

And stop pupils leaving at the end of the day thinking that this so called ‘place of education’ is hopelessly irrelevant.

‘But why would a teacher want to send an MP3 via email?’ some will no doubt ask.

‘Why would a teacher want to use Dropbox in a classroom, show something on YouTube, or bring up Skyscanner?’

If you have to ask, you shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a school as far as I’m concerned.

It’s perfectly possible to be safe, secure, compliant and still use essential digital technologies.

And if you can’t figure that out, you shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near an IT Department.


Women: Equality But Still A Commodity

Read this story about the weather presenter who’s colleague handed her a cardigan live on air because he thought her dress was too revealing.

Notice at the end of the post, which she says is her ‘explanation’ of what happened and to clear up any confusion, she includes links to some of the mainstream media coverage of the incident.

Much of that media coverage was along the lines of, ‘what right does a male co-presenter have to tell a female colleague what to wear?’ but it also sparked an online discussion about whether or not her dress was too revealing for a weather presenter.

All this equals clicks and page views and traction. And for the presenter herself, it meant interview requests, increased attention and a higher profile. She seems to be OK with that, given her decision to post links to the news coverage the episode received.

The cumulative effect of all this is yet more media coverage of a woman based on what she wears, and how she looks and nothing about her ability to do the job. The media knows this kind of story generates strong feelings, sparks debate and will be one of their ‘most clicked’ stories. That’s why they all run it.

There’s a terrible risk that debates about equality and the position of women at work get reduced to polarised debates which still involve images of the woman being widely shared and comment being passed on her looks. That’s not equality. It’s certainly not news.

No, it’s the position of women in society being used as clickbait and I can’t be the only one that doesn’t like it.

Same for the coverage last week about the high heels at work, and last year about Charlotte Proudman and the bloke on Linkedin. (No fault of their own, but the manner in which the media covered it).

Here’s the thing: men and women will interact at work. Sometimes it will be banter, sometimes it will be an innocent mistake, sometimes a serious mistake, sometimes a publicity stunt, sometimes abuse.

The trick is to get better at establishing which of these it is and being honest about your motivation for publishing the story.

And if you’re serious about addressing gender imbalance in society, how about the media using its resources and clout and exposing the worst offenders. The managers that bully men and women into not taking their full paternity allowance. The gang masters that traffic women (and sometimes young girls) into this country and force them to work in the sex industry to pay off family debt, and the bosses of firms that hire sales execs ‘cos she’s got a cute ass’.

The media could find and expose these people right now. But they don’t, because it would involve telling stories about men, with grainy pictures to accompany them.

And how many clicks would that be worth?


7 Prince Songs U Need To Hear

One of my favourite music stars has passed away. Prince inspired, excited and above all, entertained me.

It was what he stood for, the way he handled himself and the talent he displayed. He carved his own path, did it his way and stayed true to his own vision.

He wrote some incredible songs, and also suffered from a lack of discipline and at times, self indulgence.

Keeping track of the music he released is hard enough for all but the most committed fan. There are thousands of other songs in his vault, and circulating as bootlegs. Here are a few commercially released tracks that might have passed you by.

  1. One Of Us (Emancipation Triple Album)
    Prince covers the song made famous by Joan Osborne. I was standing in HMV the first time I heard this and the entire shop came to a standstill. A brilliant performance and a searing guitar.
  2. P Control (The Gold Experience)
    Definitely not safe for work and some will find the sexual and race related terms offensive. But it’s a song of empowerment with Prince telling a story the way only he can. Sex was a huge part of who he was. Us too if we’re all being honest.
  3. Colonised Mind (Lotus Flower)
    My wife named this as her favourite Prince track. It’s got true substance and meaning to it, a proper blues/soul track but still accessible and with some commercial appeal.
  4. Batdance (Batman Original Soundtrack)
    A little over 6 minutes of madness but outstanding production. It’s about 6 different tracks all fused together with moments of incredibly infectious grooves – pop, jazz, funk, soul, dance – it’s all here.
  5. Pope (The Hits/The B Sides)
    Not safe for work but a pumping dance jam and one you need to hear.
  6. The Holy River (Emancipation Triple Album)
    Religion played a big part in Prince’s life and he gets his thoughts across beautifully here.
  7. Bob George (The Black Album)
    Throughout his career Prince experimented with different characters. He went through phases and adopted different standpoints, in the way a movie director tells different stories and gets inside the heads of sometimes some very unpleasant individuals. This is an extreme example, again, with lyrical content many will find offensive. But you haven’t started to experience the full work of Prince until you’ve explored this. Proceed with caution though, it contains scenes of male on female violence.

Inspiring Women In Business

Inspiring Women In Business

I had an interesting experience this week.

I’d been invited to present a talk at the Inspiring Women in Business event at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

‘Navigating Through Social Media’ was the title of my session and the idea was to deliver some practical tips that the audience could implement straight away to start getting better business results from social media channels.

You can download the supporting notes for my session.

I’d like to thank the organisers for inviting me and all the attendees for the warm welcome and positive feedback.

One of the things I enjoy the most about my life and work is the variety it brings, the situations I find myself in and the people I meet.

I was one of only 2 men on the bill of speakers and in a room of probably 200 women, during the time I was there I think I saw a grand total of 3 other men.

It’s the first time in my life I’ve been in such a female dominated environment and I’ll admit I was really, really nervous.

I sat and listened to the panel session before me which featured some incredible stories of how women who run businesses had overcome adversity.

Economist Vicky Pryce spoke about her time in prison and the reactions she faced on her release. Sarah Heward of the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum spoke about the tragedy she suffered shortly after starting her business and how she, in her own words ‘didn’t bounce back so much as crawled out of a hole in the ground.’ And Lisa Scott from Gourmet Gadgetry shared her experiences of starting a business and a family at the same time and then having to cope with a horrendous level of bullying and a betrayal that almost cost her everything.

Any chance you get to read more about or spend time with any of these business owners you should grab as you’ll be enlightened and inspired.

A few thoughts occurred to me as I spent time in the company of these women and listened to what they had to say.

1) It’s intimidating being in an almost exclusively female environment when you’re practically the only man and so heavily outnumbered. I don’t mean for a minute they made me feel uncomfortable, everyone was extremely warm and friendly, it was more pressure I put on myself. ‘Maybe I don’t understand these people, what if they don’t like me, I don’t look right, they’re going to find fault with me’, and a catalogue of other self esteem issues that I never normally have when the gender balance is the other way. And so this gave me, perhaps for the first time in my life, maybe the beginnings of an insight into how some women must feel for significant chunks of their life. It’s probably good to be a bit more aware of this and I now can begin to understand the research that talks about how (and it is often women) tend to hold back a bit when they’re in male dominated groups. I didn’t quite see the need previously for Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ campaign but I am starting to get it now.

2) I felt a real sense of unity among these women that I’ve never encountered in large groups of men. It’s as though they feel a serious responsibility to help each other and several of the speakers directly made this point during their talks. A united group of women would be a very powerful force, as would a united group of men, and so the thought of all of us, understanding each other a little more and working more closely together is really incredible. Think of what we could all achieve.

3) I’ve sometimes found myself falling for the myth, especially in business, that, for whatever reason, women are the minority and just don’t achieve as much as men. While it’s clear there are some very serious issues that need tackled such as the gender pay gap, issues around working mums, family life balance etc and some real terrible examples of women being ‘kept down’, there are, if you look around, plenty of brilliant examples of women doing outstanding things in business and life in general. The media gives us a slightly warped version of reality and if you want a clearer picture of how things are, this page might be a good place to start.


Radio At Its Best

See my previous blog about Ellie Harrison’s ‘The Glasgow Effect‘ arts project.

The whole thing reminded me of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty as ‘The K Foundation’ burning a million quid in 1994.

‘At least they used their own money’, I thought.

But my cynicism quickly gave way to interest and I had an enjoyable internal debate with myself about ‘what is art?’ and all that stuff.

Then I got bored and remembered that the K Foundation took a video of themselves burning a million quid to Belgrade during the break up of Yugoslavia, and that reminded me of this wonderful song they produced, which featured the voice of DJ Fleka, and THAT led me to this brilliant article about the radio station he worked at, B92.

If you’ve any interest in what radio can be – then give it a read. And if you’re jaded with radio in this country, thinking it’s not exciting enough, then read the article and be inspired and do something about it this year.


Conflict Marketing

In the early days you could have an idea, communicate it and watch it spread through social networks.

Then, things got busier, so you had to have a story.

That worked for a while but Twitter, Facebook et al continued to attract more users and the amount of content on them expanded exponentially to the point where the story was no longer enough, you needed participation – something for people to actually do (see the Ice Bucket Challenge.)

Now, that’s not enough either to get noticed and have your idea spread.

You need conflict.

One example would be the Charlotte Proudman/Robert Carter-Silk exchange from last year.

Another would be Sandi Thom’s video rant about not making radio station playlists.

An element of conflict is now essential for ideas to spread through social networks.

It needn’t always be intentional conflict – I’m not suggesting people who’s ideas spread through social media always set out to divide their audience and create a row, but there has to be an element of conflict for the idea to truly go viral.

It could be conflict within ourselves, or ‘friendly’ conflict – such as the debate about the dress being black and blue or white and gold.

And so we turn to this week’s story about Creative Scotland giving £15,000 in funding to artist Ellie Harrison for her project ‘The Glasgow Effect’ where she will use that money to live within the Glasgow city boundaries for an entire year.

The decision, and the money involved, has caused a huge row and a big debate.

Everyone is talking about Ellie and they’re very interested in what she’s going to create this year.

Job done.

Let’s suppose for a minute (and I’ve absolutely no evidence to suggest that things aren’t exactly as Creative Scotland and Ellie Harrison have described them) – that the money doesn’t exist.

Let’s take all the heat and controversy out of the entire situation – let’s imagine, for the purposes of this blog – that Ellie finds the money herself, decides she no longer needs it and hands back any cash she’s received.

So we now have a story with no conflict.

We have an artist, living in Glasgow, creating work she hopes people will engage with.

Just like all the rest.

It’s been a little over 24 hours and already Ellie’s project has generated thousands and thousands of words of discussion, debate and engagement. Everyone weighing in on everything from poverty and diet in Glasgow, to the definition of art, to how public bodies are funded, to the reality of life for an artist.

That’s a pretty big impact.

And that’s without Ellie Harrison or Creative Scotland really courting the publicity. There are a great many media opportunities they could have taken advantage of.

That’s a pretty decent return already for what, to Creative Scotland, represents a relatively small amount of money.

Perhaps it’s a damming indictment that it’s no longer enough to get on with the business you’re in – whether that’s working as a professional artist or being a florist on the high street – but it’s a simple fact of life in 2016.

If you want to get noticed, you need an element of conflict.

You need to understand how the game is played.


The Worst Corporate Christmas Card Ever

Was sent by the now defunct radio station Scot FM during Christmas 1998.

It was an entirely plain, dark blue card on the front, with a slightly raised outline of an ear, also in dark blue.

‘What the hell is this shit?’ recipients must have thought, before opening it and reading the message ‘Happy New Ear!’ and signatures of all the team (electronically written and printed on the card).

I can’t begin to think about who might have come up with that idea and what they might be doing now. And I’d stress that this card was sent in the run up to Christmas – it’s not as if they couriered it round everyone on Hogmanay where it might have won a fraction of a point for timely relevance.

To anyone (there’s always one) who’s reading this and thinking ‘ah-hah’ – but that was 17 years ago and you still remember the card, it worked, it’s marketing genius!

I remember it because I worked there and the time and was mortified that we were sending out such pish. It didn’t get the radio station any goodwill or interest in the marketplace that I’m aware of and 3 years later is ceased to exist altogether.

I’d say this crappy corporate Christmas card was at least partly responsible.

So that’s my candidate for the worst corporate Christmas card of all time, but maybe you’ve seen one that’s even worse?