July 2009 Archives
This is a clip from an interview I was videoing this morning...
(And at time of writing it's the most popular video on the BBC News site. Even though I'm not remotely responsible for the content of the video, I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was rather chuffed to have footage on the BBC News website that I shot!)
If you don't know what to watch tonight - let me help you. ITV4. 8.30pm. Watch Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish finish the 2009 Tour de France.
However, I've also highlighted a few other programmes. As ever, you probably want to read a large version.
I got invited to a blogger's screening of this film next week but couldn't make it - so I saw a separate screening and I'm really glad I did.
Superficially this is light-hearted romantic film, but it's really not. A voiceover at the start of the film pretty much puts you straight on this, although you never know quite whether to believe the voiceover (it's a deep throaty one rather than one of the characters). But an "Author's note" sets you straight too. Somebody got hurt badly when they were dumped. At that someone was co-writer Scott Neustadter. He says as much in his piece in the production notes.
The "Summer" of the title isn't the season but Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), an assistant that Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meets in his workplace - a greetings card manufacturer. He's an architect by trade but has slipped into the card business where his job is to dream up the words in cards for previously un-heard of card occasions.
He has his two male friends - one a co-worker who he goes karaoke singing with - who are there to help him through his difficulties.
You see the thing is that we know this relationship isn't going anywhere. The film's timeline spins around and we very quickly learn that for no obvious reason, Finn dumps Hansen. From there, we swing back and forth through good times and bad, as we learn how the relationship was formed and what happened to end it.
Throughout the film there are flash backs to the earlier lives of the characters, although an unusual licence has been used to place those characters in the correct timeline. The opening credits run across cine camera footage of our two main characters, yet given that they'd have grown up in the eighties you'd expect video footage rather than Super-8. Then another flashback to an incident seems to be placed in the fifties or sixties for no real reason. Somehow it just works.
Other techniques are used through the film. There's a dance number at one point, just after a very happy Hansen has been high-fiving strangers in the street and brilliantly at one point looks in a car window to check the reflection of himself and sees a beaming Han Solo smiling back at him. And during another sequence we get a split screen with what Hansen hoped would happen alongside the "reality" of it.
The music in the film is great by the way. Although Hansen seems too young for it (Gordon-Levitt is 28), he seems to be heavily into music like The Smiths and Joy Division. He has an endless selection of T-shirts for said artists, and early in their relationship Finn and Hansen compare notes on The Smiths. And somebody really loves The Boy With the Arab Strap by Belle and Sebastian. I'm really looking forward to the soundtrack. And at one point Deschanel sings a song herself during a karaoke sequence. Of course we know she can sing because she released an excellent album, She and Him, last year (she also appears on the soundtrack of Yes Man I understand).
Anyway, it's out on 4th September, and it'll be well worth seeing. The official website is here.
Next year, the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra is starting something of a residency at the Barbican and other venues in East London. It'll happen for at least a couple of years in the run-up to the Olympics.
All I can say is that on 1 October, when tickets go on sale, you should rush out and get some because this is always a visit that's well worth seeing. Even if you're not the world's biggest jazz aficionado - and clearly I'm not - the passion, skill and above all, the music is unmissable.
I've seen Marsalis play at least twice before at the Barbican and once more at a Prom. There's always a theme to these concerts and this time around we heard lots of movements from a specially commissioned piece for Spain. As such, he had a guest in Chano Dominguez, the Spanish pianist. In one piece he and JLCO regular Dan Nimmer switched multiple times on piano duties - at one point "duelling".
It wouldn't be Marsalis without some Ellington, and we got a glorious solo from Joe Temperly playing
a piece who's name I didn't catch (Rose?) "The Single Petal of a Rose" (thanks to the FT) on a glorious bass clarinet.
Another Brit in the orchestra is Elliot Mason and Marsalis insisted that his parents who were in the audience stand up and take a bow.
El Piraña came on for a couple of pieces at the end, playing percussion (basically a box) adding some more flamenco to the New Orleans jazz proceedings.
The evening ended in a standing ovation. I'll be getting my tickets for next year...
Moon is a great little film - a debut from Duncan Jones (aka David Bowie's son). It's nice to see a proper science fiction film based on ideas rather than space ships shooting other space ships - or more likely, blowing up landmarks.
Sam Rockwell is Sam Bell. He works in a base on the moon where he caretakes automated "Helium 3" harvesting. This is some super new fuel source that's shipped back to earth every so often.
At first glance, it's not really obvious why he should be alone in this base; there's plenty of room for more individuals. But the company that employs him don't even seem to have enough resource to fix the live link back to earth. All his communications have to be delayed.
Then one day he goes out to fix one of the harvesting machines and has an accident.
And there I'll leave the plot. It'd spoil it if you knew.
What I can say is that Bell does have some company in the form of GERTY, a HAL-type robot voiced by Kevin Spacey and with a nice line in emoticons.
And there is obviously something a bit deeper and darker happening on the moon base. And although it's based around a tried and tested SF standby, it's handled beautifully and Rockwell is superb.
The look and feel of the film is good. Yes I could ask why the moon's gravity seems more earth-like inside, why a robot communicates with earth via speech rather than data, and why things make noises outside, but I realise that this is me over-analysing things.
You never quite know what's going to happen. The end isn't guessable. You don't know what GERTY will or won't do (he's not entirely like HAL).
And the design of the film's great. It's nice to see model work rather than CGI all the time. Clint Mansell's music is great. I loved the fact that Bell's alarm clock woke him every day with Chesney Hawkes' The One and Only. At another point when Bell's having an argument he insists on dancing to Katrina and the Waves' Walking on Sunshine (Which I noted also turned up as one of David Mitchell's records on Desert Island Discs).
England finished off a great victory this morning (well technically, this afternoon) at Lords. And you'll just have to watch it on Five this evening - or on news bulletins.
Great coverage from Sky: and they even opened up their Sky Player to all Sky Sports subscribers for a couple of months - something I wish they'd make permament (It did fall over for the crucial final wicket though).
But I think David Mitchell in yesterday's Observer makes my feelings on the matter clear - if they weren't already:
Why did the ECB make this insane choice? For money. It forgot about building on Test cricket's growing popularity after 2005's triumph, about keeping it a presence in our national life on a channel people receive automatically, and it took a big cheque. It's as if it was getting out of cricket - selling up for a fast buck, taking the money and running. But it can't run - it's English cricket's governing body - so it's left holding the money while it stares at the diminished popularity and, therefore, significance, of English cricket as a result of its actions.
Off to weekends go Jo Whiley and Edith Bowman, as Fearne Cotton and Greg James fill up the gaps.
With a remit that targets 15-29 year olds, having a significant number of DJs outside that age group makes things harder. Having younger DJs is one way to help this.
That said, it'd be very ageist to suggest everyone should be under 30 on Radio 1. The station still has Pete Tong who'll be 50 next year, and Tim Westwood is already 51. They're specialist, and while the music they play is still relevant to the audience, their ages probably aren't relevant. John Peel was still on the station at 65 after all.
Overall, a good move then.
That said, I really wouldn't want to have Fearne Cotton inflicted on my worst enemey, so that should leave lots of opportunity for commercial rivals (or even Ken Bruce on Radio 2) to take advantage...
On Sunday I was at my parents - who are retired - as the conclusion of the first test was reached in the unlikeliest of manners. England hung on to claim a draw. A friend even texted me to make sure that I was watching.
It was nail-biting stuff, but I wasn't watching on Sky as my father doesn't subscribe to it. Instead we found ourselves staring at a scorecard on BBC Interactive while listening to Test Match Special.
I thought about this as I read this piece by David Conn in The Guardian.
I won't run through my reasons about why the ECB is doing its level best to destroy the future of cricket in this country. But the distribution of that Sky money is interesting, and we all know that interest in the game, Twenty20 notwithstanding, is likely to decline.
Yes Ashes series will sell out. But few enough people could tell you more than three names in the current England team.
A lot has already been said and written about Wired editor, Chris Anderson's new book, Free. In particular Malcolm Gladwell reviewed it for The New Yorker in a not completely complementary fashion. This in turn has been refuted elsewhere.
Books like Free aren't the most demanding of fare. Essentially it's 250 pages devoted to a single idea, illustrated by lots of examples. Sometimes the examples are a little underwhelming. Both Radiohead's In Rainbows and Prince's Planet Earth examples are analysed: Radiohead's pay what you like, and Prince's deal with the Mail on Sunday. But both are major artists who are already famous and popular. Both deals worked for them (although it cost the Mail on Sunday money, and hasn't been fully repeated since), but there's no real proof that they'd work for "average" artists.
But there are still some lessons to be learnt - if not as many as you'd perhaps like.
Sitting behind all this is the newspaper industry - or perhaps that should be "journalism" industry. Rupert Murdoch has recently indicated that he hates the free model, and wants to start putting paywalls up around his journalism (we'll leave to one side, alleged voicemail hacking shall we). So there are rumours that perhaps The Sunday Times might go pay only. And across the pond, The New York Times is said to be having high level discussions about whether or not to put back a paywall. Anderson's book includes a quote from the Times' Andrew Rosenthal about his dislike of giving away journalism free. It has to be paid for.
While Anderson has some great answers for many of the hurdles put in place, it's clear that unless the free model can pay for journalism, then even more newspapers are going to go out of business. Anderson pretty much acknowledges that a full free platform has not been found. Probably because of the sheer number of pages out there, internet revenues are not high - and the lack of scarcity means that costs are driven in one direction. And it's not up.
Newspapers are just one area of this of course. Free does work in many places, and Anderson highlights some excellent ones. Building something on a global scale, and perhaps delivering bits rather than something physical, makes finding that model easier than ever.
But it's disingenuous to think that free works across the board. In a coda to the book, Anderson admits that himself.
So overall, this is a worthwhile read - even if a few too many of the examples are a little well known - but free is only part of the solution. And in some cases, it's hard to see that it's a solution at all.
The annual nonsense that is the MediaGuardian 100 has once again been published.
And as ever, there are lots and lots of telly folk on the list. And plenty of representation from the dead tree media. But once again, nearly nobody from radio!
Aside from a handful of presenters, you've got Tim Davie, Mark Damazer (both BBC) and Stephen Miron (Global).
What about the controller of the most popular radio station in the UK, Radio 2? Or perhaps Radio 1?
It's interesting that Miron is included but Ashley Tabor of Global Radio isn't. Or perhaps someone from Bauer or GMG?
Several of these make the sector list, but even though UK radio listening is at an all time high, they don't get into the top 100.
The list is short of women, so it's curious that the controller of BBC Two, Janice Hadlow, is missing. Yet the head of E4 makes the list! Which is more influential - BBC Two or E4?
And is Noel Clarke (you know - Doctor Who's sidekick's boyfriend) really more powerful than Jonathan Ross? Somebody's having a laugh here aren't they?
I've been most remiss about noting recent films that I've seen on this blog - if only to serve as a contemporaneous record for myself as to what I thought of various films.
But before I begin, can I just say that it really can't be healthy that I've had to tell people off twice in the last three visits for using their mobiles or Blackberrys in the cinema. I'm not talking about making calls or actually answering a phone they forgot to switch off or turn to silent. I mean people texting other people, checking their email, Twitter or whatever.
Well if you end up in the cinema with my, and your LED lit device is waved around by you, then be warned - I will ask you to switch it off. It's curious that at various screenings security strictly monitors whether I might be surreptitiously recording a film with the camera on my phone, but I've never seen cinema security asking somebody to switch off their phone.
Seriously - if you're not really interested in the film you've paid to see, why bother going at all. The cinema is not the same as your home where you can do what you like.
You wouldn't like it if I waved around a torch. I don't like you using your mobile.
Anyway, back to the films:
Public Enemies is a fairly decent return to form for Michael Mann after Miami Vice which was just a little bit too moody. Here we're on safer ground with a decent gangster film. Johnny Depp is good as Dillinger, and Christian Bale didn't annoy me too much as Purvis, the FBI agent Hoover puts in charge of his manhunt. Marion Cotillard didn't have enough to do until towards the end. And it was good to see lots of familiar faces from Brotherhood and The Wire filling out some of the roles. Overall a very fine film, and the music was terrific. I thought I recognised the night club singer, and of course it was Diana Krall.
The only thing I wasn't too sure about was Mann's use of video as a shooting medium. It felt very strange - especially in a period piece. I think the only time it really worked was during a fight out scene when along with his shooting style, it suddenly felt very visceral. At other times it just drew attention to itself - particularly in low lighting conditions where video really struggles and it suddenly became quite grainy. While it worked very well for Collateral, I'm not at all sure it was so successful here.
When I went to a preview screening of Bruno (or should that be Brüno?) a couple of weeks ago, everyone in the auditorium was forced to sign an embargo promising not to publish anything on the film until the Monday just gone. Also included in the embargo, by name, were blogs, Facebook and Twitter! Anyway, with the film hitting cinemas tomorrow, I'm not "allowed" to say what I think about it.
It's true to say that I laughed quite a bit. I never saw Borat, because I had mixed feelings about the use of the character and what people were being told. In particular, I was uncomfortable about what I knew were early scenes filmed in Romania where people weren't quite told what was going on. I did see a documentary on BBC Four called When Borat Came To Town, and although that showed some money grubbing lawyers just trying to get some cash from the film producers, the whole enterprise still felt uncomfortable.
Bruno was going to be looking at the fashion industry - at least I thought it was. And I felt a lot more happy with that industry being targeted. In fact, very quickly Baron Cohen is "busted" and he moves on from the European catwalks to the US where his character wants to become famous.
There's a sort of narrative to this film, but it's really been put together in the editing suite. It's clear that director Larry Charles and company have basically shot lots of material all over the place, employing the same techniques that Baron Cohen has been using since the 11 O'Clock Show and even earlier on Paramount Comedy Channel. Sometimes it'll work; and sometimes it won't. It doesn't matter - just keep going until you have eighty odd minutes of footage carefully edited together. It's pretty cheap to make, and the rewards and high.
This is a pretty crude film. As I say, I've not seen Borat so I can't compare it, although people I saw it with said it was ruder and cruder than that film. I'm not sure it's joking at the expense of homosexuals, and in many cases it's more a case of targeting the bigoted. But some earlier scenes are a little uncomfortable.
That said, the single most uncomfortable scene involves a US TV reality star and some nonsense about Britney Spears' sister. We'll leave it there - but I thought that it was bit poor. Another scene involving La Toya Jackson may well have been snipped out of the film that goes on general release given subsequent events - I'm not sure.
What's also clear is that in some cases, certain people have been primed and set-up. We're not told which, but the presence of cameras from multiple angles makes it clear it's not quite what we're being (or not being) told. In particular, a particular character at a swingers' party was surely sent in by producers.
There are "brave" elements - in particular an ultimate fighting style scene at the end of the film where, while there are obviously security in attendance, there was a danger to the actors.
So I laughed. It's crude. Would I recommend it? Probably not. I think Baron Cohen can do better and it doesn't need to be a race to the bottom. Ali G showed that he could be smarter (not that the resulting film with that character did anything to help).
I really loved Little Miss Sunshine, and Sunshine Cleaning comes from the same stable. It has no link with the previous film, and frankly the name "Sunshine" has been shoe-horned into the film. It could probably be safely removed and then we wouldn't make comparisons.
I enjoyed this film, although it's not as funny as its predecessor. But I can't say I totally loved it.
The main problem - and I'm not sure why - was that the plot seems to have been put together with a formula from one of those Robert McKee courses (and I say that never having read his book or been on his course). What I mean is that there are very obvious acts. Setup. Hero does well. Hero has a set back. And so on. It's just too formulaic. And the ending feels very rushed.
That all said, the performances are terrific - especially from Amy Adams and Emily Blunt.
Finally a word on the utterly wonderful Let The Right One In. This is a vampire film, but it's so much better than you might think that makes it. The performances from a young cast are superb. The 1970s setting is as real as anything I've seen since the somewhat more harrowing Breaking The Waves.
Anyway, see this film ahead of all the others I've talked about here - assuming it's still on in cinemas. Otherwise, pre-order the DVD.
Now I must try writing about really good films when they're still on in the cinemas in future!
All this week Torchwood is being stripped across BBC1 at 9pm, which may or may not be a good thing. And last week, Radio 4 ran three new 45 minute "Afternoon Plays" of Torchwood (following a one-off episode last autumn surrounding Big Bang Day).
What's really interesting is that the BBC has made all three episodes available to download as mp3s for 7 days only (therefore at time of writing, there are only two available to download).
That's obviously a sensible thing to do - the Torchwood audience probably isn't a devoted Radio 4 Afternoon Play listener, and the announcements at the end of Monday and Tuesday's episodes probably mean that more people listened than would otherwise have. But it's a fascinating development in what BBC Radio allows to be downloaded.
I'm pretty sure that lots of people would like more radio drama to be available for downloading - if not free, then via outlets like iTunes. But aside from a few high-profile releases like the current George Smiley season, only sure-fire hits get the BBC Audio CD releases. They tend to be comedies or plays that are based on already popular book series.
The average Radio 4 Afternoon Play doesn't fall into either of these categories, and so, unless it does well and perhaps picks up an award somewhere down the line, very few get repeats. The tapes just gather dust in an archive somewhere (or more likely, the files sit on a fileserver somewhere).
There are obviously difficulties in doing this. Most dramas and sitcoms have incidental music - indeed sometimes it can be core to the programmes. Then there are the various rights issues with actors and writers to be considered. But the Torchwood dramas have shown that these can be overcome if the desire's there.
It's all the more surprising that Torchwood was used to try this out because it's a solidly commercial brand. All three of last week's plays are getting CD releases, and will no doubt also be available via the various (legitimate) download sites.
The BBC has made sure that the plays are only offered in 64k mono formats, meaning that if you want to hear the effects to the full you're going to need to get CD versions, but a lot of people - and kids in particular - will be more than happy with mono.
When the BBC Trust concluded its Public Value Test into the iPlayer and approved it, it also brought the BBC's then trial podcast service into full operation. But it specifically said that two areas were to be excluded: classical music and book readings.
The classical music record industry claimed that the BBC's then recent Beethoven Experience downloads, where the BBC had offered full recordings of all nine Beethoven symphonies, had impacted massively on them, meaning that nobody would be interested in buying another recorded Beethoven symphony. (Curiously, Amazon lists dozens of recordings of Beethoven symphonies released in the last couple of years).
The book readings decision was interesting. I believe that book publishers sees Radio 4 as having a very symbiotic relationship with them. If one of their titles is chosen to for the non-fiction Book of the Week slot or the fiction Book At Bedtime slot, they're normally pretty fast in slapping "As Heard on Radio 4" stickers onto the covers of stock and trying to ensure that stores know where to direct customers when they come in enquiring about something they heard earlier that day (this doesn't always work, however).
There's also the small issue that BBC Worldwide is quite a big player in the recorded book industry, having swallowed up Cover to Cover at some time previously, and often releasing unabridged versions of the significantly foreshortened extracts we hear on the radio.
But book readings being stopped from being made available as podcasts doesn't mean that plays can't be. So let's hope that in the future, many more drama (and comedy) productions are made available for download. Allowing their purchase might even see a small profit come in.
There's a nice interview with Radio 4 controller, Mark Damazer, in today's Media Guardian. You can read the online version here.
The piece has an accompanying photo, but the version on the website is a little small. It's worth having a look at the newspaper one for a few more interesting titbits!
For example, Damazer has a big file on his desk marked "Sony Radio Academy Awards 2009: Station of the Year - Under 300,000" - evidently the category he judged this year. So staff at BBC Hereford and Worcester might want to send a special something to him this Christmas (I may be wrong, but judges don't tend to shout about the categories they've judged for the Sonys).
Next to that are a couple of binders marked "RAJAR" and "Latest RAJAR". Given that we're told in the piece that "Some much-loved programmes are on the brink of having to go" wouldn't you just love to see what programmes have red underlining them?
There's a nice big copy of a book called "Legal Guidelines for BBC Staff". Perhaps this was pulled off the shelf recently when the Andy Kershaw episode of On The Ropes was stopped at the last minute?
I realise that PRs tend to come in and rearrange bookshelves for these sorts of portraits (and this one was by Eamonn McCabe no less), but other titles are fun to see.
Green Living for Dummies is interesting, and My Father: Reith of the BBC is of course there coming just after the end of this year's excellent Reith lectures. BBC Security correspondent, Frank Gardener's latest book is there too.
Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman isn't a title I'm aware of: perhaps it's going to be a Classic Serial sometime soon? It was referred to during a recent Radio 3 programme Correspondence, and there was a 2002 documentary about the man on Radio 4.
Finally, the last book I can clearly make out is, perhaps rather appropriately, Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain.
It's all rather fun isn't it?
[Updated to correct some rather embarrassing misspellings of Damazer's surname]
Jeremy Hunt, shadow DCMS representative, was first up today, and talked about the uniqueness of radio and his radio history. He's certain that radio has a good future, although he knows how badly commercial radio is faring. He notes that the BBC is spending more on radio than the entire commercial radio sector is earning.
Hunt quoted quite a lot of facts in his speech, but he spoke without notes which means he's really learnt his stuff.
Things like the internet have damaged commercial radio, but he also thinks that the regulatory regime has not helped. He talked about the three key acts surrounding radio in 1972, 1996 and 2003. He thinks that it's failed overall and we can see this by the number of licences that have been handed back to Ofcom (again, off the top of his head, he can quote the numbers handed back for the last three years).
The Birmingham, Alabama comparison is brought up: the US version has much more local television than the similarly named UK city. With newspapers closing down, he sees struggling local coverage. He also bemoans the fact that there's only one local TV station in a city - Channel M in Manchester.
He says that the reason he's against top slicing the licence fee for regional ITV because he thinks it should be going local.
A future Conservative government is wholeheartedly behind digital radio. DAB is part of this and he sees a future that might involve many technologies. He namechecked "WorldDMB Digital Profile 1" as what should be placed in all devices.
£150m is the amount he says is what he's been told needs to be spent to bring coverage up. In Surrey, where he lives, DAB coverage is patchy.
He's not happy about the idea that in 2015, we have to thrown away millions of radios. He also thinks that this could make people very angry and we really need to think about that.
Cars are also critical and he's not sure that Digital Britain went far enough. He thinks that what the French did is bold and we should look at it. But we should look at incentives for car manufacturers.
Hunt says that we also need to think very carefully about the listener and asks whether we really want to get everyone to throw away 100m radios in 2015.
If the market hasn't got to where it needs to be, should Ofcom delay switchoff, he wonders. He also thinks we might want to consider swap schemes.
But people also need to see some tangible benefits. Currently they're small, and people complain that they're hungry on batteries. He talked about surround sound, listening to full concerts or football matches, EPGs and the opportunity to download songs. He talks about Shazam and its popularity on iPhones, and wonders if that kind of functionality should be built into radios.
We need to make sure that we don't have angry listeners - something that won't be good for the industry.
He concludes that when we're mandating new technologies we don't have chaos as a result. He concludes that he hopes that's the leadership that a future Conservative government.
Nicky Campbell then interviews Hunt, and he begins by saying that it's a dream job for him and he wants it if and when the Tories get into power.
On the BBC licence fee, Hunt says that in a zero inflation world, the fee should be fixed at the moment. But they don't have any current plans for a future licence fee period since he current one runs until 2013. But a future one should include elements that take account of the economic situation.
He says that if the BBC doesn't need the digital switchover money then perhaps it should be handed back to the licence fee payer.
Hunt believes that the BBC sometimes gets into areas it perhaps shouldn't. He doesn't want to talk specifically about areas despite Campbell pushing him.
He says that we should look at the money used for imported programming: £108m. Curiously he uses the example of The Wire as a programme the BBC bid up the price for. It was broadcast on commercial TV in the UK first of course, on FX.
He also thinks the BBC needs a "reality check" on executive salaries.
Campbell points out that analogue radios will still be useful because of the tier of ultra-local services, but Hunt says that the bigger services will have moved to digital and be lost to some consumers.
On presenter salaries at the BBC, Hunt would like them transparent but Tim Davie in the audience believes that revealing them would present legal issues and would also lead to salary inflation. However he believes that there'll be a level of transparency that hasn't been available in the past. Hunt doesn't buy it and says that a top BBC presenter is building his or her brand when their in primetime. Davie says that since they don't have editorial control it's not fair on them - instead you should look at
On the question of 2015 he says that we should have a switchover date but not necessarily a switchoff date. There's a lot of work to get to a place where it's publicly acceptable. He doesn't think we're at a place where this could happen currently.
Someone asks what Hunt would do if he was running an analogue radio service that was also on digital and was losing money - what would he do? His answer would be to consider the business model and look at methods of reaching people through a multiplicity of media.
Tim Blackmore presents a session on how to win a radio award. Lorna Clarke from the BBC and Mark Story (now from RadioStory) joined him on the panel. We heard a Feargal Keane interview, some Kiss promos, some of Absolute Coldplay, and a couple of "sound fixes" from Electric Prison Radio Brixton, along with extracts of what the judges said about the awards.
An award winning entry will engage and grab you from the outset. A lot of award entries are very good, but they need to be beyond the norm.
Clarke says that the worst thing you can do is put an entry into the wrong category. Story says that you should start with something that will amaze the judges and "get the hell out of there." So don't put a full hour in, if you can get it done in twenty minutes.
Judges are not all from London we're assured, and paper parts of entries should be relevant and back up the award's audio. Other things we learnt are that judges can spot edits (if you're being naughty and making in categories where you shouldn't), and some of the details of the judging process. One final point: don't assume that the judges to your programme are familiar with it or have ever heard it before!
You Ask The Questions with Torin Douglas is the session where Festival attendees ask questions of a panel, who were Alison Hastings (BBC Trust), Stewart Purvis (Ofcom), Bob Shennan (BBC Radio 2 & 6Music) and Phil Riley (Now running LDC).
They began saying a little about what they'd heard from Jeremy Hunt earlier on. Purvis said that it is down to politicians to make regulation and that power rests with them, and not the regulators themselves. Hastings said what he'd mentioned about switchover and switchoff was inteersting, and that what he said about the public.
Shennan was concerned that equivocation that he detected might lead to slippage. And he was concerned about damaging the BBC to plaster over the troubles of commercial radio. Riley thought it was good that he has business experience, and like Hunt he was worried about some of the issues surrounding switchover.
The whole panel was impressed with his presentational style and knowledge.
The first question proper was about John Myers blistering attack on Ofcom the previous day. Purvis says that his response is more in sorrow than anger at what he heard. He says that there's far too much regulation in commercial radio, and he thinks that he has good relationships with the business. He also thinks that the Broadcasting Code review is a very positive step forward.
Riley thinks it's sometimes healthy to hear things like Myers said the previous day. Myers has considered it much more than probably anyone else in the indsutry; he wanted to express some home truths.
Next up is the question of top-slicing the BBC licence fee. Purvis said that Ofcom had identified where there was a lack of competition - particularly in local news on ITV, but that they'd not specified where the money would come from, that had been a government decision. Hastings is unsurprisingly against it, and is very uncomfortable about the process of giving licence fee money to private companies. "You mess about that at your peril."
Douglas suggests perhaps that the BBC Trust should distribute that money, but Hastings says that this isn't what the Trust was set up for. The licence fee is not a slush fund for whatever the government of the day wants.
Shennan says that it changes fundamentally the relationship between the public and the licence payer. Riley thinks that we have too much public service broadcasting in this country and that it should be just handed back to the public.
Douglas asks Bob Shennan whether it matters that he has no music radio background. Shennan says that he's had similar accusation put to him in all his previous roles and while he might not be a music expert, he knows good radio.
Asked about what he'll be doing in the role he says that there's no major issues that need addressing, and there's no underlying strategic intent.
Why isn't Jonathan Ross live now, is the next question. Shennan things the programme is very important for Radio 2 and he wants it to be watertight. Half the programmes he's done since he came back were recorded as live and commentators hadn't noticed. He says that they can get a higher calibre of guest with the new timing.
The discussion moved to taste and "standards" (no longer "decency") and we learnt that since Radio 1's remit starts at 15 the regulation for that service is different to how it might otherwise be.
Then it was on to the question about the publication of expenses and talent fees. Hastings basically reiterated what Tim Davie had said earlier in the day. Riley believes that at the top the BBC outbids commercial radio, but lower down the chain publishing all fees would allow cherry picking.
Finally the panel stopped talking about executive pay and what the panel do about BBC talent costs, and the panel was asked about what they'd do if they created a new station.
Phil Riley wanted Nick Ferrari and The Arrow, the latter of which he thinks will sadly be going. Shennan would still have liked to launch E4 radio. Hastings wants a children's radio station (Fun Kids anyone?). Finally Purvis (jokingly) said bring back birdsong.
Before the break we saw a tribute reel remembering those who've died in radio over the last year.
Paul Gambaccini gave us a brief history of popular radio from its creation until the present day. Effectively these are Gambaccini's heroes. I can't even begin to summarise it I'm afraid, but perhaps it'll show up as a Radio 4 Archive Hour soon. There was some excellent audio to accompany it.
Finally, The Media Show was recorded for broadcast as live from the Festival with Steve Hewlitt. You can listen to it later today, or via the iPlayer.