Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The Sony Radio Academy Awards 2010

I'm working at the Sonys again on Monday 10 May. For the last 4 years I've helped with the live webcast, variously presented by Emma B, Kevin Greening, Margherita Taylor and Richard Allinson. This is what I wrote after last year's event.

In the past, the presenters would do the set piece interviews before the awards were being handed out, and during the dinner breaks. They would also commentate, Eurovision-style, on the proceedings as they happened.

My job was to go and report from the floor, interviewing various Gold winners and the telly celebrities who often show up.

In previous years the all-round radio/podcasting/talent-wrangling/tune-spotting genius that is Marsha Shandur from Xfm has looked after the interactivity - reading out emails and texts into the webcast.

Radio 1's equally gifted Sam Bailey has also been there for as long as I have, working on updating the awards website as the gongs are handed out, and making sure none of the computers on site fall over.

Given the amount of equipment which spends an evening whirring away in one of the Grovesnor House Great Room antechambers, Sam often has quite a task on his hands.

This year the organisers are taking a different approach. Reflecting the phenomenal rise of twitter and the way we now use it to participate in events, our focus will be on the interactive element of the webcast. Sam will be taking over the twitter feed and working the emails and texts. I will still be reporting from the floor, primarily to take photographs and record interviews which will stay up on the awards website.

As it is pretty simple to take the interviews live on the webcast feed (which is up for people to listen to and watch the awards themselves), my interviews will go out live.

This year Marsha will also be live reporting from the floor. Between the three of us we will keep tabs on everything that is happening at the Sonys and become the eyes and ears of the webcast audience participating online. 

I've always had the best of both worlds with the Sonys. It's a wonderful opportunity to see many many old friends and colleauges who are making their way in the industry. My working brief has also given me the opportunity to buttonhole the most interesting people in the room and ask them annoying questions which they have always, very generously, made time to answer.

My favourite interviewee ever was Mark Radcliffe, but for a surreal vignette I will never forget being backstage in 2007 trying to interview Paul Gambaccini about his Sony Gold whilst a (presumably) very drunk Carla Bruni (then a completely unknown singer/songwriter with an album to flog, now wife of the President of France) draped herself all over a flummoxed Gambo, alternately sticking her tongue in his ear and proclaiming to everyone in the duskiest of voices how "bay-ooti-fool" his voice was.

The vibe she gave off was pure and simple attention-seeking ambition (albeit devastatingly sexy attention-seeking ambition) and even at the time I remember thinking "He's not playing hard to get, love, he's er... genuinely not interested."

Ten years before that, my first ever proper boss, Shabs (then MD of a small music PR firm, now UK President of Virgin Records - see the second number 8) in this blog post), took me to the Sonys when I was a starry-eyed rube straight out of student radio. He knew how much it would mean to me just to be in the same room as people I'd been listening to for years.

I want to continue working at the Sonys for as long as they want to have me, but now I have a radio show of my own, nothing would give me greater pleasure than being there on merit, as a nominee. That's the hard part.


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