Unveiled: The new female voice of BBC Radio Manchester
Today’s a big day at BBC Radio Manchester. They’re unveiling a brand new station imaging package…and guess what? I’m on it! I’m sharing the airwaves with the brilliant John Thomson and honestly, I couldn’t be more honoured to be the female branding voice of my local radio station. (John’s the male voice. Obv).
Here’s a quick sample.
For those who don’t know what the hell ‘station imaging’ means, it’s the voiceover bits that announce the station, the programmes, the features, the presenter names – anything you hear on a radio station that isn’t a commercial or actual programming output (like the presenters and guests talking). The station voice says stuff like: “You’re listening to [insert name of radio station.] Coming up next on [insert name of radio station].” And so on.
In the radio industry, there’s a whole raft of jargon that goes with station imaging: sweeper, drop, donut, promo, liner, top-of-hour, idents etc etc. Creating station sound packages is a whole industry in itself and includes singers, composers, producers, jingle-makers, creators of sound effects and music libraries.
Station imaging is a subtle business. When you’re a station voice, you have to embody everything that the radio station aims to be; everything it aims to convey – its whole ethos. You have to sound like the ‘ideal listener’ of that radio station and you have to make sure your voice matches all the different programmes that are broadcast on the station. You have to match the music. For instance, you’ll voice something for a breakfast show in a very different style to the kind of stuff you do for a late night love programme. You have to imagine what music or sound-effects upon which your voice will be reclining. You have to change your voice in tiny yet oh-so perceptible ways when saying a simple phrase like: “more music variety.” It has to sound current, hot, sexy, bright, friendly, sassy, wistful, empowered, plaintive, whispered, beat-mixed and mellow by turns.
In practice, this means you have to voice the same word or phrase, like, UMPTEEN times so it’ll suit all the producer’s requirements. And so it was with BBC Radio Manchester.
To be honest, I thought I hadn’t got the gig. I’d been asked to submit a demo aaages ago, then heard nothing. I figured it had gone to someone else. And then I got The Call from Chris “Mr Radio” Stevens (he’d been helping BBC Manchester refresh their sound). I was utterly, bloody DELIGHTED. I’ve voiced stuff for stations all over the world, all over the UK but to get the BBC Manc gig is a bit special. Not least because it means I get to use my own, natural voice and my own native accent. That doesn’t happen a lot. People don’t tend to want to buy my nekked vowels.
I’ve worked with Chris a lot. In fact, since I was a child.* This is actually the fourth day-job rebrand we’ve done together. Sun FM, Real Radio, Smooth FM and this! Plus a few dozen RSLs and community stations 🙂
When I was voicing the BBC Manchester session (and my God, it was intense – I mean, how many ways can you say the word “Sport”?) I kept coming across the names of radio legends I grew up with – radio personalities who inspired me to go into audio in the first place. Mike Shaft, Becky Want, Tony Blackburn, Andy Crane, Allan Beswick, Mike Sweeney. All of them radio icons. Honestly, I didn’t feel worthy.
So today the new station package has been launched and this morning I was interviewed by Mike Sweeney alongside my on-air other half, John. This is a career first. I’ve never ever, EVER been introduced to the listeners as a station voice before. It was an absolute treat.
I really, REALLY hope the listeners like what they hear. Fingers crossed, eh?
For more exciting insights on station imaging, click here.
And to hear more examples of the stuff I’ve done for radio stations that aren’t in Manchester…click here.
* Well, almost a child.