Saturday, 18 March 2017

Laser Radio Programming

  Laser's programming secrets revealed     in new book

After my book late last year about the Communicator, I was asked dozens of questions about the sophisticated programming techniques used by Laser, and how they helped win up to 10 MILLION listeners for the station.   The Radio Adventures of the MV Communicator book was ideal for techies who wanted to know about the ship, aerials and transmitters, but was a bit thin on programme content.

This new book, Laser Radio Programming, answers all those questions, and more!  It discusses the station's format, the style of delivery, the Hot Clocks, and many other programming techniques that have remained secrets - and still seem to be unknown by a lot of programmers in British radio.  

I've taken the debate into the situation post Laser and looked at WHO used the Laser name since the 1980s, and why.   As an appendix I included a reprint of the Laser 558 Operations Manual, which has much valuable information that was the standard template issued to the station's team.  It gives a valuable insight into Laser's output and to radio programming in general.

Offshore Radio today

The book also looks at offshore radio today -  the ongoing Radio Caroline and its quest to be more widely heard (its currently online and has an application for a community radio licence in East Anglia)  and the Radio Seagull operation in the Netherlands.

Both Radio Seagull and Radio Caroline are discussed and referenced in Laser Radio Programming,  along with the Radio Day Offshore Radio Festival in May which is being held in Harlingen. Attendees will be able to take a trip across the harbour aand climb on board Radio Seagull's lightship, the Jenni Baynton, and see programmes going out live. A unique experience!

The book also examines the formats used by offshore stations in the 1960s, especially Swinging Radio England, which is the closes thing to a grandfather that Laser had.  I also look at what the radio landscape was in the UK before Laser launched in 1984, particularly the draconian needle time restrictions, that were one of the reasons Laser was such a resounding success. Well, it was a success as far as audience ratings went - on the financial front, Laser was an unmitigated disaster for its poor backer who was routinely fleeced, cheated and lied to.

UK Radio Programming today

A few weeks ago, an ILR manager issued a memno to his on-air staff basically saying "don't say anything on the air unless cleared with your PD". A ridiculous situation. Other comments in the memo are simply the 'first grade' instructions that Americans give to kids in their school radio stations when they first enter the business.  I espouse that it shows how primitive British radio techniques still are and discuss UK radio programming  further.

The recent axing of overnight DJs at most station, even at BBC Radio 2,  is a disater for radio. Those overnight shifts were a valuable training ground for radio talent. The move to eliminate such opportunities might not be suicideal for radio, but is certainly some vicious "self harming" and I really do worry about the future of radio.

Ive also included comments from veteran Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg DJ Tony Prince about the subject.  This is something that everyone with an interest in the medium should concern themselves with.

The Book

The book, Laser Radio Programming is available from World of Radio now. It's a softback book of 181 pages at just £15.95 (includes postage to the UK, to the rest of the world it's £19.95).  I believe the book is bound to become another 'collectors' item', so don't delay in ordering it!  Orders taken by Paypal, so you can use a card and the books ARE in stock, so your order will be dispatched immediately

You can also order the previous book about Laser, Radio Adventures of the MV Communicator, which tells about the ship, its equipmenmt and all the 11 radio stations that broadcast from her over a 21 year carrer as a radio ship. 

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