How long have you been at KVH Studios?
I started as a freelance presenter in 2006 before joining the team full-time later that year and becoming Head of Music in 2009.
What does your job involve?
The simple answer is that I listen to music and talk between songs. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that. I listen to every piece of music that gets added to our music services, for several reasons. Most importantly, I listen for lyrical content. Even if it’s a big hit single and getting played on Radio 1 or Capital, we have to be more careful.
When a customer is in store, they can’t turn it off or down like they can in a car or at home if something ‘grown up’ comes on. My personal taste doesn’t come into deciding whether a song goes in to play. The main thing is whether the song will do a job for one of or more of our clients, if it does then it gets added.
I’m in charge of thousands of tracks and over 70 different music channels across all of our music platforms. I also work with our account managers to make sure that our clients receive the right music for their brand. I’m also a presenter on our live in-store services, in addition to managing our team of presenters we have on rotation for the live shows. This includes making sure they are talking about the right things for the brand and coaching them on presenting in-store radio.
What did you do before you worked at KVH Studios?
I was a breakfast show presenter, head of music and programme controller at a local radio station in the Yorkshire Dales. Before that I worked in the print trade for 11 years.
What do you love most about what you do?
I’ve always been a massive music fan, so being able to discover and share new music for a living is ideal! Some clients just want the hits, but others want something more adventurous, so I’m always looking for new music. I’ve playlisted bands months, sometimes even a year before they have had a number one single, which is always a good feeling. Years & Years and Clean Bandit are just a couple to name who were played on our services long before they had a single that topped the chart.
Also, my job has given me the opportunity to interview so many interesting people. I’ve been able to talk with Phil Spencer from Location Location Location about all things houses and home improvements, show off my (very) limited kitchen skills with Nigella Lawson and James Martin – he never did take me up on my invitation to sample my cooking. I’ve also interviewed quite a few X Factor winners (and losers), authors, reality stars and a Spice Girl!
What’s your favourite memory at KVH Studios?
Being promoted to Head of Music in 2009 was pretty amazing, dream job alert! However, I worked on a project with one of our clients a few years ago which was one of the best things I’ve ever been involved with in the 20 years I’ve worked in radio. The client came to us and said they were going to be doing a Sky Dive for charity and they wanted their staff to get involved, so we ran promos and talked about it on air. Once the selection process was completed, a few months later we started to record interviews with the 25 members of staff who were going to throw themselves out of a plane at 13,000 feet, all in the name of charity. These were broadcast on air so all the company knew how everyone was doing with fundraiser.
Then it was the big day and we went to the airfield and recorded everything that was going on. We chatted to the sky divers, we recorded training sessions and interviewed everyone after they had done the jump. We even had a marriage proposal (thankfully the answer was yes!). This was all edited in to a special programme on their service and we sent a CD of the show to all of those that had completed the sky dive. It showed how important their radio service was to their colleagues. There were only 25 people actually jumping out of the plane but the whole company got involved, fundraising and supporting them. It was an amazing experience to be part of. Even if my feet were firmly planted on the ground!
How would you describe KVH Studios in 3 words?
Passionate, Knowledgeable, Professional
If you could pick one, what would be your favourite music track?
For someone in my job, that is an impossible question to answer. It can depend on my mood, how I’m feeling and what I’m doing. Whilst I obviously love discovering new music, there are some artists and songs that I will always go back to such as Ozzy Osbourne, Bonobo, Manic Street Preachers, Submotion Orchestra, U2, Elbow, Pet Shop Boys, Matchbox Twenty, New Order, Bublé….
But if you force me, I’m going down the sentimental route and I’ll pick the song that was playing when my wife Sharon walked down the aisle at our wedding, Tom Odell’s ‘Grow Old With Me‘. That’s the best thing about music, it provokes memories and creates emotional ties.
What do you like to do when you’re not at KVH Studios?
I write new music reviews for an online music blog and I’m also on the review team for Sofar Sounds in Leeds, deciding whether bands and artists are suitable for their live shows. I’m also involved in our local community centre, where we put classes and events on and we have a monthly community cinema which I host. Oh yes and I spend time with my wife. And family. And friends! Love doing the usual, watching TV and going to the cinema, going to gigs and theatre. I’d like to read more, but don’t seem to have much time for that, sadly. I’m building a nice collection though for when I do.