Archive for the ‘Broadcast Radio’ Category

I’ll Be Hosting Overnight General Election Results Coverage

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

When the snap General Election was called in May, I wrote at the time that my first thought was about the result. Or at least how to cover the result. It was this.

I need to get behind a microphone to do the results show from 10pm on June 8th.

Since then I’ve been working on how to do just that, from finding studio facilities, co-hosts, guests, statisticians, the odd politician or two, and some broadcast partners. I’m delighted to announce that I will be hosting a General Election Results show on Thursday night… not only will you be able to listen in on lie, you’ll be able to watch as well.

Broadcast Details

Radio Six International ( will handle the radio and audio side of things, offering seven hours of coverage to stations across the UK and further afield (get in touch if you are interested in picking up the coverage). You’ll be able to listen to the stream direct from the Radio Six International website, and we go on air at 10pm UK time (2100 GMT).

The National newspaper is providing studio facilities through the night in their Glasgow newsroom, which will allow us to stay on top of the results as they come in through the night. We’ll also be talking to The National’s reporters who will be at the Glasgow and Edinburgh counts for immediate reactions and interviews. Our studio is going to be wired up not just for audio, but also for video, so you can watch the Facebook Live stream which will be shared from its Facebook Page.

During The Show

There’s no way to fully script out seven hours of live broadcasting in such a fluid environment as the results of a General Election. What we do have are a number of elements that we can call on through the night to keep the show going along. It is a UK Election and the first Scottish seat isn’t due up till around 2am, so while our primary story will be about Scotland, it’s not the only story and we will be looking across all of the UK.

Like any good election show we have our spreadsheets, swingometers, fancy graphics and maps to make predictions and help us try to make sense of what is going on. Once more Steve Griffin is dealing with the numbers through the night. The livestream also means we need something visual to show off.

What’s an election show without lots of voices and opinions? Leading our ‘Pundits Corner’ will be Benjamin Howarth bringing different viewpoints and discussion points from all corners of the political spectrum from a hopefully packed sofa of guests through the night.

The National’s Stephen Paton will be watching social media for reactions from the public, and by the nature of Facebook Live, we’ll be able to ask questions of our audience around the world.

The key thing for me in all of this is that we tell the story of the night, and through that we re-tell the story running up to the vote, and where the story is going. After previous overnight Election shows and various Edinburgh Fringe broadcasts, Dan Lentell will be in the co-host chair to keep the focus on the story, with Ross Middleton floor managing all of the different elements.

Get In Touch

It’s still not too late if you want to get involved as part of the show, and of course you can drop me a line (mail me at

And now, back to reading lots of background material….

Planning A New Kind Of UK General Election Results Show – Can You Help?

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Tuesday’s announcement of a General Election in the UK for June 8th caught me a little by surprise and set off a riot of emotions. I tend not to talk about politics too much online, so many of the thoughts I had yesterday are mine, or for friends and family.

But I’ll happily tell you my very first thought, because it’s one you can all help with.

I need to get behind a microphone to do the results show from 10pm on June 8th.”

I’ve anchored a number of overnight election shows on community radio here in Edinburgh since 2010. These have been broadcast out to the capital but also syndicated to other radio stations and streamed online for those in the UK (and beyond) looking for something a bit more rock and roll in their election night coverage.

I am confident I’ll be running an election night show this year. Now I need to get to that point, get a team together, sort out logistics, and all the other little bits and pieces in the way. Time is tight.

Putting The Team Together

The Election Results Show will be a collaborative effort, so I’m looking for people to be involved in the broadcast. The rough plan is have a core hosting team of two or three people working through the night, an ‘experts and pundits panel’ to discuss the results and keep the sparks flying, someone to stay on top of the constituency results and trends, another to watch over social media for a more interactive show, and a tech or two to keep the video and audio streams running.

If one of those roles sounds like something you want to do, get in touch – is probably the best way to do so.

Finding Our Temporary Studio

The first order of business – and one that really needs sorting out before the end of April – is the venue. Short of finding a radio studio suite, the show will need a decent sized space for up to 15 people, with tables and chairs, good lighting, and a rock solid internet connection (preferably with a mix of wi-fi and wired access).

My initial thought is that the show will be Edinburgh-based, but as the broadcast will be streamed online I’m open to other locations around the UK, including London.

Other Ways To Support The Show

Obviously there are some costs involved in the show, so I am very much open to partnerships. That could be co-working spaces, start-ups in a ‘broadcast’ space, publishers or other media organisations, sugary energy drink manufacturers, and so on. Again get in touch if this sounds like a contribution you can help with (

At the very least I would love to cover volunteer expenses and potentially the venue hire.

What About A Name?

The Election Results Show’ is functional but not incredibly descriptive. ‘Rock and Roll Results’ suggests musical content, and that’s unlikely to happen. There’ll be a good name that talks about the open nature of the show, the slightly rough at the edges feel, the move away from mainstream media coverage, and the online nature of the show. Right now I can’t think of it. Once more, suggestions welcome.

Over To You

I could do this alone, but it’s going to much more fun with a big group of people. Join me?

The Top Forty countdown, with only our favourite songs, moves to Friday

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

I don’t listen regularly to the Top 40 any more, so its move to Friday afternoon instead of Sunday evening is just another “well, back in my day” to add to my brain, but one thing I loved (and still love) about the Top 40 is that no matter what the song was, it was always played in the countdown. It was one of the few chances to bypass the pluggers and pickers of the national pop music station and get airplay. Be it Status Quo, The London Philharmonic Orchestra, or that year’s winning Eurovision Song Contest, if it made the Top Forty it made it to the airwaves.

The new show will only feature a ‘selection’ of songs in the Top Forty. I suspect that means songs that would not normally feature on Radio 1 will be excised from the charts, further balkanising music in the UK, as opposed to playing the occasional Balkan song that makes the charts.

Should Breakfast Radio Be Short Spots Or Longer Features

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Some interesting thoughts via Media.Info on breakfast radio and why common perceptions and styles don’t match up to the data:

New data analysis based on millions of listener movements from the official Scandinavian PPM ratings systems show that this long-standing model has too rigid a focal point. Only half of listeners on Scandinavian airwaves leave their homes during the breakfast show and during the 6 AM to 9 AM period the in-home listeners heavily outnumber listeners on the go.

When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Seymour Quigley:

We weren’t related, and we weren’t close friends; I can’t tell you what motivated him, what kind of a husband or father he was, or how many sugars he had in his tea. But the simple fact is that John Peel, who passed away ten years ago this month, saved my life.

The internet may have allowed more music to be heard by more people, and reduced the barrier of entry, but we still need a curator.

Eurovision songs reach the Top 40, Radio One holds its nose and has to play them. Win!

Monday, May 19th, 2014

I’ve been quiet about my Eurovision activities on this blog over the last two or three weeks (on the assumption that you all know where to find me, or saw the Twitter action), but I want to highlight this little fact.

Four Eurovision songs reached the Top 40 yesterday, and 12 tracks made the Top 100.

The power of social media and the ability to instantly buy digital music online has once more been able to show that the music does have an impact. The old-school gatekeepers might not hand tracks like ‘Undo’ or ‘Calm After The Storm’ a physical release, but that is no longer a barrier to getting on the hit parade.

Don’t forget to listen to Edinburgh Nights every week!

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

You might recall that after this year’s radio broadcast of the  Edinburgh Fringe chat show came to the end, I decided to keep the format alive and showcase all the fun things in Edinburgh each week (that would have been the moment for a David Tennant-esque “I don’t want to go…”). It’s three months later, and Edinburgh Nights is still on the air, at 3pm every Friday, with a podcast available to listen again to the show (if you’re in Edinburgh), or to listen fresh to the whole hour if you are further afield.

It’s a show that continues to evolve, but being able to highlight the great bands playing in the capital, give some airtime to the theatre shows around Edinburgh, and to go beyond the ten minute set from the comedians playing the Festival city, are all adding up to an exciting hour every week.

If you’re not yet listening, head over to iTunes and subscribe to the podcast, and if you are a regular listener, why not think about leaving a review?

Tonight’s the night I head into the history books of Eurovision commentary

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Starting at 6pm tonight in the UK (7pm Central Europe, and 8pm local time in Ukraine) is the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2013. For once I won’t be in the Press Centre, or directly in front of the stage. Tonight, I’ll be with Luke Fisher in the Commentary Booth for the European Broadcasting Union.

The Eurovision Song Contests have had free and official streams for many years, but until now they have been the pictures and the stage audio only – the traditional commentators role has not been part of the EBU’s stream. That’s changed for this Song Contest. My good friend Luke Fisher (currently managing the website) will be taking the lead commentator role, while I’ll be on the analysis and statistics side of things. Anyone who’s heard me talk about presenting Eurovision as less of a variety show and more as a marquee sporting event will probably recognise this set up – Yes, I’m going to be the John Madden / Colour Commentator for Eurovision!

Providing the international commentary from the organisers does lead to a few interesting bullet points in the remit, but the one that will be most noticeable is to remain impartial and to not influence the Contest, something that Terry Wogan and Graham Norton never really worried about. So if you’re expecting snark, you might need to look elsewhere (can I suggest @ewan and @escinsight).

This also means the traditional ‘Hello Internet‘ is going to need to be an Easter Egg somewhere in the commentary, but I’ll just add that to some of the traditional calls that fans expect…

The Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2013 will be broadcast online at 1900 CET on Fans in Edinburgh and The Lothians can listen on 98.8 Castle FM.

Hello, I’m Ewan Spence, and I’ll be the United Kingdom’s Eurovision Commentator later this month

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

This year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest takes place at 6pm (UK time) November 30th at the National Place of Arts “Ukraina” in Kyiv, and for the first time since 2005 it will be broadcast in the UK. No Eurovision show airing in the UK would be complete without a commentary team, so I am very excited to tell you that I will be one of the UK’s Eurovision Commentators.

Joining me will be Luke Fisher, who many of you will have heard on our Alternative Commentaries over the last few years. I guess we won’t be doing an alternative commentary this year.

So, the broadcast. None of the UK broadcasters who are members of the EBU were ready to enter Junior Eurovision this year, which meant that the rights were available to EBU and non-EBU members. Naturally EBU members had first refusal, then other stations and channels could be considered. As I’m already working with Castle FM for the Edinburgh Nights chat show, so it was a small step to consider bringing Junior Eurovision back to the UK through local radio.

Discussions happened… (and let’s leave it at that) …and skipping to the end, Castle FM will be broadcasting Junior Eurovision live to Edinburgh and The Lothians on November 30th, with one team in the Leith studios and a remote team in Ukraine providing the audio.

This is going to be fun! Challenging and exciting, for sure, but fun!


Here comes the Edinburgh Fringe Podcast (and the FM simulcast!) for 2013

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Nine years ago I decided to try and cover the Edinburgh Fringe with the new medium of podcasting. It found an audience, and I’ve been bringing the Fringe out of Edinburgh every year since with a daily podcast during August of news, reviews, and interviews. But this year is slightly different.

The podcast is still going ahead, but the format has been changed very slightly, as the show is also going out on local radio. 98.8 Castle FM will be carrying the Fringe Podcast (or ‘Festival Talk’ to give the show its radio name), and you’ll be able to listen to the show live online during the recording, tune in if you’re in Edinburgh, or download the podcast from the Edinburgh Fringe Podcast homepage.

To recap, here’s where you’ll find the show this year.

Download the podcast, which is hosted at, or you can subscribe in iTunes.
You can listen live to the show being recorded at 12 noon (Monday to Friday) on Castle FM 2 – this is available as a live stream from
You can tune in on 98.8 FM if you are in Edinburgh to listen to the show being broadcast between 3pm and 4pm each day.
And you’ll also find us on your smartphone, in the iFringe application for iOS and Android.

The first show goes out tomorrow (Monday 5th) but to get you in the mood, there’s a little prologue show available now in the RSS feed, on the site, or embedded below!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Opening the Fringe 2013 season, Ewan talks about the new additions to the podcast, with some music and thoughts about Edinburgh from singer-songwriter Daniel Cainer.

Time now for ‘The Oxbridge Chronicles’ during Radio 4 in four minutes

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Jake Yapp on fine form in this YouTube video, although the number of Radio 4 cliches mean it’s either going to completely pass you by or you’ll get every single homage, tip of the hat, and all the in-jokes.

“The silencing of the Munchkins must rank as one of the most inept acts of censorship Britain has seen.”

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Nick Cohen, having some fun with language over Judy Garland’s latest hit single:

Its decision to ban every part of the song except for a five-second clip in a news report shows clearly something that many people outside the media rarely understand: the BBC folds under pressure.

During the debate on the politicians’ plans to regulate the press and news websites, many people have asked why journalists should worry when regulation works so well at the BBC. The behaviour of the BBC last week explains why. Tory MPs and the Daily Mail picked on the BBC rather than iTunes or YouTube because they knew they had a chance of winning. Any other media organisation might have said it stood by the principles of free speech. If music buyers had, for whatever reason, put a song in the charts they had a duty to play it.

Can rock radio survive the onslaught of Pandora, Spotify, and the rest?

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Some interesting thoughts from Michele Catalano on FM radio’s struggle against streaming music services online. It does have a focus on the Rock radio stations, and has a huge American focus, but nevertheless a lot to think about.

Jacobs is right with his point that you can’t get that local flavor online. As much as you can program your own stations, make your own playlists and design your internet radio to fit your own style, there’s still that one thing missing: the human connection. Even if a brand like Slacker Radio has actual human DJs, the personal connection one has with a local DJ is missing and that’s where FM rock radio still has the upper hand.

The online experience has made radio a different game. Stations are not just competing with each other anymore, but competing with a changing technology that has the industry rearranging and reinventing itself over and over again.

That’s this week’s “Defend the Indefensible” sorted

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Colin Murray leaves Match of the Day 2. What’s the over/under for jokes made about this on Saturday’s Fighting Talk?

Isn’t the whole point of a ‘Best Number 2’ list… to be number 2?

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

1. Vienna, by Ultravox.
2. Fairytale of New York, by The Pouges ft Kirsty MacColl.

Well done BBC, but we all know the truth. At least it wasn’t the Pet Shop Boys on the top spot.