Posts Tagged ‘eurovision’

On Publishing Five Hundred Podcasts

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Last Friday saw one of the moments where numbers conspired to mean something. Over on ESC Insight, I posted the five hundredth episode of my Eurovision Song Contest podcast. There was nothing particularly special about the contents, it was a regular episode of ‘ESC Insight News’, covering the last two weeks of news in the world of the Song Contest.

The only concessions to the episode number was a sad party twizzler sound effect at the end of the show, and the subtle use of a Fiat 500 as the key image in the post and shared social images.

And while it is podcast #500 on the RSS feed of ESC Insight, I’ve done more Eurovision podcasts and audio that have been sent down other channels – the podcasts and radio shows for the SBS Eurovision pop-up radio station, the work with Radio Six International, the syndicated radio preview shows each year, and even the commentary work I’ve done have all been part of the audio adventure. These shows are not in the core 500, but they all arose because I podcast about something I love and became one of the ‘go to voices’ in the space.

This is the point where inspirational posts would suggest some grand lessons over the last six years of ESC Insight. I’m not sure there are any, beyond find a passion, keep the quality as high as possible, always ask if you can do more, and say yes to every opportunity you get.

The ESC Insight podcast has taken me on some amazing journeys, from a midnight flight into Yerevan to armed guards blocking my path into Azeri press centres; from commentary booths around the world to talking to TV and Radio executives across Europe and beyond; to be welcomed by a community and to create a new community, it has delivered all that and more.

As for what comes next, I’d highlight podcast #499. This is part of a series called ‘Eurovision Castaways’, where host Ellie Chalkley interviews members of the Song Contest community about their favourite records and finds out more about them. That episode arrived in my podcast player with no input at all from me.

I may have started the Eurovision podcast many years ago, I may still contribute, but the podcast is now something much bigger than just myself, a microphone, and some passion.

Now that personal passion is the shared passion of tens of thousands.

The start of another Eurovision season means a new podcast

Monday, September 11th, 2017

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Imagine if the only football you watched was the FA Cup Final in May? If the only baseball game of interest was the World Series. If the only American Football match was the Superbowl. And imagine the delight if you found out that there was a season’s worth of action…

Well, it’s time for the Eurovision Song Contest season to start. Sure, everyone will tune in on Saturday May 12th for the Grand Final, but there’s a world of music before that point. IT;s one I follow with the team at ESC Insight, and the first podcast of the season is now online.

Its going to run fortnightly for a few weeks, so don’t worry about being overwhelmed, but it’s a great place to jump on board this year’s fun.

You can follow the ESC Insight podcast through its RSS feed, or subscribe in iTunes.

Reprinting the delights of singing for your Superbowl

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Popbitch looked at the most dangerous moment in the American music calendar this week… singing the National Anthem at the Superbowl. With Superbowl 50 taking place this weekend in Santa Clara (…I can read a map and it’s miles away from San Francisco) the moment is coming around once more, and Lady Gaga has picked up the poison-filled chalice:

Lady Gaga has performed for millions of people all around the planet, but never all at once. This Sunday’s Super Bowl will be one of the biggest audiences she has ever played for – and even a huge star like Gaga will no doubt be feeling the pressure.

So in order to help her out, we’ve done a bit of research on her behalf. We’ve looked back into the history of Super Bowl performances over the last 25 years to see how The Star Spangled Banner has been attempted, and if there is anything she can learn from those artists who have gone before her.

Sure, it’s a reprint with a light edit from a few years ago, but then what’s changed since Sam wrote ‘Why the Eurovision Song Contest and the Superbowl Are Practically Family‘ for ESC Insight (except now it’s posted on Medium’s ESC channel…)


Trivial Posts #21: Bond Themes, Vincent Price’s Team, And Nuclear Dreams

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

And now, live (ish) from the Dublin Web Summit, some links and thoughts from my recent web browsing. If you’re at the Summit, ping me and say hi. If you get Trivial Posts emailed over to you, just hit reply. Web readers can reach me via

What I’ve Been Up To

What does the 1000 True Fans theory offer performers entering the Eurovision Song Contest, or any TV talent show? Some thoughts on maximising the moments over on ESC Insight. My ‘Beyond Eurovision’ radio show continues to be broadcast four times a week on Radio Six International, tune in at these times.

I also reviewed the first of two smartphones from new British manufacturer Wileyfox. The Swift is £130, and is a pretty sweet device running the Cyanogen Android fork. Read my thoughts here.

Bond By The Numbers

Popbitch brings home the formulaic goods for the Bond theme.

Award-winning composers and lyricists tried and failed. Multi-platinum artists with record-breaking chart-toppers couldn’t crack it. Even Adele – who walked away with an Oscar for her attempt – didn’t manage it. And yet, somehow, Sam Smith has done it. With a song he claims took twenty minutes to write, Sam Smith has gone and taken a Bond theme to number one.

…So if the charts are so easy nowadays, why did Skyfall miss out? What is it about Writing’s On The Wall that has ‘number one smash’ written all over it? What was missing from enduring classics like Goldfinger, Nobody Does It Better and We Have All The Time In The World?

The only way to know for sure is to pull them all apart into their constituent bits and pieces and go pattern-searching.

Sam Smith did everything that was expected… and it’s still not a classic. Oh well…


It’s Not Drive Time, It’s Home Time!

What happens when you build a radio station just for kids? Matt Deegan did just that with the London-based FunKids Radio. He talks to Jacobs Media Blog, in its latest ‘Radio’s Most Innovative’ section, and there are lessons here for everybody.

But our audience is natively multi-platform. A 7 year old’s assumption is that every element of a pop star coming in will be available all the places they go. Since our job is to be wherever the audience is, Fun Kids is a cross-platform media brand. The radio station is important, but it doesn’t have primacy over the web, video, or mobile. They all need to promote and support each other.

Instead, we try to think in terms of a content pipeline. A guest coming in likely means a specific video, a radio interview, a visualized radio interview, photos, a text write-up, social promotion, and on-demand audio. The team’s job is to create and deploy that material in a way that reaches the most people through our different distribution options.

Talking About FunKids Radio

What Does It Matter To Anyone?

In a perfect world, Vincent Price’s sexuality wouldn’t matter, it would be between him, his partners, and his family. But we don’t live in that world, and the importance of role models and acceptance is key to progressing society. Which leads to a fascinating article from his daughter, Victoria Price:

Price is well aware of America’s fixation with celebrity and the salacious, news-driven, “who had sex with who” culture in which we now live. But she also realizes as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community that there remains a deeply rooted yearning for history and heroes and a personal connection to the past.

“To me, it’s interesting, because as I’ve learned more about my dad’s sexuality, and more than I knew then about different things, I’ve had the choice of what to reveal and what not to reveal,” Price explained. “Since I didn’t hear it from his mouth, I think that everything I hear comes with a measure of hearsay, right?”

Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography

…The Biggest Screw-Up In Our LIfetime

You could read this as fiction, or the mis-remembered moments of a veteran. Or you could read this as one more moment when someone put aside ‘orders’ and used common sense. Either way Aaron Tovish’s article on the secret nuclear missiles in Japan that were not fired during the Cuban Missile Crisis is a modern day horror story.

By Bordne’s account, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Air Force crews on Okinawa were ordered to launch 32 missiles, each carrying a large nuclear warhead. Only caution and the common sense and decisive action of the line personnel receiving those orders prevented the launches—and averted the nuclear war that most likely would have ensued.

The Okinawa Missiles Of October

What If ‘The Force Awakens’ Is Rubbish?

In some of the most eloquently angry writing this side of that trailer, Deadspin’s Albert Burneko lays into the hopes and dreams of every Star Wars fan to remind them of a basic truth. The odds are against the new Star Wars film actually being a good film. Digital cat-nip for money, yes. Toy selling behemoth, yes. But a quality film?

Maybe The Force Awakens will be great! I sure as fuck hope so. J.J. Abrams is at the controls, and his crack at the Star Trek franchise yielded one terrific film followed by a frustrating misfire. If that 50-percent success rate doesn’t look all that much like a reason to feel confident, it’s a hell of a lot better than the 33-percent Star Wars is batting so far. That’s Naked Gun territory, for chrissakes.

Two great movies, one mediocre one, and three of the worst major motion pictures ever made. The odds are against The Force Awakens. Minimum bet is the cost of one movie ticket, and I kinda feel like a sucker already. But I’ve already bought two.

…and in the process, he nails one of the greatest line-reads that should have happened in ‘The Empire Strikes Back‘. It’s sheer poetry.

What If The New Star Wars Film Sucks, Too?

The Robots Are Coming For Buzzfeed

You know what’s worrying? When an AI bot manages to create a perfectly serviceable ‘culture’ website. The articles might not be there, but the headlines are spot on. Lars Eidnes talks about the process behind Click-o-tron. Check out then read the science behind it.

 “F.D.R.’s War Plans!” reads a headline from a 1941 Chicago Daily Tribune. Had this article been written today, it might rather have said “21 War Plans F.D.R. Does Not Want You To Know About. Number 6 may shock you!”. Modern writers have become very good at squeezing out the maximum clickability out of every headline. But this sort of writing seems formulaic and unoriginal. What if we could automate the writing of these, thus freeing up clickbait writers to do useful work?

Auto-Generating Clickbait With Recurrent Neural Networks

This Week’s Long Read: WeChat And Mobile In China

If you’ve grown up with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp as being your main messaging clients, there’s every chance you won’t be aware of WeChat. With messaging clients looking to be the next battleground, what was once a way to use the internet to bypass high SMS fees has become a race to create a platform inside every mobile device that is independent of the OS. WeChat is further down the road than most, and Connie Chan illustrates why Chinas WeChat might be the biggest disruptor over the next five years.

Ultimately, however, WeChat should matter to all of us because it shows what’s possible when an entire country — which currently has a smartphone penetration of 62% (that’s almost 1/3 of its population) — “leapfrogs” over the PC era directly to mobile. WeChat was not a product that started as a website and then was adapted for mobile, it was (to paraphrase a certain movie) born into it, molded by it.

Most notable, however, for anyone in the tech business is WeChat’s average revenue per user or ARPU, which is estimated to be at least $7 USD — that’s 7X the ARPU of WhatsApp, the largest messaging platform in the world. How did WeChat do it?

When One App Rules Them All

‘Trivial Posts’ is a mostly weekly series of posts that brings together interesting posts, ideas, video clips, essays, images, and anything else that catches my eye on the Internet. Read it online, or subscribe to the email newsletter version here.

Trivial Posts #18: A Block Of Time, A Book Of Delights, And A Picture Of You

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Since the last weekly newsletter I’ve been to San Francisco… and made it home again. Lots to cover this week, so without too much hesitation…

What Have I Been Up To?

Every time I decide to fly to America, something ‘big’ happens back home, and this week was no exception. A week of catching up with old friends and new companies in Silicon Valley clashed with the BBC saying something about how the UK Song for Europe was going to be selected. My thoughts on that are here (and you can catch up on all the continent’s Eurovision news through the Eurovision Insight Podcast – find it on iTunes).

I’ve also suggested that Apple Music has failed, and even though I’m expecting the streaming music service  to be turned around nobody can quite agree in the comments on just how wrong I am to suggest such a thing.

On with the links (but first subscribe to the email newsletter version if you haven’t already).

Lego 21304

This set is going to be the biggest selling Lego set in the history of the UK:

Construct a stunningly detailed LEGO® version of the iconic TARDIS and role-play the Doctor’s time-travel adventures! Created by fan-designer Andrew Clark and selected by LEGO Ideas members, this set is based on the BBC’s popular and long-running television series about a Time Lord – the Doctor – exploring the universe in a blue police box. Due to trans-dimensional engineering, the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than the outside and this cool multifunctional set includes the console room that houses all the flight controls.

Introducing Lego Doctor Who

The Other Container Was The Kindle

Is the Kindle Amazon’s final statement on digital book reading? The concept has barely changed since the first device was launch. Now the rush of delight is over, the Kindle has been found wanting:

All is not well on the digital book design front. Until recently, the Kindle iOS application still lacked the ability – nearly five years after its launch – to hyphenate words at the end of lines in books as they appear on the screen; this was a small ‘problem’, but it’s one that should have been solved years ago. And that’s only one of many deeper usability and design issues. Amazon’s long-term neglect of the Kindle continues to be worrying to me, both as a designer and a reader.

It seems as though Amazon has been disincentivised to stake out bold explorations by effectively winning a monopoly (deservedly, in many ways) on the market. And worse still, the digital book ‘stack’ – the collection of technology upon which our digital book ecosystems are built – is mostly closed, keeping external innovators away.

Craig Mod lays out the history and the arguments for the old-fashioned dead tree book next to the eBook phenomenon.

Future Reading

See All The Moon Landing Pictures You Never Saw

Think of the pictures from the Moon landings and you have to marvel at the skill of the astronauts in framing, lens control, lighting, and a million other things. Err…. no. They just ooh thousands of pictures on each mission and released five or six of the best. Until now, as NASA’s Project Apollo Archive has rescanned every negative and is in the process of putting all of them online.

Mark Murrman looks through the first 8400 (available as a Flickr set) to pick out his personal favourites on Mother Jones.

You can finally see all the blurry images, mistakes, and unrecognized gems for yourself. The unprocessed Hasseblad photos (basically raw scans of the negatives) uploaded by the Project Apollo Archive offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at the various moon missions…as well as lots and lots (and lots) of photos detailing the surface of the moon. Here’s a very small taste.

Two of my favourites would be the original Earthrise image from Apollo 8 (showing what post-processing can do to turn normal image into an iconic image, and a shot of the Lunar Ascent Module that captures the horror of flying around in a spaceship built from aluminium that was thinner than the tin foil in your kitchen. Zoom in on this and worry.

All 8,400 Apollo Moon Mission Photos Just Went Online

Life Is Like Helsinki Bus Station

A delightful theory for creative endeavours and life choices by Arno Minkkinen is explained in The Guardian. Indeed every creative endeavour can be represented by a bus leaving Helsinki Bus Station:

…it [vividly] illustrates a critical insight about persistence: that in the first weeks or years of any worthwhile project, feedback – whether from your own emotions, or from other people – isn’t a reliable indication of how you’re doing. (This shouldn’t be confused with the dodgy dictum that triggering hostile reactions means you must be doing the right thing; it just doesn’t prove you’re doing the wrong one.)

Having spoken to people starting out on new projects online, this is going in my toolbox of ‘how to judge how you are doing’.

This Column Will Change Your Life: Helsinki Bus Station Theory

By The Power Of Marketing!

Slashfilm hits it out the park again with another oral history. This time it’s for the delightfully bad film ‘Masters Of The Universe’ but it also covers how the toy line, how it saved Mattel, the birth of the TV series, and therefore the genesis of every TV Animation/Toyline production since the early eighties. THis is how culture was made.

Sales on the He-Man product line were going through the roof and thank god they did. Because other than He-Man, the company was going through a really tough time. Our Electronics Department [Mattel’s videogame division] was going down the tubes, so we were hoisting everything on our shoulders. If not for He-Man, Mattel might have gone under. There’s no question about it. No question. He-Man was doing, at that time, $400 million—if you took that piece out of the equation, there would be no Mattel. So it was kind of, you know, us against the world. It was a good time. It was a good time.

How Did This Get Made? Masters Of The Universe.

This Week’s Long Read: If They Build It, Will We Come? 

The fact is that in the first online tech boom the Porn Industry drove many of the elements that are vital to millions today (such as credit card processing, ecoomerce systems, multimedia CD- and DVD-Roms). In today’s ‘everything for free’ environment the industry has to address the same issues as mainstream media, but with a few more kinks. Buzzfeed’s Charlie Warzel explores the the world of the modern day porn business online.

But if porn helped to conceive and nurture the modern internet, the internet has turned its back on porn. Major internet companies like Instagram and Tumblr have hidden adult content from internal search, and Google has removed porn while de-prioritizing adult sites in its search algorithms. Facebook, arguably the internet’s most important destination, has banned adult content outright since its inception, and mainstream billing sites and financial services firms have shut their doors to adult companies, citing them as “high risk” clients.

If online porn was built by technically proficient, big-dreaming smut innovators, it’s now under siege by, essentially, technically proficient, deep-pocketed, shell corporation–constructing scoundrels. Consumed and overwhelmed by the fruits of its own technological innovations, the adult world must once again return to its entrepreneurial, iconoclastic roots if it wants to reclaim its industry. If anybody has any clue what we’re going to jerk off to in the future, it’s probably these guys.

Meet The Tech Entrepreneurs Trying To Take Back The Porn Industry

‘Trivial Posts’ is a mostly weekly series of posts that brings together interesting posts, ideas, video clips, essays, images, and anything else that catches my eye on the Internet. Read it online, or subscribe to the email newsletter version here.

The Book Of Eurovision Souls

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

The new Iron Maiden album, ‘The Book Of Souls‘ has been released, and my copy just arrived. Most of me cannot wait to devour the 92 minute long album, but part of me runs through the checklist; released after September 1st, check; a maximum of six performers on stage, check; any tracks under three minutes…


The BBC’s delightfully decisive and subversive entry to Eurovision 2015

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

I have many thoughts on the UK entry, and could talk a lot about it (I have a website for that) but I’m going to boil it down to this. The BBC’s Guy Freeman realised what ‘Contest’ means. Only the result on the night matters. Not chart success, not YouTube views, not fan opinion or if it works down the Euroclub. It’s a Contest, and finding a way to score is the only mark that counts.

Freeman (who heads the BBC’s delegation) could have played it safe, found a nice middle of the road song, dug up a manic pixie dream girl singer from BBC Introducing, went through the motions, and probably managed 10-15th place.

Instead Freeman has got ballsy. It’s a contra-strategy song, It literally is all or nothing. “Still In Love WIth You” will either fly high and smash into the Top Ten with a cinematic presentation mixing emotional distance, parallax moves, cross fades, and Charlestons… or it becomes a hot mess of poor camera angles, no visual story telling, and static performers in front of generic audience sweeping shots.

Everyone expected Freeman to zig (as did I). Instead he’s zagged, trusting his team to put on the show of a lifetime, trusting that something different and mould-breaking has more chance in a flanking manoeuvre than a direct assault against the likes of Sweden, Italy, and Estonia,, and building up the momentum of publicity and recognition. He’s treated it not as a ‘how to get a number one song’ but ‘how to win a competition’, The BBC has little musical resources, the industry won’t supply him any heavy guns, so he goes guerrilla in his musical war against the other 39 countries.

Loving the strategy. Loving the risk taking. Loving the courage.

Trivial Posts #5: Making Rent, Listening To The Fall, And Lego Diamonds

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Welcome to 2015, and welcome to the first ‘Trivial Posts’ of the New Year, as I bring together and week’s worth of  interesting posts, ideas, video clips, essays, images, and anything else that catches my eye on the Internet.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the mailing list so you never miss anything trivial!

Living With AirBNB

How many people have looked at AirBNB, looked at a spare room, and thought that it can’t be that easy? Probably a lot more people than will read Rachel Signer’s thoughts on doing just that in a New York brownstone with two other flatmates looking to reduce the rent they have to pay. As always, reality is a lot harder than the romance, even in the new sharing economy.

AirBNB Runied Our Lives

Do you ever have a night where you don’t dream about The Fall?

There are thirty albums by ‘The Fall’, and over thirty days Marc Burrows listened to them all. Exclusivly. One a day, with no respite from other artists. This is the story of a man falling n love with The Fall. Join him

How I fell in love

There’s Only One Word For That

It might not bring in the viewing figures it used (but then, what does), but Darts is still big business as the PDC and BDO fight it out this week. Which gives UK readers (and smarter people outside the geo-lock) plenty time to watch this great documentary on the BBC about the magic arrows casting their spell over the country.

Bullseyes And Beer: When Darts Hit Britain

Cliched Headline Is Cliched

You either know that Cinema Sins is the biggest time-sink online, or you’re about to spend three hours on YouTube if you follow this link. Nevertheless, enjoy this breakdown of Marvel’s ‘The Avengers in Space‘ and click on just one more film to see if that one is just as funny (it will be).

Everything Wrong With Guardians Of The Galaxy

Past the 90 mph Wind Barrier

Oliver Franklin documents the ongoing British engineering challenge to build a car that will do 1000 mph. Tracing the project back through Richard Noble’s previous attempts (and previous ‘Thurst’ cars) and the perilous margins of physics and finances they continue to drive through.

The Quest To Hit 1,000 mph

Who Has A Gold 4×2 Flat?

When the bricks are untraceable, when the sets become rarities after a few months, and when there is a huge demand online, organised crime will find a way to fill in the gaps in the supply chain and extract profit. I just didn’t expect to find out the latest criminal craze would be Lego.

For Thieves, Lego Is The New Uncut Diamond

This Week’s Long Read: Bad Blood

Will Storr and the team at Matter take spin a thrilling tale of money, power, loyalty, and betrayal in the former Soviet Union. But the tale of Alexander Litvinenko is not a Clancy-esque Cold War thriller, it’s a true story. Going beyond the headlines, this is engrossing and chilling in equal measure.

How Radioactive Poison Became The Assassin’s Weapon Of Choice

What have I been up to?

Two more articles with my by line from around the Internet. The first is a look at how important Google is to the Android ecosystem through an article using proof by negation – in other words can we imagine Android without Google? Secondly is the annual pick of the writing team at ESC Insight (the long-form blog and podcast I co-edit around the Eurovision Song Contest). It’s not just one Saturday in May, as this collection of music from a year of Eurovision heats, tryouts, national finals, and the show itself, will show.

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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.

On reaching 250 Eurovision podcasts

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

This week I published my 250th podcast on The Eurovision Song Contest.

Given the show is a ‘weekly’ (with some notable exceptions during the year, such as the twice daily schedule in the few days before the Contest), 250 is as good a milestone as any to take note and remember where the podcast has taken me.

The first audio tracks I recorded for Eurovision were from Moscow and the 2009 Contest – those downloads were three ‘alternative ‘commentary’ track so you could watch the show along with me. It was during the run up to Norway in 2010 that the podcasts started ‘for real’ (mostly because they had their own RSS feed) to deliver news updates, analysis, and round-table discussions.

After the 2010 Contest burned through far too much bandwidth on this site, I realised that a dedicated home was needed and ESC Insight was born. Since then, the Eurovision Song Contest has been really good to me personally and professionally. I have friends all over Europe and beyond. I’ve learned many new skills, broadcast documentaries and music shows on terrestrial radio, appeared on the BBC World Service, countless local radio stations, and vox-pops from around the world. I found a practical use for my puppetry skills. I’ve even been an ‘official’ Eurovision Commentator at Junior Eurovision last November.

Most of all, I’ve made more people smile in the world through the coverage I’ve helped create.

But the podcast is where it started, and it’s the podcast that everything else spins out of. So I’m really pleased to reach two hundred and fifty of them. And I hope you have enjoyed listening and participating with me. Right now I’m in Helsinki, ready to take the audio/video kit out to the Barona Arena to watch Finnish television choose their singer for Eurovision 2014. I’ll tell you all about it next week on the podcast…

Who were the winners of Eurovision 2013?

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Just because you finish first does not mean you were the actual winner… even at The Eurovision Song Contest:

To decide who was this year’s biggest winner, you have to actually define what it means to ‘win Eurovision’. It’s not as simple as finishing in first place on the Saturday night. While ‘Only Teardrops‘ is going to stay in the Song Contest record books, after the National Final guest appearances with a playback tape, it’s unlikely we’ll hear again from Emmelie de Forest. While you can still hear ‘Euphoria‘ on the beaches of São Paulo, Denmark’s 2013 winner will be cut to shreds for the jingles during the 2014 Contest and then quietly filed alongside ‘Everybody‘.

Looking down the results table from Malmö, you can find many personal success stories: Margaret Berger returned to the public eye with her own choice of musical styles, Bonnie Tyler managed to chart an album for the first in a billion years, Anouk was anointed superhero status just by qualifying for the Saturday night, and Malta saw their best result in recent years (although Gianluca returned to his life as Dr. Bezzina). They are all wonderful stories, but none of them scream ‘winner’ to me.

We need to leave them behind and look deeper.

I’m still not sure just how tongue in cheek the article was, but I definitly had fun writing it. You can (hopefully) enjoy reading the full article over on ESC Insight.

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!


Die Grosse Entscheidungs Show will be in the same year as Eurovision, for once.

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Just like that, the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 inches ever closer. Switzerland confirm the format and the dates for their National Final (February 1st 2014, Kreuzlingen), and I grab the usual hotel through and get the flights lined up.

(…and if this had said ‘Football club gets draw announced for European game, I’ve bought tickets’, it would be socially acceptable).

It’s time to do some Eurovision Commentary

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

Looking for four experience Eurovision experts talking about the Contest live? Head over to ESC Insight and you can download the mobile app, or listen live through a (quick and dirty hack of a) web player. See you on the other side!