Getting The Most Out Of Your Event – Lessons From A Classical Music Station

Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland

Big outside broadcasts and concerts are nothing new to radio. We excel in them: partly because radio is pretty good at doing them, with the contacts to the stars and a great way of marketing and advertising the event.

Capital FM’s Summertime Ball is a typically impressive affair from the UK’s largest commercial radio brand. The Ball features some impressive acts, from Ariana Grande to Rita Ora and One Direction, all live from Wembley Arena in June. This event clearly makes a ton of cash for the station and provides some excellent website content too. It’s similar, if not quite as ambitious, as iHeart’s events in the US.

(As a slight diversion for a minute: what benefit is it to iHeart to brand its big events as iHeart, when none of their stations are called iHeart? Sure, they have an app, but no self-respecting listener will tune into an iHeart station *because* it is run by iHeart. Why hasn’t iHeart rolled out a consistent brand for all their Top40 stations, which would benefit listeners and advertisers alike? Pandora has a national brand – so why not iHeart’s Top 40 station?)

Anyway, it’s probably a surprise that the biggest event for a radio station has been going on for years and years now; is over eight weeks long with hundreds of programs broadcast live on the radio, and many carried on TV. The last program of the year is carried live across hundreds of different countries, too.

I’m talking about the BBC Proms, which have been going for 120 years or so. Founded in 1895 – yes, before the BBC – these classical music concerts are interesting to watch, since the BBC have managed to squeeze every ounce of value from them. From broadcasting them live on BBC Radio 3, which has studios set up in the Royal Albert Hall, to live and timeshifted television coverage, they also do a bunch of clever things with them.

Amongst the classical music concerts are lots of worthy classical pieces, naturally – but there are some really clever brand extensions. CBeebies, the BBC’s channel for young children, had its own concert last year, with music and stars from the channel. Dr Who also had its own prom last year: an entire concert full of music from the sci-fi series. This year there’s a “Life Story” prom – presented by Sir David Attenborough, it’s a concert with music from the natural history program. Haven’t heard of it? It’ll be on PBS or ABC Australia, I’m sure, shortly.

They also do some clever nationwide extensions. The Last Night Of The Proms (a curiously British affair, with a lot of flag waving and patriotic music) is always a sellout, but they also put up big screens in Hyde Park, London, as well as Glasgow, Swansea and Belfast, and sell tickets to that, too – with stars appearing at these locations, too.

And quite cleverly, the staging for the Hyde Park event is also used for another BBC radio station the next day, as BBC Radio 2 lays on a Pop concert. (Leona Lewis, Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams, The Corrs, etc etc).

Who knew that looking at a classical music station would be an interesting lesson in getting the most out of live events?


James Cridland is a radio futurologist, and is Managing Director of, a companion website to radioinfo and AsiaRadioToday.

He has served as a judge for a number of industry awards including the Australian ABC Local Radio Awards, the UK Student Radio Awards, and the UK’s Radio Academy Awards, where he has also served on the committee. He was a founder of the hybrid radio technology association RadioDNS.

James is one of the organisers of, the radio ideas conference each September, and is also on the committee of RadioDays Europe. He writes for publications including his own, Radio World International and RAIN News.

James lives in North London with his partner and a two year-old radio-loving toddler. He very, very much likes beer.

Radio Tomorrow is a trade mark of Radiowise Productions Pty Ltd.


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