I drank cheap prosecco at a NOVA cocktail party but that’s all I could afford

Peter Saxon gets socially distanced.

When the invitation arrived in my inbox, my heart skipped a beat.
My first thought was to call my cardiologist. My second was that it’s been a long time since I was invited to a Nova function. If memory serves, it was a Red Room with James Bay in 2015. This time it was to launch a new weekly podcast series from the Chaser called The Chaser Report

My third thought was that Nova functions were usually lavishly catered affairs with nothing but top shelf refreshments. And my fourth thought was, how are they going to hold a cocktail party with the prevailing social distancing laws? Which lead to my next thought that either I was back on Nova’s A-List or that those on the A, B and C-lists had turned them down for fear of infection and they were now scraping the D-list for attendees who’d  take the risk, thrilled just to get an invite.
As always, though, the devil was in the detail. On closer examination of the invitation I found that this would not be the kind of cocktail party at some classy venue with French Champagne to which I had become accustomed. Instead it would be a “virtual” party on Zoom… BYO only. Which brought me to my fifth and most distressing thought: would this become the new normal once the pandemic was over?
Will I never again be invited to a live cocktail party to drink free champers and eat fancy canapes but instead exist as merely a head confined to a Zoom box drinking self-catered prosecco and, on special occasions, perhaps a bag of chips from Aldi?

It was the essence of a broader question I put before three of the industry’s most highly ranked content supremos last Thursday, after Survey 2 was released. They were SCA’s Dave Cameron, ARN’s Duncan Campbell and Nova Entertainment’s Paul Jackson.

Campbell and Jackson were both working from home. While Jackson had no problem with it, finding it easier to focus on the sound of his stations without interuption, Campbell was keen to get back to the office. Cameron had opted to go into work to get some peace and quiet. The office, of course, was deserted because virtually everyone else was working remotely. 
The question that many people, in all industries are asking is, how much of these emergency measures will remain after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed?

Will our industry‘s bean counters decide that it’s more cost-efficient for most employees to work from home instead of renting large swathes of office space while providing a long list of amenities to accommodate them? 
One thing our content supremos all seem to agree on is that it’s unlikely to happen in our industry. Why? Because radio is essentially a creative business that is at it’s best when it’s a collaborative effort.
“After three weeks,” confides Duncan Campbell, “I’m very keen to get back to the station, to be honest. I think it’s interacting with other people and things like that. You have limitations at home.”

“I don’t think there’s any benefit to allowing talent to do it from home permanently from a product point of view,” says Dave Cameron. “I think we’ll always get the best out of our talent when they’re office based and working in teams.”

“Certainly I’ll be okay working the odd day from home. Have a good listen. Just being super focused and not be disturbed,” says Paul Jackson, “I think maybe they (organisations) will do a bit more of that. I think that radio is such a ‘connection’ business in which we get our inspiration chatting with each other – some of that stuff happens in the corridor . I’m not sure that the way we structure our business will change particularly. But there’ll certainly be things to reflect on off the back of this about how we do what we do,  And ultimately there’ll be learnings for not just radio but the whole of society going forward.”

Where Does The llama Come In?

Paco the llama joins a video conference call from an animal sanctuary in California.

From CNN: Tired of seeing the same old faces in every Zoom meeting? Don’t be a cow-ard, invite a farm animal to join.

Sweet Farm, an animal sanctuary in Half Moon Bay, California, is offering people all over the world the opportunity to invite a llama, goat, cow or other farm animal to make a cameo appearance on a live video call.
The Silicon Valley non-profit launched its “Goat 2 Meeting” initiative on March 25. Their mission is simple: educate people on the negative impacts of industrialized farming while giving them something to smile about. Read more…

Peter Saxon


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