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Seven radio producers – all based in the north of England – have joined forces to launch a new co-operative venture – ‘Radio Wizards’. It’s equally remarkable that their aim now is to work together on every kind of sound production… except radio! “It’s taken over a year to get to this point,” says ‘wizard’ Mike Thornton, “but now we’ve got a viable business plan, we’ve launched our website and we’re already starting to attract commissions. As a facilities provider we decided to facilitate this partnership and set them up with a web site to help kickstart this excellent partnership while our new partners worked out their pitches for every kind of business from visitor attraction guided-tours to management ‘webinars’ delivering audio-guides and podcasts to the highest production standards.”
Says wizard Peter Everett, a veteran Radio 4 producer (and former editor) “We have been competitors until now, but we have a lot of respect for each other and between us we have an unbeatable range of skills, contacts and experience. The spoken word is the most important medium of communication, but it has to be used to maximum effect, and we know how to do that.”
One of the Wizards’ first customers is Sir Richard FitzHerbert of Tissington Hall in Derbyshire, who will feature a ‘favourite objects’ guide to this Jacobean mansion on his website.
The team is keen to design tours using a range of state-of-the-art technology. ‘For every visitor attraction, coach trip or travelling holiday there’s a perfect way to deliver an audio-tour,’ says Peter Everett. ‘For example in Australia, car hire companies are now offering a system where each point on the journey triggers a GPS signal and plays the appropriate audio on your stereo. Another way to do it is through QR coding, which will link the visitor’s own phone to an Internet audio source. A third approach might be to use an individual MP3-player that is so cheap to supply that it can be branded with a logo and sold as a ‘buy-it, use-it, take-it-home’ souvenir.’
What brought the Wizards together was an initiative by Vision and Media North-West, who had spotted that there’s a much bigger market for audio production skills than just radio broadcasting. V+M hosted a series of seminars with successful entrepreneurs in the advertising, games, digital and PR industries. After a dozen sessions it was clear that the commercial sector currently finds it hard to achieve top-class audio production, so the Wizards agreed it was time to sell their radio skills in a whole new marketplace.
Mike’s audio facilities company, One Stop Digital Ltd, took on the job of building the website www.radiowizards.co.uk, while his new partners worked out their pitches for every kind of business from visitor attraction guided-tours to management ‘webinars’.
Janet Graves of Pennine Productions adds: “We’ve all done bits and pieces in the commercial sector – for example, I’ve made oral history projects, Peter has produced coach-tour commentaries, and Mike has done infotainment podcasts for the drug company Pfizer. Combining our efforts will let us offer a one-stop shop for any kind of commercial audio production.”
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