Arts: Tricks of the trade 15: How to make a Radio Trail

GRANT BUCKERFIELD Senior presentation producer at BBC Radio One
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The Independent Culture
We make the trails for new programmes that are coming up as well as the daily shows. If anything special is happening, like a special interview, we need to promote that, letting listeners know what time it's on and how great it is. The other job we have is the imaging of the station with what we call jingles - the bits between the songs that are just a bit of fun and usually end in "Radio One". These aren't necessarily musical - we might use a bit of comedy or distorted sound-effects.

When we are making a trail we start with a meeting - everyone will sit down and throw ideas around. Then we go off and come up with a script. We might use old recordings for material. When Kevin Greening and Zoe Ball started on the Breakfast Show (above), it coincided with R1's 30th anniversary, so we got some of the really cheesy old jingles and remixed them with jungle tracks, cutting Kevin and Zoe's voices over the top.

We record voices in the studio on DAT. This is then loaded into a multi-track digital editing programme, which works as a sort of word-processor for sound. We can cut, paste and move colour-coded sounds very efficiently.

The type of voice we use is important in targeting specific parts of our audience. A lively voice will suggest a lighthearted programme, and the "voice of God" style of voice suggests something a bit serious. Some presenters make their own trails and we won't be needed at all; Simon Mayo, for example, might just make his own quick 40-second piece on what's on his show tomorrow, or what songs he will be playing.

We use some music and sample CDs for the jingles, but we also make sounds of our own. We recently purchased a sampler and keyboard and we are now frustrated musicians trying our best to come up with our own stuff. For the comedy bits we also do the scripts ourselves. It can be a bit of a strain to constantly come up with new ideas and it doesn't always happen.

It's one of those jobs in which the sky is the limit in terms of creativity. When I began working here, I was mucking around with some of the old jingles and the only guideline given to me was offered by the editor, who said "Mr Cheese and Mr Irony don't live at Radio One, they just visit from time to time."

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