New York Festivals International Radio Awards Open Mic Spotlight Interview offers insights into the brilliant careers of radio content creators from around the globe. NYF’s Grand Jury of award-winning directors, producers, journalists, writers, actors, creative directors, composers, on-air talent, and programming executives are actively involved in creating the innovative content heard on radio today.
2018 Grand Jury member Neil Sloan is currently the Group Head of Programming and News at Communicorp UK, home to some of the most exciting brands in UK radio including Capital networks in Scotland and South Wales, Heart Networks in Yorkshire and North Wales, Smooth Radio networks in the North East, North West and East Midlands as well as XS Manchester.
Neil brings over 12 years of radio industry experience to the jury panel. With stints at BBC Learning and CBBC as well as BBC Radio he worked at BBC Learning and CBBC as a producer on the Deadly Days Out, and project managed a large team of over 100 people. During that time, he produced a series of 10 weekly outdoor events that reached over 55,000 people. While at BBC Radio 1 he was the Producer of The Official Chart on Radio 1. Editorially responsible for the programme on-air and in-vision, online. And while working at Wise Buddah he managed teams, programmes and budgets at Wise Buddah on BBC radio network commissions, and on branded content for commercial clients.
New York Festivals: How did you get your start in the radio industry?
Neil Sloan: The first work experience I did was at Downtown Radio & Cool FM in Northern Ireland. I spent a week doing everything including going out on stories with journalists and sitting in on shows on both stations. It was my first taste of the working environment of a professional radio station, and I loved it. I knew before then I wanted to work in radio, but that week absolutely cemented it.
New York Festivals: What was the turning point in your career?
Neil Sloan: I had been temping and freelancing in commercial radio and different BBC departments after I finished university and emailed a guy I had met at Radio 1 when I did work experience there just to catch up. It was lucky timing as he had just handed in his notice and they needed someone to back fill at short notice. As I was temping in another part of the BBC, I was able to start the very next week. That was my first full time job at Radio 1 – I started on a month’s trial and left 12 years later!
New York Festivals: What is your favorite program that you created and why?
Neil Sloan: One of the stand out moments of my time at BBC Radio 1 was a week long Comic Relief challenge in 2003. Presenters Chappers and Dave, myself, and our camera guy Pete traveled to 92 football clubs across England and Wales in 7 days, collecting signed merchandise from each one. It was hard work, with long days and little sleep, but tremendously rewarding as it raised over a quarter of a million pounds in a week for the charity.
New York Festivals: What creative projects are next for you?
Neil Sloan: At Communicorp UK our programming teams lead our stations to new highs and successes generating creative and compelling solutions for both programming and commercial led content, striving to do ideas, relationships and results better than anyone else in the industry. Part of our staff development is our Programming and Marketing Academy, which is a quarterly session where we learn new skills, share great content and develop creative projects. I love working on the planning and implementation of these, as it is brilliant to see our team grow in confidence and expertise.
New York Festivals: What three words describe you as a content creator?
Neil Sloan: I’m always listening!
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