NYF’s Grand Jury Confidential features profiles of New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards award-winning Grand Jury members and offers insights into the brilliant careers of prominent radio executives from around the globe
These executives are recruited from all facets of the radio industry to select the World’s Best Radio Programs℠. This week, NYF spends a few minutes with 2016 Grand Jury member, Mike Hally, Founding Partner/Producer, Square Dog Radio LLP, SCOTLAND.
Award-winning radio producer, Mike Hally, spent 18 years as a senior aerospace engineer before embarking on his second career in broadcasting. With 20 years and counting, Mike has made many hundreds of features as a freelance reporter for You & Yours, All in the Mind and Woman’s Hour in particular, before moving behind the mic as a producer on numerous editions of Mediumwave, the Message (which he also christened), Sunday and File on Four.
An early adopter of each wave of new technology, including DAT recorders, mini-disks and most recently solid-state recorders, Mike has been digital editing since the original Pro Tools, and has trained many other reporters and producers in both new recording technologies and digital editing. Since co-founding Pennine Productions in 2001 and subsequently Square Dog Radio in 2006 has produced 34 of his own programmes for BBC Radio 4, and mixed nearly all of both companies’ output.
His programme ideas come from a mixture of his varied employment experience, involvement in a variety of voluntary sector activities and a multi-disciplinary honours degree with the Open University that included social science, drama, history, psychology and technology modules. His first book “Electronic Brains” came out of a Radio 4 series and was published in 2005 by Granta.
Keep reading to find out Mike’s insights on the most important thing he learned from his first job, the defining moment of his career, the hallmarks of an award-winning radio program, and more.
New York Festivals: What’s the most important thing you learned from your first job?
Mike Hally: Speed! Like most radio producers I started in a local radio newsroom, preparing items for hourly bulletins and daily strands. My college course didn’t prepare me for the sheer speed required in that environment, while still getting the stories right.
New York Festivals: What qualities are the most important to have?
Mike Hally: Painstaking attention to detail, an obsessive commitment to accuracy and fairness to your contributors, combined with a desire to find creative new ways to make programmes, never simply following a familiar, long-established formula
New York Festivals: What was a defining moment in your career?
Mike Hally: Working in a local radio newsroom, only months into my radio career, I thought one story I was covering could interest a national network. My news editor was happy for me to pass it on and I was only expecting a tip fee. I phoned up a producer who commissioned me to make the feature, knowing I was a rookie but willing to mentor me – we subsequently made hundreds of features for her daily strand. By sheer good fortune I made the sudden leap from local to national radio, which should have taken years.
New York Festivals: What’s your favorite radio program that created?
I Mike Hally: t was one of the early ones I made as an independent production company – a series of profiles of the early computer pioneers, about them as highly inventive human beings rather than technical programmes. They were aimed at the general listener and people who “never imagined being interested in computer history” loved them, so much that they led to a book, and more.
New York Festivals: What are the hallmarks of award-winning radio programs?
Mike Hally: I don’t think there’s a formula, and it’s hard to define, but for me a winning programme has to be both technically perfect in sound quality and structure, and also be surprising and innovative, with a great story and imaginative treatment. A great many programmes are very good, a great listen, a brave experiment — but an award-winner needs to be exceptional, and that is quite rare.
Visit 2016′s award winning entries and experience New York Festivals World’s Best Radio Programs: http://www.newyorkfestivals.com/worldsbestradio/2016/