My Media Day: Richard Melvin, director, Dabster Productions

Richard Melvin Blog, Radio, Richard's Ramblings

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RICHARD Melvin is the director of Dabster Productions and has been since 2006.

Dabster is an Edinburgh-based company specialising in making radio shows, online films and podcasts for a wide range of clients, including BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Scotland, Amnesty International and The Guardian.

Yesterday, it formally registered an interest to buy Capital Radio in Scotland, were it to become available following a decision last week by the competition authorities concerning the acquisition of the Real and Smooth brands by Global Radio.

He submitted this on Thursday, May 30.

What exactly is it you do?

Well, I’m a radio producer, really. We make shows for all sorts of people, mostly comedy shows and we’re currently working on three different series for Radio 4 and a comedy panel show for BBC Radio Scotland. We also work with a number of creative groups in Scotland, including Screen HI and The Creative Loop. We’re about to launch a pop up radio station in Inverness called Radio goNORTH.

We also make podcasts and so far have managed around six million downloads across our various projects with The Stand, The Pleasance, The Guardian and Amnesty International.

What did your working day today or yesterday comprise?

Yesterday was quite an exciting day for ‘Team Dabster’. One of us spent the day in a studio in London with Robbie Williams, one of our production team mixed episode three of the Lach Chronicles for Radio 4 in Brisbane and the rest of us were in Inverness preparing for the launch of Radio goNORTH.

Oh, and we formally submitted a note of interest in buying Capital Radio in Scotland.

How different or similar was it to your average working day?

You can imagine. We’re used to being spread around the world, working remotely from each other, but it’s not every day you try to buy one of the biggest stations in the country.

The competition authorities say that Global must sell seven of radio stations across the UK, if it wants to complete the purchase of the Real and Smooth brands. Including either Real Radio Scotland or Capital Radio Scotland.

My opinion is that, for some time now, the commercial radio sector in Scotland has been in terminal decline. Fewer and fewer jobs are available and hardly any shows we hear on Scottish commercial radio are made in Scotland.

It’s a shame that commercial radio in Scotland has become so generic, bland, soulless and cash-driven. We’ve sleep-walked into a terrible situation. People here don’t need to be told what to listen to by a bunch of disconnected programmers, presenters and schedulers usually based in London. We feel that the time is right for Scotland-based talent to take back control of our airwaves – which is why we announced formally our interest in buying Capital Radio Scotland.

My team are the most capable programme-makers anywhere in the UK, we have experience of making network radio at the highest level and have all worked previously in commercial radio. We all met when we worked for Beat 106, the highly successful station that became Capital.

We’ve already attracted interest from a number of former Beat 106 employees as well as a large section of the Scottish creative industry. Investors have also lined up, with money coming from some high-profile artists, an angel investor and our own cash reserves.

I passionately believe that we’re the best placed people to make a radio station that young people in Scotland will love. Our ideas include weekend breakfast with Kevin Bridges, hip hop Thursdays with Frankie Boyle and we’ve worked alongside the biggest names in Scottish showbusiness who will no doubt be queuing up to get on the airwaves.

Radio should be fun, it should feel that it’s made for you by people like you. Unfortunately in Scotland, we’ve lost track of that. 2014 is going to be a big year and we want to make sure there’s a radio station in the Central Belt that’s ready to party.

How different or similar is your average working day to when you started in post?

It’s quite different. When I started, I thought I would be making radio shows for Radio Scotland, but our first major project ended up with us writing a song about the footballer, Jason Scotland, that got to number one in the Scottish charts. I also didn’t expect podcasting to be such a big deal. Social media and smart phones have had a big impact on the way our content is consumed.

When I first started Dabster Productions, I spent a lot of time developing ideas, most of which ended up in the dustbin of whichever commissioning editor we approached. But now, thankfully, we spend most of our time actually making content.

How do you see your job evolving?

That all depends on how the next few weeks and months pan out, I suppose. We’re committed to making the highest-quality programmes for BBC Radio networks until the end of 2013. Byond that, who knows? I sincerely hope that by the end of the year it’ll all be about a brand new commercial radio station for central Scotland. My team is ready for that. Beat 106 was a triumph in Scotland; I’m not saying we want to recreate that – we never look backwards – but we all learnt a lot from our time there.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?

I love making great radio that listeners can enjoy. I love working with the brightest and best talent in the world and I love seeing ideas become reality. I love my team, and I work with the best people imaginable. They’re my colleagues, friends and at times they feel like family. It’s ‘Team Dabster 4 Life’.

I also like causing a little bit of trouble.