Radio Clyde in Canada
Thursday 6 May 2004
11 a.m.: Forty six Clyde 1 competition winners, Clyde 1 drive time presenter Gina McKie, Canadian Affair manager Lee McCrossan and The Drum’s editor, Richard Draycott, meet at departure desk five at Glasgow Airport.
It’s Rajar day, so head of Clyde 1 Paul Saunders has been at Radio Clyde’s Clydebank studios since 7 a.m. awaiting the figures. He arrives at the airport along with Duncan Leven, a senior producer at Clyde, and Clyde’s engineering manager Gary Lovatt, laden with broadcasting equipment and two huge bags of Radio Clyde lollipops. The station has recorded an audience rise of 32,000 in the last quarter, so Paul’s day is off to a good start.
As the winners wait to board Canadian Affair flight number TCX36K to Toronto, McKie makes sure that she meets each one of them and gets them into the holiday (and party) spirit.
As we wait to board, I ask Paul Saunders how this promotion was bought to life: “Canadian Affair was sponsoring the drive time show and was looking for a competition to run alongside the sponsorship to really boost awareness of its new direct flight service from Glasgow. I’d been to Toronto and the idea of a party at the top of the CN Tower came to mind. Canadian Affair was keen to do it so we just worked on making it happen. The promotion ran for a month and headlined around the line ‘Party at the Top of the World’s Tallest Building’. This really caught the imagination of the listeners and got them talking about it and about how exciting Toronto is. This created desire and interest to get there with Canadian Affair.”
2 p.m. (GMT): The flight to Toronto Pearson Airport goes without a hitch as a number of the Clyde 1 winners switch to party mode and get tucked in to their duty free.
7 p.m. (Toronto time): Touch down in Toronto. The 46 winners board a coach to be taken to the four-star Sheraton Centre Hotel in the heart of thriving Toronto.
Paul Saunders, Duncan Leven and Gary Lovatt head directly to the CN Tower with all of the equipment to set up for the following day’s live broadcast. They are using the CN Tower’s own ISDN link to ensure there are no hitches during the transmission tomorrow. That said, Lovatt is no big fan of the North American ISDN system: “Of all the places in the world where you are most likely to face problems with ISDN links during a broadcast it is in the USA and Canada. I have been to places such as Latvia and Estonia and had more success finding a reliable ISDN link.”
But Saunders has supreme confidence in his team: “Clyde has broadcast from all over the world, including a battleship in the middle of the Atlantic, so I don’t doubt their ability to do this broadcast. However, when we tested the lines at midnight the night before there was huge relief when it all worked.”
With everything in place for tomorrow’s big day, the Clyde 1 team retire for a good night’s rest – after a nightcap, of course, at the Traders Bar at the Sheraton Centre.
Friday 7 May
9 a.m.: The Clyde 1 team take a taxi across to the CN Tower to prepare for the live broadcast that will go on air at 11 a.m. Canadian time, which will be Gina’s regular Drive Time slot, 4 p.m. Glasgow time.
10 a.m.: The 46 Clyde 1 winners gather in the foyer of the Sheraton Centre to take the short walk to the CN Tower, which totally dominates the Toronto skyline, for the broadcast. After squeezing into lifts they take the 58-second lift ride up the 342 metres (1,122ft) to the first observation point – the Glass Floor and the Outdoor Observation Deck.
Then it is up a few more metres to the Horizons CafÃ© and Indoor Observation Deck, which is at a height of 346 metres (1,136 ft), where Gina McKie has already kicked off Clyde 1’s live radio broadcast back to Glasgow and the West of Scotland, the first non-American radio station to ever do a live show from the CN Tower.
During the show, Gina interviews many of the winners, as well as some Toronto locals, some ex-pat Scots and the marketing manager from the Sheraton Centre. It is also during the three-hour show that Gina gives one lucky listener back in Glasgow the opportunity to win a holiday in Toronto, courtesy of Canadian Affair, during which time they will go to see Britney Spears.
During the broadcast, McKie also launches a new promotion for the station – A Gig A Day in May – in which Clyde 1 listeners can win the chance to see bands such as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in Milan, Prince in New York and Christine Aguilera in Philadelphia as they give away tickets to a gig every day of the month.
During the live transmission, Paul Saunders chooses four lucky winners to travel with Gina up another 48-second elevator ride to the highest vantage point of the CN Tower, the Skypod, which is the highest public observation deck in the world, standing at 447 metres (1,465ft), to do another live interview.
Speaking of the goals of this promotion, Kathryn Munro, communications and marketing director at Canadian Affair, says: “The profile of the Clyde 1 listener is just perfect for us, as they are the people that we are targeting as part of our growing market in Scotland. The aim of this promotion was really to give Toronto that New York perspective, which it has never had in Scotland or the UK. It has never had that kind of sexy, fun city image like New York. It has never been seen as a destination for a short city break, which was because it didn’t have regular low cost direct flights, which it does now. So, the aim of linking up with Clyde 1 was to make young people think of Toronto instead.
“We will use this as a springboard to show that Canada is a place that young people should want to go to. A six-hour flight is no longer considered long haul and the time difference means that you lose no time on your way out anyway. You can touch down and head straight for the fantastic shops, bars, restaurants and clubs.”
The winner’s party at the top of the CN Tower goes on until 2 p.m. when Gina signs off and the 46 Clyde 1 winners are set free to explore the city for themselves over the next two days. As they head off to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting city, the Clyde 1 team packs away all the equipment and takes it to the loading bay beneath the tower to await a taxi. But that is by no means the end of the day for McKie, Saunders, Leven and Lovatt.
3:45 p.m.: After returning the heavy equipment to the hotel, McKie, Saunders, Leven and Lovatt take a taxi to the home of the city’s baseball team, the Toronto Bluejays, the Skydome, where McKie is set to interview one of the team’s top stars, Chris Woodward – an interview organised by Tourism Toronto, the official destination marketing organisation for Toronto’s tourism industry.
As we travel I ask Paul Saunders how he has ensured the Clyde 1 brand has been represented in the way they wanted during the promotion? He says: “Listeners were exposed to the Clyde 1 brand at Glasgow Airport where our Hit Squad handed out a suitcase full of travel stickers and other goodies on departure.
“We also had a particularly strong brand presence around Gina's live show at the top of the CN Tower. In addition to venue branding we arranged to have the whole show broadcast through the CN Tower's PA system which meant that all 8,000 people in the building heard the Clyde 1 live show. We had a big group of Scots who were also out on holiday who joined us with excited ex-pats who couldn't believe that Radio Clyde was live in their adopted city. Quite a few told us that they had to do a double-take when they saw the Radio Clyde branding in the CN Tower.”
Following the interview with Chris Woodward, those nice people at Tourism Toronto have arranged for the Clyde 1 team to stay and watch the evening’s game between the Bluejays and the Chicago Whitesox. It is an enjoyable game - despite the fact that nobody understands what is going on.
Saturday 8 May
9 a.m.: As the Clyde 1 winners recover from a night of over-indulgence, Paul Saunders and Gary Lovatt go and pick up a hire car to drive the Clyde 1 team to Niagara, where Gina McKie will record links to insert into tomorrow’s Sunday morning show, usually presented by Gina but, due to her absence, this week presented by Ross MacFadyen.
The journey takes around 90 minutes and as the team pulls into Niagara Fall the rain continues to pelt down. After buying polythene ponchos as protection against the elements, the team take an elevator down to the caves at the base of the falls. Despite getting saturated, McKie does manage to record a link just metres from the base of the Niagara Falls and even conducts an interview as 2,832 cubic metres of water crash down just feet from the microphone.
Then a few more links are recorded at the top of the Falls, in which McKie poses another competition question.
Then they head onto the Maid of the Mist, the boat that takes visitors to the base of the falls on the Niagara River. During this boat ride (and thorough drenching) McKie manages to record another link for tomorrow’s show.
After disposing of the polythene ponchos, Saunders takes the team to the Hard Rock CafÃ©, where McKie records the final link for tomorrow’s programme. Then, wet and tired, the Clyde 1 team stagger back in their Jeep Grand Cherokee and drive back to the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Toronto.
After dinner, Duncan heads back to his hotel room to edit the day’s recorded links for use in tomorrow’s programme. Meanwhile, Gary and Paul set up the satellite phone system in Paul’s room to find out if they will be able to establish a satellite link that will enable them to transmit the recorded links back to Glasgow in the morning for use in Clyde 1’s Sunday morning show. Gary is not too confident of establishing a strong link due to the number of skyscrapers around the hotel and sure enough an adjacent building blocks the signal. So, despite it now being past midnight, Gary heads outside to an open area of grass outside the Sheraton Centre to see if he can establish the vital satellite link from that position. His thinking is that if a link can be established from the ground then an even stronger link will be established from the top floor of the Sheraton Centre, which Paul Saunders plans to organise access to in the morning. After a few minutes, a link is established and Gary is satisfied ... well, sort of.
Then to bed, to get ready for a very early start.
Sunday 9 May
5:30 a.m.: The Clyde 1 team gather in the reception area of the Sheraton Centre and Paul persuades the concierge to allow them access to the boardroom, which is on the top floor of the hotel’s 46 floors.
Unfortunately, the windows of the boardroom are covered in a protective wire mesh (possibly to stop high-powered businessmen facing financial ruin from plunging through them), which interferes with the signal. Gary decides the signal is just not reliable enough to do a live broadcast, so a contingency plan is quickly devised as the clock ticks down to when the links are needed back in Glasgow, by 1 p.m., which is when Gina’s show starts.
The team jump into a taxi and head direct for the Harbourfront area of the city, which they know is clear of any intrusive skyscrapers and will allow them a direct link to the satellite overhead.
A strong reliable signal is established by Gary and he and Duncan beam all of Gina’s pre-corded links from the previous day back to engineers at Clydebank ready for use in the show.
Gina does a live link into the show from Toronto’s picturesque Harbourfront and remains on hand as the show goes out to listeners in the West of Scotland.
By 9 a.m. Canadian time, the Clyde 1 team is back at the Sheraton Centre to pack up and head back to Pearson Airport to catch the Canadian Affair flight back to Glasgow after three days’ hard slog.
Monday 10 May
11 a.m. (GMT): Jetlagged, the Clyde1 team collect their cases and equipment at Glasgow Airport and head home for some well-earned rest – well, not quite. Paul Saunders immediately heads back to Radio Clyde for an afternoon of meetings, Gary also has an important meeting with chief executive Richard Findlay back at Clyde, Duncan has to travel across to Edinburgh to take care of some business at Clyde’s sister station Radio Forth and Gina has to prepare to be back on air for her drive time show later that afternoon.
The 46 Clyde 1 winners head off home, with smiles on their faces, tales to tell and positive things to say about about Canadian Affair and Radio Clyde. So did the promotion achieve its goals for Canadian Affair and Clyde 1?
Saunders says: “The excitement levels with daily winners and feedback from listeners proved that there was massive interest in this promotional concept. It quite simply created lots of talkability for Canadian Affair and Clyde 1. We were really pleased when Canadian Affair told us that their phones hadn’t stopped ringing with enquiries on the back of the promotion. We have also had lots of interest in promotions like this one from other clients. We always make each promotion individual to the client and ensure they’re big and capture the listeners’ imagination. We’ll take that forward with all the future opportunities that come up.”
And with that the team heads off - job done.
The Promotion’s Mechanism
Each day during March Clyde 1 listeners were given the opportunity to win two free flights to Toronto, courtesy of Canadian Affair, with three nights accommodation at the four-star Sheraton Centre and a winner’s party at the top of the world famous CN Tower.
On hearing a “trigger track” of a Canadian artist, such as Bryan Adams, Avril Lavigne, Nelly Furtado or Nickleback, played during Gina McKie’s Drive Time show, listeners were asked to telephone the Clyde 1 competition line and, if they were the lucky listener picked at random by the computer, they would be asked a question, live on air, about Canada and its people.
Questions ranged from “which Canadian actor starred in the Back to the Future movies?” to “approximately how many people live in Canada?”
If the question was answered correctly, the listener automatically won the trip. If it was answered incorrectly then presenter Gina McKie moved on to other callers until a question was answered correctly.
All entrants had to be over 18, available for the trip from 6-10 May and hold a full valid passport and travel insurance.
Gary and Duncan’s luggage list
Ã¯Telos XStream MXP MPEG ISDN codec
Ã¯Glensound GSGC5 APTx ISDN codec
Ã¯Nera World Communicator M4 Satellite Terminal
Ã¯Mayah Flashman Portable recorder
Ã¯HP Laptop running Adobe Audition c/w Digigram PCX440 soundcard
Ã¯Shure U2S UHF Radiomic
Ã¯Wood & Douglas U400 Cue system
Ã¯Beyer M58 Mic
Ã¯Shure Beta 58 mic
Ã¯Shure PG81 mic
Ã¯Beyer DT100 headphones
Ã¯Various cables etc