The Art of Successful Radio- Adrian Van Klaveren

“We are news and sport.” is how Adrian Van Klaveren described BBC Radio 5 Live. Adrian is the controller of both BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. He spoke at a Coventry Conversation about BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio can be successful.

 Adrian started off with some facts about radio in Britain and surprised many saying that there are forty-eight million listeners a week. He linked this with the idea that radio, an old medium, still fits into modern life. People have a personal connection with radio and he went on to say that Britain possibly have the best radio in the world.

 “You can use it affectively as a secondary activity.” is how Adrian justified the fact that radio still exists in modern life. He described how people can listen to the radio whilst driving, cooking, doing work and all sorts of other scenarios and you can still take all the information in without having to fully interact with it.

Written By Alex Maidment

 Radio is immediate. It has the most up-to-date news there and then. Adrian played out an example of how immediate radio is; one reporter was using an Iphone app to contact the radio and was talking live on air from the scene. This live piece demonstrated how an atmosphere is created by listening to it live as the chaos could be heard in the background, it came across as very effective.

Adrian then  moved on to how live sports reporting is so exciting, it brings an aspect of involvement.  There is a direct connection from the sport to the listener.

 He talked about how speed of information is improving all the time and now because of the internet and new mediums in which people can publish things as it happens, the radio isn’t the only medium with the crucial speed of information. He described 5 Live’s role: “It’s about breaking news.’ And this description fits the idea of both immediacy and speed of information. He continued: “We’re also about live sport.” And explained how this is a crucial part of the radio station.

 The talk moved on again to how live is better and Adrian said: “We’re always much stronger when we’re out and about.” Referring to the idea that live is immediate and to be immediate you need to be there.

 When talking about the success of BBC Radio 5 Live, Adrian said that you need to be clear about what you did and he summed up what 5 Live does by saying: “We are news and sport.” They know what they are aiming to achieve so they do what they need to do to reach their target audience. When describing the presenters of radio, Adrian said that is all about character and that blandness is the enemy of every presenter. He also said that you want to be bold: “We want people to go to the edge.”

 Towards the end of the talk, Adrian mentioned that: “The future for us is clearly a digital one.” This came with the fact that everything is going digital and the next step is radio, along the lines of DAB. He gave some advice as to how to get into the world of radio and said: “Get as much experience as you can,” and: “We’re looking for people with ideas,” because: “Ideas are crucial.”


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