Q&A: Justin Kings, media consultant, Newsleader

Justin Kings runs newsleader media consultancy, specialising in news/talk radio and multi-media projects across the United Kingdom and Europe. He will be talking about putting multimedia into practice at The full line-up of speakers is at this link. Read more about Justin at this link.

So what exactly do you do?
In one sentence I work with radio stations to help create compelling news and talk content. This can range from coaching and training to advising on strategy to independent production and more. My company’s called newsleader media consultancy and in its first year clients in the UK have included Radio 1, various BBC Local stations and GMG Radio.

You’ve worked in established media brands (BBC/GCap) as well as independently; what are the pros and cons?
I have a lot of flexibility working independently. I enjoy the chance to work for the BBC and commercial radio now, as well as with broadcasters abroad which I wanted to do. Cons? Well, I have always worked in great teams, at the BBC and Capital, so I miss that and I miss them. However, I’ve worked with lots of talented new colleagues and made some new friends this year. So, all in all I’ve found going it alone a very positive experience so far.

Multimedia is often thought about very visually, but tell us about how radio can make the most of multimedia tools?
The fact that much of multimedia is visual is a huge benefit to radio. We’ve seen how images, videos and so on can help enhance the radio experience. In terms of social media, I would suggest radio is itself a social media. By that I mean it shares similar characteristics, it is personal, it’s interactive and reactive. So, again, tools like twitter can complement content on the radio.

Do you think radio is behind TV in its development of social and multimedia? What are the challenges?
I don’t think so. Just look at BBC Radio Five Live’s ‘Live Now’ trial which aggregates on-line all interaction, by email, text and Twitter.  I haven’t seen anything like that anywhere else. Very clever.

Generally at the BBC, there is of course a big drive towards multimedia working. Outside the Beeb, there are some examples of commercial radio using multimedia too including some impressive reports from Iraq on Viking FM. But Absolute Radio is perhaps the commercial radio station using multimedia and social media most and most creatively. Here’s a showbizzy example, listeners wrote an episode of Dr Who 140 characters at a time using Twitter which was then broadcast and filmed with David Tennant. All of this takes commitment and investment and I suppose the economic climate provides the biggest challenge for everyone.

What’s the most exciting multimedia project you’ve launched?
I was proud of some of the link ups between TV, radio and on-line we achieved at BBC London. But this sort of tri-media coverage doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of effort on the part of everyone. Most crucially, managers need to ensure teams talk to each other to share ideas, share stories and join up.

What advice would you give to a radio old-hand dipping their toes in online and social media?
The first question is, how do you use the web? And, do you have a Twitter account? Expose the journalist to compelling examples of multimedia reporting and inspiring blogs. Persuade them to experiment with social media. Not just Twitter but facebook, you tube and so on. When you start to experience the opportunities offered by multi and social media I think you naturally want to be part of it. That’s how it was for me anyway.

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