By Kate Fallis
We were lucky enough to host Tim Collins, Senior Producer of The Jeremy Vine Show at one of our Shout! Small Talks. The programme is broadcast on BBC Radio 2, which has over 15 million listeners per week, and is aired between 12pm-2pm weekdays. Tim’s insight was invaluable and he had countless tips on how to best pitch stories to his team and get on the show. Here, I’ll be reviewing some of Tim’s main talking points.
An average day for The Jeremy Vine Show
Firstly, Tim explained things from a producer’s point of view. He walks in pretty much every day to a blank canvas, so it’s his responsibility to choose the main stories of the day and bring them to life. Tim works in a team of six or seven people on average, with one producer designated to each of the big four stories of the day. The team have their morning editorial meeting at 8am where they chat through possible guests and stories for the day. By 9am they have chosen the four stories they will focus on, and then have to get on with finding and confirming guests.
What Tim looks for in a story
Tim was very specific about what he looks for in a story, and timing can be key. The Jeremy Vine programme ‘helps people to mull things over and make their own decisions’ on certain stories and situations, so it’s crucial that those stories are broadcast with the best quality research, spokespeople and audio. In essence, those are the three main things Tim looks out for. Of course, your idea must be creative and fresh to be noticed in the first place, so you must keep in mind that the producers of programmes such as Jeremy Vine have been in the game a long time – they will know when you’ve tried to recycle a story!
Your research is a good starting point – the more people involved in a study or survey, the better, and you must be prepared to share the data. Tim said he’s more than happy to credit research as long as it doesn’t sound like too much of a plug. Case studies linked to that research can also be a great hook for producers. Tim explained it like this: while CEOs are often put up as spokespeople, listeners are more likely to be interested in the ‘human’ side of the story and would rather hear from someone who has been directly affected by or involved in it. But above all, your spokesperson must be a confident speaker and someone who is interesting to listen to! Unlike television, radio relies solely on audio output so there’s no ‘pictures’ to make a story more interesting – it’s all in the voice! Finally, you must organise your spokesperson’s availability and make sure they can get to the BBC studios or a studio with ISDN. Landline or Skype is a back-up option, but having someone in the studio or available over ISDN will make your story and spokesperson much more appealing.
How to best pitch your story
When it comes to pitching your idea to someone like Tim, there are several things to keep in mind. Firstly, he’s very busy and receives a lot of emails, most of which he has to delete without even looking at. It’s up to you to make your story stand out. Make the subject heading eye-catching and be sure not to include too much information in the body of the email. If you can explain your idea in a sentence, you’re off to a good start. Once again, timing is key – so if you’re going to call, make sure it’s at the most convenient time possible and that you can speak with the right person.