Welcome to Radio))) ILOVEIT! Nice of you to drop by this place, where we share the passion for radio and offer inspiration & resources for radio professionals. My name is Thomas Giger and I live in the Netherlands. I have always loved radio and I’m grateful to be a radio industry insider for two decades now. A solid foundation in local radio, long-term dreams, real devotion and hard work brought me national media stints and international business experience. I help radio brands worldwide finding fresh on-air sounds at PURE Jingles. My other passion is writing; I’m a radio-specialized journalist for media magazines, websites and blogs. On this one you’ll find event write-ups, expert interviews, and my own thoughts on radio.
Radio and music have always been a part of my life. Here I sit in a chair, playing the guitar at the house of my cousin’s parents. Seems we had some fun that day! While many kids could play football for hours, I could play music for hours on the stereo in our living room. Somehow I just had to play back tapes and records, and especially to push on all those buttons! Then it happened. I discovered a speaking soundbox. It goes by the name of radio.
I’ll never forget the birthday when my dad and I went to a radio & TV store, where I could pick a brand new ghetto blaster. Radio opened up a whole new world. All these voices, sounds and songs that came from far away but were also really close. Pure magic. My friend Andrew was into radio and music, too. We played deejay in the garden of his home. We had two cassette players and a bunch of tapes, and his mom and sister were the audience. It felt exciting to be the center of attention by playing music for people.
I wondered how a radio studio would look like. When I was about 7 years, I wrote a letter to Radio Basilisk, a local station in the Swiss city of Basel where I lived, saying that I had a burning interest (those were my exact words) to visit them. They invited me for a tour, and it was great. Songs were being played from records, interviews from reel-to-reel, and jingles & spots from NAB cart. They had about 6 cartridge machines; the beginning of my cart fetish :-).
Radio Basilisk did remote broadcasts from an old city bus that was placed at community events. I sometimes went there and looked inside the studio. It was great to watch the jocks at work, running the mixing board, cueing up records and jingles, and presenting their show. I spoke through an open window with the jock on duty and assured him: “I want to do this, too!”. Sitting in class at school, my mind was often drifting away, dreaming of radio and being a deejay. I made up my mind that I would be on the air myself someday.
After we moved from Switzerland to Holland, I discovered Dutch radio and invested every cent in cassettes to religiously archive the best shows of former offhore pirate Radio Veronica (which was then a public broacaster) on Radio 3 (now 3FM). They sounded super professional and used awesome jingles, and their jock Jeroen van Inkel (now on Q-music, photo) was my radio hero. I often skipped my early high school class to listen to his morning show.
Later I learned that Radio Veronica actually borrowed many ideas for jingles and bits from Z100. Scott Shannon and Cleveland Wheelers popular Morning Zoo format was a blueprint for Curry & Van Inkel and Stenders & Van Inkel, Friday night radio shows that were incredibly popular in Holland in the 80s and early 90s. Radio Veronica also brought audio signal processing to Holland; as far as I know they were the first to use an Orban Optimod and Gentner Audio Prizm here. I digged the American radio sound and the atmosphere that Veronica created with many jingles, promos, beds and FX. It was time to start myself.
To practice a bit, I built a ‘radio studio’ in my room with two tape decks, a CD player and a microphone. I presented the Dutch Top 40 while recording myself. Then I read in the newspaper about plans for a community radio station, Radio Kontakt. They were looking for jocks, so I sent a letter (including a complete blueprint for a dance show format) and got invited for a live audition. The first session was a total disaster, the second try-out went pretty well. I was in!
Christmas 1992 marked the dawn for the launch of Radio Kontakt and my official on-air debut on December 27th. I think I’ve never been so nervous as before and during that first show. I could hardly put the needle on a record because my hands were shaking all the time. Seriously! But my shows got better over time. Of course, when I listen them now, they sound ridiculous. I was imitating others, and still had to find my true voice. It actually took me many years before I started to become myself on the air.
Some colleagues at Radio Kontakt worked for other stations, such as Sky-Line Radio (now Sky-Line FM). I loved their jingle package and professional attitude. The daytime programming was produced by pros who actually got paid for what they did. I felt that I could grow there, and was happy when they invited me after hearing me on Radio Kontakt. I started doing weekends and sitting in on daytime. When some people left the station, I was offered a job.
Over the course of 10 years, I covered all time slots – morning shows, lunch magazines, drive time, late night… you name it. I learned to write and deliver news; prepare and do interviews; create showprep and content. Thinking of it, I used every opportunity to evolve. They let me voice and produce promos and commercials. When I was promoted to music director, I set up the database for our on-air automation Dalet and our music scheduling software Powergold. Selecting music, coding songs, building formats, designing clocks, optimizing flows; that kind of thing. Programming a radio station was an exciting challenge.
In the early days I did a morning show for which I got up at 5 AM, jumped on my bike for a trip of 10 miles and was in the studio at 6 AM, as I didn’t own a driver’s license nor a car at that time. Hard work, small paycheck – but I didn’t care. I felt like I had an interesting job and contributed something valuable to the station and its community, while building my resume. It was a milestone in my life – giving me radio experience and persistence training.
Working in local radio developed my tendency to run the extra mile, which has helped me to achieve many personal goals. In an attempt to take my radio career to the next level, I recorded airchecks on a regular basis to produce demos for national stations. Usually, I heard nothing. Some PDs did hear potential and gave me constructive feedback, but no job offer. In retrospective, my presentation was by the book, although not really special. I have a good voice, but I’m not an entertainer, and I guess that I was also still searching for myself and what I truly desired most. Realizing this, I decided to take a turn and try another way.
I figured that my best chance would be to further develop myself, so I started to study journalism, hoping it could get me an internship and a foot in the door at a national radio station. Besides my full time radio job, I attended classes and did homework at nights. Motivation is everything. There were days when I got home from evening class at midnight, did show prep till 1:00 and then catch some sleep, to jump out again at 5:30 AM. This went on for 4 years.
But I made it. I did get that internship at Tijd voor Twee with Frits Spits, a Dutch radio personality to whom I had been listening for many years. Back then, Full Service AC Radio 2 was the number 1 station in Holland. I was finally in the media city Hilversum; in the heart of Dutch national radio! This was my big break. After a few days of plain copywriting, they let me produce the first phone bits and expert interviews. In the end, almost every day one of my productions went on air and could be heard by half a million listeners.
When my internship was over, I decided to stay in Hilversum. I gave up my job at Sky-Line FM, and went for it. I attended every possible job interview. I said yes to everything, from cleaning up archives to doing admin work. Then my journalism degree, earned over the course of 4 years, proved to be a great investment. I helped me get a temporary, but good job as online content manager at the Internet department of national news broadcaster NOS.
I learned much about multimedia production and web publishing, but I also realized that general news is not my thing. Media journalism, focused on radio, is. Together with publisher Blog Online, I founded Radioactive Blog to write for and about the Dutch radio industry. Time and devotion made all the difference. Instead of copying/pasting press releases, I offered self-produced quality content so radio folks started to talk about my blog. After a year of writing, it averaged 1,000 unique visitors a day and an occasional traffic spike of 2,500 when I had a scoop. That was pretty nice for a niche blog in Dutch language.
My work as a radio-specialized media journalist was noticed by colleagues. Dutch public news station Radio 1 invited me for interviews about the future of DAB and other topics, and I got in touch with Broadcast Magazine (of which I was already a subscriber for a decade). I became a freelance writer for them and I got the chance to interview all my radio heroes. When my editor asked me to come working for them fulltime, I said yes immediately.
I liked my editorial job, but I desired to be closer to radio. Once again, my blogging efforts paid off. I had done a series on jingle companies and got acquainted with the owner of VHU Europe. He asked me to help them with market research and become their secret sales weapon (it really says so on my business card :-)). Today I’m responsible for international relations at VHU’s PURE Jingles. It’s a perfect combination of my passions for radio, imaging, research, consultancy, and traveling. But there is also that writer inside of me, who wants to give creative sparks an eternal life through timeless words. The answer?
I love radio and writing. Two reasons to write about radio! So I’ve launched Radio))) ILOVEIT to offer inspiration and resources for radio professionals, and those who want to work in radio. I’m writing in English to make the content accessible to radio people in many different countries. This site is focused on radio programming strategies, radio production techniques, radio personality fundamentals, music scheduling practices, and radio’s bright future.
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Thanks for visiting – and for taking time to read my radio story. Enjoy Radio))) ILOVEIT!
Thomas Giger | Editor-in-Chief