A Bike Thief, The Met Police and David Walliams Under A Table: How To Make Better Radio

Last week a radio script arrived in my inbox. A straightforward, beautifully constructed ad that communicated an idea perfectly, in just 30 seconds.

SFX: Sounds of a moped being stolen, mechanical noises, cars going past, street sounds.

Male Voice Over: Cocky sounding thief
This one shouldn’t take long.
‘course if it had a cover, I might not be bothered.
Can’t see what’s under there.
And they’d chained the back wheel, it would’ve taken me much longer
‘specially if the chain’s off the ground, makes it harder to cut.
This one doesn’t even have a lock on the front.
So in the time I’ve been talking to you, I’ve nicked it.

SFX: Moped revving off

Metropolitan Police Voice Over: Over 9,000 scooters and bikes were stolen in London last year.
Lock your bike, chain the rear wheel and cover it to make it harder to steal.
Lock, chain, cover. The Met Police.

Every word is expertly crafted to conjure the dialogue and image of a very believable thief.

It sounds really simplistic; like anyone in any studio could make this ad and produce a decently good job.

But I’m bored of good. Far too many ads I hear on commercial radio are undermining the astonishing power of the medium. It’s sad that I feel part of a minority that truly loves the power of radio advertising, so please allow me to evangelise.

I wanted to make this ad great, the script was fantastic and the creative team are the finest people in the business. The last time I worked on scripts for the MET Police they won a bucketful of awards and with the opportunity to do it again, I wanted to go all out.

So how do you take an ad anyone could do and make it better?

70% of people now listen to radio on headphones and because of this I’ve developed a new obsession – recording all my own sound effects binaurally (3D audio for headphones) when I have the script in advance. Binaural recording creates the sensation of actually being in the same room or space as the performer or event, generating a truly immersive experience for the listener.

Here are two versions of the ad: the first, the immersive binaural experience we chose for the official ad and the second, a standard stereo version I mocked up to show the difference in energy and immersion. Have a listen. Does one feel closer, perhaps more lifelike?