Start Your Event in the Car by Producing a Radio Show

What if you could start the event experience for your guests before they arrive at your venue? What if you could start involving people while they are in the car driving to your event? Lars Sørensen cam up with a solution: a pre-event radio show.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Transcript

Hi Lars, welcome to our studio.


Thanks. Awesome studio.


Thank you. Last week I was browsing on LinkedIn and I came across one of your posts. And it was stating that you made a radio show for people who were travelling from home to their event.


Yes.


It's such a simple but yet brilliant idea to do so.


Yes, thanks.


How did you come up with that idea? And why?


Well, in the last two years, I created a radio station. Especially for companies. And events. Although...

I don't know when people are watching this, but in our last two years we didn't have much physical events. So this is why I started the radio station. One Day Radio. And we already did a lot of shows. But they were all like in one moment. And then people tune in and start to listen. And then, when we were finally able to have events again, I was with a group of friends. We worked together and we actually thought it would be cool to organize our own event. And then I had all the radio-stuff, like the mobile studio. And I thought: this is a great thing to do something and experiment a little bit. And for this particular event...

We called it Save the moment. Because when we were planning it we had no clue of the date it could be planned on. Because there were still all restrictions and so.


So we were just planning Save the moment and then we wanted to make sure that everybody would arrive there in the same tune. We wanted people to tune in. So then I came up with the idea to start the radio show. So we sent everybody a text SMS with a URL, where they could follow the radio show. And then, just beneath the radio show, they got like a listening thing you could just press Play, we had a request button. So during the travel people were already getting to know each other.

Because I would say: well, this next record is requested by Kevin. And this is the record that he played when he asked his wife to marry him. Or something like that, you know? So we're learning more about each other through the music. And while we were at it, we also gave them some information about the show. We really wanted to create, like, a world that starts when you leave home. And especially something different then just you driving to an event. And making a couple of thousand phone calls.


Indeed. Because it is a waste of time. You're sitting there in the car. And in the best case you do some calls or something like that. But already have the possibility to tune into the event, that's the thing I thought was very clever.


Yes, if you look at the opportunities for audio, just in a broad sense even...

I know podcast is going through the roof. It's very...

In the beginning time of Corona you had this app: Clubhouse. All audio. That was popular at that time. Anyway, you heard what happened?


No.

 

But even radio, if you look at the numbers. Here in Belgium, 89% of the people listen to a radio station. And in Holland, it's, I think, 7 million people listen to radio. And I was also thinking about: why is this? And I think, especially if you look at the last couple of years, where we even more became screen workers...


Everything is screen. Even a simple meeting with your colleagues is a video. So I truly believe that there's a high saturation of video, of images. And that's why audio and radio works so awesome.


There's this beautiful Chinese proverb that says: the tongue can paint what the eyes can't see. And this is exactly the thing, you know? If you're listening to your favourite radio show, maybe in the evening, and you have a great DJ or presenter, that knows how to storytell. He can bring you in a kind of atmosphere. And this is just something you can tap into when you're planning an event. By choosing to do something with audio even. Because now we chose to create a radio show. But you could also think of...

A free tip, feel free to use it. If you would just make like a podcast. With one of your keynote speakers. You pay them enough so invite them for a podcast as well. And then send this to people to listen to on their way to...


To make sure that we're priming people to arrive at the event in the right mood, that we want to have them in. And not, like you also said, just out of a call with their boss. Their head still full of: I have to do groceries. And oh, here's the event.


Yes, indeed. And I do like the podcast idea you just shared. But for me the magic is in the live broadcast. Obviously.


Sure, you have to go for the live radio. One Day Radio. It's true. The live component is especially why, I guess, we're in this business. We love live events. Though we managed with online and we know how to do hybrid. But the live thing makes it work. And nothing goes over a live meeting. Like this. So I can see how you react. And then radio, in my opinion, is the next best thing.

Though you could see it as a one-way communication. It's still a communication from the host or the DJ to you. Especially if you...

This is the training that I had as a host on radio. From this radio-guru: Bernard Hammelburg. It's this old...


Sorry Bernard. But he's a legend in business radio. And he's the one that taught me that you should create radio like you're talking to one person. So take someone in mind. And this could be the persona of the people that you invite. But make it smaller. You know that your target audience is between 35 and 50. And coming to your event. But then take in mind: no, it's Kevin that's coming. It's just in your mind. And make sure that all the information or the stories that you share, that they go to Kevin. And then they actually go to you. You can feel in the car or in the train: this is about me.


If you look at the content. You already mentioned that it is a good idea, for example, to have requests for music so you can introduce people. So when you come at the event you, kind of, already know a little bit of who's already there.


Do you also talk about the event itself? The content, what's coming up?


Sure, yes. You'll have to find, I guess, a mix to what works. And how many information you want to send. Because if we're talking to get people into a mood, then I would always be careful with the amount of information you share at the beginning of an event. So it would be the same thing if you walk up to an event and you would have like all these promotions. Of sponsors or program. It's too much in one time. It's just an overload. So we actually...


In an earlier interview we talked about it. I think we called it an information tsunami or something like that. So I would be careful with it. But sure, yes. If you're creating this mood...


What we actually did: I had some of the people that were going to give a session, like a moderator. I just invited them to join me. Behind the microphone. So, next to the music from Stephanie, I say: well, when you arrive here, you're going to meet Eric. And Eric is going to host one of the sessions. So let's meet Eric. Eric, are you looking forward to it? Yes, I'm looking forward to meeting you. You're travelling to me and I'm going to do this and this. And this and this I'm not going to tell. You know?


So you want to keep, you want to have a nice mix between sharing some information, but also teasing a little bit. Because people only have audio, you can do this.


You know, in video, you'll have to do a lot more effort if you want to create a kind of... Because you see what's happening.


Yes.


From a technical point of view: you already mentioned you create a link. So I think it's an audio stream then, that you do then. It's not actual FM broadcast.


No, that's the only thing that I always have to explain. As I also, on my website, use these kind of images because we're making...

It's radio. But you can't tune in on the FM because this is just really expensive, you know. There are not a lot of FM frequencies out there. So what we use is just a broadcast streamer. You have a lot of services. And what we usually do is: we create like a one-pager.


Like for the tax-office in Holland, we had a big event and they didn't want to do it on their intranet. And then, so, we just created a page with all the information there. So with the radio button. With the request button. With a fan mail button.


Do you get much fan mail?


People are super-enthusiastic about this. And I think, obviously, on one part it's something different than all the Friday afternoon Teams sessions. Or the Zoom-bingos. Or whatever. It's something different. But also because what it does. Because it informs you in a way. But it's also...


You get to choose how you digest the content. Because everybody has a smartphone. You can access our programs on the smartphone. Or we send you the code and you use your own app or your own intranet, whatever. But people can take it with them. So I guess it taps into the same reason why podcasts are so popular. It's: you can listen just through your headphones or something when you go for a walk with the dog. Or you're just commuting to your boss. This is actually what we're doing. But we just throw over the sauce of life. The sauce of storytelling. And we're cooking it up to be this dish that doesn't come to you through your mouth but through your ears.


Just before we started shooting you were telling me, backstage, the story of what happened at the event you organized yourself. You were talking about that before. How you did set up that arrival and what happened then. Are you willing to share that also with the audience?


Sure, yes.


Well, this event, this was our own event. And this is a team effort. We call ourself Kuroso. This is our...

And so we were planning and then the philosophy we had was: we're all coming from an age, almost, in which we all were solo. We were on ourselves. And mostly with ears in, behind a screen.

 

Indeed.


Yes.


So we wanted to mark the moment that we would switch. From online and solitary to offline and connected. And so, during the radio show, we mentioned: okay, when you arrive at our location...


We were at a beautiful location. One of the old forts in Holland. We have a lot of those from the new waterline. So, when you arrive at the fort, park there. The practical information.


But one thing is very important. Keep your headphones on. You walk onto the terrain. It's going to look mysterious. And go to the fire. And just sit there until further instructions. And then...


So people... Because they arrived so low and some time between each other.


So they walked onto this terrain. You only see a fire against those old brick walls. And there are people there. But the one thing that's different from the normal situation, if you would arrive at an event, you probably look for someone that looks a little bit similar. This is what we know of the physical psychology. So I would probably walk up to you. Why are you here? And then you'll have this conversation. And immediately groups will start to form. That's okay. But we wanted something different. So we just asked people to stay in the solitary. We asked them, at a certain moment, to sit down around the fire.


So forty people were just sitting there. With their headphones on. And they wouldn't have spoken to each other. And then we marked the moment.


On the outside I was doing the radio show. From within the fort. And I had a view on the campfire. And then we had...

I always have this sign with the On Air. You know?


You need to have that sign.


Yes, you need one of those. You need one of those signs or it's not radio.


So I was still talking through the microphone and I had some nice audio-landscape on. And then I just brought them to this moment. For two years we were all solitary. We were all online. And this is the moment that we're to be connected and offline again. We're going to go offline in: three, two, one.


And then I had to manually connect the cable so the On Air sign was off. And then my colleagues Eric, Kim and Peter they were there to...


They were standing there the whole time that people put off the headphones. And then there was this relief. Because then people were...


They felt, actually, from that time, they could connect again. So it really set...


It really was a prime for your event. And if you’re talking about event design and experience design, I think these are things that can help you. Because if you're a professional event planner I know the chairs are going to be in the right place. And the lights are going to be awesome. And you're going to have your "broodjes-kroket" ready. But this creates the experience.


Yes.


I guess it creates a higher return on investment. And it's also a tough one. Because it's hard to filter this out of your feedback form at the end. But it's what we see in the reactions of people. And it's what we hear when you're talking with them. At the end. Of course we also had an open bar at the end. We were an event. And then the things that people come and mention. And one of the things that they really liked was that the event started the moment they left the door. And that we offered them a chance to prime for the event. What am I going to do today? Who am I going to meet? What do I want to get out of it? Instead of just showing up. And that you have to start your priming from there.


And I guess a lot of events work fine but then the investment goes a little bit more like: it will be on premisses. The priming would have to start by shutting down the lights. And having over a cool keynote speaker. You'll have to prime them from the moment they got in. And what we discovered with One Day Radio is this awesome chance of priming upfront.


Indeed. And everybody is in the traffic jam. So it's the ideal moment to do so.


Yes.


Lars, thank you very much for coming over and sharing these ideas with our audience.


It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.


And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.

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