My Media Day: Grant Stott, Radio Forth DJ

GRANT Stott is a freelance radio and TV presenter, a regular Edinburgh King’s Theatre panto villain, an experienced corporate/event host and a former Edinburgh Evening News columnist. He presently hosts the daily, 1000-1400 slot on 97.3 Forth One.

He submitted this on Tuesday, October 9.

What exactly is it you do?

This is probably best summed up quoting a four year-old child who visited me in the studio, recently. She said I “pressed buttons, played loud music and told stories”.

What did your working day today or yesterday comprise?

Yesterday was a pretty straightforward day as it basically involved just doing the radio show.

I got in about 45 minutes before I was due on air. We can leave it as late as that these days as you can already be up to speed with emails, etc as soon as you get up.

I ‘touched base’ with Brian Paige, who is our programme director at Forth, and was briefed by him regarding a promotion I’ll be running on air this week with Hillend Ski Centre.

We’re also running a two-day promo with Direct Line but this has come through our sponsorship and promotions team, so I took a few minutes with Mike Scott, who runs the S&P team, to go over the details.

At 10am, I took over from the Breakfast Show and we went straight into the Top 10@10. Classic morning radio stalwart. Ten songs from a particular year, the listeners guess the year by getting in touch with me through text, email, twitter and Facebook. The following three hours are more formatted, with more music sweeps peppered lightly with my brief, random musings.

After I was done at 2pm, I had the rest of the day off, ahead of an evening event at the Omar Kayyham restaurant, in Edinburgh, to raise funds for Radio Forth’s Cash for Kids. Acted as party host and said a few words about the work Cash for Kids does.

Friday had been a different story altogether, however. On top of my radio show, I had the Press launch for this year’s panto at The King’s Theatre: Mother Goose. So as soon as I left the studio I went straight up to the theatre, got changed into make-up and costume and did the photoshoot with co-stars, Allan Stewart and Andy Gray.

We also filmed a TV ad and then changed into NEXT year’s costumes for advanced promotion for the theatre. Panto really does go on all year for me.

After that, I was home and changed and out to Dynamic Earth to host Byte Nite, which is a fundraising event for Action for Children.

About 150 hardy souls from the IT sector meet up for a night of good food, drink and entertainment, then at midnight head out to Holyrood Park to sleep under the stars to raise funds for young people who find themselves sleeping rough. As tempted as I was, I declined the invitation to join them and went home to my own bed.

How different or similar was your day yesterday or on Friday to your average working day when you started in post?

The world of radio has changed beyond all recognition from when I started.

I began my media career at Forth back in 1990 and it was still ‘old school radio’, as far as technology and content were concerned.

For instance, we played off vinyl and cartridges.

If anything was recorded, it was done on quarter-inch tape and edited with a white pencil and a razor blade.

I can still remember the excitement when a CD player was installed in the studio.

Listeners back then got in touch by writing on a postcard or calling you when the phone lines opened.

If they were up -to-date with technology they might send you a fax, but our fax machine wasn’t actually in the studio as it was too noisy and could be heard if the mic was live.

Nowadays, technology has totally transformed how we do radio. Everything is done through the computer: music, ads, interaction with listeners. So part of the job is now about keeping up with the advances in technology and embracing it, to help you sound as good as you can on air.

Social media has become a huge tool for us as well; listeners can contact you directly and instantly now through Twitter and Facebook.

Again this is something we have to embrace and use as best we can.

Also, the use of YouTube and video blogs are great tools to engage your audience with. Anyone fancy a wee burst of That’s Fife?

The on-air content offered by the presenter has also changed on radio, as pretty much all commercial radio works to a much tighter format these days: what to play and when, and when to speak and for how long.

That’s probably been more tricky for me to adjust to than the change in technology but I’m getting there – as my boss might testify.

Show durations have changed as well. A few years ago, the natural duration of a commercial radio show was three hours. Now it’s four, across the board.

How do you see the job evolving?

Radio has become so much more competitive over the last few years, particularly across the Central Belt in Scotland – and I would imagine it’s about to get tougher if/when the GMG Radio take-over [by Global Radio] goes ahead and Heart comes to Scotland.

We’re all fighting for listeners and persuading them to stay with us for longer. As it stands, we’re ‘head and shoulders’ above all our competitors on our patch but won’t dare get complacent.

What gives you most job satisfaction?

Saying something on air, say a funny story, and then a listener reminding me of it a few days – maybe even weeks – later.