When plotting a month of content on two networks around the theme of Access All Areas (AAA), my team and I came up with a lot of interpretations for what it could mean. Was it about celebrities? Being honest about critics? Letting our audience take over the airwaves? Upping our multi-media profile? After many successful AAA's already under the stations' belts, the thing that steered us this year was reminding ourselves of what AAA really means to the audience. The two objectives have remained the same since we started AAA on Radio 1 and 1Xtra - to be as open and honest to our audience as possible, and to continue to innovate digitally.
So far Radio 1 and 1Xtra's Open Weekend (1-2 Feb), the most literal interpretation of AAA, saw groups of avid audience members get an uncensored tour of the 8th floor of New Broadcasting House. They saw the messy desks, took part in a mock playlist meeting and got an audio tour of the studios, before being included in live shows. The 1Xtra crowd got to interview Tinie Tempah, whilst the Dan & Phil audience (obviously) played human hoopla for the cameras.
Last week (3-7 Feb), we got our audience as near as possible to our weekday DJs on Radio 1. Each DJ had a day dedicated to them, on which their show was fully visualised online. On that stream you could also hear EVERYTHING going on in the studio, even when the songs were playing! Cue DJs sweating with fear as they held in their less censored chatter with producers. Teams let the audience in further, as Scott Mills gave us the first ever listener edition of Innuendo Bingo, and Greg James played Grab A Guest (possibly the most frightening idea inspired by AAA).
1Xtra gave their audience the keys, in U Control The DJ - a week long narrative around 1Xtra Breakfast's Twin B and Yasmin and DJ Charlie Sloth. The audience essentially helped each camp humiliate the other with suggestions of situations and challenges. That's right, Charlie rapped in a Bingo Hall and Twin B and Yasmin made Daft Punk helmets.
In (slightly) more serious news, our senior management team is under the spotlight in The Review Show each Tuesday night from 9-10pm. So far George Ergatoudis - Head of Music, Radio 1 and 1Xtra (sort of) bared all and shared the music team's inner-most workings when answering questions from the audience. "Big Boss" Ben Cooper (Controller, Radio 1 and 1Xtra) is closing the month's series taking comments and burning questions on anything Radio 1.
Amongst all of the Access All Areas initiatives including launching the new social media producer work, making our DJs come alive on the website, crowdsourcing a documentary, inviting the audience to the world's most exclusive club night in our office, giving bedroom DJs the chance to takeover, launching a rap battle mobile game for 1Xtra, and not to mention Radio 1's annual trip to the Brits, we're doing something really special for the first time during the final week of February...
In an early planning conversation with one of my producers about what is most precious to us that we could share with the audience in February, he started to talk about the studios. We're really proud of ours and what they can do so what better way to celebrate openness and creativity by letting the audience use them? Soon, the audience were applying for an hour slot via our website, and over 1000 people pitched their ideas to us. We want to celebrate the weird and wonderful as well as budding presenters, so after a long process with a lot of phone calls and interrogation, my team chose who we were going to let loose in the dedicated studio. A hen party, DnB mixtape, world record attempt and a World War One discussion are just some of the ideas people wanted to use our studio for. It's all hands on deck from 20-25 February as we produce the ultimate experiment in User Generated Content - 36 hours of other people's ideas.
Live shows will dip into what's happening in the AAA Studio from Saturday 21 February and a compilation show of the best and worst moments will be simulcast across Radio 1 and 1Xtra on Wednesday 26 February from 9-10pm.
Just to get mushy for a minute, it's projects like these that make you proud to wear your BBC lanyard. Having the freedom to design a celebration around something as human as openness is pretty amazing, it's something only Radio 1 and 1Xtra would and could do. Getting to wrap that sentiment in a funny, expert and shareable way is what continues to motivate everyone at Radio 1 and 1Xtra to generate ideas.
Radio 1 and Radio 1Xtra are opening up to audiences throughout February as a part of Access All Areas. To find out more about Access All Areas, click here