The name Geg Hopkins was pretty much the be all and end all of radio and production across the Gulf in 80s and even through until now really, although the aspects of the industry have changed considerably. I came in just after Graham Carter Dimmock, he of Episode Six the forerunners to Gillan, Deep Purple and on. Graham was Eagle Studios and was and probably still is quite brilliant and had an excellent radio voice, but left the area in the early 80s. Not only technically, but direction wise, Graham Dimmock knew exactly what he was doing and a hard act to follow. Everything he did sounded FAT and I still have the old 16 channel mixer he used out in my back shed. Wanna buy it?  So that was a sort of benchmark in the area for a while.

‘Eagle’ died as Tim Smythe now of ‘Film Works’ Dubai changed the name to ‘Film House’.  Anyone in the trade knows well that Film Works are now pumping along and the grade has been made with movies like ‘The Kingdom’ using their facilities. By the early 90s plenty of jokers bought a few bits of kit in Dubai and masqueraded as the dog’s bollix but they were just facilities for the agencies and absolutely no concept of the art.  I assume most of them still exist today as Dubai has plenty of work. In Bahrain I still had a good run and really no competition, not that I cared. Then came a little partnership in Dubai called Creative Force and suddenly some really good stuff was being recorded and not everything of worth was coming back to Bahrain and I HATE GEG HOPKINS PRODUCTIONS.

Sadly, standards have declined to an abysmal level, rather than developed into masterpieces from those early pioneering days and in Bahrain for example we have a Lebanese monopoly running a monopoly with only one objective to make money. With only one platform and one company running it exclusively, creativity and professionalism is not a criteria and nonexistent as they fill the air with as much dire crap as they can, as cheaply as possible. But you cannot blame them as it appears that the public at large allow it or do not discern any problem. The platform is there to make money honey and that is what they do without paying a single cent of royalty to artists for giving them the only shred of content they possess. So forget about talking shop among the management like; ‘Music policy’ such as you hear in Dubai, which has several stations.  The ultimate disaster is that Bahrain has virtually killed radio as a media platform of interest.

If that is assumed to be the standard now, then for sure, the new set must now consider me to be well out to pasture and past my sell by date, but if you can discern my current standard both presentation and commercial production compared to the general mush out there, you’ll see that a good few smart clients are still around me. I still kick ass, don’t ever be mistaken and the stuff that is around now pales by comparison, but that seems to be the standard the world is accepting nowadays as we all become so dumbed down.

The very sad thing is, radio stations are afraid rigid to refuse this garbage, but the end effect is psychological and detrimental to the station’s image and appeal. I did refuse it when I was in a position to do that and it made enemies of those agencies or clients, but the public at large were spared. Programme Directors now have little power over the marketing department whose only aim is to coin it at the expense of everything and this is so wrong. Like anything, television, radio or IVR systems, your platform is only as good as your output and if you allow crap, then this is your image.

It is not even abstract or rocket science, because, if you think that most of what you currently see and hear broadcast is creative and professional, then I just hope you are not in the business or you should stop smoking what you do. I mean the endless cheezy advertising inserts filling the airwaves, full of the Pro Noun virus and two unknown, unimportant people having the most ridiculously inane conversation which we call ‘2CTs’ and if you don’t know what that means, you should definitely not be in the trade.

Every commercial is the same and the TV is full of this fictitious family Uma and Babba, and baby who adores this product. Using someone’s name on air ala; ‘Hi Steve, Hi Mary’ or derivatives as heard in Dubai this week, is just bizarre.

‘Hi pumpkin, why are you not buying your tickets using xxxx?’

‘Oh honeypie, pray tell me more if there is a better way’

This is apparently a husband and wife having a conversation and he doesn’t know his wife is going on holiday and she doesn’t know he has a certain credit card. The voices are heavily Indian accented, so maybe I am wrong and this is the level the Indians like.  God help us all as it is not getting any better.

I am absolutely positive that I could not write an Arabic script and the thought of it is just utterly ridiculous, yet I fully understand the language when I produce said things. Amazingly we have a zillion copyrighters plying the advertising agency boards, writing English script, yet their mother tongue is far from English and emblazoned on their business card are the words ‘Senior Copyrighter’. These are the people who come up with this crap and I cannot argue with you, it might work in your own language, but ‘Pumpkin and Honeypie’ does not cut the mustard in English.

Don’t get me wrong, I have come across a few good copyrighters and they might not be English mother tongue so what is the  je ne sais quoi? It is an art, a gift, like everything in this business and many just don’t have it, but because it is intangible, no qualification is considered necessary.

Just how many times have you come across an Arabic script that is supposed to be 30 seconds, but runs 60 and the copyrighter and account directors will tell you; ‘No you are wrong, we timed it’?  Go and see Khalid Almalki, a Saudi national who speaks English like English and Arabic like an Arab. He is a copyrighter of trust.  As for English, I got to know a lady from the North of England called Kellie Whitehead and she has an uncanny knack of saying it all in one line. Both these people are linked to me on my Linkedin page and I will try and sample some of their work here.


2 Responses to “RADIO GA GA – DUBAI -PART 1”

  1. Geg on February 22nd, 2009 6:06 pm

    You were quick off the mark there, we hadn’t even proofed the copy and were in the middle of playing with it when you posted.
    The layout is done here, it is the way I want it and Farukh my trusty know-it-all figures out the HTML XTML bits. But it is all template and you can download a theme. Change the theme to sort your desire.


  2. English, but not from UK or USA on October 5th, 2009 5:03 pm

    A sterling blog entry- spot on. It certainly echos my sentiments. God save us from the crap that the ‘non-English managed English radio stations’ churn out. What a load of infernal, intelligence-insulting, third-world shite-drivel-dross generated by people who are not from First World countries, yet aspire to convince First World audiences to buy the stuff that they pedal.
    I think your entry hit the nail on the head.

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