Our 2021 Story at Audio Always

As 2021 draws to a close, we’re taking a look back at some of our highlights from the last 12 months at MediaCityUK!

We’ve asked some of our team to reflect on their year at Audio Always and tell us about their highlights. From launching new radio shows and delivering live podcast specials to crafting hundreds of hours of audiobooks and countless studio bookings it’s been an incredible year.

Keep reading to discover what some of our team have been up to in 2021!

Dave Masterman is our Head of Content at Audio Always, and oversaw the launch of Craig Charles’ brand-new show on BBC Radio 6 Music.

“Launching Craig Charles on weekday afternoons for 6 Music in October was such an exciting moment for us. Knowing how important this slot is for the network, it was an honour to be the production team behind bringing this legendary presenter to daytime radio.

“The brief was to create a fun, ambitious, upbeat show, and with the support of a fantastic production team, I don’t think the launch could have gone any better. From Tom Jones discussing his dance moves to Fontaines DC taking over the Trunk of Punk, it’s been a jam-packed end to the year. Now, two months in, Craig’s having the time of his life, and we all can’t wait to pick up where we left off in 2022 with more amazing guests and incredible music.”

Rob Stonehouse is the producer of Radio 1’s Future Soul, which launched in September this year. It became the first specialist BBC Radio 1 show to be broadcast out of MediaCityUK.

Radio 1’s Future Soul has had a fantastic 2021. There hasn’t been an R&B show on Radio 1 since Trevor Nelson (I think 14 years ago!?), and to bring the best of this ever-growing scene to the Radio 1 audience in a brand new programme is such an honour.

“We’ve had great fun developing a show that really celebrates music, and it’s been great to bring in some big names such as Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Ari Lennox and Ray BLK through the ‘Soul Spotlight’ feature. Victoria Jane continues to put her all into the show, developing her presenting and interviewing style to best suit the station.”

Craig Edmondson has told us about his experience working on the All Day Mixes we craft for BBC Sounds.

“We have compiled hours of amazing BBC radio content into extended listens to suit your mood, whether you want to be chilled out or filled with energy there is something there for you. It has been a year long project working with a great team of people, including various presenters from across the BBC! We are looking forward to doing even more in the new year.”

Matt Thomas produces our Original podcast, The Moon Under Water. This year, they embarked on a series of live episodes from a pub!

“What’s the only way to improve on a podcast that celebrates the beauty of pubs? That’s right: record a special run of episodes in front of a live audience live from a REAL PUB. That’s exactly what we did for The Moon Under Water throughout August and September!

“Landlord John Robins and his most loyal regular Robin Allender invited five guests into The Moon Under Water (although technically it was at The George IV in Chiswick) to create their dream pub, with Isy Suttie, Will Hodgson, Olly Smith, Tim Key and Self Esteem all gracing the stage to tell us about their pub memories, dreams and desires. 

“The whole run was a huge success, with hundreds of people in attendance across the 5 shows. Did everyone enjoy themselves? Yes. Did John realise that drinking Galliano straight isn’t a good idea? You bet. Was it a success? I’d say so.”

Our factual producer Ailsa Rochester led the XS Manchester’s Voice project, made possible by the Audio Content Fund.

“It’s always a particular pleasure when the content we make reflects where we are, and XS Manchester’s Voice is a perfect example of that. For this 12 week series for XS Manchester, we were asked to create an evening show that reflected what people care about here in Manchester, whether that’s the busy news agenda, music or sport – and there was lots of everything! 

“Our presenter, the amazing Michelle Ackerley, chatted to an incredible range of guests; from the man who produced ‘Wonderwall’, and was now auctioning off Liam Gallagher’s tambourine, to the brilliant Mancunian who’s building the UK’s largest homeless village down by Bridgwater Canal. Producing this show felt like a real celebration of everything we love about Manchester here at Audio Always.”

Becky Green has been behind the success of our 2021 work with Dreams, including part of their Olympic and Paralympic campaign.

“In the Summer, bed retailer Dreams set us the task of bringing the stories of four Olympic and Paralympic athletes to life in a series of children’s bedtime stories. It was an incredible project, as we worked to craft the stories of Olympians Laura Kenny and Jade Jones and Paralympians Ali Jawad and Jordanne Whiley’s dreams becoming reality as they headed to Tokyo.

“The audio versions of the story were voiced by Joanna Page (Stacey from Gavin and Stacey!) and even featured a little cameo from the athletes themselves. An animation of each story lived on YouTube and physical copies of the book were made available in Dreams stores across the UK.

“Seeing the athletes visit schools after the games and proudly hand out the books to classes of children was a very fun and surreal moment for us! It was the first time Audio Always had been officially published ‘authors’ and the books now take pride of place in the office!”

Ben Cartwright produces Yours Sincerely with Jess Phillips, a new Audio Always Original podcast launched in 2021.

Yours Sincerely with Jess Phillips started as a tweet from the Labour MP about writing letters to to loved ones at the hight of the pandemic. After nearly a year of toing, froing and perfecting the format, it became a podcast that would bring one reviewer to tears. Each week, a guest would join Jess host to celebrate three people who mean the world to them. 

“In Jess, we have a new Audio Always Original host who took on the role of podcaster, questioner, and sympathiser like the UK public took to banana bread… except Jess has had a bit more staying power. This is a podcast that needs someone at the helm who can reflect the happiness, sadness and humour of the relationships that are celebrated by each guest, and Jess has been perfect for that.

“This project has shown the power of the Audio Always team, from the idea’s inception via the brain of Paul Fernley, the burgeoning talent of Rufaro Faith on production, exemplary guest booking from Ailsa Rochester and Carlie Foster, stand out social media work from Ollie Thomson, Jonny Chambers and Natalie Rees… it really has come together with the help of a team full of strengths. 

“We’ve got plenty of ideas for amplifying this podcast in the new year. Maybe I’ll write them all down in a letter.”

Xanthe Palmer is producer of The Everyday Hustle on BBC Asian Network. She’s also just secured a spot on The Radio Academy’s 30 under 30 list in 2021!

“We launched The Everyday Hustle with the AMAZING Sonya Barlow back in July this year, and what a year it’s been! The show’s all about creating the life and career you want and shares the ways you can make it happen, without a degree in business. 

“Sonya chats to hustlers from all walks of life, from teenage millionaires to social media influencers killing their game. As producer, it has been an amazing opportunity to launch such a unique show on the Asian Network and seeing Sonya and the show go from strength to strength has been incredibly rewarding. I’m so chuffed to be a part of it.”

Bertie Moores has played a key role in delivering the Spotify Original podcast The Teamsheet, which launched earlier this year.

“In the summer, Spotify commissioned us to make The Teamsheet – a daily football podcast revolving around famous guests putting together their dream football team. Every day over the course of a week the guest would select a different favourite player. At the end of our first run we’ve taken in 26 teams and 182 episodes.

“It was exciting sourcing and managing different guests that came to sit in the chair with our hosts each week. Working and researching around a topic which consumes arguably too much of my non-work life was also a pleasure and allowed me to apply the hundreds (probably thousands) of hours of football watching and reading which I previously thought relatively useless.

“I was also proud of us starting a show from scratch in a new format and extracting such a wide variety of stories, styles and approaches from our different episodes within such a short episode template. A variety of guests from ex-pros to Michelin Star-winning chefs to well-known YouTubers had week-long runs and their different backgrounds really fed into the show’s variety.

“The podcasts live as part of Spotify’s Football Now playlist, a daily curated playlist for football fans, which meant the content had to be a snackable eight minute bites of content each day. This proved to be a new challenge where we had to exercise discipline with the show and ensure that pound for pound each episode landed a punch.”

As you can see, we’ve had an incredible year at Audio Always! We’ve loved working with broadcasters, platforms and brands to craft standout audio that makes people think, feel and do.

We have lots of new projects launching in January, and we can’t wait to share!

Have a great Christmas and a very Happy New Year!