Sound of the Midlands

WM trail screengrab A video launches the station sound for BBC WM

A man sent out by his wife to buy some wallpaper has ended up becoming one of the voiceovers on BBC WM's jingles and trails.

Deep-voiced Martin was stopped on his way to a B&Q store, when a member of the West Midlands station asked him if he would like to do an on-the-spot audition.

It was part of a summer campaign to find members of the public to become the station's sound. Martin is one of several "off-the-street Midlanders" that can now be heard voicing all the idents and trails on BBC WM.

BBC WM editor Gareth Roberts says it's not a gimmick but part of an effort to sound more connected to its audience.

He admits the work to find and put the best voices on air can be labour intensive but the station will look for other members of the public again in the future.

"If we're going to be a local radio station, we should sound like a local radio station," he says.

Billy Joel soundtrack

After listening to hundreds of recordings, 16 people were invited to the studios at the Birmingham Mailbox, where they were coached and given a full production session.

Roberts adds: "It's really trying to get the right mix of men, women, ages, and making it sound as representative of the diverse mix of where we live."

The station is so proud of the result that they've made a video to launch the new voiceovers, accompanied by Billy Joel's We Didn't Start The Fire. Already shared on social media, it will play at public events and in the BBC's reception at the Mailbox.

"It was crying out for a treatment," explains Roberts.

"Instead of it being just about amazing historical moments, the video is about the amazing bits of life in the West Midlands, so it just works perfectly."

According to the latest Rajar data, BBC WM reached 232,000 listeners in Birmingham and the Black Country in the last quarter.

"We are basically a speech radio station with big personalities, and a massive part of that is the amount of listeners we have on," concludes Roberts.


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