September 22, 2015
There are challenges and then there are challenges. Piers Bradford may have taken on the Mother of all challenges. On January 1st of this year, he took on an opportunity to join a start-up organization, Project Everyone, whose goal is to inform the entire globe, seven billion people, on the United Nation's 17 Global Goals on eradicating extreme poverty and affecting climate change, among others - and do it in just seven days. Alerting seven billion people in seven days, September 26th-October 2nd. Bradford's challenge is to attract the involvement of the world's radio community. Here, he explains what Radio Everyone is offering ... and what's in it for you.
Before taking over at Radio Everyone, you spent many years at BBC Radio. What made you decide to leave BBC and go there?
I had been at BBC Radio 1 for most of my career and had reached a stage of my life where I'd started to look for my next challenge. I had just finished setting up the Radio 1 channel on the BBC iPlayer, a video proposition for the radio brand, and after delivering that it felt like a natural time to go and do something different. This opportunity came along at a perfect time for me, and tapped in to my passion for using creativity to inspire social change.
Did you get in on this ambitious project on the ground floor, or were the wheels already in motion?
The Project Everyone plan was already happening; they were looking for someone to do the radio side of it. Richard Curtis (the British film maker and campaigner) had come up with the initial concept -- a unified campaign to make the 17 United Nations' Global Goals famous.
The Goals are a 15-year plan to end extreme poverty, address inequality and halt the effects of climate change. The idea is that by us telling as many people around world about them through a variety of ways and platforms, they become widely known. And if they are widely known, they are more likely to be fulfilled.
Once he came up with the concept, he engaged a couple of incredibly bright and driven people, who started to turn that concept into a reality. The first step was to figure out the best ways to go about reaching seven billion people in seven days. They looked at all the different ways you can communicate with people across the globe and devised relevant way of reaching them.
So for example, around three billion people have access to the Internet, so we have some amazing digital plans - ranging from Wikipedia translating the Goals into 250 languages, to a Google homepage takeover. Mobile is ubiquitous today, so we'll send a global text message to over a billion users. We're also doing a Prayer for Everyone with faith-based organizations and as 1.2 billion children are currently at school, we are setting up the World's Largest Lesson!
Then, of course, there's radio; 95% of the world has access to a radio signal - so it was an obvious move to use the airwaves to help us reach around the world.
Which is called Radio Everyone. How did you get so many disparate radio constituents involved on such a massive scale?
I guess I took a patchwork approach. The first thing you always do on a project like this is you speak to the people you know, then you reach out to their contacts, then you go after the contacts of the contacts, and so on, until you see where that network leads you.
I was really keen on ensuring that it felt properly global, not a West-down approach. When we set this project up, we created a hub in Brazil, a hub in India and I specifically engaged someone to work across Sub-Sahran Africa. In those areas they took the lead recruiting broadcasters, and were able to help me shape the radio proposition into something that worked across the globe.
We also did quite a lot of cold calling, e-mailing and generally harrying and chasing radio contacts around the globe, to build up a comprehensive audience. We've had help from large broadcasters, like Deutsche Welle, and other agencies like the UNDP to help us reach as widely as possible.
Are you happy with the reception and the participation of radio entities - especially in America?
We've got nine days to go; currently we're sitting on participation from radio stations in 68 countries. Considering that we accomplished that from a standing start, with a proposition that never existed before, I feel that's an incredible achievement. But it's also somewhat scary; there's this world map with pins of participating stations in it, just glaring at me from the other side of office.
Inevitably, you always want to do more. We're working with great broadcasters in Canada and have got great support from public radio, such as WNYC, in the States. iHeartRadio is supporting our partners, the Global Citizen Festival, so they're part of the broader campaign even if they aren't specifically part of Radio Everyone. But I would love more American partners; I'm still hoping that Ryan Seacrest and Elvis Duran will be talking about Radio Everyone in 10 days' time!
We are a tiny team doing unbelievably ambitious things, and there's no doubt that we do have some gaps. We probably needed to work harder in Latin America, but hopefully audiences there will be reached by another part of the campaign.
Even now, I have no idea what our combined audience will be from the radio stations involved, but I do know there will be millions and millions of people who will hear content about The Global Goals who would never otherwise have never been touched by them.
Are you still looking for prospective radio partners?
Absolutely. It's called Radio Everyone for a reason. There is no barrier to entry. We've already got radio stations of all different scales participating -- from community radio stations in Tanzania all the way through to the BBC. And the doors are still open; more people are welcome to join. After all, the message here is to make the Global Goals as famous as possible. We want to recruit as many partners as we can. Now we're in a position where we have a presence in 70 countries, fantastic content from names like Bono, Rita Ora, Gilberto Gil, Michelle Yeoh, Christiane Amanpour, A. R. Rahman and many more. It's really exciting. Peter Gabriel has composed music especially for the station; why wouldn't people want to be part of it!
Is there a menu of radio events that all stations should do, or can they pick and choose how they can participate?
When we were trying to work out how this whole thing would function, we quickly realized that every station across the world has its own format, appeals to a slightly different audience, and has its own way of doing things. So, there is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach. We're basically providing them with a kit of parts, so radio stations can participate in any way that works for them and their audience. As long as they help make the U.N. Goals famous, I don't mind how they do it!
Are you concerned that some stations might be put off by doing something on climate change, which they view as politically motivated?
The line I always take on this is that we're not campaigning; we're just communicating the fact that 193 world leaders have committed to a plan for the planet and the people on it.
It seems right and proper that as many people as possible know about this plan; we're just telling people that the goals exists. Obviously the more people that know what the goals are, the more pressure will be put on leaders to make sure they are fulfilled.
Do you see Project Everyone and/or Radio Everyone becoming an annual event?
What we need to do after this is over is reflect on which elements of the campaign had real impact. However, I do think it is important that we keep the Goals in people's consciousness. They are a plan for the next 15 years, so it would make sense to check in each year to monitor what sort of progress is being made.
There are certain elements of the project that should definitely become an annual event. For example, the World's Largest Lesson education campaign has been picked up by education ministries in 100 different countries. I could easily see that becoming an annual event - ensuring that future generations are informed and educated about the Global Goals.
One element of the project is already confirmed to be ongoing. The Global Citizen Festival is committed to drawing attention to the Goals, and tackling Global Poverty. This year's event features Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Beyonce and Pearl Jam, and Chris Martin has already pledged to curate the festival for the next 15 years. This is an amazing commitment that will ensure these goals stay on the mainstream agenda until 2030.
Link to participate (for broadcasters).
Link to where to listen from 26th September (our proper website, where shows will be available).