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5 Minutes With ...Torsten Hennings

04 September 2019
Torsten Hennings
Branch Manager - Sound Engineer / Director at Studio Funk
Torsten still works in the studio in which he completed his education - as a Radio Producer/Director and since 2001 as the Branch Manager of Studio Funk Hamburg. Between then and now, he has made a decisive contribution to make Studio Funk the most-awarded sound studio in Germany.

LIA spoke with Torsten on how Radio has never been so full of chances and how he is convinced that every brand is in need of its own corporate sound.
 
 
Radio. Dead?
 
"le Roi est mort, vive le Roi"
I really can't tell how many times I have heard those gleeful words.
Truth is, it's alive, maybe more than ever.  As one of the most classic forms of media and the supreme discipline for copywriters, Radio has never been so full of chances - simply seen from a technical point of view, audio has expanded across all digital formats.
The digital world with all its technological advances offers so many opportunities, that it’s hard for some people to keep up!

Radio/audio accompanies us through our day, we listen via smart speakers, on mobile devices, on the web, via apps and of course, still on those traditional broadcast platforms - digital and analog. It is always there, it surrounds us and is the most intimate medium which enjoys our trust.
 
Recently I heard the quote: "This is the true golden age of audio" Maybe that‘s a little bit bold, but given all the new ways and formats that are on hand to creatives, producers and brands, it somehow does ring true. But before using all these great new touch points successfully, it's still necessary to begin the magic with a piece of paper, a pencil and somebody who has the ideas and passion to go out and capture people’s imaginations by telling great stories. Implementing a great idea, using a language that's relevant to the product and achieving a perfectly executed piece of audio at the end of the day.
 
Audio/Radio is able to do so much, there are so many opportunities to attract ears and minds and it's high time for brands to finally experience all the new ways.
 
Podcasts seem to be able to dive into issues of the day much better and deeper than news. Do you agree? Shouldn't everybody know this?

In contrast to web videos you can listen to podcasts in almost every daily situation, even in the car while driving or while you are out jogging. They are incredibly handy if you are not able, allowed or willing to pay attention to pictures.  The quality level is usually pretty high and to produce them doesn‘t take long which makes them fast and keeps them up to date.
 
By carrying our smart phones, we also have the perfect storage and player device on hand at any time.  Even downloading them doesn't take long and they are updated automatically in the background.
 
The variety of topics is enormous and there's something for every taste, even if you just need a fairy tale that helps you to fall asleep at the end of the day.
It is just a matter of time; everybody comes across his or her favorite podcast.

It seems that everyone has or at least wants to create a podcast. How does one attract listeners? How do you monetize it?

I am convinced that every brand is in need of its own corporate sound in the very near future.
 
If they haven’t already, brands definitely need to start thinking of what they want to sound like in this coming audio era.  We are moving away from screens, over to voice controlled and voice interfaced digital devices.  In order to stay unique even without being seen on a screen, one has to find another way to be recognized in the crowd.  That includes all kinds of acoustic touch points, from brand voices to corporate music and special logo sound designs etc.
 
Instead of having a "see and feel", we will have a "hear and feel" !
 
A few major brands already understand this need and have started to adjust themselves in this direction.  Having established a unique sound identity, a brand than can function as its own broadcast-station by using all new digital platforms that are appropriate.  The most underrated way to take the target group on a customer journey is definitely the podcast.  And that is not just 2 people discussing a problem - it is everything that one possibly can imagine.
 
From radio drama to fairy tales and all that's in between and more - and of course, sometimes even 2 people discussing an issue!  But done with a great performance - it is acoustically effective and also does some image building.
 
Audio always had and always will have a certain fascination, it transports messages, emotions and it is trustworthy.  Especially young target groups increasingly turn on podcast channels purposely to relax and to get away from social media hustle for a moment.  I am really amazed about this wait-and-see attitude of some major companies and brands.  There is nothing to lose, but a lot to win and its worth the effort - time is running.
 
How can we make the world appreciate great sound design more?

Sound design is important; it is important in moving pictures and even more when it comes to radio, audio and podcasts.
 
It creates moods, feelings and helps to visualize complex stories.
 
When George Lucas once said: "The sound and music are 50% of the entertainment in a movie."  He was 100% right and given we do not have a picture but audio only, it than becomes even more relevant.  Hearing is one of our most important senses and yet sometimes it feels that sound design is only really given proper attention in moving pictures.  Unlike our eyes, we cannot close our ears - so why don’t we treat them with immersive, captivating and great sounding audio worlds?
 
It is a fairly good idea, to involve creative sound design at an early stage when the scriptwriting is in development.  Talking about pre-production meetings that involve agency creatives and producers to exclude mistakes and obstacles from the start, will help achieve a great piece of audio at the end of the production.  Collaboration encourages putting more focus on increasing the appreciation of great sound design.
 
Tell us why you think LIA has become one of the top international award shows?
 
LIA. There is definitely a certain something about these three letters.
 
So far I haven‘t had the chance to experience judging LIA, but everybody I know who has came back full of enthusiasm about it.
 
It´s that special mixture of an award which is totally devoted to creativity and moreover is considered to be one of "the hardest doors in business" - taking place right in the middle of the desert, in a city known as the gambling capital of the world.
 
Gambling, creativity, daring, winning and losing - it all belongs together in some way and it seems that this combination inspires creative people and provides a great environment for a creative festival.  I figure it's about time to find out myself and I am really looking forward. 
 
Winning in Vegas is a tough thing to do and that just makes it even more desirable!