Scoring the winning goal: Jamie Wilkinson on Create-A-Commentary
Ever since his days at University, Jamie Wilkinson has been an innovator in the world of radio. In 1999 he set up Newcastle’s first student radio station, and after spending several years working in radio, he set up the region’s first professional podcast production company, Carter Caine Productions in 2006. In 2008 he came up with the unusual idea for Bespoke Radio.
“Its like a mix between Desert Island Discs and This is Your Life,” Jamie explains. “The customer gives us information about the recipient, like funny stories and favourite songs, and then friends and family leave voice mails for the recipient.
“Then professional presenters and producers create a ‘radio show’, complete with jingles and features which is then put onto a CD.”
Bespoke Radio quickly gained attention, and in 2010 Jamie was selected as one of the final 7 entrants in Peter Jones’ Enterprise Challenge, which highlights unusual and successful young entrepreneurs.
“It meant doing a 30 minute pitch to him and his colleagues at Queen’s Club in London.” he recounts. “It was fascinating but truly terrifying!”
While the idea is truly unique, the expense of producing it meant that Jamie began to see a decline in sales. Nonetheless Jamie was convinced he was onto a winning idea, and decided to focus on creating a bespoke gift with a lower cost - eventually coming up with the idea for Create A Commentary.
“In the recession we needed to create a product which tapped into our core values of making something unique for every customer, but which was a little more affordable,” he continues.
“Individuals get a commentary which imagines that they score the winning goal for their favourite team, and are a great product for those who are more budget concious, as they start at £30.”
Jamie has since recorded a wide range of commentaries, from the winning goal in the 1966 World Cup, down to the last minutes of a Sunday League game. More recently, he has recruited BBC Newcastle commentator and Match of the Day’s Mark Lawrenson, who has lent his voice to a personalised football commentary app for iphones.
“The app has sold particularly well, and we were recently number 2 in the paid-for sports apps on itunes,” he says proudly.
As well as attracting the public, Create A Commentary has also caught the eye of several celebrities, giving the Gateshead-based company some serious national coverage.
“Theo Phaphetis endorsed us on Twitter, mentioning us on his Small Business Sunday Slot, and after we sent him a personalised commentary, Matt Lucas retweeted it online,” Jamie continues. “Just from Theo’s support, we got an extra 400 Twitter followers which is just fantastic for a small business.
“As well as using social media to market ourselves, we have also put up sample commentaries on YouTube and developed our Search Engine Optimisation in order to drum up interest.”
Jamie is now looking to branch out beyond football into other areas of sport.
“I would love to introduce Create-a-Commentary to cricket, rugby and golf, and hope to attract similar levels of sporting celebrity to Mark Lawrenson.
’It is the only app of its kind, and while it undoubtedly has excellent novelty appeal, playing sport can be incredibly emotive, and I think that having a bespoke commentary can add to that.“