During the Bookseller’s Children’s Conference, I sat in awe as Kay Hutchison from Belle Books detailed her journey of turning the tales of Captain Bobo into a radio series. In today’s competitive market, it is increasingly important to think of marketing strategies that make your books stand out from the crowd. A background in TV and radio certainly helped Kay get a new radio show underway but that’s not to say she didn’t encounter a few stormy waters!

Fun Kids is the sole children’s commercial radio show in the UK and so the team at Belle Books had their work cut out for them. Not only was there limited funding available but half-way through their applications, the fateful Coronavirus hit. Emergency funds were established, and money was sent to the projects that needed it most meaning that the Captain Bobo radio venture was put on hold.

This didn’t stop the ever-keen team as they created scripts, cast narrators, and organised theme music. Having a positive mental attitude is hard at times but Kay’s determination to succeed propelled the project forward and on the 15th of July, Belle Books received word that the Audio Content Fund had approved their application.

Captain Bobo was getting ready to set sail for a ten-week journey around the radios of the country.

The show has been a great success so far, featuring on BBC Alba TV and receiving a heart-warming review in The Sunday Times. Enlisting the narration of John Sessions opened a plethora of marketing avenues and his participation in a range of interviews helped to spread the word to a new audience. With seventeen broadcasters on board and repeats of the show lined up for later this year and January 2021, the tales of Captain Bobo are only just getting started.

The show’s success begs the question of how this concept has not yet been adopted by all in the industry. It is paramount for publishers to be flexible and move into new avenues as they present themselves. Transforming Captain Bobo into a radio series has allowed Belle Books to enter the waters of translation and work with the Gaelic community whilst expanding their audiences past the reaches of Scotland. The innovation that Kay and the team at Belle Books have demonstrated has paved the way for a new wave of marketing within publishing.

In a world that is constantly changing and progressing, the pressure is on publishers to recognise the gaps in the market and utilise them to the fullest. As the threat of more lockdowns loom, one wonders at how booksellers and publishers will continue to reach a wide market. Establishing a brand in radio seems the next logical step for publishing and it will be interesting to see how this marketing channel develops in the years to come.

Set sail with Captain Bobo on his next adventure, every Thursday @ 3:15pm on Fun Kids!