Created out of a shared love of music, Radiotek was founded in 1993 by the husband-and-wife team of audio engineers Nigel Morris and Tracey Morris. Having experienced receiving radios in crates and cardboard boxes while on tour, Nigel was inspired to start the business to supply the industry with something more robust and practical. Starting with tour kits in plastic peli cases, the company moved on to producing bespoke custom rolling cases that included all the communications kit a tour would need.
Some 30 years later, with live touring accounting for more than 70% of Radiotek’s rental business, and the remainder consisting of summer festivals and large-scale one-off events, the company is a household name with long-standing relationships throughout the industry. So, when the Morris’s were discussing retirement in 2021, they were not ready to let their industry nor these relationships down and an approach from global communications giant CSE Crosscom came at the ideal time.
“Nigel and Tracey wanted the legacy of the strong business they had built to continue to serve the sector and grow and were very passionate about ensuring their loyal employees were looked after,” explained Operations Director, Laura Swain, recalling how the acquisition came about. “CSE approached them, and the legacy is secured.”
She added: “The strategic move aims to leverage Radiotek’s core strength in short-term event rental while providing scaled and expanded opportunities to serve a broader customer base and larger event capabilities.”
With the Morris’s having stepped back from active management duties in 2021, the future of the company is in the hands of its loyal team, which will have new opportunities under the new leadership. “The long-standing employees have a host of connections, knowledge, and experience, and CSE can offer the opportunity for growth for personal development, training, and promotion,” Swain said. “For example, one of the Radiotek engineers has recently joined the sales team, which is great with his field-based background and knowledge.”
While Radiotek now falls under the CSE Crosscom umbrella, the company is determined to offer the same level of service it always has while investing in new products and technologies. “It’s inevitable that things move on, but the goal of the new leadership is to create a balance of old versus new,” Swain stated. “We’ve worked hard to ensure that each client has received the same quality of service and support while we have been transitioning. All contact details and the day-to-day running of the business is the same. We have a new logo, which is being rolled out across the website, paperwork and on products we use, and all customers have been notified of the commercial and business details that have changed. The transition has been seamless.”
With the company celebrating its 30-year anniversary in August 2023, Morris looked back fondly on some of Radiotek’s many highlights, including supplying the comms at Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and seeing Brian May dance on the palace roof.
Morris also recalled some challenges over the years – one being the difficulty in servicing clients once they had left the UK on tour. Swain picks up on this, citing a recent occasion when Ed Sheeran needed some extra equipment for a venue in the US at short notice. “With the new ownership, CSE Radiotek could accommodate this the very same day,” she revealed, recalling that another CSE-owned company, Orlando-based Radio One, was called upon to supply the kit, resulting in no disruption to the tour. “With the new ownership, we now have global reach giving us greater capability and support.”
After navigating the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic and serving the industry in the incredibly busy period since, Radiotek CSE is set to continue its growth under its new ownership. “It’s been a busy time,” stated Swain, reflecting on the skewed state of the industry with tours rushing to get out after lockdown. “For the 2023 season, we expect things to go back to previous year’s norms.”
Words: Alicia Pollitt