#RadioRobbie – Meg Walker broadcasts live on Insanity Radio 103.2FM for 36 hours

If the title hasn’t already made you aware, there is something very exciting going on at Insanity Radio 103.2FM, and it’s all for charity! Meg Walker, an Insanity Radio alumni, is live on air for 36 hours and it all kicked off last night at 10pm, continuing until 10am on Sunday, meaning that she has a whole day still to go.

Why is she doing it? Well, it’s all in aid of CLIC Sargent and in memory of her friend Rob, who passed away in 2014 after a battle with testicular cancer. This is her second radio marathon, having done 26.2 hours last year, and she’s been doing well overnight!

Why am I telling you? Alongside being a long term Insanity fangirl, I’ve also helped to organise the marathon – sorting out producers, filling out risk assessments and pointing Meg to people more experienced that me in tech and sound to sort out logins and sweepers. Speaking of sweepers, I also did some of the voiceovers for the sweepers she’ll be playing during the marathon (they’re the bits in between saying “You’re listening to Insanity Radio” etc.). Having been a part of making it happen, I am so pleased to see things come together and lots of money already being raised for charity!

You can watch Meg on the player below!

If you want to learn more about the marathon before the marathon, take a look at Meg’s Facebook event, or visit her JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/megisrunningforrob.

I’ll be joining Meg as a producer for the overnight shift tonight, 10pm-6am, so keep her (and me!) going by listening and donating over the graveyard shift!

2016 review banner

2016 in review

2016 review banner

It’s 31st December 2016, which means that it’s the end of another year. There’s been a lot of talk about the awfulness of the last year, particularly concerning deaths and politics, but I want to look back at the personal positives, month by month.

BBC Broadcasting House at NightJanuary – although it seems like a distant memory, I kicked off 2016 with a tour of the BBC with Media Society, where the people were so bright and cheerful that I knew I wanted to work there. I also wrote a LOT of articles for the Orbital and started doing radio on Thursday mornings. The month ended in Wokingham at the CU Weekend Away, which was a refreshing break.

Louise Jones and Beth Carr, Orbital Magazine award winners
Photo Credit: Laura Denham

February – again, February is very long ago! I used the lack of presenters on Valentine’s Day to do a Valentine’s special of Entertaining History and finished my day off by watching Bridget Jones’ Diary for the first time. However, my ultimate highlight of February, and perhaps my year, was winning Best Journalist for The Orbital at Societies Ball.

March – the month of my 20th birthday and lots of other cool things too! I was in the band for Pirates of Penzance by the Savoy Opera Society and I got elected to the position of Head of Training for Insanity Radio 103.2FM. I also went to my first Student Radio Conference in Cardiff, which was amazing fun, and built a TARDIS out of Lego.

Tim and Beth on Let Them Hear with Lizzy FretwellApril – revision is my main memory of April but I also cut my hair off to raise money for Evelina London and donated the hair to the Little Princess Trust to make wigs for children. Tim and I also successfully applied for a Christian radio show on Insanity Radio 103.2FM called Let Them Hear, which is still going!

May – exams always overshadow May but there were some good points too! Let Them Hear continued and a particular highlight was Tim doing the show solo while I was in an exam. I also gained a position on the editorial board for the Orbital as Deputy Arts Editor, which I had been hoping to achieve for six months.Beth Carr in the Insanity studio

June – so many great things happened this month! I attended the first Interfaith Ball in the Royal Holloway Picture Gallery with lovely friends from CU and amazing tiny bowls of food. I masterminded the pre-recording and summer holiday schedule for Insanity that secured us enough content to cover the whole summer. I started my two regular shows at Coastway Hospital Radio and aired a special show for International Scoliosis Awareness Day on Coastway and Insanity Radio. I also got the chance to cover the EU Referendum for the Argus newspaper, doing my first all-nighter to cover the count in Horsham. Oh, and we saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!

July – the first full month of a long summer saw a new job unpacking and plugging in computers and my first major work experience at Create Productions as part of the Royal Holloway Placements Scheme. It was also the beginning of being part of the regional SRA Training Day, alongside Smoke Radio from Westminster.

Selfie with Paul Layzell
Credit: Paul Layzell

August – my dad retired and we went on a short holiday to Bournemouth (I ate a three course meal outside of my own house for the first time in years and I was so proud). I did have the slight misfortune of trapping my finger in a car door but that pales into insignificance compared to the amazing week I had as a small part of leading R4@Woolie! I also went back to the Science Museum for the first time in AGES and it was amazing.

The Insanity/Rhubarb team with the QuarterlightsSeptember – I met Paul Layzell and the Quarterlights, celebrated a whole year with Insanity, interviewed Alex Manzi on the eighth floor of BBC Broadcasting House: if there was one month that shows how amazing student media is then this is the one! I also started my third year with courses that I really enjoy.

October – one of the hardest months as I struggled with anxiety and depression but also one of the most amazing. I met rising star Tom Walker, saw #SRADayLondon turn out amazingly, and joined a brand new family: Voices of Holloway! A Night At The Theatre was a great experience and the following week I went to Come In Your Socs (which is the societies club night at the Students’ Union) with three societies (I started at Voices, then Insanity, then actually arrived with the Orbital but mixed around once we arrived)

Credit: Student Radio Association
Credit: Student Radio Association

November – I kicked off the month at home for a well-earned rest, but also went to the wonderful Sorted, which was a spiritual recharge and accidental R4 reunion. The following week was the SRAs, where we didn’t win but had a fun time together as a radio station, and then the rhubarbTV Training Day, which was a fab day learning about all things broadcast and something Jon and Catriona (the organisers) should be very proud of. It ended with another CU Weekend Away too, both productive and restful. I also started my podcast, ‘Doctor Who and the Dissertation’.

Nativity castDecember – the month just gone has been as busy and good as all the others. I’ve had the Voices of Holloway Christmas Concert, multiple Christmas meals, R4 reunion, the Unscene Festival, Create work experience for the second time, chances to see friends from slightly far, the Let Them Hear Christmas Special with added audio drama, work, rest, study, relax, seeing family…

Of course all of the events above don’t count the wonderful friendships I have made and maintained over the year. From those who have been there for years and years to those who I’ve only just had the pleasure to meet, this year has been one I wouldn’t have got through without your love and support. I couldn’t possibly list everyone for fear of accidentally forgetting anyone so I hope you all know who you are!

Obelisk Pond through trees

Blogmas 24: I did it!

Today is Christmas Eve, which marks the end of Advent, which means the end of Blogmas! And I’ve completed it! 24 daily blog posts consecutively! Going into this I knew it would be a challenge and half expected myself to fail part way through but I managed one post every single day, written the same day.

2016 has been an interesting year. In some respects its been amazing. In others it has been awful. A lot of unexpected events happened in politics, a lot of people have died and a lot of things have altered. The public feeling is that the end of 2016 can’t come soon enough.

However, great things have happened in 2016. Malaria is decreasing, more children are getting an education and Harry Potter returned. I want to do a more detailed post about the amazing things that happened this year, but a few highlights are going to the BBC (twice!), getting elected as Head of Training, being reminded of how amazing my friends are, getting involved in the fabulous R4 and so many more wonderful things.

Whether you’re having a huge family Christmas or spending the day alone in bed, have a fabulous Christmas Day! And if you’re wondering what it’s all about, have a look at the Nativity story in the gospels of Matthew and Luke and then…keep reading to see what baby Jesus becomes.

Sound Desk

Blogmas 23: We need to reassess ideals of success in the radio industry

Upon seeing an announcement on my Facebook about someone’s radio success, I decided that ideals of success in the radio industry would be my topic for today’s blog. This is, of course, my own opinion, but I think it’s an important issue – not only in the radio industry but in the world of work as a whole.

As you are probably aware, I am part of Insanity Radio 103.2FM, a student and community radio station. In my eyes we are a fantastic station, but in terms of awards and high profile jobs we often can be seen as insignificant. The last time we won a presenting award at the Student Radio Awards was in 2006 where we received a Silver Award for Best Male Presenter because of the talents of Phil Noyce. We did gain Highly Commended for Most Improved Station and Best Outreach Project at the I Love Student Radio Awards but the rest of the award success has been strictly off air.

Please do not misunderstand me, nominations and success in Best Technical Achievement and Marketing and Promotions categories are wonderful, but there is a sense that to be the best in radio, you must be a presenter and visibly successful. I disagree. There are hundreds of people wanting to be radio presenters, but off-air roles feature less prominently. Working off-air IS less prominent, but it shouldn’t be any less amazing to other people.

Yet, there is a sense that you are more of a success in radio if you are an on-air presenter. Today there was a post made on a group for student radio stations congratulating one girl for getting the opportunity to present on Radio X. Yet I have a friend who landed a job in travel news almost straight out of university and also works with the BBC and Free Radio but hasn’t been recognised for any of this in the same way. Of course, she also wouldn’t want that and I hope she knows how proud we are of her without needed to have a Facebook post affirming it.

However, I think there is a bias towards pushing people towards the mindset that to be a success in radio you need to be an on-air presenter. Even if you work in the same building and get paid more in an off-air role, you probably won’t be seen as a success in the same way. Perhaps it’s because there are so many people wanting to present that the few successes are worth celebrating, but there remains demand for production roles too.

Overall, I think that ANYONE gaining a job in the radio industry deserves a massive round of applause and recognition. It’s a tough industry, especially within the large companies, and no-one should feel disheartened for not being the next big presenter – after all it is the team behind the visible personality are the ones that really make radio work!

Nativity cast

Blogmas 22: Audio drama excitement

Today was the final edition of Let Them Hear of the year and we presented a two hour show, featuring an interview with Catholic chaplain Father John and a very exciting audio drama of a modernised Nativity story.

This was my first foray into the world of audio dramas and I kicked off the experience with a bang – I adapted, produced and starred in the drama and I loved every minute. We were blessed with a wonderful albeit small cast of Clement Jones, Miranda Hersey and Julia Ingles-Taylor (sorry for spelling) plus my regular co-presenter Rachael Rampat – all of them helped bring the story to life and were complete naturals, despite only reading the script minutes before we recorded.

Once our recording was done, we needed post-production. A few volume adjustments were needed as we were working with five people and only two mics – no matter how hard you try, you can’t situate yourself perfectly with a microphone when you have to share! This required Audacity AND Myriad SmoothEdit but I got there in the end – Adobe Audition would have got the job done perfectly but also has the disadvantage of costing a considerable amount.

One of the most stressful but also most fun parts of post-production was the sound effects. I have been fascinated with Foley since 2005 when I saw an episode of Doctor Who Confidential focusing on how sound effects are made for the TV show outside of the actual sound recording on set – it’s no wonder I’m now looking to go into sound! I’m not sure how far the sound effects we used could actually be classed as Foley but I had great fun wandering around the Students’ Union looking for a good door to show Joseph’s exit and also standing on the platform at the train station on the way to London trying not to look weird with my dictaphone (I did the same at Caffe Gondola but it made an amazing crowd sound!)

The last part of editing our audio drama was to put it all together with relevant music. We were able to showcase a range of lesser known artists featured on Noisetrade with new versions of classic hymns and I think we did a good job of charting the Nativity through both drama and music!

Did you listen to Let Them Hear this morning? Did you enjoy the audio drama? Let me know! I’ll be posting a link to the podcast once it is uploaded (and my internet problems have subsided)

Carpet with cinematic reels

Blogmas 21: Five minute review – Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Today I finally saw Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them in my local cinema and thought I would give a brief, spoiler-free review consisting of however much I can type in 5 minutes. It’s 22:35 and I start now.

Fantastic Beasts captivated me for a large part of the film. The score is what comes to mind first – the film began with a motif from Harry Potter that caught my interest immediately. Not so much the interest of many of the rest of the cinema, which included a surprising number of children – I wouldn’t really have taken my child along to this until they are at least 10, if not 12 (the film is certified 12A, meaning that children from the age of 8 can attend with their parents, although I don’t believe this is greatly enforced). There’s a lot of adult themes (mainly death) in the film, and although it has some morals contained within it, there’s a lot of peril and bad decisions. The film was also a tad long – 130 minutes, meaning that the time sat in the screen is over 2 and a half hours if you sit through the adverts.

The protagonists were good – not as strong as Harry, Ron and Hermione but these are grown-ups we are dealing with. Eddie Redmayne surprised me by being a very good Newt Scamander, and the audience surrogate of Jacob, a No-Maj (Muggle) who gets caught up in magic, was really great to see. There was a degree of inferred knowledge involved but I caught on to the American magical customs quite quickly.

The ending was sad but right, and I am quite pleased with how the film turned out. There’s also plenty of lines for the sequels – I’d like to see the main four characters return certainly! I’ll give Rowling’s first film of her second film franchise 4 stars (out of 5!)

It is now 22:40. That was very hard – I benefit from being able to type fast! There’s so much more I could say, but I’ll leave it at that. I would recommend it and the cinematic experience is excellent.

Sound Desk

Blogmas 20: Podcasts – an update

You may recall that just over a week ago I posted about my commute and how I was planning to listen to a few podcasts over the four days I was heading to and from London. In fact, I chose ten to download and my thoughts on them are listed below! I had mixed success in listening – I listened to ten on my first day but when in a rush on my second day I bypassed podcasts in favour of the intensity of the Torchwood soundtrack to get me down the hill quicker. I also faced issues with being able to listen while walking down the busy A30 and in the bustling streets between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn, but on the trains they were perfect.

  1. Kicking the Kyriarchy – I actually didn’t listen to any new episode of Kicking the Kyriarchy over the week but it is still a podcast I thoroughly recommend. I really enjoyed the non-binary episode because it showed an issue in society I had never really considered before.
  2. No Such Thing As A Fish – The last podcast suggestion from my friend was truly terrible but No Such Thing As A Fish was incredibly good. There’s proper facts plus thoughtful discussion around the facts bringing up more facts and some sillyness. Also the music is amazing and I would listen to it on its own.
  3. GLAMOUR Presents: Hey, It’s OK… – I only listened to the episode about the top list of men, which was very good, however this podcast suffers from poor sound quality and was hard to listen to outside of quiet areas. Not greatly memorable but entertaining enough.
  4. The Heptagon Club with Paul Kerensa – Revisiting this podcast didn’t actually happen but I’m looking forward to hearing the Christmas special and the episode with Sally Phillips. The Miranda episode I also highly recommend.
  5. Terrible, Thanks For Asking – This was a really beautiful podcast. The author charts her own experience in the first episode and it shows a lot about grief and what comes after death. Strong subject matter but I highly recommend.
  6. Recycled Radio – Radio 4 does not disappoint and this podcast’s random nature makes it a good listen when you can’t necessarily hear it all because of background noise. The episode on Love and Marriage raises some interesting ideas about the relationship between David Cameron and Nick Clegg too.
  7. All in the Mind – I listened to the recent episodes on ADHD and Pathological Demand Avoidance (also including a segment on anxiety free comedy). Both were really insightful and captured my interest.
  8. The Listening Project – I only listened to one episode of this but it did what it said on the tin and was basically licensed eavesdropping. I can’t remember what was discussed but there were some interesting points.
  9. What’s The Craic on Radio Reverb – Brighton’s Irish radio show – If you are Irish, you will enjoy this podcast. I listened to the episode on Brexit and enjoyed it from a factual point of view, but wasn’t entirely convinced about listening to the rest of the episodes. However, I was intrigued to listen to the radio show and hear the musical choices alongside Irish chat.
  10. Scott Mills Daily – Scott and Chris were on top form as ever and it was good, easy to listen to, familiar chat.