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!

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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!

Blogmas 16: BBC News – “Forged rail tickets being sold on dark web”

A couple of months ago I came across an article from BBC News about the sale of forged rail tickets on the dark web, and in the midst of Southern Rail travel chaos now seems like a good time to look back at it.

It is undeniable that rail tickets are incredibly expensive for what they provide. Four days of commuting into the capital from just outside Zone 6 has cost me £17.20 a day, which is a 16-25 railcard price. That’s a total cost of £68.80 for a train that is perpetually late (the 8:23 arrived no earlier than 8:27 every single day). I was lucky to get a seat each day, but the majority of people after my station had to stand for the 30-40 minute journey.

Because of my railcard (supposedly) I also had issues getting through the barriers at the train and underground stations. Most of the time staff are around, but on my final day I struggled to find someone to let me through and almost missed my train. They also never asked for proof of my railcard, although probably because I look about 12.

It’s no wonder though that there’s a degree of money to be made in selling fakes. Not working in the barriers is no problem as they are indistinguishable at a glance from the real thing, and with prices over half of what you’d pay from a reputable retailer, there is a clear market of commuters and leisure travellers hoping to get a good deal.

You can read the full article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-37800623. This is also a fantastic example of responsible investigative journalism – they didn’t name the company, so they don’t generate business for them, and they carried genuine tickets alongside the fakes. Well done to the BBC!