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.
Jubilee Gardens

Blogmas 19: Selected photography of London

Over 3 months ago now I had the opportunity to go to BBC Broadcasting House to interview Alex Manzi, Social Media Producer at BBC Radio 1Xtra. This came about thanks to Stephen from the Student Radio Association because I was part of the team that organised the SRA London & East Anglia Training Day – blog post on that will appear soon!

Anyway, a clip from the interview was included in the Student Radio Podcast and broadcast on inRadio back in September – you can listen to that below (I’m about 3 minutes in)

Whilst I was in London I also had some time to kill and thought I would revisit a few special places I had been to before, this time with a camera to capture some of the more hidden gems of London!

(I didn’t actually get a shot of the BBC because I didn’t want to look like a fangirl tourist!)

Blogmas 18: Chart Show stuff and radio airplay

While I was on work experience last week I got the opportunity to write some scripts for the UK Hit Music Chart Show. The show airs on Virgin Radio Montreal every Sunday and reflects the biggest songs in the UK as defined by their airplay on UK radio.

Although I presented an entertainment show on Insanity Radio for two terms and have listened to countless other shows on multiple radio stations, I don’t really know all that much about popular music. My buying of Now! That’s What I Call Music albums ceased at around Now 77, perhaps even earlier, and my main consumption of mainstream CHR (contemporary hit radio) was via the Scott Mills Daily podcast, which does not include music.

Therefore, finding out which songs are big in radio airplay this week was pretty cool and I was reassured that I am not completely out of touch when I realised that I knew the majority of the songs. Having also spent two days in the office listening to Capital for ten hours a day, I completely understand how certain songs have reached their positions in the charts. In fact, it got to a point where every time 24K Magic by Bruno Mars played, I would predict that Say You Won’t Let Go by James Arthur was coming soon (it was hit and miss whether I was right but they did both play VERY frequently).

Actually writing the chart show was really fun though, and the show airs in the small hours of Monday morning, so from 1am tonight I will be awake listening in and seeing how many of the song positions I can remember! The best way to find the stream is downloading the Virgin Radio Canada app for Android/iOS and, as far as I know, it’s working!