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.

Farewell to Insanity (for now…)

Yesterday I closed the door to the media suite for the last time before the SU shuts for a lot of the summer. In ten weeks time I am going to return with a sudden realisation that this is the longest I will have spent away from the media suite since I started my involvement with Insanity Radio 103.2FM last October.

The suite is both a fantastic place and also a curse. Clocking in 10 hours a day on certain occasions, it’s not always a healthy place to spend time, particularly when spending time there ends up dragging you into helping with projects which are nothing to do with your role. One case study is that of Insanity’s involvement with E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. I cannot remember why I was there, I think I had a few meetings and some admin to sort out for the Summer Schedule, but I ended up becoming involved in an application for funding to get our members over to LA. It was a cool thing to do but definitely not what I was there for in the first place! On a related note, the outgoing Head of Marketing and his companion managed to make it over to E3, disregarding the wonderfully proof-read application, and the coverage is in full swing at http://www.insanityradio.com/e3. Sticking around in the media suite, as with any office, is probably not fantastic for your health though, with people who have been there for a long time becoming easily irritated and developing a growing affinity for the vending machine, or worse not eating at all for more than 8 hours. Whatever role you are in, please look after yourself in the office, keep hydrated and fed, and set limits for how long you stay and what you do whilst there – and this goes for all situations, within and outside student media.

A break from actively creating content for Insanity will probably be a very good thing, but that doesn’t mean that there are no shows in the next ten weeks – for a start the SU isn’t closed for all of that time and I haven’t planned my holidays around when Insanity is accessible by any means! In fact, by the magic of technology, between now and when term starts in September, there are approximately 24 hours of radio scheduled to feature my voice, on a myriad of themes from scoliosis to summer camp. Keep an eye on the Insanity Radio website to find out more about who you can hear over the summer and look out for my scoliosis special on International Scoliosis Awareness Day (25th June, 12-2pm).

Head of Training, Insanity Radio 103.2FM

Almost three months ago, Insanity Radio held its annual elections, at which the new board for 2016/17 was decided. After much deliberation I ran for the position of Head of Training and was duly elected.

My main responsibilities are training and organising pre-recorded and holiday content, which includes the summer schedule that begins tomorrow! My handover period has therefore been pretty hectic, with multiple spreadsheets and emails designed to organise the lives of the many presenters and a few concerned conversations about stress levels. However, being busy is what I like and I am so excited to see what is in store for the next year with a fantastic board.

It’s weird to think that a conversation with the lovely Charlotte Mason, now Station Manager, who I barely knew at the time, and Ceri-Ann (my predecessor) in a toilet at the union bar when we were celebrating the 4th anniversary of Insanity going FM has now become a reality but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Being on the board also means I am obliged to, nay want to, get involved in various other roles like helping with the stall at the Magna Carta Festival yesterday on Egham High Street (pictured) and going to socials (the first of which featured my first ride in an Uber). Most importantly, I get to share the wonders of Insanity with others and help make the station the best it can be!