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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The Unscene Festival

Blogmas 4: The Unscene Festival

Two years ago I saw my first (and currently last) Unscene Festival at Royal Holloway, the Drama Society’s showcase of new short plays and poems. My spontaneous trip was something I really enjoyed and it inspired me to try and write my own short play for inclusion in the festival. This isn’t something I ever expected to actually happen, but tomorrow my own short drama will be performed on the Jane Holloway stage! It is set in a very unique location on campus and depicts a situation that many people can probably relate to (at least according to my friend Jess when she responded to my astonished/excited messages about its inclusion).

Come down to Jane Holloway Hall at 7pm to see ‘The Conversation’ and a host of other original theatre pieces plus an Improv performance by the Holloway Players! It costs just £1 and the Facebook event is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/664398803728447/.

Reblogged below is a review of the Unscene Festival staged in November 2014, particularly ‘On The Spectrum’. The featured image above is by Dana Hudson, RHSU Drama Society’s Publicity Officer.

After Scoliosis

On Monday evening I rather spontaneously went down to the Drama Society Unscene Festival. I say rather, it was actually VERY spontaneous because I literally agreed to go about 5 minutes before I left – my flatmate was going to support his girlfriend (who I actually vaguely know) and didn’t particularly want to go alone, ergo I agreed to accompany him, on the condition that I finished my dinner (which I did).

On walking into Jane Holloway Hall it was certainly remarkably different to how it looks every other time I’m in there for a lecture – fewer chairs and no tables for a start! We saw Katie (the girlfriend) as we came in and she automatically assumed bribery had been involved; however she was in fact incorrect and I was genuinely interested in seeing what the drama society had to offer, albeit not enough to have considered going alone…

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Fun Kids Podcasts

You may remember that back in July I was very excited about the audio editing I did as part of my placement with Create Productions. The poems really were of high calibre, especially impressive for the ages of the children involved, and you can now hear the podcasts on a playlist from Fun Kids online and on iTunes. One of my favourite poems was also the hardest to edit because of its length so I’ve included it below* – if you only listen to one of the poems, this is my pick!

I won’t repeat myself from my previous post but listening back to this, and having listened to a lot of commercial radio over the last couple of weeks, I really enjoy well edited radio and would definitely love to look into doing audio editing as part of a future career – so if you like what you hear from an editing perspective, get in touch! And thanks must again go to Create, Fun Kids and the Royal Holloway Placement Scheme for providing this opportunity.

https://www.omnycontent.com/w/player/?orgId=289ceca7-bef3-48af-9f74-a4ba0095cab1&programId=8ac9406d-304d-441e-8532-a4ba00967cfc&clipId=70a7b57d-07f5-48a6-9ec8-a64900df0807

*I am not confident that the embed link has worked so please enjoy the poem on the link here whilst I rectify this! Thanks for bearing with me as I continually figure out WordPress. https://omny.fm/shows/fun-kids/wildverse-2016-coronation-by-lucy-purbrick 

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!

#YesAllWomen – Insanity Radio comes to Radio 1

Royal Holloway has always been proud of its feminist history and when Radio 1 asked student radio stations to create a playlist which reflects students lives, Insanity members were quick to look to the strong female influences in music to represent our university’s rich history. Members suggested a wide range of songs and one of our own presenters, Hannah Turner, is bringing the playlist to life on Monday at 9pm on BBC Radio 1. We’re very excited to hear a piece of our little community station on a national platform, and I’m personally looking forward to hearing the sweeper we made to promote it across Insanity Radio 103.2FM tonight and tomorrow, featuring the vocal talents of myself, Ben and Jamie (whose editing talents were also prominent).

You can listen to the show on BBC Radio 1 at 9pm on Monday 23rd May and catch up on BBC iPlayer Radio via the Radio 1 website.

World Press Freedom Day

On my noticeboard I have a calendar that highlights certain national and international days of interest, and this morning I noticed it was World Press Freedom Day. I did not know a thing about this at the time, but I do understand the importance of the freedom of the press, so in addition to briefly explaining this important international day, I think it would be worth sharing a few thoughts on press freedom.

Set up by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, World Press Freedom Day is designed to celebrate press freedom and its fundamental principles as well as examine how free the world’s press is, defend those in media whose independence is being attacked and remember those journalists who have died in service. The specific date has been chosen to mark the anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration of 1991, a statement of principles for press freedom collated by newspaper journalists from Africa, where there were many problems facing print media. The day also involves an international conference, held in a different country each year (and sometimes on a different day depending on when May 3rd falls in the week), where media professionals, organisations and agencies from the UN assess how free the world’s press is, normally associated with the theme of the conference, this year entitled ‘Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms’. Since 1997, it is also the day on which the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is awarded to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to defending or promoting press freedom in the face of dangerous or difficult circumstances. This year’s winner is investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who is currently imprisoned in Azerbaijan for her work as an investigative journalist. You can find out more about Khadija, the day and events surrounding it on the UNESCO website.

Student journalism has been known to be quite restricted and subject to censorship by SUs, particularly surrounding election coverage. Of course, this is by no means comparable to the intense threat to press freedom elsewhere in the world and we certainly do not end up in prison for anything that we produce. However, there are definitely steps that can be taken to make the student press more free. This year’s NUS Conference saw the passing of Motion 314, a motion described by the Student Publication Association as safeguarding “fair, accurate and vital coverage to student union elections” (You can read more on the SPA website). This looks to ensure that student media can provide content that make the incoming officers more accountable and provide fair coverage of SU elections to their readers, who are of course the sole electorate. The Huffington Post wrote a good article on this, entitled ‘We Need to Encourage Free Speech at UK Universities, Not Silence’ and I would strongly encourage reading this via the link. It must be remembered though that SUs do act in the interests of the organisation and of students: many censorship measures were in place to ensure that the media does not favour one candidate over another and the importance of a free but fair press should not be overlooked. This goes for all forms of media, not only print but broadcast media, and avoiding libel and malpractice can be as easy as educating yourself on the law and what can and can’t be said by the media, particularly during elections. I therefore want to end this post with a video produced by Jon May, the Media and Development Co-ordinator at Royal Holloway, outlining Student Media Law for the May elections and EU referendum this year.

Let’s celebrate the free press that we enjoy in the UK and strive to maintain its freedom across the world, not only on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day but at all times.

‘Addicted to Insanity Radio’ piece published in The Founder

December 2014: Article published in the Founder

In December 2014 I saw my first article published in Royal Holloway’s independent student newspaper, The Founder. Entitled ‘Addicted to Insanity Radio’, it was a piece about how I enjoyed listening to the station and that it did not conform to the stereotypes that some people hold about student radio, as well as strongly hinting at how I wanted to guest on a show during my degree, which was a goal I certainly surpassed. I recently reposted a photograph of the article on my Facebook page and have reproduced the article below. 

So, when we think of student radio we tend to imagine media/computer science geeks sitting in a tiny box room pressing play on a couple of old, scratched CDs and talking about meaningless things like how much a cup of tea costs in the Hub nowadays. When I first listened to Insanity I was a bit confused about whether there actually was talking – little did I realise that I was listening to the Music Through The Night feature and normal students don’t get up before 9am at weekends.

But then my flatmate’s friend got a show and at 11pm on a Sunday evening he started dutifully tuning in. He extolled the joys of getting a shout out and almost went as far as missing the end of a mini flat showing of Enemy at the Gates (sorry, Jude Law!) to ensure he didn’t miss a single minute. And so, on that Sunday evening prior to Reading Week (or essay deadline week for first year History students), I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

It was indeed very exciting to hear my name read out on the radio, especially as it begun an unofficial shout out war between myself and my flatmate – for the record, I won (at least that week)! The music was also superb – a combination of cheese (my favourite genre!) and quality new music, blended together by musings from the presenters. And so the next week I tuned in again, this time whilst on Skype with my best friend Lara (whose name was pronounced wrong…) and unintentionally reignited the shout out war, something which culminated with my flatmate making a short appearance on the show and agreeing to guest present the following week.

This is where my addiction to Insanity escalated. I was tuning in hours before the Sunday night show to make sure I didn’t miss the start. I was texting incessantly until they shouted me out. I removed my iPod from my alarm clock in readiness for a journey and suddenly I was falling asleep to and waking up with Insanity Radio. I introduced it to my friends back home (Insanity now has listeners at University of Brighton!) and encouraged my friends up here to listen too. One of the highlights of listening was when they played a mash up of Christmas songs followed by S Club 7 and Steps.

And then, of course, comes the guest appearance from my flatmate. It was a fantastic way to end my week but pretty surreal knowing that I was not just listening to him from the other room but that people could hear him on Insanity across Surrey and the world. I feel he did a very good job though and there was great chat between him and the co-presenter (although the usual double act is still better), fuelled of course by people like me texting in for shout outs.

I am pleased to say that since then my addiction has died down and I am now back to listening on time every Sunday night and then at other times when I feel like it, rather than all day all night. That is not to say that Insanity has got worse or the novelty has worn off, but I feel I should maybe spend time writing essays (or things like this!) as once you tune in it really is hard to stop listening! My new goal for university, aside from getting a degree and living independently, is to appear on Insanity, or at least pop into the studio – so if there’s anyone reading who wants to take me up on that then please do! And trust me, Insanity is CERTAINLY not just geeks with CDs!

‘Addicted to Insanity Radio’ piece published in The Founder
‘Addicted to Insanity Radio’ piece published in The Founder