Week One: After being placed in to groups (courtesy of an excellent draw of names by Mark and I), we held a first meeting in RP1 to decide which genre we wanted to base our assignment around. Despite originally preferring a Magic-style format, I saw the benefits of choosing soul/funk and therefore voted for that, along with the majority. Eliza played us a selection of songs that we could potentially include, which was met with complete approval by the group. Whilst Eliza began to construct a playlist, we had an informal discussion in regards to which roles people would take, during which I indicated I’d quite like to present.
Week Two: We had Myriad training with Quentin Nield, who happened to be a colleague of Simon’s. I was in the group that worked with Quentin due to my already – fairly up to speed – knowledge of Myriad, although there were some bits Quentin went through that were new to me, and really helped me flesh out my knowledge of the playout system that we’ll be using when it comes to actually broadcasting our show. We also received clarification from Matthew that our assignments had to be shows for an already existing station, rather than a station that we had created ourselves. This marked the end of a week which also confirmed that I’d be presenting our show – now known as The Groove – alongside Clare.
Week Three: Clare, Natalie and I effectively became models as Dan took a variety of photos for the website and social media. This also gave Clare and I an opportunity to discuss ideas for our links and the overall format we’d take. This followed on from our first chance to present together earlier on in the day when we had a practice run of our live outside broadcast. As well as this, we all joined a Google Drive – set up by Eliza – to allow us to share materials in an easier fashion.
Week Four: To go alongside being presenter, I’ve also joined the branding team in order to assist Ellie as there’s not much to do for my main role at the current moment in time. Despite the waiting, Simon brought in a clock for each hour which featured suggested presenter link times, but made the point that it doesn’t assist creativity if we have to stick to a rigid schedule. Even though I can’t make Monday meetings due to extra-curricular work with Smoke Radio, it’s good to see the team are working hard and whenever I check in afterwards, it seems like a mountain of tasks have been accomplished.
Week Five: On Monday, I assisted Simon with getting the music in to Myriad, as this is somewhat my area of expertise. This also necessitated loading the copyright information in to each cart, a slightly tedious task, but obviously extremely important.. Clare devised a schedule for our links and gave me a copy to take so that I can become more familiar with it. I also got the chance to voice one of our adverts – for Toys’R’Us – I’m starring as an elf and I’m fairly sure that I’ve finally found my true calling. When Thursday came around, I helped record our sweepers with our voices: Afia and Joe Pilbrow. This involved actually driving the desk and levelling Joe, as well as suggesting ways he could say the liners.
Week Six: With one week to go until the pilot of The Groove, preparation went in to overdrive. On Monday, the branding team received feedback from Matthew on the use of voices, which we carefully considered as the week went on, and resulted in recasting. I offered to take on production of idents for features used on the show. Having spent a while working out who would have the ideal voices (as I felt the previous two used didn’t really suit, following feedback), I will be recording with them on Monday. On Thursday morning, I gathered with Clare in the (former) Sadie Room to work out exactly how we would handle our links, including pronunciation checks and practice travel bulletins. This left us feeling very confident for our run through in the afternoon. While we didn’t get a chance to present for the full two hours as we’d have liked – due to studio work – we established quite a few techniques in our one hour and ten minutes. These included the pacing of our links, as initially Simon and Eliza felt we were speaking far too fast for our target demographic. We also worked out exactly how we would get out of the news and into breaks, as well as discussing how often we would name check either The Groove or Mi Soul. Finally, we spoke to Simon and Mark about our interviewee for the live show, and potential things we could ask them about. To replicate this, we played an old Smoke Radio interview and treated it as if it were live. All in all, the run through really benefited my presenting style, and I’m sure Clare feels the same. I feel incredibly confident for the live show and pilot now, providing Myriad and the studio decide to agree with us.
Week Seven: PILOT WEEK! The week started with me creating idents for two features on The Groove: Soul Train and the Funk Factory. This meant finding a suitable voice, recording with them, and then editing it together with an appropriate sample or collection of SFX so that it fit the ethos of the show. I was quite happy with the Funk Factory ident (with a bit of Deelite at the start, why not?) and our head of branding gave the go-ahead for my Soul Train one, although I still felt that it could be slightly better, so resolved to sharpen it up after the pilot. Unfortunately though, Myriad had other ideas about using the Soul Train ident and it simply would not import, even after various attempts at troubleshooting.
Thursday quickly rolled round, meaning it was time for the pilot! We spent the morning working on parts of the show that were vital for Clare and I as presenters, such as travel and our opening links of each hour, just to make sure that us and studio producer Mark were on the same page. From my point of view, the show went quite well. I was really happy with my opening link, which we’d worked on for some time. There was one point where I executed a throw-forward quite poorly, but I played this up on air afterwards to avoid it being awkward. As well as this, a bit of pressure from people in the studio threw the conversational style of Clare and myself slightly off, after we’d mind-map ways we could take links, even creating a fictional backstory between the pair of us.
Feedback agreed, with the lack of personality between the pair of us being critiqued, but pointed out as something that could easily be improved. My travel reporting was also described as “too good”, in that it distracted from my transitioning into back to being a normal presenter. All in all, the pilot wasn’t disheartening, we have a lot of things we can work on for next week to ensure that we produce a really great show.
Week Eight: Time for The Groove to make its debut! Clare and I met on Monday to listen back to the show, resulting in us taking a series of notes of where we could improve but also things that we definitely wanted to keep in the final show. One thing that we did decide on was that we perhaps needed a slightly emptier studio to avoid the confusion of various voices as we structured a link. Apart from this, the consensus we reached tended to agree with the feedback following the pilot, so we looked into implementing the pointers that Tom and Matthew gave to us.
The following day, we met for a final runthrough. While technology, once again, didn’t particularly agree with us, Clare and I established a style that allowed for us to sound conversational whilst having a very clear idea of what we were going to talk about. It also helped that we used the music log that we were going to use for the live show as we bounced creative ideas around the studio about how we could get in and out of each track. While, eventually, time constraints became an issue, the session did result in some helpful discoveries.
We started the live show at precisely 2pm, with Clare and I raring to go. Personally, I think it went quite well on the presentation side. Bar one incident where I crashed the vocals of a track, I think I did an okay job and that we both sounded like we were a long-established on-air partnership. We had one moment where technology failed us, as our caller couldn’t actually hear us. Despite this, I think I salvaged it quite well by summarising what they would have said without making it sound forced or scripted. This also led us to work around our phone interview, recording it during a track and having me cue Clare’s voice as if it were live despite the fact it had been recorded in another studio about two minutes prior to the fact.
All in all, I was really happy with how The Groove turned out. Despite some potential roadblocks, we overcame them successfully. The module has taught me a lot about the activities behind the scenes in a commercial radio station, and I feel it’s also developed my skills as a presenter – a route I’m very keen on going down.