Production Week One: 9-15 February
This was the week that our class was divided into three groups, who would each produce a live 30-minute show on Thursday 13 April. My group immediately decided on which roles we wanted to take on with myself choosing OB producer. The majority of my roles in the past have been presenter based so I wanted to do something different and liked the idea of being out and about. Tommy took the role of OB presenter so we will be working together over the course of the module.
Production Week Two: 16-22 February
Our weekly listening of The Surgery on Radio One and The Sports Bar on Talksport both had interesting styles of presentation. It was my first time listening to The Surgery and I found it quite interesting as Gemma language is quite informal. I find this type of speech radio is more engaging for me personally as most of the time when I listen to shows on Radio 4 I tend to get bored easily especially if it is on a subject that I am not particularly interested in. Although I have listened to The Sports Bar on many occasions, the final hour is different to the rest of the show. The first two hours is usually focused on the night’s football action or latest story but the last hour steps away from that. It has an appeal to people who may not be particularly interested in football, although it has a rather wacky element about it.
Production Week Three: 23 February – 1 March
David gave each group our target audience in class this week, with our station consisting of the following elements:
- AGE GROUP 30-55.
- Slight male bias.
- National rolling news station – covering national and international news.
- Programming contains news and sport 24 hours a day, with magazine programmes and some phone ins.
- There is extensive live sport coverage
Based on these elements we concluded that the closest station to this in the real world is BBC Radio 5 Live, and as a group we began listening to the station more between sessions to get an idea of what our show might sound like.
During the afternoon session, we were given the task of making a 15-minute programme, taking into consideration our target audience. Our programme only ended up being 10 minutes long, although we had the disadvantage of being the first of the 3 groups to record.
Production Week Four: 2 – 8 March
We spent this week in class going over legal stuff so didn’t work on any show production.
Production Week Five: 9 – 15 March
During class this week we looked at potential OB’s and decided upon doing something that would tie two campaigns which would be running on the day of our broadcast; Stress Awareness Month (April 2017) and National Gardening Week (10-16 April). We thought it would work well as gardening can be a seen as a form of stress relief. We checked http://nationalgardeningweek.org.uk/ for potential events we could broadcast from on the day of our live show (13 April). We decided upon an event taking place at RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Chelmsford.
Our weekly listening included H & J on Talksport, and their show on the Tuesday was of particular interest to me as they did an OB from the Cheltenham festival. As OB producer I thought I might get an insight into what happens when a studio based show goes live from a different location. The show consisted of interviews with well-known personalities who happened to be at the event, as well as race coverage. I felt I had an idea of what kind of content is required when on an OB but was not sure how this would pan out for my team as we were unlikely to be attending a major sporting event.
Production Week Six: 16 – 22 March
Max showed us how to use the tieline during the morning session, and in the afternoon we tested it out in the field for the first time. Myself and Tommy set-up in the forum using the ethernet connection, where we did a short interview with some students asking for their opinions on the new nike hijab. We were generally happy with how the tieline worked although it took us a few attempts to get a connection to the studio.
Production Week Seven: 23 – 29 March
Our class happened to be the day after the Westminster Terror attack, so David thought it would be a good idea for the OB teams from each group to go to Westminster and report on the event as part of a practice programme. We arrived at Waterloo station around 12.30pm, at which point the bridge was closed. We decided to have some lunch and discuss how to approach the story. By the time we had finished eating, the Bridge was opened to traffic and the public so we were able to set-up a few yards from Big Ben. Myself and Tommy began writing a script based on what we could see and what information had been released to the press. A few minutes before our programme was set to go on air we managed to find a lady from the US who was visiting family in London and was happy to be interviewed on air. This along with the script myself and Tommy had prepared earlier worked well and as a group we were very happy with the days’ program.
Pilot Week: 30 March – 6 April
The plan for our class on 30 March was to do a 30-minute program as practice for our pilot and live shows over the next 2 weeks. For the OB we were originally going to travel to south bank to do something about the new one pound coin but there were some logistical issues with the other groups using the 3G tieline so myself and Tommy instead decided to use the ethernet only tieline in the forum as this was only a practice session. To setup the piece we went to the bank in Harrow to get our hands on some of the coins as it came out in our group meeting earlier in the day none of us had actually seen one. Once we returned we setup the tieline in the forum but could not get any sound from the microphone. We went upstairs to look for the technicians Tim and Max but could not locate either and time was running out for us to go live. After explaining the situation to David, he suggested we go and meet the group who was using the 3G tieline in Harrow town centre to use that instead. We made it just in time for our live show but due to the pressure we forgot to connect the aerial so could not connect to the studio and the OB ended up being scrapped. When we got back on campus I managed to locate Tim and told him about the issue we had with the ethernet-only tieline. He tested it and had the same problem, then realised that the phantom power setting for the microphone was switched off. He apologised and explained that this setting should never have been switched off in the first place. The main thing for me was that it is better that these problems arise in our practice shows rather than the one we are being assessed on.
Due to my work commitments on Monday I was unable to make our group meeting but I drafted up a script for a trail previewing the stations live coverage of Europa League football on the day of our live show. I listened to 5 Live and Talksport over the weekend to get an idea of how the trail should sound. The script was approved by the group at the meeting so I voiced and put it together in time for our pilot show on Thursday 6th April.
In addition to this I did some more listening to 5 Live, specifically Afternoon edition on Tuesday 4th April, where the topic of discussion was “Should the best before date be binned to reduce food waste?” I thought the topic might be something we could have did a story on in our programme but when I brought it up on Thursday morning it was something that had already been discussed in the weeks previous meeting. This made me reflect on my overall input to the programme but due to me being unable to get out of work on Mondays there wasn’t much else I could do. I felt that in order to convincingly present an idea to the group this would be have to be done in person so I just focused on making sure the OB element of the show was organised.
Tommy had been in email contact with Sue Carter at RHS Garden Hyde Hall and she was ok with us coming down to visit the week before to work out logistics for our show on 13 April. We decided to do our pilot from the venue to ensure everything was in working order. When we arrived on the morning of our pilot show we were informed that one of the other groups was going to take the 3G tieline so we were stuck with the ethernet only unit. We travelled to Chelmsford with it but after speaking to Sue were told that the IT department at the hall would not allow any external connections to their ethernet. We ended up doing the OB over the phone which was not ideal but again it was better that this occurred in our pilot show. We left with the dilemma of having to rely on the availability of the 3G tieline unit for our live OB which was not ideal.
During our conversation with Sue she told us about a member of staff who had previously been a city banker and was now a team leader at the garden. We thought he would be an ideal candidate to interview for our live show as he would potentially be able to speak about the stresses of working in the city compared to working at the centre. .
On Air Week: 7 – 13 April
My priority in the run-up to our live show was to either guarantee the use of a 3G tieline for our live show or find a suitable alternative. Dan (our group’s editor) received an email from David saying that he was worried that our OB in Chelmsford may put the other groups out due to the fact there was only the one 3G tieline between 3 groups. I made the suggestion of moving our show to earlier in the day so that there would be enough time to transport the unit to the others but this would mean moving around guests that had already been booked so was not the ideal solution. On Tuesday morning, I went to see the radio technician Tim to explore the option of putting my mobile sim card into the ethernet only tieline unit but he explained it did not have a sim card slot. He went on to tell me about a tieline app which is available on iphones that uses the phones built in microphone. I downloaded the app onto my phone and he set it up with the IP address for the studio’s tieline. We tested it successfully and noticed the great quality of the phones microphone so I was happy to have found a solution to our problem. Tim also showed me an iphone 4 adaptor which allowed us to plug in an external microphone and 2 headphones. My phone is an iphone 5 so I needed a connector which he could not locate but I messaged Dan who said he had one we can use on the day of the live show.
On the day of our live show we started at 9.30 with a group meeting. Myself and Tommy then went over the OB script and once Dan had approved it we printed off a couple of copies. The next task for the OB team was to test the tieline app on my phone with the adaptor kit and the connector Dan had brought in which proved to be successful. With everything ready Tommy and I set off to the garden.
We arrived at Hyde Hall at around 12.30, allowing about 15 mins to get to our broadcast position to do a scheduled test of the OB at 12.45. We were initially worried about phone reception as there was no service in the gardens car park but it picked up once we got to the spot we planned to broadcast from. The test transmission was fine so we proceeded to go over scripts again and made an effort to add some ‘colour’ as it had previously been pointed out that our pilot lacked this. Once we were happy with them we went to see Sue who confirmed our interviewee Tom would be with us around 15.00, 20 mins before he was due to go live.
The first segment of our OB went live at 15.06 and ran smoothly with no issues. The second segment which included the interview with Tom went live later than planned because the studio was running behind schedule. Tommy and I felt the interview was cut abruptly but in hindsight realised it was in the best interests of the group for the show to finish on time.
Upon listening back to the show, I feel it went reasonably well. I was particularly impressed with Dom’s football fan package and thought the other elements worked rather well. The sound quality of the OB was excellent considering the issues we had in the run up and it went to script apart from the interview with Tom being cut short, although it was justifiable. I thought my Europa League trail sounded decent but it maybe needed a stab to introduce it and the bed level could have been a little bit higher.