Role: Production Manager
Production Week 1:
After we decided what theme we wanted for our pop-up station, we spent the first official week of production democratically deciding roles and establishing what our station identity is. Building on our original pitch idea, we also roughly mapped out show and content ideas, including weekly themes for the four weeks of broadcast.
I successfully bid for the role of Production Manager; a role I knew I wanted from the get-go, as this time I wanted to take a more admin-style role in group work. I also take an active interest in all areas of radio – both studio production and the sales/marketing/imaging side that is usually overlooked. I want to be familiar with all departments of radio production in order to eventually move beyond production and into the managerial/corporate side of the industry.
After allocating roles, I looked at the role criteria to make sure I fulfilled all of it. I set up the team Google Drive and Slack as we agreed these were the most effective tools in managing this project. I collected everybody’s email address in order to make sure everyone was added, and spent the rest of the week discussing with the Editor and Studio Producer any other content ideas and also further sharpening the station identity – as this was still a little unclear.
Production Week 2:
This week, the Editor and I sat down and talked about how we wanted to manage the group together as a team, we established a good working relationship and set some deadlines for the team to work towards. I had some ideas on how to handle team communications outside of Slack, and decided to send a weekly communication email detailing any major updates and general news, so every member of the team knew what was going on.
Already at this early stage, we encountered a few problems in terms of people management; a couple of people didn’t feel confident or enthusiastic their roles – to the extent where the Editor and I felt their work would suffer. So we came up with system where we required people to stand up in a weekly meeting in class time, and say what they had accomplished the previous week – in order to encourage accountability. I also asked everybody to create a document in their section of the Google Drive, where they wrote down exactly what they were responsible for in their role as some people were still at a loss as to what they needed to do. The Editor and I also hosted one-one-ones with each team member to try and speak to everybody personally to: check that the were happy in their role, check they knew what they had to do and also encourage proactivity.
Outside of this, I went and sat with the imaging team for a while – trying to help them come up with a name for the station as our original ideas where already taken by existing stations. By the end of the day, after putting it to a vote, we collectively decided on the station name – which we then immediately asked the Head of Digital to purchase the website for. I then helped out with some other bits; suggesting potential businesses for the Head of Sales to contact and talking to the News Broadcaster about what format they wanted to do the news in – we settled on a Global style format. I also created the required staff list document and wrote out the mission statement we had agreed on previously, as well as creating an asset table for Head Sales that they could use to record all adverts, their status as confirmed or pending, and who they were allocated to to make – all in the Google Drive.
Production Week 3:
This week was more challenging as we arrived on our first session on Monday, it became clear who was throwing themselves into the tasks at hand, and who still didn’t feel very enthusiastic in their role. I say this as my role was to about making sure that everything ran smoothly, I supported the Editor in her decisions and generally helped manage the team and ensure all tasks are being completed to a high standard. We implemented the strategies we had agreed on the week before and a lot of headway was made in the Monday session, however the Editor and I were concerned that there were still so many tasks to be completed before the first Pilot the following Monday and the team didn’t really realise how much had to be done. It was apparent a couple of people weren’t comfortable, so we swapped a couple of people around into different roles.
I tried to combat this by impressing on everybody how many days away from Pilot One we were, verbally in person and making this very clear in the weekly email. In the session itself, after we checked in on each team (Digital, Marketing etc), I went around helping out with various bits – giving feedback on a News demo, tweaking/updating the station Instagram bio, helping search for businesses to commission adverts, overseeing work on the website and I also contacted and booked two guests for Pilot One. It was becoming apparent to me, just how exhausting it is to people manage, as I understand the importance of the way you talk to people and it was difficult for me to hide my frustration sometimes. I managed it as I knew that talking to the team in an aggressive/confrontational way would not help anyone or make anyone feel inclined to complete their tasks, so I carried on trying to be mindful in my communication as well as constantly liaising with the Editor.
The show itself went well albeit with a few hiccups but that’s what Pilots are for! The most challenging thing for me was trying to pull the team together as people in general still weren’t quite working together. Throughout the show I assisted where needed, generally helping Digital and other people, printing documents where needed, looking after the guest when she arrived as I had been the one to contact here.
I noted down all feedback given to us after the show, in detail and then shared the crucial parts in the weekly email communication. After consulting the Editor as I drafted this, I tried again to impress upon people the importance of working cohesively and reminding everyone again that if they needed help, they need only ask. This is why I tried so hard to make myself approachable and constantly put myself out there as being willing to help anyone if they needed it, as the Editor and I realised that some people were struggling this semester with personal issues outside of the project. This is completely understandable, but some team members were not communicating their difficulties with us, which then impacted their work. So I responded with carrying on my style of communication i.e. open, honest and friendly.
One of the issues that grew from this was a lack of planned content for the forthcoming shows. So during the week, the Editor and I met up and invited the content team and Producers to come along and planned all content for Pilot Two and the first two shows.
Unfortunately I was ill on this day, but I tried my best to support the Editor and the team from a distance. I checked in with them on the day and I’d also tried to book a guest for this day although they fell through in the end – however the team had backup.
The team really came together for Show One although there were some discrepancies with online content not matching up to show content. I offered my help to the person doing social media, offering to take over the Instagram and they could run Twitter exclusively, however they declined help. Nevertheless, I helped out by creating and posting some content to our Instagram account and story, as well as helping the Head of Socials navigate the app, as they asked for help with recording videos and how to put up questions on IG Stories – a component that was crucial for the Culture Box question feature. We had all shared round the ‘My Family Does That Too’ question before the day, to gather responses – I added a few to the document on the day that had come through, and my own response. During the show I sat in the studios across from the booth, supporting the Studio Producer by running things whenever needed – i.e. printing documents for the studio or presenter notes etc. Afterwards, I noted all feedback as usual and communicated the key points in the weekly email.
Show Two went well but it became increasingly clear that our digital content was struggling. Head of Digital was struggling so we invited all team members to lend a hand with digital content during the following week. During that day, I wrote another version of the station’s description/mission statement for the website, as well as helping design the anagram post for the Vapiano’s competition with the Head of Music. After finishing this off, I posted the competition to the station’s Instagram after being told that Digital would handle Terms and Conditions. We received feedback after the show, about a few details that needed to be changed on the competition post, which me and the Editor actioned accordingly. Another team member and myself also sat in as guests for this week as we both had personal experiences within other cultures to talk about – with regards to this week’s theme of Love. This week also became very difficult for me with regards to some conflict between some team members. I tried my best to keep supporting the team at large throughout broadcast – at one point Presenter Chloe felt unable to go on air so I found and briefed another team member who could cover her, until she was able to return to presenting the show.
This week the OB fell through and whilst the Studio Producer was on the phone to the OB team helping them find another food venue to broadcast from, I supported the live studio by covering the Producer and making sure the show ran smoothly. Another teammate and I guested again on the Speech Show; being interviewed by Presenter Makee about foods and snacks from our culture. I was also gathering any receipts and/or invoices that hadn’t been handed to me, for purposes of claiming back from the budget.
Show Four & Critical Reflection:
What did you set out to achieve and how did this change over time?
We set out to build a station that could reflect the multiculturalism of London and especially to populations who had come to London, from either near or far, from other cultures and where you could go in the city to immerse yourself in different culture too. This is why from the start, we had ideas for different themes each week, to fully explore different cultures in the contexts of Food, Cultural Traditions, Relationships and culturally specific Entertainment. The concepts that we were dealing with were originally too broad for the station theme/identity – which is why we struggled so much at the beginning to pin the latter down – and also why some teammates weren’t too confident with the topic of choice. Over time though, we came together as a team and everyone was excited about the idea.
To what extent did your contribution meet the needs of the station? What worked and what didn’t work? What would you do differently?
In my role I set out to be a deputy to the Editor and sort of ‘jack of all trades’, in the sense that I could lend my help to anybody/sub-team that was needed it. I wanted to provide the infrastructure to the team that would set everyone up to do their jobs most effectively and well, and support and aid the Editor in all decisions. However, I felt I was supporting the team too holistically sometimes, as some team members had exterior factors affecting their work and I was trying to support them in these, which took me away from doing practical supportive work for the team at large. I was also hampered by the fact I had to work at my jobs outside of university during the week, which meant I was unable to attend some meetings outside of the Monday session. I got around this by joining these when I could via FaceTime although ideally I wanted to be there in person. I felt that my admin organisation worked well with regards to enabling communication for the team with Slack and emails, however if I could do it differently, I would’ve wanted to meet more of the sub-teams in person outside of university (instead of only via messages/videos) in order to better support them and reinforce the messages I was communicating via email.
What did you learn about your role, what was challenging, and what do you take forwards as learning for the workplace?
I learned that people management is difficult and also the true meaning ‘leaving your personal life at the door’ when you ‘go to work’. I have always tried to conduct myself like this in any professional setting, but I really had to put this into practice in this environment as I went through a lot of issues outside of the project and at times I found it difficult at times to put my emotions aside when coming in. Even though I enjoyed my role and loved being able to help in all areas, I simultaneously found this challenging as I wasn’t assigned to a particular team and this meant I could only help out with slightly smaller tasks, compared to committing my help to one area. In the workplace, I take forwards my experience in a more admin style role and also the soft skills of communicating effectively with peers in a way that makes sure everyone is happy and able to work together.
What did you learn about setting up a pop up station, and what would you do differently next time?
Setting up a pop-up takes time, focus and extensive planning. We took our time getting the idea off the ground in the beginning and this affected our work in later weeks. Next time, I would be diligent in laying groundwork and infrastructure and basically getting tasks done ASAP as I know the importance of time.