Mark Hoskin

Week 1 – Introduction 

The module started with a briefing on the task that was to face us for the coming ten weeks. We had a short lecture on previous successful pop-up stations including BBC Music Jazz, and Glastonbury FM.  We also looked back on previous student projects such as Radio Lola, and Radio Zest. We did a short task in which we had to work together and think of station ideas in under 45 minutes, while we were being observed by someone who was going to later give us feedback on our contributions to the meeting.

After this, we sat as a group to start brainstorming ideas for our own pop-up station. Once we realised that we were given free-roam on the station, it opened up the field for plenty of discussion between the class. I began to search for communities and hobbies that are currently not specifically represented on radio, including food and parents of newborn babies. Other ideas from the class that I was a particular fan of included a station dedicated to the milestone of 40 years since the peak of disco, and a station focussing on musical theatre.

We decided that we’d sit on a few ideas for a week, and come back next week with more detailed plans for each idea. I decided to go forward with the peak of disco idea. I spent the week looking at some potential tracklistings and looked into where speech content could be featured on the station.

 

Week 2 – Choosing the Station & Allocating Roles

We spent the morning building on our ideas in groups, to then present our ideas to the group. We decided that the disco station would feature some of the best tracks to emerge from the genre in the past 40 years, and look into how it became apparent in fashion, movies, and television.

We presented our ideas and got through to the last round of voting, but got pipped on the last round by a station dedicated to gaming. This station opened up plenty of opportunities for great content, a good split between music and speech, excellent digital content, and a variety of outside broadcasts. My only doubt was the lack of presenters in the group that could confidently present a show focussed on gaming.

In the afternoon, we started to focus on roles. I wanted to take on a role that focussed on a specific show, whether this was presenting or producing, I didn’t really mind. If there were more than one person that wanted to take on each role, each person had to pitch themselves, with the group voting after. I took the role as producer of the music show. I was looking forward to producing on a solely music-focused, specialist show as it was something I had never done before. After all the roles had been decided, we had a discussion about the name of the station – and decided on Unlocked – I was very happy with this name.

Me and Callum started discussing potential ideas on features for the show, we decided that Grand Theft Audio would be a great feature, due to the success of the music on the Grand Theft Auto series. I also thought that a feature showcasing the worst ‘rage-quitters’ would work. It helps break up the show and is very light-hearted, which fits into the show.

 

Week 3 – Production Week 1

We started off this week by finalising exact details on the station –  such as name, timings, and schedule. I was then told by Eliza that I was going to be moving to the Retro Show. I didn’t mind this as it allowed me to become more creative with the content on the show – but, this did offer more of a challenge.

We had our first meeting at the beginning of the week and managed to get some initial thoughts for the show. At first, we started to come up with a format in which the show would follow on a weekly basis. We wanted to follow a theme each week, and originally decided on Arcade, PC, Nintendo, and Consoles. We came up and confirmed feature ideas with the rest of the group, including Natalie Plays. We decided that it’d hard to create a clock until we had finalised the format of the show. We met up a few days after to discuss content for the show in further detail. After an hour of coming up with several discussion points for the work, we decided that the concept of themed weeks made the clock for the show seem a bit forced.

The idea of that it is very fun, light-hearted, and jokes around with the concept of retro gaming, without going too far into depth on the technicalities of games or consoles. Taking this into consideration, we decided that it would be more beneficial to create a pool of topics to then distribute where we see fit over the four shows. I recommended the format that Jeremy Vine uses with his shows, where he takes four topics, and discusses them in detail for equal sections of the show. With our show being an hour, I thought that three topics of 20 minutes, with music included, and features such as ‘Best of the Worst’ and ‘Guess the Year’ splitting up the topics would work well for the show.

Our list of topics is as follows…

 

  • The Evolution of Pac-Man
  • Fifa Development
  • Fifa vs Pro Evo
  • Pokemon
  • Zelda
  • Mario & Sonic rivalry
  • Mario family
  • Final Fantasy
  • Street Fighter series
  • Films into games
  • Educational – Cooking Mama, Brain Training, Professor Layton
  • GTA
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • PC Games e.g pinball, solitaire
  • Simpson Series
  • Snake – Phone games
  • Dance Mats
  • Sport games at arcade: shooting, motorbike, basketball, hockey, skiing
  • Tetris
  • SingStar (PS2)
  • Super Smash Bros

 

We distributed three of these per show, and made sure that we had a variety of topics per show. For example, Week 1 features The Evolution of Pac-Man, the Grand Theft Auto series, and Dance Dance Revolution – a good variety of arcade, consoles and PC games. The last topic on the show, Dance Dance Revolution, will often be the one that Natalie will play on a live stream at the end of the show. The other two will require packages to introduce them, which me and Abbi will create. Once we have finalised how long packages and features will be, we will create a clock.

I have created a list of contacts that could potentially be used as guests on the show – and also created notes to be used alongside them. We will be getting in contact with them as soon as we know where we’re going to be using guests in the show.

Week 4 – Production Week 2

We had nailed down the foundations of the show in the past few weeks, now it was time to crack with the production of the first show. The show has a lot of potential, and can be treated in many different ways. However, we’re not going to know the specifics of how to treat it until we start creating content for the show. We’re still quite unsure how we’re going to cover each of the topics that we’ve decided on – will a solo presenter be able to chat about their experiences of a game for five minutes without boring the listener? Probably not – it needs much more production – we just need to work out what and how.

We’ve decided on a few features – Guess The Year and Best of The Worst. I want the show to take a very light-hearted approach, with fun features coming into the show throughout the hour – taking inspiration to the format on Soccer AM. Guess The Year is very straightforward – a 45-second montage of gaming tracks, quotes, characters merged into one – all from the straight year. This allows Natalie to speak directly to the listener with plenty of interaction over social media platforms. I created the Guess The Year montage for this week and chose 2003. It features clips Battlefield, The Simpsons, Call of Duty, Star Wars, Rayman, and True Crime, amongst others. We’ve also got the feature, Best of the Worst, which will be a pre-produced item in which a guest explains the worst game he’s ever played…

I’ve contacted a lot of potential guests for the shows, yet haven’t had much luck in securing guests so far.

We’ve discussed the live-stream and decided to call it Natalie Plays, a live-stream that sees Natalie go up against a rival at the end of the show, streamed live on Twitch. I like the possibilities that this offers, it gives content for the show and strengthens the variety that our show offers.

I’ve found some 8-Bit covers of songs that work very well for the style of the show and sound great next to Natalie’s voice – we can use some of these for beds. We’ve also been discussing branding with Matt, and he’ll be working on getting some stings, idents, jingles, and beds sorted for our show very soon – which help our show take shape.

Away from the show production, I’ve been working with Sam on a couple of adverts. I’m going to be producing Harrow Audio – a hi-fi & vinyl store in Harrow town centre, and BlackPanthaa – a YouTube channel dedicated to gaming. I’ve never created an advert before, so this may prove to be a challenge – but, I’m looking forward to it.

 

Week 5 – Production Week 3 / Potential Pilot

I was quite nervous going into this week – my workload appeared to be unmanageable. We had quite a lot of preparation for the pilot show, but at the beginning of the week, we weren’t ready at all. We still had guests to confirm, features to make, scripts to write – and although we had a full week, it seemed like quite a stressful task alongside other modules. I was aware that the in the real radio world, this would’ve been quite an easy task, so I knew that we had the ability to sort it.

Over the course of the week, we’ve created plenty of features and sorted a fine base to go into the pilot with. I think we’re going to be using the pilot as a tester for a lot of ideas and features, to see where we can improve in the coming weeks. I created a lot of content for the show in the lead up to the pilot, but unfortunately was still left with a lot to do as we approached the weekend. I knew exactly how I wanted the show to sound and knew that it wasn’t going to be portrayed within the pilot, so we had to work with what we had and attempt to create a good sounding show that would allow us to build us on the foundations for the coming week.

Throughout the week, we had to create the ‘history checks’ on Pac-Man and GTA – and we were a little bit lost on where to take them. Original plans discussed having interviews and vox-pops within the package, but it appeared to take away the discussion from Natalie, so we thought that having ‘Producer Mark’ as someone who goes out to find out about how the game started – however, we didn’t have time to implement this before the pilot.

I spent the few days leading up to the pilot perfecting the running order, along with curating the playlist for the show. The playlist was a tricky one – I didn’t want to take away the shine from the music show, because that show exists to play the best music ever to feature in games, whereas we have a strict focus on retro. I decided to focus on music that relates to the items, as well as from games pre-2003…

Last week, I agreed to make two adverts – BlankPanthaa and Harrow Audio. After struggling to find voiceovers, I decided to use Facebook groups to source some. After being accepted to British Voiceovers,  I messaged the admin to obtain permission to post on the group. After gaining permission, I posted the following…

“Hi all! I’m a producer on a brand-new pop-up gaming radio station that we’re creating for a university project. We’re looking for some voiceover artists to help us out with voicing some adverts that we have to make for organisations to air on the station…

With it being a university project, we’re unable to pay but can reimburse travel expenses if you needed to record at our studios in Harrow.

We’re quite open on styles and accents, so if you feel that you could help us out, please message me. Thank you in advance – massively appreciated!”

Much to my surprise, I received over 30 responses from voiceover artists willing to help out with the project. From this, I was able to voice my adverts, as well as help others out with finding artists.

With the pilot approaching very soon, I thought we weren’t in a position to go live – but in a position where we needed the pilot to gain feedback and make crucial changes ahead of Live Week 1…

Week 6 – Pilot 

We came in on Monday as early as possible to make sure we were fully prepared for our show at 2am. We were short on beds, so decided that we would play some from Spotify in order to save time and reduce the amount of the time we were in the studio, allowing other teams to use them.

We met with Matthew in the morning to discuss our running order and plans for the show, where we were given some very useful feedback and suggestions to take into consideration ahead of the show. It made us think about Natalie’s role, and how she relates to the audience on the show. We were never going to be able to make all the adjustments ahead of going live in a few hours, but we did change a few things on the running order to reflect the changes that we wanted to work on in the week going forward. We changed the running order to show where beds, stings, idents and jingles would be played, as well as who is responsible for each item.

In my opinion, the show itself didn’t go very well. However, it addressed every problem that we faced and allowed us to build on the foundations that we created. Some items worked well, including Guess The Year and Natalie Plays. We came out from it and I decided to start from scratch with the running order. I created a list of every item that was going to be in the show, with estimated timings. With this, I was able to piece the show together, as well as create a to-do-list for us to work on throughout the week. New items included an interview with a Pac-Man fanatic, a countdown of GTA’s best characters, and the Gaming Guru’s best tips – relating to Natalie Plays.

Early on in the week, I decided on the music for the show – and sent that over to the music team for them to work on. We had plenty of debate surrounding the music policy, but to differentiate from the other shows, I decided to base on the best music from the retro era, with music that the listener can relate and allows Natalie to sell and talk about. For example, Praise You by Fatboy Slim allows Natalie to talk about her experiences listening to the song in the early 2000’s as well as playing it on Dance Dance Revolution. I also tried to get quick adjustments to the packages done including revoicing the Pac-Man package so that is was consistent with my voice throughout the show. I recorded that and sent over to Abbi for her to re-edit.

I recorded the audio with Matt Fisher from Pomelo Pictures early on and then edited it into the package – it’s an item that I think works very well with the show – and one that we can keep every week. I also put together the Gaming Guru’s Top Tips item. This is another item that I think works very well with the show. It gives Natalie the chance to sell the digital content, as well as introduces the Gaming Guru to the listener before they meet him on Twitch later on in the day.

Friday and Saturday consisted of putting together the logs for Natalie to do several run-throughs on Sunday, as well as recording the interview with the Pac-Man fanatic. The logs were quite time consuming, but very satisfying once completed. It allowed me to test out which beds would work coming out of certain terms and create a strong sound for the show. I wanted to have a consistent 8-bit theme for the show – and this is shown in the beds, as well as the Best of the Worst feature.

After we ran through the show a few times on Sunday, I was confident going into Monday. I was able to instruct Natalie on a few links to ensure how personality came through, and made a few changes to the running order and beds.

Throughout the week, I also re-edited my Harrow Audio advert, and finalised the BlackPanthaa advert. I also managed to source a few more voice actors to help out with others.

Week 7 – Live Show 1 & Preparation for Week 2

We came at 8am on Monday to continue preparations for the show. As well as this, we wanted to put together a feature for the GTA item, in which the Unlocked office tell us their favourite GTA character and explain their reasons. This wasn’t ideal, but we discovered that the previous item we had related to GTA didn’t work – so Abbi put this together at short notice, whilst I prepared for one final runthrough at 9am. The runthrough went really well, and put both myself and Natalie in good spirits ahead of the show.

In the final few hours in the lead up to the show, I mastered the segues for the show and made sure that the show sounded as tight as it possibly good. I knew that the sound design for the show had a very certain feel, meaning that had to be portrayed that across the entire duration of the show.

The show itself I think went very well and was an extreme improvement on the effort of the pilot show the week before. Natalie sounded good, the packages sounded good in the show, and there was a clear structure within the show. After the show, we received feedback from Tom and Luke, which overall was quite positive. The sound design received plenty of praise, which I was very pleased with. I feel as if we can take this further and include different beds each week, whilst maintaining the same ones used this week. The negative feedback surrounded the levels, which I completely agree with. I’m not too sure what made them so uneven throughout the show – however, all we can do now is make sure that it is sorted for next week. We were also advised that packages were fairly repetitive and didn’t offer much variety. This is another thing that we can sort for next week. Overall, I was very happy with the feedback for week 1, and think that it truly set the foundations for what can be a great, consistent show over the course of the four weeks.

As soon as feedback had finished, me and Abbi began preparations for next week’s show. We had already planned the topics and a few items, but decided to overall some pre-planned items and focus on Pokemon and film-based games. Both of these fit the retro show very well, and I believe both would be very appealing to the target audience. We put together a to-do-list for the week, and had regular meetings throughout the week to track progress. I allocated myself the Pokemon items, and Abbi took film-based games. I also put together the general structure for the show this week, and decided on the music for the show. I was very pleased with the music choices this week. I think that not only were they very relevant for the show and gave the show an identity, they also gave Natalie plenty of talking points and allowed her to discuss personal experiences.

I got in touch with plenty of people in the Pokemon community, because I thought that a good guest for this topic could make-or-break the item. Luckily, I found someone that had led the UK’s biggest ever Pokemon GO walk, with over 1600 people attending. As well as this, I put together a package to go alongside the interview, and introduce the topic. I did some longer vox-pops for the package, however, I was quite disappointed with the quality.

Later on in the week, it was a case of finalising items, including voicing both of the packages, and editing the Best of the Worst feature. I’m a big fan of Best of the Worst, and am looking forward to continuing it in the following weeks. I contacted a few potential contributors from around the world this week, so it’s look promising for weeks 3 and 4.

I spent the weekend finalising the logs and the segues so that the show sounded as smooth as possible.

This week, I also suggested to the Digital team that there is potential to run an Unlocked Spotify account where we upload the playlists from the shows, as well as other gaming-themed playlists. It would give plenty of content for the online team and also offers the presenters a chance to refer to some online content.

 

Week 8 – Live Show 2 & Preparation for Week 3

We were in at 8am once again to complete a run through ahead of going live at 1pm. After the positive outcome of the first week, I was determined to ensure that we continued the good start and I was confident that we had a good show lined up. After our run-through, we kept the running order how it was with the two interviews that we had lined up.

I told our live guest to arrive at 12:40, 30 minutes before he was due to go on air to allow him to be briefed ahead of the show. He brought his collection of Pokemon cards, something that the digital team were able to visualise and attach to the audio to make a social media post.

The show kicked off at 1pm, with me as technical operator once again. I enjoy being the tech op, purely because I know how I want to the show to sound and this allows me to make sure that this happens. We started with the Pokemon item, we included vox-pops in the package and this made my package sound nicer than the GTA one from the previous week. The live interview went very well, and I was very undecided on whether to split it over two parks. However, to ensure that I didn’t complicate things for Natalie, I kept it to the original running order. The new beds sounded good, especially the one that was an 8-bit cover of a Kasabian track.

Weekly features such as Best of the Worst and Gaming Guru were consistent again, however, the contributor for Best of the Worst could’ve been better. The films package and interview sounded good as well to wrap up a good show.

Once the show had finished, I instantly started preparations for the next week – in which I chose the topics to be FIFA and Nintendogs (with a spin on the simulation DS genre). I lined up an interviewer for FIFA quite early in the week – which took longer than I anticipated – having to contact over 15 potential interviewees. I then sorted out the package quite early and recorded some vox-pops to fit. After we recorded the interview, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t very good, it didn’t really fit the fast-paced nature of the show. It looked increasingly likely that we weren’t able to find another interviewer and therefore had to think of another item. Lucy suggested that we take another approach and take it into the real game, finding out how FIFA affects real life footballers. Luckily, I had connections to the Colchester youth team, and we were able to get a quick interview out them and turn it into a package – which should work nicely.

The Nintendogs item took a very slow start, and Abbi was unable to find an interview. On Saturday night, I spent some time thinking about another item. I wanted something that integrated a lot of DS games so that it was relatable to more than just Nintendogs fans. I came up with the idea of a game that looks with reviews. I did some research to find some funny reviews online and then voiced them on Sunday. Abbi edited them and then we were able to make something of it.

Best of the Worst was looking promising, I secured contributors from ARGCast (Another Retro Gaming Podcast), however – they were very slow on sending the audio, receiving it at 11:56pm on Sunday night! The Gaming Guru feature is possibly my favourite one so far – with Adam doing a great job on that.

 

Week 9 – Live Show 3 & Preparation for Week 4

I was in at 7:30am on Monday morning in case there were any problems with Best of the Worst. I managed to get it sorted quite early and get it in the log, allowing us to have a solid run through at 8am – this gave Natalie a lot more confidence and allowed us to perfect a few of her links. After runthroughs, we finished final preparations, and Abbi added the timings to the running order.

I believe the show continued at the standard that it had set in the previous two weeks. This was the most packages we had played in one show, but all of them sounded great in their own right. The game sounded nice in the show and led nicely into Press Play at 2pm.

After the show, I headed straight into the studio to record my package in front of the camera (not something I’ve ever done before), and found it fairly difficult to record without looking at the script. We then had a fairly long meeting regarding the treatment for the visualised show for next week. We decided on a final running order along with the music policy for the show. I was undecided on whether to focus the entire show on Mario, or just to make it a Mario special. I also had the debate of how to curate the playlist for the show – among the team, we came to some good decisions and I was happy with the planning ahead of the preparations in the week.

Throughout the week, I constructed the running order, and I was very happy with how it went. The previous three weeks have been very package-heavy, and I knew that it would be switched up this week, with a much stronger focus on live gaming. I knew that Matthew wanted to see more of this, so was happy to include it as quite a strong point of the show. I made the decision to drop Best of the Worst, and thought that the Gaming Guru could do his tips live, as it would act as a good throwforward to the games later in the show. As per the past few weeks, I ensured that Natalie always spoke into the ads, with her teasing the next section of the show.

We got the majority of the content sorted earlier than usual, and we were ready for live rehearsals come Friday evening. We managed to get through two shows on Friday night and this left us very confident for Monday. The music videos were looking good, as well the rest of the visuals. Having a run through gave me the chance to change a few things on the running order, including dropping a link about the Mario theme tune.

 

Week 10 – Live Show 4 

On Monday, we arrived at 8am. I began finalising the running order, and helped out Dan and James with the set up of the studio. We completed a few run throughs of the 2:50pm trophy ceremony – this went well and I thought it was an excellent way to close the station – hopefully it would work in the real show.

We followed this by doing one more runthough of Play Again, but this time with cameras. This went incredibly well, and  I had my first experience of trying to produce whilst wearing a banana costume…

By the time the show came round at 1pm, I had a great amount of confidence that the show would go well. We kicked off as we would normally, and it sounded great not just on radio, but on the live stream too. I always went into the show with the focus being on live radio, but wanted to make sure that every piece of content benefitted from the live stream too – and I think this was pulled off very well!

I was massively impressed with how Dan and James streamed the games. I decided that commentators would be needed to benefit the radio stream, however, I originally planned to have presenters from other shows. As a group though, we decided that I should do the commentary, which I didn’t mind.

We stuck to timings very well throughout the show, and hit the news exactly on 2pm.  Job well done from all the team involved!

 

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