Matt Toulson

Production Week 1

This week we were put into groups, but we decided that we didn’t have to rush into assigning roles to people. Instead we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the people in our group. This activity let us recognise what would be the best roles for each other, but the roles were not set in stone.

Production Week 2

This week we did not do much production because a guest speaker from the radio industry came in to explain how to make a talk radio show. Although we did not make any production process today, I thought the lecture was useful because it gave us the opportunity to let an industry expert tell us how to make a professional radio show. He gave us tips about the do’s and don’t of broadcasting and the type of content that would be appropriate for different types of talk radio shows. I thought it was a valuable lesson because I got a better understanding on how to produce the show.

This week, we also briefly discussed what roles there were and who would be most suitable for them, but the roles were still not clearly defined by this point.

Production Week 3.

Today, we were given details for the shows that we needed to produce. The criteria for our show was that it had to be a topical show with London-focused stories, and the target audience was a equal male/female split with an age range of 15-45 years old. The age range, we thought, was quite broad and that made it difficult for us to think of content, because something that would appeal to the younger age range wouldn’t necessarily appeal to the older end of the target audience.

This week, we also had to create a 15 minute show that would be similar to our programme. I think this activity gave the group a clearer idea on what people were best suited to.

This led to us being given specific roles in the group which were chosen by Lucy, who we decided would be the best editor.

Production Week 4.

This week we took a look at the legalities of broadcasting and the rules we had to adhere to when we are producing and presenting the show. We were taught about the language that ranged from acceptable to inappropriate for the radio and were shown some case studies of incidents where presenters were libelous or inappropriate which got them into trouble.

Because of the legal theory this week we didn’t get a chance to move forward with our shows.

Production Week 5. 

This week, we began discussing the content of our show. I was given the job of creating a pre-recorded package for the show about a tour around the back streets of Westminster that promised to unveil the secrets of the city. I thought this was an exciting task and I was confident I could produce it, so I immediately began with researching the tour with help from Bernice, who gave me the e-mail of the tour guide. I did try to e-mail him, but I was unsuccessful with a reply.

I pressed on with the content of my package. I began to imagine how it would sound and typed out some parts of the script. This was by no means going to be the final script, but it helped me to know what it would sound like if I wrote out a rough copy it. It also gave me ideas of what the questions for the tour guide would be like when I went to interview him. I felt like it was coming together- all I needed now was the tour guide to reply to me!

Production Week 6. 

I was ill this week so I didn’t make it to the session. I was told Matthew gave us feedback to our news stories and content for our show, which I think was needed because it gave us better direction with how we were going to make our show tighter and sound more professional.

While I was off, I tried to e-mail to tour guide again but he didn’t reply again.

Production Week 7. 

It was a day after the attack on Westminster bridge and David gave each group the task of producing another 15 minute show with that story leading the show. It was important that our show, being the only London-focused show, had to have it as the leading story especially because of the target audience we were trying to appeal to (i.e the London population).

We had to include an Outside Broadcast from near Westminster bridge, which I thought would be good practice for Adam and Bernice- the show’s OB team. I also thought this activity would give us all a good insight into how a professional radio station worked when faced with a big story with constant breaking news and different story angles and threads.

I was given the angle of how London and its residents reacted to the tragedy. It was a script for Simon- our presenter- to read with tweets from Londoners and news about reactions, such as the vigil at Trafalgar Square. I put the script into Burli along with an extract from Mayor Sadiq Khan’s speech. Unfortunately, I accidentally didn’t enter the audio correctly which meant they weren’t able to play it at the time of recording, which I think surprised Simon in the other studio. However, he glossed over it and that was the only problem in the 15 min show apart from it being about 90 seconds short of the duration. We were beginning to feel confident that our show was going to sound professional.

By this week, I was beginning to feel nervous because the tour guide had not e-mailed me back so Lucy suggested that I try to find other tour guides as a contingency. I spent the evening researching similar tours around Westminster.

Production Week 8. 

I had found several different tour guides that sounded similar to our preferred one. I had spent my free time in the week e-mailing each of them, but the result was always the same. None of them replied to me.

When I arrived on Thursday, I found an interesting tour that took place on every Thursday afternoon at 2:30. It was similar to our original one in that it had guided tours of the Cities of Westminster and London focusing on the back streets and lesser known places. Even better, it was free and anyone could sign up to go. Therefore, I suggested to Lucy that I should go and she thought it was the best thing to do as well. So, I signed up and it was confirmed that I had a place on the tour that left from Westminster tube station at half past two. That gave me just under four hours to think of questions for the tour guide and the other tourists that took part in the tour.

Thinking up of the questions gave me a clearer idea of the direction of the package. I was going to take the angle of how the Westminster tour trade was handling so soon after the Westminster attack the previous week, but I thought it was too soon to do this and it might come across as insensitive. I decided to focus on the tour and how it is good fun for the whole family at Easter time, which was near the time of the broadcast. This also fits in with the remit of our radio programme: it covers a broad, family-friendly target audience and is focused in the heart of London.

Later that day I borrowed a Marantz and made my way to Westminster tube station by myself. I met the tour guide and just before two-thirty. He agreed to let me interview him after the tour. While I waited for the tour to begin I got some actuality of Big Ben. This was going to be used to set the scene at the start of my tour.

By the end of the day, I had recorded the interview with the tour guide and got some actuality of the tour. My package was starting to shape up nicely and I was feeling confident it was going to be completed before next Thursday.

Production Week 9. 

The days before the Pilot (on Thursday) were spent by editing all the actuality, the interviews and my script. I had around fifteen minutes of content, but I didn’t need all of it because Lucy wanted the package to be three to four minutes maximum. This gave me the challenge of editing everything down and only keeping the footage that I believed was important to the overall package. I wanted to get it done before the day, but that didn’t happen so I spent Thursday morning finalising the package. I enjoy the editing and I think it sounded good upon completion. I thought that some of the actuality that I recorded was not fit for broadcast when I listened back to it. It was too late to go into Westminster to re-record it so I had to leave it out of the package. This made me unhappy with the final product.

This was reflected in the feedback that was given to us after the pilot. So, the next day, I decided to go and re-record some sounds from around Westminster and on the route that the tour took that I remembered from memory. I even managed to subtly record another tour guide that was taking place to add to the overall ‘feel’ of the package. Other bits of audio included a talking cat statue, Big Ben’s chimes, busy streets, and footsteps of feet of cobbled streets- but the latter was cut from the final package, because I didn’t think it added anything special.

Although I thought the first draft of my package sounded good, it was agreed that adding background noise from Big Ben and the busy streets from around Westminster added ‘colour’ to the package- something that could take the listener more involved with the package.

As for the actual pilot show itself, I was not involved as much as others because all the jobs had been filled. I was given the role of the runner, though, which meant I was given small jobs at a moment’s notice when there wasn’t anyone else available to do them. This would be the same on the day of the real show, as well. I think the show went well, from what I heard. It managed to sound professional, but laid-back at the same time and that was thanks to Simon, the lead presenter of the show.

Production Week 10. 

Finally, the week came for our pilot. I spent the day before making sure my package sounded like broadcast quality. With the tweaks that I made after the feedback last week I was sure it would be.

On the day, there wasn’t much I could do because Lucy said everything I needed to do had been done. I helped Bernice, the OB presenter, with the questions that she would be asking her guest when she went to Southbank later that day. I then let Lucy listen to my package one last time and we discussed whether it was suitable for the show. She agreed it was so I moved it to Burli so it was ready for Simon. I wrote him a quick cue for the show which was only about twenty seconds long, and I allowed him to make some changes on the wording so it sounded more natural to him. Everything I had to had been completed.

I think the broadcast went really well. I had no job during the actual live show so I decided to listen to the show from RP1 where there was a live stream. I wrote down a few notes about what the strengths and weaknesses were. Overall, there were more positives, with Simon and Abbi’s presenting skills being a highlight, as well as Clare’s operation of the desk to make the show flow seamlessly. I was told afterwards that each person in the studio was panicking during the broadcast, but being a listener of the show, I don’t believe that came across on the actual show, which shows the professionalism of everyone involved.

I think the criteria was met and the content was perfect for our target audience. Overall, I think everyone involved did their job well. I think I completed my jobs well, with the finished product sounding like it was a quality worthy of broadcast, which could be said for the rest of the show.

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