Reflection (Synoptic Assessment) – Matthew Sanders
- Individual Audio Project, Research, External Commissioner
My individual audio project went through various stages of development. This was due to myself not having an idea that I was overly confident with from the offset. I had various ideas such as creating a music lead feature focusing on an all-female Punk band from Norwich, but I decided against this idea as my knowledge of Punk is limited and I felt that I wouldn’t be able to do the feature justice. My second idea was to do something related to comedy, as I have previously produced audio features and documentaries on Comedy as well as working in a Comedy Club during the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival in Edinburgh for 2017 and 2018. Originally my idea was to create a feature documentary focusing on two to three local London comedians, and their experiences performing comedy within London. This idea developed through various stages and I like the base idea but didn’t think it had enough substance for a twelve to fifteen documentary just focusing on performing in London. I developed the idea to potentially focus on unique comedians such as comedians with disabilities. I think the main problem in my individual audio project was my lack of decision making, as by this point a large chunk of the time allocated to pre-production had already passed. As I was and still am new to London, I spent a lot of my time researching after deciding that I would like to focus on comedy in one way or another. During my research, I came across Angel Comedy a club which I hadn’t heard of at that point. As I was just browsing through their website, I read the “about this club” section which had a brief summary of the history of the club, and instantly I wanted to learn more. This is an area which I believe I done very well in during my documentary, and that was researching everything I could find about the club. I was instantly engaged with the story of the club and thought I would make a fantastic audio feature. I spend a long time researching to try and get the most knowledge I could before contacting the club. In hindsight I should’ve contacted the club earlier as I left myself with less time than I would’ve preferred, this was due to the amount of time I took deciding on my project. I decided to try and commission the project through the club itself, suggesting use for promotion on social media sites and on their website. Once I contacted the club, I got in contact with Barry Ferns who is one of the co-owners and original founders of Angel Comedy, through a series of emails and phone calls Barry had become interested in the idea and had given me the go-ahead to create the audio feature. Barry is a comedian himself, and he has previously worked as a scriptwriter and has produced for both television and Radio. Barry and I got on great from the outset and had a few meetings as well as a long interview covering the history of Angel Comedy which added a lot to the documentary. Barry was very interested in the idea agreed with the points I had mentioned I wanted to cover in the feature. He was also very helpful in passing on specific contributors connected to the club that would be able to help for specific parts of the feature. Overall, I didn’t have any problems with gaining my external commission once I had spoken to a few people at the comedy club and had a few meetings with Barry who was the one to fully commission the idea. Ultimately, I believe having strong people skills allowed me to confirm the commission easily.
- Work Placement, What I learned
The work placement I am going to focus on is a six-week placement at Global Scotland, which took place two days a week from the 29th of March to the 27th of April 2018. During this work placement, I gained a massive amount of experience and knowledge about radio production that I hadn’t previously gained through my education. While at Global I managed to work with various teams within the building, my main role was working with the Heart Scotland Breakfast Production team, but I also spent a few days with the Global Scotland News Team and a few days with the Imaging Manager. Before I started the work placement, I was already very well accustomed to the Heart Brand, especially the Breakfast show on Heart Scotland as it had been something I had listened to for a while on my morning commute. While on the placement my main role was helping with various production projects on Heart. This included writing questions for an on-air competition that were relevant to the target audience and difficult enough without being impossible, as the competition was to win a car by answering ten questions in a row correctly. I also helped with various aspects of on-air audio sourcing clips to be used on air and loading them into the appropriate locations such as movie trailers and interview clips. I also helped with a videoing of a competition for social media, this was a full day which multiple takes and camera angles had to be captured, this video also had to be posted by 5 pm that day meaning as soon as filming had stopped it was a rush back to the offices for it to be edited. I learned about the quick turnaround of social content and how important it is to get content online while still being relevant to the on-air output. I also spent three mornings with the Heart Scotland Breakfast team which gave me great insight into the importance of content and the fast-paced nature of live breakfast shows, and I had never been in a studio during a breakfast show before this point.
One of my favourite parts of my work placement was the time I spent with the Global Scotland News team, as I have always been more interested in speech content compared to music radio, and spending time with the news team at Global Scotland would be the closest I would get to speech content. During my time with the news team, I was taught how to use ‘Burli’ a software which I hadn’t used before. Through Burli, I helped with sourcing news stories, edited audio clips and sourced interview clips. I also helped collect Vox-pops a news report on Avengers Infinity War, I had previously created Vox-pops for classes but not for a professional station, I learned that people are usually quite open and willing to talk if you approach them nicely and explain what you are doing clearly. I was also shown how live and pre-recorded news bulletins are created at Global, the process that goes into prepping each hour’s news and how local news presenters keep to strict time constraints as the news is local, but the daytime and evening shows are networked from London. My time with the news team gave me a lot of knowledge about news bulletins in a live and pre-recorded environment.
The last aspect of my work placement was spending two days with the Imaging Manager, in which I was shown the editing process that goes into creating advertisements for local Global stations. This involved making sure the audio had been read to script and sounded good, afterwards the audio was placed over premade audio beds sourced from Global London. Along with being shown the process, I was given the opportunity to edit a few adverts and place them within the system for output. This gave me a good insight into the production process for local advertisements.
Overall, I learned a lot from my work placement at Global Scotland and this has been the best work placement I had taken part in. I learned a lot about local radio and live radio that I had not learned from my studies. I believe this work placement was vital to my development and knowledge of the radio industry overall.
- Where to Go Next, Career Aspirations
Since I started studying Radio broadcasting, I was aware that my interests had always leaned towards speech-based content rather than music led radio. I have also been more interested in the production side of audio rather than presenting. With this in mind, my main goal once finishing the course is to start producing speech audio content either live radio or online via podcasting. With my main aim to work at BBC Radio 5 Live on their afternoon edition show or breakfast show. Since the production of my individual audio project, I have started working on various audio projects with Barry Ferns and Angel Comedy. These include an already launch weekly podcast with comedian David Mills, which I produce, edit and upload weekly. I am also working towards launching another podcast focusing on the comedians that perform at Angel Comedy hosted by Barry, this is due to launch in the middle of February. I am also looking to work with some more comedians through Angel Comedy that have expressed interest launch podcasts as well as looking into launching a few podcasts with friends as I have access to the equipment through Angel. I am also currently working at Talk Radio as a technical operator currently just on cover shifts but I hope to confirm a few regular shifts a week within the next few months, which will give me a small consistent income. Towards the end of the University year I am hoping to expand my availability with Talk Radio and hopefully take on more shifts as well as expanding my tech work to Talk Sport. As well as being a technical operator I hope to gain some producing experience with Talk Radio, as I think it would be fantastic for my CV as well as giving me great experience for the future. I will achieve this by speaking to the Production Manager at Talk Radio and asking if it will be possible to take on some Assistant Production Roles. Outside of the work I am currently doing, I plan on trying to get as much experience at as many radio stations as possible. Through my time at Global Scotland, I received a few contact details for producers at Heart London, which I have already been in contact with but are waiting for availability to allow me to do some experience. I also hope to try and get some experience at LBC either technical operating or assistant producing.
Five Practical Steps
- Continue producing Podcasts with David Mills and Angel Comedy
- Launch a few new podcasts through Angel Comedy and personally
- Continue to work as a tech op at Talk Radio, while expanding my availability and requesting shifts on Talk Sport
- Expanding my work at Talk Radio to include Assistant Producer roles
- Gaining experience at other radio stations via already established contacts such as LBC, and Heart London