Initial Group Meeting and Week One
Once we had been divided into our groups, we immediately discussed the genre options available to us. I initially voiced an interest in the 70s Gold genre – more out of curiosity than because of an extensive existing knowledge of the music. However, most people were torn between the Adult Contemporary and Gospel genres. While there were concerns with all members of the group that we all had a lack of experience with the Gospel genre, we agreed that Adult Contemporary would perhaps not be enough of a challenge; we therefore chose to go with Gospel.
We then allocated roles. I volunteered to be part of the presenting team as it was something that would challenge me to work outside of my comfort zone. We agreed that it would work well to have a male and female voice in the presenting team, so Curtis agreed to also present. Within the genre we had the choice between focusing on Christian rock or more traditional gospel. We chose to focus on more tradition gospel, and to make it a local-to-London station. The next step was to go away and listen to London gospel stations to get an idea of what our station and show sound would be. Our editor James set up a group communication page on Trello, as an easy way for us to keep track of what needed doing and what had been done. We also set up a WhatsApp group so that we could all be easily contacted in one place, to arrange meetings and set tasks between meetings etc.
In our next meeting, we finalised what we wanted our station sound and target audience to be. We made the decision to market to 18-35 year olds, and to focus on less traditional old school gospel; instead we wanted to present a more youthful, urban show sound with a playlist that featured largely urban-style gospel – including rap. We had all listened to the London station Premier Gospel and agreed we would create our chosen show style and audience would fit with this station. It was interesting to listen to modern popular gospel to dispel any preconceptions of gospel being only choir and church-style music. This was especially reassuring given we had all had concerns over out lack of knowledge: actually, we could create a show for a target audience we fell into, playing music that sounded like something we would listen to.
Afia and Curtis shared what they knew of urban gospel artists with our music team, Adam and Andrea. We had initially wondered whether to dedicate an hour of music playlisting to Christmas gospel music; however, we all agreed that two separately themed hours wouldn’t sound like a cohesive two hour show. Instead, we agreed that perhaps some of the features could have a Christmas theme given the time of year; I suggested an advent calendar-style daily request of a listeners favourite Christmas gospel track. Curtis, producer Lucy and I planned to think of feature ideas for the show.
We needed to decide on a name. I was absent due to illness on one day; when I returned two names had been suggested – Fresh Feeling and Blessed. We took a vote on the two but reached a draw, so discussed what it was about each name we felt best fitted the show. Eventually we agreed that Blessed was appropriate due the religious aspects of the show, and sounded simple and sharp.
The features that were decided on were ‘regular features’ Question of the Day and Reading/Thought of the Day, and the interactive listener feature asking for Christmas song requests; and of the course the live music outside broadcast. Our producer Lucy created a first-draft clock, which gave a good early indication of how much time would be dedicated to each feature.
Curtis and I went away to help script ads for the advertising and branding team to help Sam out. I was tasked with ads for ASDA, government apprenticeships and for a Christian car dealership/company. I listened to a few commercial radio stations to get an idea of how short ads were written to be catchy and informative. I also listened to previous adverts for the brands I was writing for, to get a feel their styles of advertising. I also helped Beth from the news team source and write a Christian community-focused news story for our show website, and Tommy (who is heading up social media) took photographs of the presenters and news team for the website and social media branding.
We met as a group for a playlist meeting with the music team, who had compiled tracks and categorised them as A, B, C or Gold. It was good to listen through the music as a group and to vocalise what we liked and disliked. This meant that we all were instrumental in choosing the playlist and overall sound of the station. We also made a decision to call Thought of the Day, Spirit Drive; this was because we felt there would be confusion with our other feature, Question of the Day.
Curtis, Sam, Fay and I met to go through our ad scripts and suggest actuality, music and/or sound affects to accompany the speech and to discuss the kinds of voices we though best suited each advert. Curtis and I recorded script for Afia, who is in charge of branding. Afia had scripted naturalistic dialogue as though from the middle of a link. We recorded a casual and chatty bit of dialogue for Afia to use in a show trail. This was the first time Curtis and I had practised ‘on air’ with one another. Though it was very brief, it was good to get an idea of how we would sound as a team on the show.
We met with Matthew as a group to discuss the progress we were making and to hear any advice and input he had to suggest. He was interested in how we had categorised our music playlist, and suggested Curtis and I familiarise ourselves with the music so that we would be able to talk about tracks during the show – talk up to the next song, back anno a track with some information etc. He also stressed how useful it would be to listen to other shows on Premier Gospel. Curtis suggested we listen to the Tuesday breakfast show, which featured male/female presenting team; this would be a good indicator of how we might want to sound during our live show. We had planned to run a full two-hour pilot that afternoon – in preparation for the pilot next week; however Matthew suggested this might be asking too much of ourselves given that we hadn’t practised live at all yet. Instead, Curtis and I practised only our links as live, with our editor James, Lucy and Tommy in the studio. This was very useful and gave Curtis and I some confidence in our dynamic as a team, and how we sounded on air. We made plans to run a pilot early next week before the official pilot.
On Monday evening we ran a pilot with the news team and practised throwing over to the live OB (though there was no broadcast for this pilot). This was very useful to get an idea of how timings were working out, and to note changes that needing to be made to the clock. Cutis and I planned to record vox pops for our Question of the Day feature. We did this, and I edited them together ready for the pilot (qotdvox).However, we subsequently realised that our Question of the Day would need to be different for the pilot and live show. Instead of using the vox pops, we substituted a different question of the day to be used in the pilot on Thursday.
On Thursday, we ran through links again early morning before our official pilot. This gave Curtis and I time to discuss what we were going to discuss during the Question of the Day feature, given that we had changed the topic last minute. I also voiced to Lucy and James that I was anxious our competition sounded confusing and messy – that there was a winner everyday etc. Instead, I suggested there be one winner, announced on the ‘Friday show’ (i.e. not on our live assessment) after two weeks of nominations. Because we were so close to the pilot, we ran with the competition and competition trail as it already was. The pilot went well; the studios threw up technical issues we already knew existed and so we just worked around them. Curtis and I threw over to Fay and the live OB too early, so made note of the fact we needed more things to talk about (in particular more information about the performers for the OB).
Matthew and Tom provided good feedback – some of which we already knew needed changing i.e. the competition, and some that was very useful to take on board with the opportunity to work on before the live show next week. Matthew suggested Curtis and I needed to make more references to our own religion and place in the church, given the themes of our show and music genre. I’m planning to make a point of this during our discussion on air over our Question of the Day (‘Are we losing the true meaning of Christmas?’). As well, he pointed out that we repeated ‘welcome back’ too much. We planned to make a list of alternatives and ban ‘welcome back’ completely so that we’re not tempted to over use it. Overall, the pilot and feedback session made us feel happier and more confident in what we needed to do moving forward.
On Tuesday evening we ran through another full pilot with the finalised clock to time. I said I would write a nomination for our ‘giveaway’ (the new and improved ‘competition’) for the live show on Thursday. I was still saying ‘welcome back’ so need to write a list of alternatives to have in front of me for the show on Thursday.