Stephen Bailey’s talk radio blog.

Week one, Thursday 7th February, was a general introduction to the world of talk radio including a chance to listen to different content then add our thoughts on it alongside make some little pilot programmes to practice where we could. We also got into our groups for our final project this week too. In groups we started planning talk radio programmes too, thinking of what we could produce in a half hour programme. Our target audience was younger people of both sexes aged fifteen to thirty-five years of age which was a very good group to receive as we could relate to our audiences when producing content. We planned a thirty-minute programme, working together as a little production team. I suggested programme topics as well as relevant things to discuss then helped formulate them into a potential half-hour programme we could produce.

Week two of group work, Thursday 14th February, was a chance to get into our groups then get cracking. We were set a task. We had to produce two packages on two separate subjects, Valentine’s Day plus World Radio Day. Alongside this we are set a task of almost producing a programme, writing a running order of it at least, then trying to fit things together. I took a leading role in this project. To start with I suggested ideas, thinking of current relevant stories, sparking discussion then beginning to form a half hour show. We then went from there to produce it or at least discuss how we would.

Week three of talk radio, on Thursday 21st February, was an opportunity to discuss everything legal related. A guest lecturer with a wealth experience of journalism gave us a run through of everything we should be aware of when dealing with magazine radio programming which I found to be far more than useful. I made a load of notes from this lecture which is will be going back on at a later date. In the afternoon, of which I, unfortunately, couldn’t attend due to a family matter, an Ofcom lecture took place however I will take time to read through these notes very soon. Our group is making progress in planning our final talk radio programme, even now starting to think of what we could include in our final programme plus who would be doing what. Whilst I didn’t have a chance to speak with my group this week I did spend time researching what could work for our programme by taking a look at what was happening on this day. This meant seeing what news events happened on this day in history, seeing what things were happening near this day as well as thinking of what might be relevant when our programme goes live.

I could not make it in for week four. Therefore to try to use our time as effectively as possible I decided to spend time trying to work out what we could do for our group talk radio programme. I added many of these to our group shared document.

For week five we were producing a pilot phone-in as well as preparing a draft running order for our show. Our phone-in centered around International Woman’s Day which was the following day. we decided to ask listeners what growing up without a mother figure in their live would be like since recent topical news stories had been focusing on a similar theme. To produce our phone-in I took the position of producer, something I would later take on for our final programme. We ended up producing a fifteen-minute phone-in programme, for the time we were ‘live’ (as such I suppose) I sat in the studio deciding what was happening. Then after this, we put together a running order I took the lead on this. I wanted to make sure we made a full running order for our final programme. Once this was done I was more than happy we had put together an engaging talk radio half-hour programme.

We had decided our group roles by this point too. I would be the producer, responsible for bringing things together, writing scripts, producing packagers then manning the studio on the live show. My other group members would be Dan as Editor, Callum as Outside Broadcast Producer, Rosita as Outside Broadcast Presenter/Reporter, Kenya as our Discussion Producer, Quyen as our Phone-In Producer come to Scriptwriter then Ryan as our Presenter. We decided we would all be doing more than one position with the aim of working together well as a team. (Just as an edit… These positions did later change, with Dad staying as Editor, Callum as Outside Broadcast Producer, Kenya as our Outside Broadcast Presenter, Rosita as our presenter along with Ryan, Quyen/Sonia as production assistant. I ended up as Producer come Tech-Op.)

Week five, I think, on Thursday 14th March started with listening back to our phone-in programmes from the previous weeks’ task then became an outside broadcast come half programme pilot week. Basically, we were making half of our half-hour shows. Now we had made our running order, we spent a bit of time going through it to check what was worth doing and what wasn’t then we decided (with me very much supporting this decision) to make a fifteen minute pilot of the show. The Brief, our show name, was coming together nicely though needed a lot more work done to it. When producing this pilot run we, as we will do from now on as well, assumed our positions and by that I mean we did what we will do on our programmes broadcast day too. With apparently five weeks to go we started to put The Brief together though as we were due to broadcast first we were rushed more than could be imagined with an entire running order somehow being scrambled in a half hour to forty-five minute period. What I liked about doing this was the fact that we could start writing scripts for our final show as well as testing how they sounded too because it was very important they did not come across as though our presenters or voices on-air were just reading them. For the programme I am technical-operative, therefore I was responsible for gluing everything together which was pretty stressful on this occasion because it was the first time we did an almost pilot show. I liked that things went pretty well with not too much going wrong however there are some things we can focus on. Things needing attention were our communication with our outside broadcast colleagues, making our show sound more youthful and relevant to a young audience by including more music elements as well as, on a more personal note, spending more time setting the studio up ready for us to go on-air. With time our programme will start to sound very good, I’m sure of it.

Week six, or as I think it is though I’m not too sure. On Thursday 21st March we were producing a fifteen-minute pilot programme once again. On this day I wanted to make sure everything was prepared well in advance of broadcast and I am pleased to say I think we managed to do this too. To start with we had a meeting deciding who was to be doing what, I was to set out studio up, gather all our elements together, script parts of the programme including our OB too as well as many other little things. This Thursday I spent with one of our international students too, someone called Sonia from China, I showed her what I was doing through the day to introduce her to the world of radio. To start with I wrote a script for Kenya to later read alongside making sure everyone knew what they were doing that day. Later on, I helped record some things with Dan in the studio, edited some packages including our music mix, downloaded a full set of instrumentals appropriate to our audience to use as beds as well as eventually set our studio up ready to go live. On top of this, I spent time with Sonia explaining how to manage the timings of the programme when we were live, so essentially explaining what back timing was and how to do it. On our pilot programme, things went mostly very smoothly with myself pressing buttons, Dan watching over as editor plus Sonia keeping track of time. We finished less than five seconds before fifteen minutes which I was very proud of as it demonstrates Sonia can now very successfully keep track of time, a role she will now continue to do. Technically our show sounded a lot better too, this was thanks to spending more time setting up, and the more we do this the better we get. It’s all, to cotton a very cheesy phrase, practice, practice, practice from here on in. This week was a successful week at moving forward with us becoming ever so slightly more proud of how The Brief was sounding. Next week though we are doing half an hour, this should be interesting.

Week seven actually was a lot easier than I thought it would be. We produced a half-hour talk radio programme. Filling double the time we were used to doing was a challenge to begin with, however, what we did was have a clear plan of action before we started doing anything then everything would be easier from there on in. To start with, despite feeling a little bit under the weather that day, I chaired a group meeting in which we all chaired our thoughts on what should be featured within our programme. Once a list of possible stories had been compiled I made sure we thought about how best to approach each subject. By the time we had finished this, there was a comprehensive list in front of stories as well as how they would be brought to life on-air. Organising content this way helped me personally because it meant we haI d a clear idea of who was going to do what and that everything in the end was going to be produced. This made me a lot more confident of our production itself, therefore, I hope for us to continue this way of working into the next couple of weeks. Filling half an hour seemed a lot more realistic once this initial list of potential stories was produced. We each then decided upon what we were going to be doing, then we started working. Through this day, alike all days working I watched over everyone to see how things were coming along trying to bring them together eventually as well as producing my own items including a package on Grenfell Tower. I spent time, as I did with most days producing The Brief, bringing our production team together, finding practical solutions to taking our ideas then making them sound good on-air plus producing packages and other pre-recorded material too. Once it came to an hour before our broadcast time I then turned, as I have done and will continue, to getting ready for our final programme. I set up our studio then got everyone ready by getting scripts and everything else together. Just before we went on-air I have been aware of our presenters, that’s Ryan and Rosita, feeling a bit nervous before presenting which is more than understandable, therefore, I wanted to calm them down before we went live as it were. I did this by making them laugh. This, I think at least, did help them. Our first ever half hour version of The Brief went pretty well for a first ever programme. I was very with how it sounded technically as well, which is the most important thing I focus on from my end of the control room. Our actual pilots are next week though..

In the meantime, in between that week ‘n’ our actual pilot programme, I scripted our entire programme by producing a new final script document to work off. Because at the moment we were rushing together a script somehow each day which wasn’t productive therefore, since our final two programmes were a pilot then our real thing, I wrote a final script for The Brief. Making sure to correct mistakes, put everything into a conversational format, split lines between our two presenters, figure out our junctions making sure one thing runs smoothly into the next etc, write in all our features in order of presentation as well as checking whether our programme to make sure it works.

Week eight was upon us. If I have even been counting these weeks right from the start that is. It was Thursday 4th April, just one week from our pilot programme, and I felt reasonably comfortable. I went into this day feeling like The Brief was coming together with just a couple of things needing sorting a bit. We did have a few problems to overcome though. First, Anastasia (that’s our live on the day studio interview) could not make our show time the following week so we had to pre-record our interview. That was fine, because in the end she could be pre-interviewed by Ryan that day with an edited best bits being played on our final programme. Second up, we then needed to have a live in-person in-studio interview on our actual Brief, however, thankfully Ryan had a sports journalist ready to come in who could fill that gap with an appropriate, interesting to all, story. Third, we had to do a live phone-in element, something I must admit I thought could be pre-recorded. This was fine though as we have, just about now with a bit more practice, got a way to speak with two callers with a short twenty to thirty-second gap of presenter-led talking in between. Fourth problem, we needed to polish The Brief off to make everything flow better together though this has now been done thankfully. We then did our programme, it wasn’t too bad, besides a few patchy links roughly linking items together as well as some poor timing to lead to a dodgy overrunning ending. This could all be sorted. Even with just one presenter, since Rosita had to shoot off due to a family emergency, we pulled together a good half hours worth of radio. There were definetely things to edit though, and afterwards we changed bits of our programme including its order, making our sport story more universally relevant alongside including our outside broadcast more. At the end of the day, myself alongside Dan switched our running order around. This then made for a better flowing programme. After all this, I ended up editing our Anastasia interview, producing our jingles, finding further suitable beds, re-producing our final running order, writing out another big sheet of paper to rely on when we go live (something I am definitely going to trademark someday soon too) as well as starting to adapt our script. This meant by the end of the day I felt a lot more confident The Brief would sound like a well-polished news programme.

In the evening of Thursday 4th April, I sent the following message to The Brief’s whole group chat to ensure everyone was on the same page with our programme’s running order… “This is what we are going to be going with now. We’ll start off the same, then hand over to Kenya live from Brixton for a minute to preview our Brixton story before then introducing a package on issues affecting young people. With a link here of both crime as well as studying, working, etc all being things bothering young people. We will then play this report out. After this, we have a live sports interview in the studio with a guest Ryan has booked for us. He will be interviewed on Raheem Sterling, an England player who’s managed to turn his life around from someone hated by the media to a hero to many young people. They will talk about this alongside taking inspiration from how he has flipped things around. From this, we turn back to Brixton. Back to Kenya live down the line for the bulk of our OB on the Brixton riots. After our time on this, we will play out an edited down four-minute interview with Anastasia Denisova on what impact the media has on crime rates in London plus across the UK. Then it’s time for the Briefing. Ryan and Rosita in the studio for this one. Discussing topical stories of the day however with a focus on some lighter-hearted stories too. They will be talking about Game of Thrones too. And will throw back to Kenya live at our outside broadcast for a little comment on this. Kenya will then hopefully introduce our next package. Linking from Game of Thrones to the Marvel/Avengers film franchise, Kenya will, live from the OB, introduce Dan’s cinematic package. After this, we will continue our entertainment theme by talking about music. Because as we are a music station we will be talking about what makes a song a classic. This will be a discussion with Rosita, Ryan plus two guests. Our guests for this, talking for four minutes altogether, are a music student called Pete alongside his bandmate. After this, we will be doing our phone-in. Calls will be done by Quyen whilst we are in our discussion section. Before going to our calls we are going to play out a short, ten to fifteen second, clip of voices heard in our earlier university package just to rehash our topic. We will do call one, with Imogen I believe, for like two minutes then speak with caller two, I believe someone called Daniel. At the end of all this, we come to our closing, hopefully, a short thirty-second link lead by Ryan and Rosita. Then, it’s all done!”

And today was the day. It is finally Thursday 11th April 2019. However thankfully on the run-up to this day, we meet a couple of times to go through things to ensure everything was sorted. This included a couple of meetings with Dan to check our show worked, basically running through our script together to take a step back to see if things worked logically as well as flowing from one thing to another. On this day, Dan and I recorded our Marvel Avengers feature in which we recorded a full film narration between us two then edited down, although I am convinced this would make for an engaging if not most funny podcast. Plus on the Wednesday before our show we all meet up as a group to finish our script, work out what was happening with our in-studio guest which wasn’t really confirmed till the day of our show itself, produce packages, run through things as well as just check everything was working as it should’ve been. On this Thursday itself, on show day, we were fairly confident everything was ready to go which was a pretty nice feeling to have. It meant we were confident. Nevertheless, despite feeling comfortable we wanted to make sure we had everything ready to go for our broadcast at four o’clock so we did a full pilot at eleven to see what we liked ‘n’ what we didn’t like. After this, we spent a day working on bits ‘n’ bobs. Through this Thursday I set up my studio properly, practiced lots of our technical stuff, checked everything was ready to play alongside speaking with every member of our team to check they were all ready ‘n’ didn’t have anything bothering them. Then it came to our show time. All these weeks working on The Brief and now time to broadcast… The Brief, our final programme this is, got off to a slightly dodgy start with our outside broadcast not coming in as soon as we’d like them too. All our packages including our university worries report as well as our Marvel ‘The Avengers’ package sounded brilliant on-air as did our scripts which had been checked over a great deal of times. I was very happy to have guests in our studio too, we managed to have a sports journalism called Jim live plus two band members live alongside a pre-recorded interview with Anastasia Denisova. Overall, despite a not so perfect start to our outside broadcast, our Brixton Riots broadcasts sounded great live on location. Whilst most things went well, including our presenters having great chemistry together presenting items like The Brief’s Briefing covering topical stories, we did have some things I was not too pleased with… Our first phone-in caller was excellent, forgive me if I’m wrong but her name was Kirsten, she told her story perfectly however caller number two was effectively a perfect caller to demonstrate how a phone-in shouldn’t be done. It just didn’t go well. Which was a real shame because considering we ended on these phone-in’s we then walked away with a memory of a caller picking up to basically say nothing of any interested. Nevertheless, I was most happy with how The Brief sounded on-air even sounding like a Newsbeat like rival at times (okay, maybe pushing it a bit far there) even though I know I pressed a button or two too late which bugs me plus I struggled to get our discussion sounding right considering we had to have two guests on one microphone. Should I do The Brief again, I think it’d be interesting to test our established format with a different set of stories plus grab a lot more outside contributors however this is always difficult to do. That’s The Brief done then. I will miss it. It was a fun programme, my first experience producing talk radio. I will always regret presenting The Brief because I love presenting however it was important to produce, to do something different for once. Thank you for reading this blog.

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