Pop up station got started. We spent time familiarising ourselves with pop up station as well as what was asked of us as a group. Afterwards, we pitched stations then picked. My group pitched a love station focusing on relationships though in the end we picked a culture story-based station. Next up we delegated who would do what. I ended up becoming the role I wanted. I am the Content Assistant. Within my position of CA, I will be responsible for bringing together features by editing material, sourcing contributors, collaborating with different departments, preparing guests as well as generally prepping bits for programmes. On top of this, I will do everything within my powers to pull together two programmes by pitching ideas, shaping running orders, not to forget working closely alongside our studio producer to produce everything to a top-notch standard for our programmes. My role as CA will be split in half. I will plan, research, schedule, map things out by lending a hand wherever needed perhaps even within different departments. When we’re on-air my role basically involves doing everything I can to ensure things run smoothly. By that I mean I will be thinking as far forward as possible, setting bits up, planning every feature or link out, technically running things and everything in between.

Week one and two of production were a bit of everything for me. I set out to be CA because I wanted to do a job I plan to do when I finish uni however I spent these two weeks a little far stretched helping everyone out. I ended up working with content, on OB bits, sales on business etc as well as pitched ideas wherever. I enjoyed working across Atlas, our radio station as we decided to name our pet project, however, I didn’t feel as though I was doing as much as I would have wanted to. What I did enjoy though was the fact that a lot of my ideas and things were put to good use. My ideas have been used on many of the final shows. The plans for the Roundtable discussion and Culture Box audience interaction feature were both mine.

The week afterwards was a lot better. I, alongside many other people, had gone away and thought of a load of ideas and ways of doing stuff which was really starting to show off. We had a long way to go and still do but it was nice to see progress. I started out, just to check date on Monday 10th February, working on outside broadcast content bits. By that I mean I worked out what I planned to do, what points we would make, where we would go and what themes we would explore on those OB. I continued to pitch a lot of thoughts and proposals to content in general, both speech and music programmes. Things changed a little though. I was promoted to some sort. I went from CA to Speech Producer. This wasn’t my first choice of role as I did fancy doing a role I planned to do after graduating. Speech was something a bit different, but I enjoyed the thought of it because despite being very different our speech programmes had a similar ilk to those on BBC Local Radio. Once I got this role, I was keen to crack on, work out what’s what, which is why I finalised what features we were to involve and build a rough running order. I built The Collective, our speech programme, then worked out how to bring it to life.

My biggest concern was finding contributors to be on because Atlas itself told stories though without people couldn’t do so. This is why I have tried to install a drive to get more people. By that, I mean a drive to get guests to tell stories and to find those people I believed we could each call upon someone. I produced a doc for us to all pop contributors in so time will tell how this works.

 

Pilot week number one.

This is the first official week of the blog which coincides with pilot number one which happened on this day. Let’s discuss this pilot then. The pilot itself was a bit of change because I switched positions a week beforehand however within my new role, I was happy to try things out to see what worked and what didn’t. I planned out a half hour show with my fellow producer Sara, we did features, times and all that a week beforehand then in the week leading up to the programme itself I wrote the loose scripts for my presenter, briefed everyone involved in the programme as well as sourced guests. Once all this was done on Monday morning, we had a meeting to suss things out then I spent time with my presenter Makee getting her ready for presenting her first Collective. The programme itself didn’t go without any hitches but I think that can be imagined for show number one. We didn’t get off to the best of starts with me trying to call people, figure out where we were heading as well as press buttons but after that we did go okayish. Unfortunately, The Culture Box, which is the audience interaction feature, didn’t work as we didn’t plan a question that well or have comments but next time, we will get on top of this. At the end of the show we debriefed, both as a subgroup as well as a production team altogether, then planned out what was the happen the Monday afterwards.

My plan for pilot number two was planning speech elements a bit better with questions in advance, building a ‘bigger my sounding show including beds and packages, communicating with Makee our presenter whilst in-studio on-air as well as running a tighter ship. In the time between weeks one and two, I worked on the programme itself including the features and running order as well as spent time in meetings with the content ideas understanding how everything comes together.

 

Pilot week number two:

Time for pilot week number two. We spent some time in the week pulling content together beforehand, by that I mean we spent an afternoon together as the content team working out what was happening. We took on board feedback from the previous week then worked on these bits. Within this week we aimed to focus on timings being led by our presenter Makee in studio without us bothering us so much, having more of an angle on content as well as owning the music and programme a lot more. I believe we did well to improve on these but have a long way to go still.

On Monday morning itself we came together at ten like normal. That all said, by nine fifteen or so me and Sara started finalising running orders. We had difficulty from the off because we did not have everything we needed. We finished the running order for The Collective soon enough and within ample time we had everything planned out to go on-air over two hours later. Instead of working on the rest of the programme, which I will come back to reflect on in just a second, myself and Sara did the running order for the music show which went afterwards. In hindsight, I can see that there was a problem in communications about the music ready to be played. As far as I understand it we were going to be repeating a lot of the songs from the previous week however this was not relayed all too well to us when we were building the music programme. Nevertheless, we put together two running orders which was not only a good experience but a good chance to test my maths skills. Afterwards, I worked with Makee by prepping her on what was to come, speaking with guests, adding music comments, writing short scripts, setting up the studio, liaising with the OB team then generally bringing things together. Things were a bit everywhere because we were stressing over what to do with our songs to be played so in weeks to come, I hope we can suss this.

At twelve The Collective went on-air. From the off things were better but I shall now add some comments, for this blog as well as me to check on in weeks to come. I liked our opening, we added a little bed to liven things up, we have to work on what we say though and how we sell stuff from the off. I included a little package from the off which set things up nicely though needed more of a purpose or a better introduction. Some bits of the show were scripted, some were not. I am keen to put notes down for Makee to read though she has told me she does better with notes not scripts, so I made sure to not over clog things. What we will do from now is script more stuff. We went into our Roundtable which despite being a good name for a feature was more of an interview. My friend Ben joined us down the line to talk about international cinema then anime which is his passion. This was clear. The second half was a lot better because of this and we are looking to potentially redo this feature within a different guise. I liked having Ben on the phone but the phone was not the best line. Finding guests is my biggest fear of the show however after speaking with those who I am working with are helping me find people for the following weeks. A bit later on in the programme, we had the OB which worked better this time because despite being a tad technically clunky (which is to be expected of a live outside feature) it worked much better with a throw to then back from Makee in studio. We could work out how to best throw to the OB without repeating information many times but this can be done in future weeks with a little bit of scripting. There were some links in the programme that were just unnecessary because Makee was left to essentially fill, which is not ideal whatsoever, so these will be changed to ensure Makee is only talking when she needs to. When we got to the Culture Box things went downhill. Makee had given us a gem of a question in ‘tell us your undiscovered Netflix gems’ to point out what to watch etc however we didn’t get enough responses or time to bring in any clips or anything like that so we could not bring it to life as well as we could have done. I like the Culture Box however I will be the first to admit it needs serious attention because it is bringing the rest of The Collective down.

Once The Collective was over the music programme was on. Whilst it was on, I took on a number of different roles which I enjoy to bits. I love being able to help out on lots of little things to see a programme come together. I researched for features, presented a live feature, helped in the studio as well as put together a running order for a programme which happened to be on-air at the time. The thrill of a live radio show doesn’t go of. After all the programmes were off air we stayed to produce what was happening next week. I stayed with Sara, Chloe and Makee till eight or so in the evening to map things out. Makee had a fab idea to split the speech programme itself into four separate shows lasting fifteen minutes each roughly in duration which helps to structure things in my head. Once we did so we decided upon our features fitting with the theme itself then tried to find an angle for each of these. This was most helpful and something I plan to do from here on in. Work out why something is going to be done before doing so. I have some guests in mind for next week already including my Spanish friend Daniel as well as my friend Jennie from work who has a deep passion for international television series. We did start working together as a group of four though to source guests which was awfully helpful. We ended up finding a film critic amongst many others, too many that now I need to find out who is talking and when they are talking. That said, I would much rather, much rather, have too many guests and where to pop them in instead of not enough and filling. I too managed to phone a man called Serge from a local audio dubbing company named Voice Archive, he’s apparently keen to come in to chat to us even get some of us from our course involved in what they do there but we’ll see how that plans out. This was a nice note to start the next weeks’ worth of planning off. My main goals for the next week are to make sure the content is on point and has a reason behind it, bring our guests together, produce a package, plan interview questions as well as build a running order.

 

Show week number one:

This is the week of show number one. I prepared a lot in advance included recorded interviews, put together packages as well as developed running orders for The Collective. In the morning, I sat down with presenter Makee to suss out what was what. By that I mean we went through the running order from start to finish to work out what was happening. I prepared a script in advance for The Collective, though in hindsight I will alter this to be bullet points for presenter Makee to read through then work out her own way of working things. This is something for next time. Back to morning preparation work, after scripting and running through the running order was completed we posted some things to socials including an Instagram story featuring a poll. Not long after, I proceeded to write a document full of audience responses. Unfortunately, despite all our efforts to build a pop up station from scratch I fear we may not have a big enough listener base as of yet to get responses from them. Who knows? Maybe one day soon. In the meantime, I wrote a list of responses to our Culture Box question to build some interactivity within the speech programme. Sadly enough, these were not read out near the end because the ending of The Collective was rushed. Last thing that happened before the programme went live was me along with Sara in the studio gallery took a decision to have Sara tech-op the programme, run the desk and that stuff, just so I could focus on giving Makee instructions alongside ensuring guests were in the right place at the right time.

Then after all that The Collective went on-air. This was the first proper show. It was fantastic to hear Smoke Radio become Atlas London for a short period of time. Sadly though our start wasn’t the best because of some technical glitches but afterwards we found our feet and got cracking. We had a bit of a rushed menu to start off with, nevertheless, I’m sure we can work on this and have a solid welcome for next time around. Next up we entered a discussion with guest Daniel on Latin American then Spanish music. To kick this off we had a package, produced by me lasting, introducing Latin American. I am happy this package set up the subject, albeit including some musicians nearer the star that were a bit outdated for our audience. Afterwards we had two parts of a pre-recorded interview with Daniel on Latin American music. This interview was recorded the Friday beforehand and was so good it lasted twenty five minutes, therefore, was difficult to eventually edit down to two chunks of five minutes. I fear editing these might have lost some important or fun bits which is upsetting but sometimes happens that way. After this bit, we entered adverts then songs then back to content with talk on international cinema. I tried to tie this chat in with our Culture Box question of do you prefer subbed or dubbed. To start this section of our programme, I decided to broadcast our package from the previous week introducing us to the world of international cinema. I decided to recycle this original package from the previous week because I framed it better with a clearer introduction script however with the stress of The Collective all happening at once I believe this was lost. Next time, I plan on writing bullet pointed scripts then letting Makee add her creative flare to these. Straight after that package we entered a pre-recorded interview with well-known film critic Van Connor. Sara set this up then I interviewed Van the week before. I enjoyed having Van on because he, without a doubt, had a lot of knowledge on the subject matter. This first half hour was my favourite. It had solid guests, nice pre-recorded elements to slot in all alongside a clear idea of why certain elements were happening. Not to forget, we added enough music information for Makee to do two solid music sell links about Rosalia as well as BTS.

Now on to half hour number two. I didn’t enjoy this hour as much. I think it started off on a good note. We had Serge Amani from a dubbing company named Voice Archive on the phone for an interview. This worked well because Makee was left alone to do her thing. The minute Makee is in a studio with a guest, whatever means that guest may happen to be there, she thrives. I love leaving Makee to interview to get the most out of someone, to the point when I’m listening to her without realising I’m supposed to be in control nor producing because she’s such a fine interviewer. I think our planning particularly our communication with Makee in studio went downhill. This is because of the OB that was next. Sadly, our outside broadcast did not work because we had a poor signal. I believe we could have worked on our communication to our OB team beforehand, perhaps even tested our line however this is particularly difficult considering they go to meet a guest when we are already broadcasting so testing a line to a studio that is already on-air is pretty difficult to imagine. That said, next time I hope we have a better line, a better set up technically as well as cue wise alongside a better idea as so to what is happening. The name Culture Mile has become irrelevant in my opinion, I can’t even tell you as speech producer what that Culture Mile stands for. this then brings us to the end of The Collective which is The Culture Box. This Culture Box was set up as a means of audience interaction, a means of involving those listening as well as starting a discussion. This sort of work a bit better week by week but there is still more to do. I would of liked to hear those ‘responses’ (should I call them that at least) read out however time restraints pulled us there. We plan to build The Culture Box up a bit by including team members coming in live to discuss their stories because what works so nicely at Atlas is when voices like Makee or Chloe tell a story to do with them in such a warm way. This is something we can work on mind. That and scripting, setting things up, adding context as well as live studio communications to ensure everything fits together smooth on show day. Plans are already in motion for show week number two though. I, along with Makee, have building a running order already (at this writing this entry on Monday evening) as well as sourced guests too. Preparing for weeks ahead, instead of living one week at a time, is my way forward.

 

Show number two:

Time for show number two. going into this programme we had a little to-do list of things we wanted to focus on to make right. Our aim was to better improve our structuring of items, slow things down a tad considering The collective had a lot going on within its hour. I believe we did these things. The theme of the programmes this week was love so everything we produced for then broadcast on The Collective had to be on the theme of love love love then aimed at educating us as to how different cultures experience the theme of the week within London itself. I believe we did this. We heard from young people Luke along with partner Jess who were and are due to get married in the coming months, spoke to Dan Taylor from our university’s LGBT+ union, chatted to Yutong Qin who’s a young Chinese student due to marry soon, a Culture Box featuring Sara along with Ginny from our team as well as a big question of what is your dream wedding plan. Beforehand, before we went on-air, we did the same preparations as last week. To save a bit of time I won’t get into these all too much, however, we prepped scripts, that’s me along with Makee, edited content down then finalised our running order to work from. Afterwards, we went to the studio to get ready to go on-air with The Collective and Atlas London.

Our programme started off well with a nicely pre-recorded menu featuring all that we had to come. The start is, in my eyes, an important bit to any radio programme, not just because it explains what’s happening but because it fuses together an energy from which a show can run forward from. I believe every fifteen minutes or so we should have a TOTH style link just to tease things then trail what’s next. That goes for all radio not just that on Atlas. Despite all that though during our TOTH link our show fell apart because one of our guests pulled out then we needed to replan everything from the start onwards. Obviously, we didn’t see this coming but I was very happy with how we managed to turn things around. We quickly played a pre-recorded interview to give us time to think then myself and producer Sara in the studio along with presenter Makee sussed out the timings and what would happen next. This was annoying since we had planned all our timings and that beforehand however these things cannot be anticipated so we had to work out how to handle them. I believe we did this pretty well. We managed to pull together all of the content from the programme to make sure that every single bit of The Collective still happened albeit in a different time slot.

Once we came off-air prior to our team debrief I sat down with presenter Makee to have one of our own. We worked out that we developed our content better by setting the scene a lot better but there was a lot of work to be done. I think our show would have to be on for a long period of time with a substantial pilot period to properly be able to position content in context correctly each time. Within our time frame, we probably cannot achieve this but I think we will try and try each week to do so. In this week we broke things down bit by bit to say that this item was relevant because its hook was this and its angle was this. We will continue to do this. I too think personally we could do a little more music selling though this is a difficult balance to strike because we are a speech programme not a music one. Afterwards, myself and Makee stayed till late, late till eight or so, to plan the next weeks worth of content out. We recorded an interview, contacted numerous guests, wrote scripts and built a running order a week ahead because I would much prefer to have everything done in advance to save any stress or any of that business.

 

Show number three:

This is the blog for show week number three. Sadly, this was to be the last one on-air because of the current worldwide Coronavirus situation. This I believe is a shame because each week our programme has taken a step further and go better and better so it’s sad to have to leave it, to leave Atlas London and to leave The Collective here. All that aside, I am happy The Collective reached the level it did before the final programme felt like the best. Each week we understood our programme, our audience and the content we wanted to put out, therefore with all that in mind, each week the speech programme went from strength to strength. I think it’s worth outlining how the programme got better and why. The main reason is the production value. On show one, on pilot show one, we did not have the clearest angle or the best plans together or anything like that so by the time we got to week three everything was together. One of the main reasons I believe The Collective was the running order we assembled and all the information we put down inside it. This fleshed-out running order meant we knew and could own every single minute we are on-air. By show number one or two, I go into this in more detail in the week itself, we worked out together that we needed to split our hour down into bite-size manageable chunks of content on different topics then establish a hook of each so once we did this it was a lot easier to assemble everything together. Once we started doing this our running order greatly improved. This is why when it came to show number three I felt confident because I had a clear idea of what was happening and why it was happening.

The next thing I will do is run through my own feedback of The Collective from show week number three. I believe we started off well with a strong opening menu. We planned to pre-rec this in advance however due to meetings out of our control we no longer had time to do this. This menu we did live though it still sounded fairly decent considering it had a lot of trails and clips in all on top of an upbeat bed. Afterwards, we had a pre-recorded interview on the subject of pop-up restaurants. This was something I was keen to learn more about so was more than happy to have Dan Calladine from website London Pop-Up’s on the line to talk through all of this stuff. This was an interview we recorded a week in advance on the Monday beforehand. I like the set up to pop-up’s too. I tried to get a bit creative by bringing presenter Makee along with the listener into a restaurant to start off with too. Music-wise, after this bit we had Sigrid (an absolute favourite of mine) which had good music sell link and all the other songs we played had reasonably good music selling link to them too. These music links were carried out because I felt it was important to properly take ownership of the songs we played between our speech content to make this feel like a programme not like we were just take a break for a bit to play a song. After pop-ups our food theme continued with veganism. I recorded an interview with well-known vegan blogger Caitlin Galler-Unti. Despite technically somehow playing part two then part one, I still now have no idea how I managed to do that, I believe we recovered from this well. From veganism to London’s oldest market. For this we spoke with London Borough Market’s very own David Matchett on a live phone interview. Not only did he speak well but he engaged me as a listener to forget I was producing for a second too which I think can only be a good thing. David Machett spoke superbly all about London Borough Market and it was splendid to have David on considering the state of the world at the moment with coronavirus and all that. From the phone interview we went live to the OB. I planned to do a little trail of the OB then go live to the OB after some ads in between but technically this wasn’t possible because we had difficulties finding something to talk about down the other end, from what I can make out at least. We came out of this well though by pressing play on the adverts then coming going live to our OB in due course. When we did hand over the reins to the OB the line was pretty poor so we, that’s me along with studio producer Sara, to make the decision to play a song then come back to them using a phone line instead which worked out well in the long run. Afterwards, we did our Culture Box bit where we get listeners involved by having a roundtable chat with Sara along with Ginny from the team followed by Callum and Chloe in a handover type link. I liked the fact that for the Culture Box question we had some responses too which I had got in advance so we had them on hand. Overall, I was happy with The Collective and would’ve loved to do many more programmes.

 

Show number four: the show that never happened.

This is the week that will never happen. To not be able to produce another Collective programme was a bit upsetting though it was nice to have an opportunity to map out what we would’ve done or the direction we would’ve gone in. As ever with The Collective in the production phase I sat down with the presenter Makee to discuss what we wanted to bring up then how we would do so. We built a pretty full-proof system throughout our time producing The Collective and that was to map out topics, find an angle for each then establish how we would bring it on-air. For example, one of the things we wanted to discuss within traditions week was religion. We would plan to start this off with a general package explaining different religions through the World itself then nail it down to London a little. Afterwards, we would explore one religion in particular and that we planned to be voodooism. Voodoo culture was put under the spotlight because it’s something not touch upon all too often and on top of this has a lot myths surrounding it relating to our Culture Box question we planned to ask that week too. This would then come back to London a tad later on too. To bring this to The Collective we planned a phone-in with someone from a London based, see the connection coming in slowly but surely, a business called Voodoo Entertainment that runs voodoo events in the city. This feature is then fully fleshed out with prompts, scripts for Makee to rewrite then put in her words, facts to include, guests to bring on as well as packages to produce. Everything you could have ever needed to produce The Collective is included in the running order. I believe this running order is full to the brim and should we fancy producing The Collective further down the line we could come back to this running order and run with it (if you’ll pardon the pun) because all the bits of information we could’ve ever need are in there. By information, I mean there is something on every single item of the programme and The Collective that I have personally put down there. I have fleshed out each feature, put down package production notes, made music selling links for each song, timed all of it to the second, added a social plan for most of the programme, thoughts of ins and outs in advance as well as mapped out how each feature runs into another. I am proud of this running order for The Collective and plan to produce a through running order of the like for any other radio programme no matter what going forward.

 

The reflection:

Now Atlas London is over the pop-up is over it is time to reflect. I went into this experience wanting to do a role that I thought I would be something I would progress onto doing after my time studying, that was to be an Assistant Producer, but I ended up doing a different role that taught me a lot more than I could have ever imagined. I went from pillar to post at the start of our time producing Atlas together as I was an AP who was helping everyone out doing everything, having ideas here, lending a hand there, making a plan for this whilst producing this. In the end, I was happy to become the Speech Producer but a bit daunted at the start. I didn’t fell all too comfortable producing an hour of speech radio content each week considering we did a module a year in advance where we produced half-hour of speech with a team at least three times what we had now for Atlas. But that is the real world. University life and the world of studying and all that, is a lot easier than doing things in the real world. This was a lesson in that. By the end of the project, we had produced four hours and thirty minutes of speech content. I’m not saying it was all perfect, because it wasn’t, but we learnt a lot of lessons along the way. And I certainly learnt a lot of lessons.

I was a bit worried with filling up The Collective each week, but it turns out that an hour isn’t a very long time. I struggled to find guests each week. I struggled because there was a little team, nobody apart from a select few (mentioned in blogs above but Charity, Chloe, Sara and Ginny were all big helps) actually helping me find people. That was okay, I understand everyone had stuff to do but I just could’ve done with some new people bringing new people on the radio. On top of this was the fact that many people weren’t working or weren’t doing what they normally would’ve been doing because of the virus and the state of things at the moment. I did learn a valuable lesson mind and that is how to win guests over. I learnt how to sell a radio guest slot to someone. Whenever I would go to call someone to talk about guesting on Atlas they initially wouldn’t be too up for talking, therefore, needed some persuading to chat live. I worked out how to sell something to a contributor as well as make them feel as though they were getting something out of being a guest. Looking back, I am pretty impressed with how I managed to source so many guests considering we are running (or, I should say we were running) a radio station with no listeners whatsoever.

The next thing I learnt, was more than happy to learn too, was to not panic. We had a lot of content to produce with a team smaller than it should’ve been, though this is similar to industry situations. Instead of moaning, we just cracked on. I love the fact that we got on with what we had to do and ploughed through. I was very happy with how myself, Makee along with Sara on our content team just got on with what we had to do then brought a ton of radio programmes together within little time with next to no budget. Even when things went downhill, at times on the live programme itself, we just kept calm and carried on. We had one week when a guest turned up at the last minute which truly changed our plans however, we dealt with this well. I was happy with how I managed to still keep the show on-air and just change things at the last minute.

I learned that I like speech content too. I have much more experience producing music radio content, from the minute I first stepped inside a radio studio aged eleven years old. I have worked in speech before though producing The Collective let me experience producing fast-paced speech content on a whim. I loved having an opportunity to have ideas then turn these around. I would like to have a chance to produce more things like The Collective in time. This is what I will take forward from Atlas London and The Collective.

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