Research you undertook into the job market for your work experience/gaining a commission for my Individual Audio Project:
In order to gain the relevant work experience I needed for this module, I felt it was a good idea to utilise the industry contacts I had already gained through previous work experience, such as my time as the Radio X music programming intern. I find that word of mouth and meeting new people is the best way to find out about (or create) new opportunities. I spoke to several people in the office, from producers to the digital team, and they all advised that tech opping was the best way to stay in the building. Sadly, Radio X didn’t have any vacancies by the time I finished my internship, but undeterred, I put the word around that I was interested in gaining experience as a tech op and eventually I heard about a position going at Classic FM. I had a meeting with executive producer David Rose and he suggested that I come in and shadow some of the tech ops currently working on pre-recorded programmes. During my shadowing period, I made sure to keep a close eye on the Classic FM website so I knew a bit more about the kind of content they create and to familiarise myself with the presenter schedule. Although I was never asked anything specific, it was reassuring to know I had the answers up my sleeve should I need them, but also, it helped me to get a sense of the brand I could potentially be working for. This is vital as radio is a tight-knit community and I think it is very important to organically fit into a new work ‘family’.
The same kind of approach applied to my individual audio project, particularly when researching the Scotch Whiskey Experience. I made sure I familiarised myself with several tourist points of interest along the Royal Mile but I avoided ‘studying’ the places as, for one, I wasn’t sure exactly where I would end up on the day of recording, but most importantly, if I knew some detail but not an extensive amount, then it would naturally lead me to ask more questions creating an authentic feel to the interviews, as opposed to just needing the information capture on tape. It heightened the sense of discovery I was after for a touristic audio walk.
What you learned from your work placement and what you learned from working with an external commissioner for my Individual Audio Project:
Although I didn’t get a commission for my audio project (due to a late change in idea), there are lots of skills I’ve developed since my time at Global that I know would have helped me to secure one. For example, my skills working with Adobe Audition. I’ve had lots of practice recording and editing into the software. One of my tasks working on the Full Works Concert (at Classic FM) requires me to record the top of hour for the programme, mixing the bed with presenter Catherine Bott’s opening link. This has definitely help me to sharpen my ear when listening to audio, especially when it is being captured live. Again, thanks to the development of this skill, I found it easier to split my thinking when interviewing my participants for my individual audio project. One half of my brain could focus on the interview, the responses and the conversation, whilst the other half could stay alert to recording factors such as levels and background noise. With these abilities to hand I feel it definitely would have help to support and/or encourage a company (such as the Scotch Whiskey Experience or VisitScotland.co.uk) to take on my work, as I can produce good quality audio.
One thing I did learn from making my audio walk is that networking and being approachable is always key in every task that you do! Prior to my trip to Edinburgh, I had already arranged my interview with Angela at the Scotch Whiskey Experience. A few polite emails back and forth helped our conversation to flow once we met. (I think you can get a sense from this part of the audio project that our conversation was one of a natural and friendly feel). Off tape, I took the time to chat light-heartedly about how much I was enjoying my trip, Angela recommended a few spots to visit. Small talk, but talk that enable us to have a smooth interview, and one that led to Angela inviting us back to the Scotch Whiskey Experience for a free tour! This added extra was really useful in helping me flesh out some of the content towards the end of my audio project, as I was able to use my first hand experience of the tour to detail in parts of my scripts that otherwise, in hindsight, could have very easily fallen a bit flat!
Going back to the job at Classic FM, fast forward several months and I’ve been working as a tech op for over a year now. As well as working on pre-recorded programmes, I’ve also gained experience in producing live shows too. I’ve learned a lot! My confidence in driving a radio desk has multiplied tenfold. As with anything, repeated practice is key in reducing nerves! It has helped me in incidents where I’ve had to perform under pressure, should anything go wrong with the output. For example, there was an incident during a live programme where the presenter’s mic went faulty mid link. I swung another mic round the desk and switched faders so the output wouldn’t continue to be affected. Turns out it was just a loosening cable, but at least I have enough knowledge of the studio now to be able to correct the problem, or at least provide a temporary solution should it be a bigger issue that engineering need to see to.
I’ve also learnt how to navigate Zetta. I can perform simple tasks such as seguing in the software, but also, I have learnt how to record from Zetta and input outside files (say from Audition) into the software and then into the log. I find it easier to edit a link and then re-input it into Zetta as the editing tools on the software can be a little clumsy. I prefer a slicker sounding edit – especially for national radio! With Audition I can be even more accurate with my edits.
Where you hope to go next, what sort of career you are aiming for, drawing on your work experience and Individual Audio Project, and five practical steps which you will follow to help you on the next phase, post-graduation.
After graduation I hope to move into the music sector of radio. From my work experience at Radio X, I’ve realised that I really enjoy being on the bridge between the music and radio industries. I have gain lots of experience in music programming since Radio X and then as my time as Smoke Radio’s Head of Music. Everything from listening through to records, new artists, dealing with impact dates of a record, meetings with pluggers, scheduling the music – the list goes on! I have found that learning more about this particular area has proven vital in helping me understand the bigger picture in terms of how departments (of music and radio) work and how they interact with one another. For example, my knowledge of what a radio plugger actually does, how they design campaigns for artists, how they adapt pitches to certain radio stations, I have found really interesting. I have seen how they pluggers interact with Heads of Music, but I think it would be very interesting to be on the other side of the table. I’d quite like the challenge of pitching to a radio station. Most of my shows as a radio presenter have always been about new music, so fundamentally, I am pitching new sounds to my audience, through stories and statistics. I think its a great way to encourage new fans of an artist.
Additionally, through my work at Classic FM, and also my time recording and creating my audio project, I have come to acknowledge just how much I desire to work with music in a radio aspect, and have help me to figure out my next moves. Although I greatly enjoy working on live programmes and creating content for publication, I just don’t get the same amount of buzz that I do working alongside the music. So my next steps will definitely try and be gain more experience in music promotion and new music style radio programmes. I think that although my focus is more about the music, radio experience is always essential to piecing the bigger industry picture together as previously mentioned, largely for networking benefits, but also as a type of media there are dozens of transferrable skills that can be acquired, such as learning to edit on different softwares. I’m also keen to keep my hand firmly in the radio pie as my dream gig would definitely be as a Head of Music – and if we’re being extra hopeful – then as the Head of Music for Radio X
With this in mind here are my five steps which I will follow to help me post-graduation:
Step 1) Continue to network and meet people! It’s been the best thing I have learnt during my time at university, when on my work experience(s) and when making my individual audio project. And also stick to my rule of approach a selected few and make a good impression, rather than run round the entire room and not being memorable.
Step 2) Regularly maintain my CV and other profiles such as LinkedIn so when I apply for jobs I can turn around an accurate and impressive CV in good time.
Step 3) Continue to listen to lots and lots of music so I know that I confidently have my finger on the pulse when it comes to upcoming artists and ones to watch. This will only enhance my credibility as a music enthusiast. It will also help me engage in conversation when at networking opportunities with industry professionals.
Step 4) Continue my work at Classic FM and keep my ear to the ground about potential opportunities working for additional brands – such as Smooth or Heart. And also continue to work as X-Posure’s podcast editor as this is a great way to meet bands, hear their latest new sounds and also meet their pluggers!!
Step 5) Finally, work on become and happy and healthier version of myself! I definitely think this comes down to routine! It has been a challenge to try and work hard but also look after myself last year, so I plan to divide my time is much more manageable chunks, that way I hope I can achieve deadlines and fulfil tasks to a higher standard.