Reflective Essay

|Lauren Watson|

| w1682307 |

 

Blog Post One

 

Research for gaining a commission for Individual Audio Project

The research I undertook for a commission for this project was challenging as the project I decided to make was fictional storytelling based around actual events and feelings. Trying to find the right people to commission the project was a problem because of how open and vague the piece was while also being a personal subject matter. It was challenging to find a platform with similar works on it. I tried reaching out on Facebook groups, and I suddenly realised I didn’t know how to market my work towards industry professionals as I struggle to have the confidence in myself and my work. 

After talking to Aasiya Lodhi and expressing these concerns, she directed me towards Camila Byk, the co-founder of Podium. Me, which allows journalistic creators under the age of twenty-five to have a platform to publish their work. After looking at Podium’s website, I decided to contact Camila and see if it would be something she would be interested in putting up on Podium. Me. I arranged a zoom meeting with her and pitched the idea. Without showing her any audio or visuals due to technical problems, I quickly found out that I can sell my creative ideas to someone once I’m actually face-to-face with someone.

 

Research into the job market for your work experience

 After editing audio for dance schools and working backstage at theatres, I realised I wanted to work in audio and sound in some capacity. I looked for work experience in community radio as this allowed me to see if the studios were the right place for me. Marlow FM accepted my work experience application, a local community radio station and spent Monday to Friday in the studios. I loved presenting the shows, helping in the studio and the feeling that came with being apart of the team. I was fortunate how quickly I got my work experience placement as I knew someone who volunteered at Marlow FM already. This proves that it is important who you know within the industry.

 The experience I gained from Marlow FM gave me more confidence in myself for my voice and presenting skills, and I fell in love with radio and sound production. The confidence that I gained while at Marlow FM, and during my university career helped me during the Zoom interview with Camila as I am a people person, I can not sell an idea that is mine. This confidence boost has eventually led me to gain a humble following on social media, most predominantly TikTok. Included in this following on TikTok are some really big accounts, for example, @halfpotatojr  which is the second account of @wholepoatao who has over one million followers over both accounts and also @emilyroseperrin who gained her following over the first lockdown.

 

Blog Post Two

 

What you learned from your work placement

 I learnt a lot about myself and what I could achieve while with Marlow FM team as I was so anxious being in the studio as I didn’t want to make any mistakes. At the same time, on-air however that anxiousness quickly evaporated as the week progressed. I found my voice and presenting style during the week and also realised being in front of the mic is where I want to be.

 After my work placement week at Marlow finished, I was asked to return to Marlow FM and continue to cover and co-present the breakfast and drivetime slots Monday to Friday. I continued to do this throughout the summer of 2018, the Christmas period of 2018 and the summer of 2019. From doing these shows, I learned how to create a playlist for every show, use a playout system, and ‘ride’ the music in and out of songs even though this is still a skill I need to improve upon. These shows were often presented as solo shows where I had no one else to help in the studios; at first, this was terrifying as I didn’t know for sure what I was doing, but after my first solo show I learnt that ‘winging it’ is a crucial part of radio presenting. The attitude of just throwing the mics on and having a chat is the style I practised while at Marlow FM and one that I took to with Smoke Radio for daytime shows.

 This work placement also gave me the skill to read traffic reports quickly and reliably to listeners. This learning curve gave me the experience and ability to apply for a job at INRIX as a traffic reporter. I went through all the interviewing process stages until the final hurdle, where unfortunately my voice wasn’t approved by the BBC team. I learnt a lot from my experience at Marlow FM and subsequently the interview process with INRIX.

 

Blog Post Three

 

What you learned from working with an external commissioner for Individual Audio Project

 Working with Camila was a great experience as she is such a lovely person and offered me a lot of advice. However, I don’t believe I learned how to gain a commission in the future as I had help from Aasiya with part of the process. I also believe I didn’t work closely enough with Camila during the editing and writing process as I allowed other things to get on top of me. Other university work and my mental health got worse as the country was put into a second lockdown. I learnt that communication is key while working online and remotely as I believe I would have kept in contact with Camila if we had in-person meeting instead of over zoom. 

 During the COVID-19 pandemic, creating any work that required interviews or relied on anyone else as major contributors felt impossible to make because of the pandemic as I can’t look at screens for too long. I would have had to have spent up to twelve hours a day at a screen for interviews, then editing them, and then other university classes and coursework too. This is why I decided to make a fictional piece of audio based on my own experiences, thoughts, and feelings during the first lockdown. This idea allowed me to create what I wanted with myself being the piece’s main voice. I asked a few friends who have done audio voice-overs before and friends in musical theatre to do the other minor voiced roles. My project also allowed me to explore creative writing for audio for the first time, and this made me realise that creative writing is a path I want to consider in the future. 

I have taken notes during this project when working on a piece with a commissioner. When working with a commissioner in the future, I want to have more contact and meetings to keep them in the loop more. The final audio piece is what we both want to put our names to and be proud of. I felt like I love the piece of audio I created for my individual audio project. I don’t think it was something that Camila wanted on the topic of isolation during the first lockdown. 

 

Where you hope to go next, what sort of career you are aiming for, drawing on your work experience and Individual Audio Project.

 

The type of career I am aiming for is split between three different paths; the first of which is either presenting on breakfast radio shows and chat shows – The Hits or Heart Breakfast shows and Loose Women are the top tier goals for my career. These have been the influences behind my presenting style. Marlow FM’s target audience is the same age as the previously mentioned shows and has very similar talking points such as family, embarrassing stories, and celebrity gossip and news. 

 

The second path I am thinking about is related to creative writing, whether that is fictional scriptwriting or storytelling. I really enjoyed writing the scripts for my individual audio project and received the best feedback and marks for them and is something I would like to continue doing, even if it is of fun instead of work. Creative writing is a skill that I definitely want to improve upon.

 

These two career paths are vastly different and need different skill sets to be successfully executed; however, they complement each other. Working towards both of these career paths at the same time will be relatively easy as my creative writing can be published on my own website and be promoted via my social media while I do shows on community stations. 

 

The third career path that is completely out of the left-field is becoming a primary school teacher as working with children in the age range is something I thoroughly enjoy. This career has always been on the back burner for a while as I had a wobble about my radio career during the first lockdown. Doing the individual audio project module, however, restored my confidence for a radio career. Still, I have signed up for the government scheme ‘get into teaching’ to look into after a gap year.

 

FIVE practical steps which you will follow to help you on the next phase, post-graduation.

 

 

  • STEP ONE: CV.

 

After graduation, the most important step is to update my CV with what grade I graduated with, as this information is important to future employers. I will also list my achievements with Smoke Radio as a presenter, the head of daytime, and station manager. These achievements will show perfectly how I can adapt to different work environments due to COVID-19. This CV will be available from my social media accounts and website.

 

 

  • STEP TWO: ONLINE PRESENCE.

 

After graduation, I will also need to keep my social media and online presence up to date and active. This is to continue to build upon my small social media following and generate a buzz around myself and the brand I have created for myself. This is very important to radio stations, especially at the moment with the world moving online due to the pandemic because if I come to a radio station having already gained a humble following, to the station, I already have a bunch of listeners for my show.

 

 

  • STEP THREE: COMMUNITY RADIO.

 

I am planning to be able to go back to Marlow FM and to be back in the studios. Hopefully, I will try to gain experience at my local BBC station after graduating and moving back out of London by sending out demos and emails asking for any shadowing experience. Doing community radio is such a good way to practice my presenting skills and keep me in the studios, network with people.

 

 

  • STEP FOUR: PERSONAL PROJECTS.

 

After graduating, I want to focus more on my personal projects that I have been trying to do throughout university but have struggled due to little to no time. These projects include streaming on Twitch.TV and creative writing for children books. I also want to continue my job with dance school Dance Stables as a creative outlet. Being with Dance Stables has allowed me to go back to my roots with editing audio and theatre work, and I wish to stay for as long as possible. This also includes my third career path of becoming a primary school teacher as it definitely is something I want to look into further.

 

 

  • STEP FIVE: LIFE AND CAREER AFTER COVID-19.

 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to focus on anything; however, by following the previously mentioned steps, I will still be able to do what I’ve always wanted. Once theatres open up again, I hope to do more theatre sound work and gain more work experience within radio studios. I will also be allowed to go to networking events once the lockdowns and restrictions have been lifted.

 

University of Westminster
309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW
General enquiries: +44 (0)20 7911 5000
Course enquiries: +44 (0)20 7915 5511
Accessibility | Cookies | Terms of use and privacy