Synoptic Assessment Blog for Individual Audio project and Professional Practice.
Individual Audio project
The way I received my commission for my audio project is through working in the summer at an independent audio production house, called OnTheSly Productions. I got this job through networking over the summer and been offered the opportunity to come in and do some work. I was approached by a friend who asked as a favour if I could come in and learn how the company works and do some cover. I was taught Protools (the editing software that they use), PRS and much more all in the space of three weeks. This was not my original work experience, however it was through my work experience (talkRADIO) when I met the author (Alya Mooro) of The Greater Freedom – Life as a Middle Eastern Woman outside the Stereotypes which is the book that inspired my individual project about growing up as a British Moroccan. She had come in for an Interview to promote the book and as she was telling her story on air, I could relate so easily. While I knew that talkRADIO could have given me the commission, my audio piece was aimed at a completely different audience, 15-29 year olds BBC Radio 1 audience. I know from my research that a lot of the BBC audio packages/works is sourced from independent audio production houses such as Wisebudduh, SomethingElse and many more including OnTheSly Productions. So, I used my connections, and sent an email to Chris Thorpe who gratefully accepted my commission.
Some other connections that I had made were through Westminster Alumni and that is an example of how I undertook some of the research for the job market in the radio industry. In my first year of university I became friends with now alumni Michael Lavin and Steven Mitchell who both work at Global on Radio X, Capital FM, and Classical FM. As a result, I went in one night to shadow Lavin at Radio X on his overnight show where he explained how commercial radio worked and what/ how the studio looked like. I also made friends with the year above at university, and some of them had a job at talkRADIO. It was through Matthew Sanders, when I got my work experience. He gave me James Masterson’s email to start off with some shadowing work as a studio manager at talkRADIO. After a coffee, two weeks experience and training, I now have a job at talkRADIO in the weekends.
Other than Westminster Alumni, the Student Radio Association, Smoke Radio and student radio in general is how I met the majority of my connections. Especially through networking at events such as the annual Student Radio Conference and the Student Radio Awards. This is a great place to network early as you’ll get introduced to people who are also just starting out in the radio industry and those who are already in the industry. Through student radio (at Smoke Radio) I met Fiona Hanlon, who used to produce the Radio 1 Breakfast show with Nick Grimshaw, and Pippa Taylor who is the executive producer for The Chris Moyles Show on Radio X. I am in regular contact with Fiona and have met up with her for coffee and advice which she has kindly offered. Fiona has also given me connections to help me with my dissertation work and career too. I’ve also met the people such as Mike Cass (Virgin Radio), John Jackson (talkSport2), Will Manning (Capital), Paul Sylvester (Absolute Radio) and so many more.
WHAT I LEARNED…
At my work placement, at talkRADIO I had learned many of my now current skills. As a studio manager, I am responsible for all of the audio output for the station (on my shifts). Ranging from clips and music that needs to be played, checking the volume levels, recording the output into Burli, making sure that the timings on Zetta (the output system) is correct so that it will hit the news on IRN on time and finally updating the presenters on their times and the hard out for the news. Since the summer I have worked on a variety of shows, including Giles Coren, Ian Lee, James Whale, Howard Hughes and more. I have build great team connections too, especially with the Sunday night teams for both Giles Coren and The Unexplained with Howard Hughes. I have also learned how to be patient and to hold the fort, adapt to changes quickly – if there is a breaking news story or if the presenter and show changes knowing how to work those shows and work across the different show teams. As well as this, I know that the DUMP button is my new friend and it gives me time to correct any mistake that I might have made e.g going to an advert break early, I have those 7 seconds to think and react to correct myself.
Individual Audio Project
Through my individual project, I learned how to conduct a 15-minute audio piece that highlighted what is it like to grow up as a British Moroccan – being Moroccan myself, it was a personal project. As I mentioned earlier, I was inspired by the book The Greater Freedom to create an audio version of an autobiography. For my research, I looked at the flights to Morocco, how I could catch the sound atmosphere, what kind of story I wanted to tell and who I wanted in this project. It was inevitable that I was going to include my mum in this project as she was the one who raised me and she would know the majority of my life, but as I was developing my idea, I realised that I needed a comparison from what life was like growing up in Morocco. So I thought that a really nice touch would be to include my grandma in my project and get her story. I had learned that she was married by 11 years old, and had her first child at 15, and by the time she was 21 (same age as me) she had 5 children. I learned that through sound and music I could tell a story that was a) still relevant to today’s audience and b) able to place the audience in the right settings – thanks to the atmospheric sound that I had recorded myself while in Morocco.
For this project, I was left to my own devices with the advice we received from our lecturer. However, I know that if I were to do this again in the future, I know that I would work more closely to the commissioner and with the production house – whether that be in house production or for an independent production and it would be sounding more tight in terms of production and it would be in more of a tight schedule too.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR MY CAREER
The career that I am aiming to go for is to work as a Studio Producer / Executive Producer ideally at a music radio station – especially at BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, as well as commercial radio stations such as Radio X and Capital Xtra. Some of the steps that I have taken for my journey to my dream role taking on roles that rely on me being in the studio and working with multiple different shows. So over the summer, as friend of mine mentioned to me that talkRADIO are looking for technical operators (studio manager) to drive the desk as they were short numbered in staff. So my friend Matthew Saunders gave me James’ email at talkRADIO (who is the manager for the tech ops), who I then emailed for a coffee and a general chat.
However, through working with independent audio production house such as OnTheSly Productions and creating my own project about the different cultural impacts of being a British Moroccan, I’d quite like to work with smaller teams on smaller projects that will be broadcasted on bigger media outlets such as the BBC.
MY NEXT STEPS
I have a few contacts in my book, that have been very helpful and kind to guide me on the right path. I also have notifications on for twitter pages, such as The Media Mentor, BBC Careers, BBC Get In, to name a few. I also update my LinkedIn regularly, Instagram has highlights page for my work in radio as well as my twitter.
Step one – I would like to start building my brand, as I approach the time of graduation as that way I can show that I am more employable and that as a freelancer audio and radio producer I can offer my services / show my examples of work to possible future clients and colleagues. So, overtime, as I collect more work and become more beneficial the dream would be for people to approach me to help them do work for a acceptable fee. However, first the brand will need to be appropriate to the level I am at today.
Step two – as of right now, I am making sure that my CV, portfolio and any cover letters are up to date with my skill set and relevant work experience. I will be applying for as many jobs as I can until there is one suitable enough to help me progress in my career, help me grow as an individual and also have the opportunities for me to develop my experience and skills to get any possible promotions. The job will also have to be substantial enough so that I can live in London, where the majority of the audio and radio opportunities are.
Step three – Learn new skills. This year, I would also like to learn how to DJ, it has been a goal of mine since I can remember, and it would also be a very good side hustle. Learning how to DJ will also heighten my production skills as mixing will be more detailed. As well as this, I would like to volunteer at more local London community radio stations such as Represent radio or Rinse FM as they are the closest to the station that I would love to work on.
Step four – at my current place of work (talkRADIO), there are new opportunities available in light of The Times Radio being launched. As I already work with one of the Times columnists – Giles Coren – who is like the poster boy for this new launch, I see myself having the advantage as I know how they would want the Times radio to sound like. I will be talking to my boss about an assistant producer position and I will also apply for the job too.
Step five – I am also going to enjoy and embrace more of what I do in the radio and audio industry. Use my contacts to get any opportunity I can to progress to the next stage in my life. Thankfully, volunteering at Smoke Radio has given me so many opportunities – like producing the Early Breakfast show on BBC Radio 1 over Christmas and working alongside Phil Stocker who has been at Radio 1 and 1xtra for 10 years. Meeting Fiona Hanlon and meeting up with her regularly just for an update about my life. Creating the Passionfruit Podcast, which won bronze at the Student Radio Awards 2019 and being a part of the team that won Gold for Best Station at the 2019 Student Radio awards.