James Larvin

Thursday 9th February 2017 –

In the first few weeks of talk radio, it has been strongly encouraged that we consume a variety of both commercial and BBC talk radio to strengthen our knowledge of the talk radio format. In the module handbook, there is a page dedicated to suggested programs that we should listen to from stations such as TalkSport, TalkRadio, LBC, BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio 4. As someone who already consumes a lot of talk radio, I have already found been challenged to listen to programs that I would not normally choose helpful in understanding the styles within the format of talk radio.

This week we were divided into three groups allowing for each programme to have around 8 to 9 people working on the programme. For a commercial station this number of people working on a particular program is relatively high, but if the BBC this number of individuals working on a talk radio program would be expected.

We were made aware of the roles available in each of our groups this week, but did not decide to allocate roles. We discussed it would be best to do this it is time when we had a better understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses in the format of talk radio. However, after taking the position as editor in the previous music radio assessment I did voice that felt it was only fair to someone else have a chance at this position. By doing this I also thought it would allow me allowing me to experience working on a program in a different capacity.

Thursday 16th February 2017 –

This week we had the pleasure of welcoming a BBC Radio 4 editor who works on the Today programme. I found his talk highly intriguing as he ran us through structure and format of the programme, but also that of the team behind the programme. The Today programme daily programme and therefore requires a team to be working on it around the clock and to understand how all aspects of the programme come together to produce programme is of great interest to myself.

Towards the end of today will briefly discussed what we had learnt in previous weeks, this consisted mainly the production techniques used by talk radio stations to produce content. We also were tasked the previous week with listening to talk radio programs, these being BFBS’s Sitrep and BBC Radio 5 Live with Nicky Campbell. It’s interesting to individually analyse each programme, but also compare both programs considering the target audiences. BFBS’s Sitrep is a program that stood out to me as the duration was only half an hour and the content in the programme is very much similar to what we will be expected to produce in this module.

 

Thursday 23rd February 2017 –

The listening for this week Radio 1’s The Surgery and The Sports Bar with Andy Goldstein on TalkSport. We began the week by disusing the two programmes beginning with Radio 1’s The Surgery. We picked up on shoddy production as it seemed the presenter has issues driving the desk and the fact that the programme felt more like a box ticking than a genuine well thought out programme.

We also discussed The Sports Bar with Andy Goldstein on TalkSport, a satiation that I would not chose to tune into. I am not a huge sports fan but everyone who listened to the programme agreed that the style of Andy Goldstein good as he sounded knowledgeable and in charge. This programme was also interesting to listen too as it is a phone in which is an eliminate of talk radio that we may have to include in our group programmes.

In our groups, we were tasked with producing a 15-minute magazine style programme using the biggest stories of the day. Before our group was given our target demographic.

  • AGE GROUP: 25 to 55.
  • Slight female bias.
  • National phone-in based station.
  • Covers UK news with some international.
  • Much of the programming is phone-in and personality oriented, with political and social debate.

After chatting together, we decided on a list of roles, I decided that I would like to be the OB producer as well as producing as package and making the station imaging. As discussed earlier, in the previous project I took the position of editor and I felt that it would be good to give something I had not done before.

I have produced in a studio countless times but never have I produced an OB. I am existed to take on the challenge as although my presenter may only be on air for five minutes, the feature requires meticulous planning and if one thing is forgotten that could be as simple as a cable the whole feature will be unable to go ahead.

For our show this week I decided I would produce a package on a study into fire alarms. I had about an hour to research, write, record, edit and then upload my package into the playout system.

Throughout this module, I have found that my workflow has been speeding up as I continue to practice. I wanted to add some colour to my package so used Birli to find interviews and sound effects as the whole package is about fire alarms which are an audio based device.

I manged to complete my package within time and was mostly happy with the result. As I am normally a producer and not on air I did find myself slipping into what can only be described as an awful newsreader impression which is something I need to listen out for in the future.

 

Thursday 2nd March 2017 –

This week was a lecture on media law and compliance, although for some it’s not the most interesting of subjects it is critical that all are aware of what is appropriate to be broadcast.

I found the week interesting as I do like to follow the news and listen to stations such as LBC where quite often they walk on the line and looking at OFCOM reports quite often put a foot over the line.

The lecture this week did make me apricate broadcasters who toe the line. A simple slip of the tong can jeopardise their career but knowing the boundary’s when discussing risky topics is a difficult skill to master.

 

Thursday 9th March 2017 –

This week David arranged for Talk Sport’s Sal Ahmed, to come in to give us some insights into being a talk radio producer. Sal discussed just how you approach to producing big names and how to get the best out of people. He also discussed a project he was working on which is an OB where a week of programmes will be broadcast from a football tournament in Germany. This was of particular interest to me as I would be producing out groups OB.

During the afternoon session, we spent time in our groups liking for stories that we could base items on for our group shows. When we found a topic that we thought would be right for our station we examined what the best treatment would be for the item. During our group show we have to include a package, an interview, a two-way, audience interaction and a studio discussion to name a few.

We also in our groups had the opportunity to test out the TieLine, the piece of equipment we will be using for our OB’s. I have used it once or twice before but it was useful to have a refresher.

Throughout the day, we all had had one to ones with David to discuss our roles for the programme and this was an opportunity to have any questions I had about the OB I will be producing answered.

 

Thursday 16th March 2017 –

This week David was away so Matthew stepped to discuss our talk radio essay. We went over the essay questions and the best ways to approach writing an essay.

We spent the afternoon continuing to develop the ideas we had begun to think of the week previous in our group. We then went to Matthew and discussed our ideas and treatment of them where he was able to provide us with feedback and advice.

We have lost a member of our group but those who remain all seem focused and existed to progress on with our talk radio show. We have arranged a weekly meeting on Tuesday afternoons to catch up and track progress.

 

Thursday 23rd March 2017 –

This week David was back and we began by running through our feature ideas. We met as a group earlier in the week and a number of the features were well underway. We were given advice on our ideas and also how best to treat them.

We were then tasked with making a 15-minute talk radio programme focusing on the Westminster attacks that took place the previous day. An element of the programme we had to include was an OB from Westminster. As I am the OB producer I got the TieLine and headed with the other two groups OB teams to Westminster. There was an issue that our OB presenter was absent this week but Mark decided to step forward to produce.

Due to the lack of time we left the team without meeting and planning in detail what we would do. Our editor was to phone me at the location to give instructions on what they wanted from us as well as sending us directions to a OB location as the incident was ongoing and the surrounding area was cordoned off.

On arrival, we looked for the best location to set up, we noticed New Scotland Yard on the other side of the river with a sizable amount of press outside. We thought this would be a prime location to broadcast from. As we begin to head over to New Scotland Yard one of the team noticed the police were starting to take the tape down from Westminster Bridge in preparation to open it. We decided to abandon the plan to go to New Scotland Yard and wait for the bridge to reopen.

Westminster Bridge shortly reopened and our team were one of the first to cross, this allowed us to get a prime location on the bridge next to the Palace of Westminster. I quickly set up the kit as press from around the world set up next to us. The TieLine did not connect the first time but after tuning it off and on again we had a clear connection with the studio.

I then contacted the editor who had been in contact with my presenter while I was dealing with the technical setup to find out what time we would be on air and what is expected with us. From a technical aspect, the OB went well. I was able to use an additional mic to mic atmosphere into the background of the presenter adding extra colour into the OB.

I also assisted the other groups who had not used the kit before in how to broadcast over 3G. We were on location for about three hours in total in a prime spot. At the begging of the broadcast our location was quite with a few cameras and reports but by the end there must have been about twenty cameras. Just after we finished the final broadcast the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn laid a floral tribute right in front of our location causing quite the press scrum.

 

Thursday 30th March 2017 –

This week myself and my OB presenter conducted a test broadcast from a chocolate shop in Harrow. We decided to choose a location close to the studio to begin with in case we had any issues, fortunately the OB went reasonably well.

Contact was made with the business two days before the broadcast over phone and then a follow up visit the same day. When we visited the site, we discussed what we wanted to do with the owner and also looked at the technical setup. Unfortunately, we were not able to get an Ethernet connection for the TieLine as there were no free ports and we could not free one up.

On the day of the OB we arrive half an hour before going on air to test the line and also brief the owner who would be interviewed on air. Technically it was reported that the connection did temporarily glitch once or twice but other than that it went well. If we would have had an Ethernet connection, we could have prevented the audio glitch.

Content wise the location was good for a test but not what we have in mind for our final show. The store does not make products in store so our line of questioning was restricted. It has however given me an idea of where I need to tighten up and areas where my I could better support my presenter.

 

Thursday 6th March 2017 –
This week was the final pilot program and most of my focus this week was aimed at ensuring that our final practice OB was perfect. From previous weeks’ feedback, I formulated a new mini running order and script for the OB. Our main point of improvement last week was to add more colour to the broadcast and make the most of our location.
Together with my presenter on Monday morning we sat down looking at locations that would be interesting for our outside broadcast. After a few phone calls and emails we had some leads for possible locations, however it was clear that many of the business were very busy obviously as we are approaching Easter. The next day we were able to confirm that we would do out OB from The Chocolate Museum in Brixton.
When arranging who we would be able to interview it became clear that the owner would not be on site but we might have the opportunity to interview an assistant. This meant I needed to plan for a number of eventualities and write questions for different people.

I confirmed the following OB running order with the presenter and editor the day before the OB.

screenshot-2017-04-09-15-36-21

On the morning of OB I got the TieLine and tested all of the equipment. I found that one of the mic XLR cables was faulty and the battery wasn’t fully charged but because of my tests I was able to sort out the issues. I then organised for the OB and studio presenter to sit together and do a run-through so they we’re happy with the script and my timings were correct. I then helped the rest of the team with anything that needed doing.

Through the morning, I was keeping an eye on public transport to make sure that if there were any issues we could set off to the location early. Luckily public transport was running on time and we made good time to our location arriving ten minutes before the programme began and half an hour until we were due on air.

When we arrived, we were told we would have to interview an assistant who was not aware we were coming in. We had half an hour to set up and chat with our interviewee before we were live so this gave time for me to set up and test the TieLine that worked perfectly. Then myself and the presenter had a chat with the interview and changed some of the questions to play to his strengths and knowledge.

Our total OB was scheduled to be five minutes from start to end, listening back and timing it lasted four minutes, fifty-nine and a half seconds. My presenter had a clock in front of him and I had tested the script a number of times to ensure we would hit out marks. I was very happy with how the OB turned out and also especially pleased to hear we were the only team who got the TieLine to work.
I am confident for next week’s programme and during the week I will be working on the OB as well re-making the station sound and helping in any other ways I can.

Thursday 13th March 2017 –

As the OB producer, I found possible OB locations over the three weeks and then with Callum narrowed down and contacted the businesses. I was very pleased that we were able to successfully do an OB from a different location every week. It allowed Callum, myself as well as the studio to practice. By the final show, we all felt much more comfortable and the output sounded much better for that.
I also wrote the script for Callum, the cue for Beth and created a min running order for Callum so he knew how much time to spend on each item of the OB. I also met with our editor to find the best slot in the running order and discuss the best running time. I was keen that we weren’t too late in the show in case we had any issues with the kit. Ellie was great at working with us to outline what she was expecting but giving me a lot of freedom.
The final OB went very well and after a bit of sweet talking I was able to get us onto the floor of the factory with the director of the company. We really did save the best OB to last as they make the Queen’s Easter Egg and Roald Dahl used them as his inspiration for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. On the technical side, everything worked perfectly but I do make sure I do a military style check on the kit before I leave to decrease the chance of something going wrong on location. The main reason that the Tieline doesn’t work is due to lack of preparation.
As well as been OB producer I also produced the imaging for the programme. We had identified as a group we liked when programmed has a music bed under the menu and leading up to the close. I spent about two hours looking for the bed we used. I then recorded a voice over and put them all together to create the package. I made different versions so if we had any issues or problems in the studio we would always have imaging that would fit.
Additionally, I worked with the rest of the team creating package and story ideas throughout the weeks. One of the packages I assisted with was Tony’s juice cleanse. We worked together to find a juice cleanse that was suitable and safe. During his cleanse, I visited him to make sure he was recording a diary and getting the right tone and emotion in the package. When he was editing I also helped him if he had any questions or issues with the audio.

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