Since I last blogged a lot has happened. Firstly, I was lucky enough to move down to London to work for BBC Radio 2 for just under a month. I had a brilliant time working in a fantastic office full of brilliant, bright individuals who made radio that I appreciated even more after seeing the processes behind it. As consistently quality radio content goes, Radio 2 is an example that is one of the best in the industry.
I was due to stay with Radio 2 for three months but, after, three weeks I received an email informing me that I had been accepted onto a masters course that I had previously applied for and previously been rejected from. However, an individual dropped out at the last minute and, as the reserve candidate, I was offered a place and had an afternoon to make a decision. With the course already underway, time was of the essence.
It seems a tricky situation, but when all the details are provided it was a simple decision, with the masters emerging victorious. This being said, upon being informed of my place I ran to a toilet cubicle, locked myself in and rang my mum and my friend for advice - it literally felt like a teen pregnancy moment.
The reason the masters ruled supreme was, quite simply, because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Set across four different nations (Dresden, Germany; Delft, Netherlands; Barcelona, Spain and Ljubljana, Slovenia) over two years and with a full scholarship it was an unrivalled opportunity to gain vast academic experience whilst tasting a variety of cultures and, hopefully, having a lot of fun.
The course is on Flood Risk Management, and includes four of the leading hydrological institutes in Europe and the opportunity to study at somewhere like the UNESCO-IHE in Delft is simply amazing. (Any hydrologists out there, you know what I’m talking about…). With an opportuntiy to study a topic I deem both interesting and globally important at these institutes (on a scholarship, the lucky beggar that I appear to be) there was nothing that would stop me. Not even the most listened to radio station in the UK. (Radio 2, not Fresh Air)
So, this blog post is a way of breaking some significant news to you: I am leaving the UK on Sunday for two years, to study Flood Risk Management across Europe. Standard.
I kick off the program in Dresden. My timetable for the two years is below, so be ready to hear about my exploits along this timeline.
I know I just apologies for my absence, but that was almost a pre-requisite for me posting this and then leaving the blog dead for a while. Sorry!
Yesterday I spoke to Steve Lamacq on 6Music, bigging up FreshAir.org.uk, Edinburgh’s Student Radio Station.
As a station we do some really cool things and, personally, I’ve got so much out of the station. From interviewing Michael Palin, to blagging free Kate Nash tickets, to DJing at a monthly sell-out club night, to attending all 4 Freshers Ball at my time at University - 3 times as a DJ to so much more. Fresh Air has been insanely kind to me and, so, when Steve Lamacq’s production team came to me asking if I would like to talk to Steve on air about how great Fresh Air is and what we do, well, could hardly contain myself.
In the week prior, Fresh Air’s Head of Production Will Sowerby produced a fantastic audio ‘package’ showcasing what Fresh Air is about. Whilst a lot of stations choose to showcase their music, the big thing we wanted to show was our diversity and creativity and I think you’ll find the package reflects that.
Despite not knowing the questions in advance and being holed-up in the corner of a corridor in the Geography Department at Edinburgh Uni, I like to feel I did my best and did Fresh Air proud.
Heres the audio: Have a listen to the interview and then the package:
Steve gave me the opportunity to choose a Fresh Air-y song and I chose Phoenix 1901. I feel it’s upbeat, unusual pop-credibility sums up where Fresh Air as a Station is and is at least heading. Steve said I have 15 seconds to lead up to the vocal, but no way was I crashing a vocal live on BBC radio! So I got out early and let Steve do his job!
Oh how time flys. 6 weeks into my placement now. Wowser.
This week Vernon Kay returned from L.A. to replace Matt Edmondson. His first show was so full of content and guests that it was manic - a pretty good sort of manic to have, though. We had Iwan Thomas in the studio and Roger Black on the phone to chat about Vernon’s forthcoming triathlon, Jenson Button calling in, Levi Roots in the studio and the Premier League trophy was just sat in the corner of the studio. A pretty impressive line-up and really highlights the role that a producer has in a show’s output. Vernon’s producer, Natasha, strives to get as many interesting and varied guests on the show and, essentially, her work dictates the quality of the show before Vernon even opens his handsome, chiseled mouth.
Starting off with the Premier League trophy. The multi-million pound trophy requires two full-time guards to prevent any damage being done to it (when a colleague went to touch it and was told not to he smiled and asked “Really?” to which they retorted “I’d have to break your fingers” with limited irony. Serious stuff). It also required the BBC to accept liability for insuring it for the day and so much risk assessment you wouldn’t believe. A big deal. And the trophy was only used for a single 5 minute link. 5 minutes. That’s what it’s all about. Natasha’s job as producer is all about cramming as much great content into the show. And she’s brilliant at it.
Here I am in the world famous Live Lounge with Natasha and the trophy itself:
Later, when Levi Roots came on, amazing content was squeezed out of him. Natasha asked him to bring in some chilli peppers (genius idea) and we utilised assistant producer James as our guinea pig to try them. I’m pretty pleased he volunteered as the duty was working down the chain of command very quickly and I next to be called upon. And the last. Essentially, I would have had to!
Luckily, cometh the hour, cometh the assistant producer and, James had a go at the Scotch Bonnet pepper, the 2nd hottest chilli in the world. I can genuinely say that it was one of the funniest thing’s I’ve ever seen and James’ reactions are priceless. “I’m properly on the ropes here” and “It looks like a Sylvanian family pumpkin” crack me up everytime. Have a listen:
The amount of milk he drank post-Scotch bonnet was insane. And he, very foolishly, didn’t wash his hands before going to the toilet. Bless him, he regretted that. Top effort for eating it though. And absolute legend for eating more whilst telling us he felt light-headed.
One of the best show’s I’ve been involved in and all due to the producer’s meticulous planning. Great to see, as I now know what is required to be a top producer at the BBC. And now it’s just about assessing whether what Natasha does week in, week out is in me. Hopefully, two more weeks can help! If not, I can just carve my radio career through eating dangerous foodstuffs.
Sorry its been a while since I last posted - work has got busy! I’ve now done a month of my placement and, halfway through it all, I can say its going well. I’ve worked my way onto the weekend shows to play a part of the on air content and, although it took me a while, it was a nice way to do it. The person I call “boss”, a Radio 1 chief executive, never once told any of the office to give me work, he simply sat me at a desk and I would ask to help whoever was nearby. Once they were giving me stuff to do, other members of the office would offer me other stuff and, now, I’m essentially part of the office. I hope. And, accordingly, I’ve worked my way onto the actual live output and have earned my place. It makes it feel less awkward because I never felt I was hitching a ride and, hopefully, was the ‘proper’ way to do it. Now roll on the second month!
It seems that the shows I’ve migrated to most closely are Jo Whiley’s, Matt Edmondson and Vernon Kay’s shows. This is simply because Jo’s producer and the girl who produces Matt and Vernon’s shows (as well as Sara Cox when she returns) seem to like me the most and, as such, offer me the most work and just aren’t afraid to trust me. So far no trust placed in me seems to have been misplaced - phew.
This week, I was heavily involved in Jo’s show and met John Barrowman when he recorded ‘The Road Trip’ for her. ‘The Road Trip’ is a feature Jo does that involves a guest describing an imaginary journey and talking about their life. Barrowman was perfect for that sorta thing and, since, has become a legend in my eyes. He’s so charismatic and, as summed up in a text to the studio, “has an incredible love for life” - everything he does he is so passionate about. It was Jo’s mum’s birthday on the day and Jo asked for a photo of her with him for her and John declined. Instead he decided to record a video of himself popping up out of nowhere and singing happy birthday to her. One of the nicest and most generous celebrities I’ve ever met. Legend. I now aim to be more like Barrowman in all aspects of my life.
I also met 3/5ths of The Saturdayswhen they were in with Matt Edmondson. Frankie and Una were unavailable and, so, I took care of Rochelle, Vanessa and Molly in advance of the show. Three lovely girls, who seemed up for a lot of fun on-air and, in the words of Matt Edmondson himself, “three very attractive girls”.
On the same show Katie Price was in to promote her new book. She arrived a bit late and ended up walking straight into the studio so I didn’t meet her properly properly. I did make her tea though, which she seemed to love on air:
I was that ‘someone’. And she though my tea was “brilliant”. That was actually the first cup of tea or coffee I’ve had to make whilst at Radio 1, so that’s a perfect record so far. Didn’t really know what to think about Katie - she seemed quite savvy about who she is and what people think of her, but I’m not sure what she is really like as a person. Think she’s created a life for herself where nobody every really will. That’s deep, man. The show also included a very funny audio version recorded by Matt of her latest book, Paradise. Check it out here at roughly 2hr 6mins into the show.
The Saturdays and Katie Price were in the studio with Matt and, at the same time, newest boy band on the scene The Wanted, rocked up to pre-record something for the chart show. With three celebrities in the building the paparazzi went absolutely crazy and, along with screaming fans, the poor old security guards had their work cut out.
I must say, The Wanted were absolutely lovely boys and made a point of coming over to say “hi” to me - nice guys who just seem to be loving their lives at the moment. I think the main guy in the photo was the one who got through about a pint carton of milk while he was there. Straight out of the carton. In 10 minutes. Muchos respect. And check out how gorgeous they all are:
A busy week, meeting loads of people and growing in responsibility.
Spoke to my boss and I now have rough guidelines about BBC chat on the internet. Which means I can tell you about my life!
I’ve been at Radio 1 for 9 days now, working with the Radio 1 Weekend team. Its a really cool office full of people and being at work is proper enjoyable. Once I’d spent a few days being trained in various important and various non-important courses it was time to make a start on some proper work.
The first task that got thrown my way was some research for Vernon Kay’s weekend show. This weekend he has been at the British Grand Prix and has been producing some awesome online content (only available for the next seven days) and some great on-air material, featuring a host of famous guests. From an early stage, the Vernon’s producer spotted there was a risk of all the Formula 1 guests being lost on a lot of the audience and, accordingly, devised a plan to have the guests introduced in a pre-recorded voiceover by Jake Humphrey’s before they spoke to Vernon on air. So I was set the task of writing something for the voiceovers that would be built upon and spoken on air. However, the producer liked what I gave her (or was very short on time - I’ll take either) and my words ended up being used by Jake (with the odd addition from Jake himself e.g. Eddie Jordan’s terrible fashion sense. He is good enough friends with him to reach those dizzying heights of banter that, as an outsider, I can only aspire to). In retrospect, I wish I’d put more effort into wording what I wrote in a perfect manner and not presuming it’d be built upon.
Lesson 1: always presume what you are doing is going out on air. It ensures a high quality of work.
So on Vernon’s show today, my introduction jingles voiced by Jake Humphrey’s were used. I wrote these on my third day with Radio 1. Mental.
If you are interested in my goings on and are curious about the BBC further, then why not check out this blog: From Rookie to Radio 1
This blog is from the other ‘Creative Trainee’ that’s not me at Radio 1. Her name is Anna and I’m actually already friends with her because she was at Fresh Air student radio with me. See the link? Join Fresh Air, work for the BBC. Simple.
Her blog, From Rookie to Radio 1, is very good and documents what she gets up to in the specialist music shows as apposed to what i get up to with the Weekend team. She’s with Nick Grimshaw’s show currently.
Oh, and on her second day she went on air for a whole link. Jealous, much, me? Definitely I am jealous muchly.
If you are interested, great blog. I will update mine more frequently I promise too. A link to Anna’s blog isn’t a replacement for this one, I swear! I’m just having some html problems (in my pants).
I have been living in London for almost 6 days now and I am sorry for the lack of blogging. London life is just so busy! People are always milling about and theres always somewhere that I should be or something I should be doing. Don’t get me wrong, though: it’s an amazing sort of busy. And then work (at Radio 1 for anyone who was unaware and has managed to avoid me incessently yapping on about it) is also busy but, again, in an amazing way.
On Monday, I traveled down to London in sweltering heat and braved the tube (with my shiny, new and highly confusing oyster card - I’m officially a Londoner now, surely?) to my accommodation. The accomodation is being provided by the BBC and although it combines the negatives of hotels and halls of residence, mixed in with toilets straight from an Easy Jet flight, it is in an amazing location just off Hyde Park. So overall, I’m pretty lucky to be living in a pretty cool location with a load of other BBC-types. Lot of fun. Plus, breakfast is provided with a rotation of extras on top of the daily cereal and toast - extras including low-fat yoghurt (the low-fat credentials are consistently stressed), fruit and grapefruit (which DOESN’T count as fruit, ok?) in the roster of rotation along with other breakfast-treats. Mega.
Monday involved a quick exploration of my area once I’d unpacked and within 6 hours of being in London, I found myself at an invite-only, advanced showcase of the Royal College of Arts’ students’ 2010 work:
That says ‘SHOW’, you see. Arty.
Upon arrival, I was handed champagne, which was frequently topped up by the waiting staff, and looked at all the work from the creme de la creme of post-graduate design. Some of the stuff was way cool and some of the stuff was totally lost on me. I really wanted to take a photo of me, in my Primark t-shirt and shorts, clasping free champage surrounded by proper sophisticated people looking at arts- I think you can imagine how out of place I was. But it was a no-photography event - because the work is that new and important.
From my village, Tugby, to this in under 10 hours? Crazy! Hello London indeed!
Another day of London exploration on Tuesday started to get me settled in further and, then, it was Wednesday and time to start work at Radio 1!
The first few days were just training, informing me about how stuff works at the BBC in general and rules, etc. One rule that I repeatedly cropped up, is that employees cannot discuss BBC dealings in any sort of public media. Despite this blog hardly classifying as ‘media’ and stretching the definition of ‘public’ (“Hello, Mum!”), I don’t really want to break any BBC rules after only 3 days of employment. So I will talk to my boss about what this actually means in practical terms on Tuesday and future posts will take shape accordingly!
So, sorry, no rebelling anti-BBC-rules-blog here from Ricky V the VIP (Very Insubstantial Poster). If you wanted that sort of disregard to rules you really should be following Ricky V the VIP (Very Insurgentary Poster), not me.
Even if there is a blanket ban on all BBC-related content, there’ll still be lots of stuff coming to this blog about my out-of-hours activities. Not to mention the crazy shit that goes down on my lunch breaks (you should just hear how I respond when they ask if I have a nectar card).