Category Archives: Review

Nations and Regions Media Conference 2017 review: Long live local radio

lowry

This week I went to the Nations and Regions Media Conference at The Lowry in Salford. Since the Radio Festival changed venue and moved down south, I was looking forward to a conference of a similar vein in the old stomping ground.

I should have known from the ticket price (£90 early-bird rate) that this was aimed more at executive level, rather than for those of us who work in production. It would take a journalist working at some commercial stations around two days salary to pay to go to all events, adding travel and parking costs etc. The redeeming feature was the price did include lunch though – bonus!

One of the early sessions about investigative journalism was insightful; there was a lot of wistful reminiscing to the past about the likes of ITV’s long-gone ‘World in Action’. It was a treat to hear from director Paul Greengrass, who used to work on the programme before heading off to Hollywood. What I took from this session was journalists are more than ever required to “show their workings” in this era of “Fake News”, as President Trump coined it. It means, due to this vigour, the quality of work broadcasters are producing is actually more reliable. Maybe not all of Trump’s media criticisms are so damming for the industry, after all?

The second day got underway and I was enjoying debates on various issues. MP for Wigan, Lisa Nandy, shared her view that – because MediaCity now exists – that doesn’t automatically mean northern views are catered for. “The North” doesn’t stop at Salford and start again in Scotland. There’s a whole wealth of audience members, stories and talent that’ll be missed, if that’s a widely-held belief.

I hope it isn’t, but have taken calls from people in the past who have made humorous misconceptions. While I can forgive statements like: “Is Bolton in Lancashire?”, because it’s on the border. It only takes a quick glance at a map to know the answer to: “Is Blackburn in Manchester?”

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley, announced there will be a consultation to move some of Channel 4’s staff out of London to “wherever it can be found” in the UK. As someone who grew up in Greater Manchester, I know how amazing the opportunities at MediaCityUK are: the area’s been completely regenerated and is buzzing. However, if every major media outlet sets up there, Salford will become as much of an isolated bubble as London is perceived to be.

As a regional staple, I was disappointed with the lack of mentions local radio got at the conference. People who work in that area make a limited amount of resources spread far and wide in order to create content. Talented staff are serving parts of the audience that other platforms may not reach. At times, providing vital information –  the recent Lancashire floods are a prime example. I would urge any sceptic to spend a day in a local radio newsroom – either commercial or BBC – and see for themselves. Yet newsrooms in local stations are constantly under threat from cuts.

BBC local radio as an example; there are stations all across the country. Audience reach of all of them combined must be enough to match a national network station. Surely that makes it eligible to warrant a discussion? The audience is more concentrated in each TSA and the issues differ from place to place, but that makes what’s on offer so unique.

It was infectious hearing Head of BBC Radio, Bob Shennan’s, positivity for the medium and his enthusiasm that another golden age of radio is “still to come”, even if it may be different from what has gone before. Due to the way the discussion went though, ill-fated Channel 4 Radio got more of a mention than local radio, which is still very much thriving on the dials.

At the end of a thought-provoking conference, I was driving home listening to a network station when the news came on. There was a Lancashire story in the bulletin and my ears pricked up, because that’s where I live and work. The reader made the easy mistake of pronouncing Barrowford, in Pendle, as: “BARROW-F’D”. You need local knowledge to know it’s actually pronounced: ‘BARROW-FORD’. There’s no way of knowing this by reading off a script alone. I carried on my journey explicitly aware that local radio is still as important as ever.

Radio reflections of 2016

bbc-lancsThis time last year, I made a decision that would affect how my whole year would pan out. I decided, after much consideration, to go back to freelancing. This was such a big decision because staff jobs in radio are like gold dust. But in 2016, I took a leap of faith.

As a result of that ‘Sliding Doors’ moment, I have had wonderful experiences and am going to share some of those with you in this blog. I spent the majority of my time in newsrooms across the North West. This past year has been quite extraordinary journalistically, in the stories that have dominated the headlines.

Just some stand out moments were when I was newsreading for Revolution 96.2 the day of the Hillsborough Verdicts, at Wireless Group the day Theresa May became Britain’s new Prime Minister and at BBC Lancashire the day after ‘Brexit’, as well as the day the announcement of the government’s decision to allow fracking in the county – a day when people from across the BBC were looking at my scripts.

I left 2BR in February and spent six months as a freelancer, before settling down at BBC Lancashire. Much of my freelancing was spent double shifting. Looking back now, I don’t know how I had the energy! I would finish a morning shift at one radio station, have lunch as quick as I could, then hot foot it down the M6 to the INRIX travel centre. I had some fixed hours there that helped guarantee while I was freelancing I could at least afford to pay the rent and bills for my flat.

There wasn’t a week I went without work though – one of my new year’s resolutions for 2017 is to have a holiday! I have been an INRIX travel broadcaster for almost three years and was pleased to get chance to be an information editor and see the other side of how the bulletins are put together. The travel hub is a hive of activity and it was great to be part of the afternoon team.

Rejoining BBC Lancashire was like I’d never been away! I was originally with the station in 2013 as a Broadcast Assistant and came back as a Broadcast Journalist in 2016. I’ve done almost every role in the newsroom from reading sport bulletins during the Euro 2016, the Olympics and Paralympics. To updating the Lancashire ‘Local Live’ pages of our website – covering the progress of Graham Liver and the team pulling a bed from Pudsey to Bare in aid of BBC Children in Need for BBC News Online. No two days are the same and I love the variety of my work.

My usual role is producing Gary Hickson at teatime, which is a real honour. When I was first with BBC Lancashire I was mostly a reporter for Gary’s programme and it’s great to produce the show I had previously worked so closely on. Gary is a talented broadcaster who brings out the best in me, keeps my feet on the ground and the programme’s rising RAJAR ratings speak for themselves.

It’s a dream come true to read news bulletins on the BBC and I count that as my biggest achievement of the year. I thrive in a live breaking news environment and it’s liberating to have so much creative freedom. I’ve loved bantering on the breakfast team, reading the extended news bulletins at one o’clock and the doing the double headed news with Gary at five o’clock too.

We embrace social media and I was proud to be the first person at the station to do a live news bulletin both on-air concurrently while broadcasting on Facebook Live. At the time of writing, Facebook stats show that broadcast has reached almost 94,000 people. Amazing… and it brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘Face for the radio’! You can see it HERE.

That’s just a snapshot; there’s been so many memorable moments to mention. Thanks to everyone who’s made 2016 such an enjoyable year. As for 2017… stay tuned! 

Graham Liver interviewing me for a BBC Children in Need outside broadcast.

Lost in Music – at Glastonbury Festival

Glastonbury – the festival I’ve never been to but feel like I have due to extensive BBC coverage. This year is no exception; The Rolling Stones headlined. What I was most looking forward to was seeing Chic, featuring my musical hero – Nile Rodgers… but they weren’t on the main stage.

It’s understandable why Glastonbury wanted the Stones on the Pyramid stage; it has been the dream of organiser Michael Eavis to see them perform at his festival and this year it came true. This is something that spans wider than the Somerset fields though, the BBC gave the Stones prominent coverage on BBC2 while Chic’s performance was hidden away on BBC Four – I would have missed it has I not been told it was on. Admittedly I am a massive disco fan, but it’s still a valid point.

I can’t help thinking this is modern day music snobbery that’s a throwback to the attitudes that caused the fateful Disco Demolition Night in July 1979. A baseball match was disrupted in Illinois, USA, and the ‘Disco Sucks’ movement began. This forced the music, flares and mirror balls underground while genres like punk rock started to gain rebellious popularity.

Chic live at The Ritz in Manchester

If you listen to the charts you’ll hear disco’s influence everywhere. Nile Rogers has reinvented himself many times to have hits with David Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran, Sister Sledge, Diana Ross and that’s just naming few. Most recently, of course, is his number one anthem of our summer – ‘Get Lucky’ with Daft Punk. That’s why I think Chic should have had a bigger billing, rather than on the smaller West Holts stage.

Chic lived up to their name, looking classy dressed in white throughout their performance. The Stones, on the other hand, looked frail and past it, with too many breaks for unnecessary costume changes. Judging by this Glastonbury appearance, Maroon 5 surely must reconsider whether it really is all that cool to “move like Jagger” for their hit song. I would have commended Ronnie Wood’s ability to multi-task… had it not been that he was smoking a cigarette while strumming his guitar.

Apart from their more mellow tracks that I play on my radio shows, I’ve never been a fan of the Rolling Stones’ music – it’s just not my cup of tea. Glastonbury was the chance to change all that but it didn’t. The sound quality was awful and I would have been distracted throughout had I not have thought I was watching Spinal Tap instead.

Don’t accuse me of being ageist; I’ve always had an affinity with music that’s not of my generation. Just a few hours ago I got chills hearing Kenny Rogers (no relation to Nile) singing ‘Lady’  and ‘We’ve Got Tonight’ from today’s Glastonbury highlights. Kenny’s older than all of the Stones, yet he still looks and sounds great.

I know the the Stones’ music is legendary and the soundtrack to the lives of many. Credit where credit is due and they probably do put on good shows but I won’t be paying over a £100 to see them. The times I’ve seen Nile Rogers have been priceless.

Nile Book

Yowsah…

yowsah…

yowsah! 

2012 – A look back on my year…

As we begin a new year I’m looking back on what made 2012 so memorable for me. There have been far too many things to list in one post, so I’m going to do a Top of the Pops style look back on my top three milestones of last year. (If you want to read my blog’s annual report then Click Here.)

3) Chilled Pure on Pure 107.8 FM

pure black smallI was listening on the day that Pure 107.8 FM was launched across Stockport in 2005 but would have never imagined (bad choice of word!?) that my voice would be on its airwaves. Now I have my own slot on the radio station that broadcasts to my home town and it’s a dream come true for me. I’ve been involved with the station in many different ways over the past three years – from wearing the panda suit to the end of year parties – it’s been great!

To be given the chance to present the Chilled Pure slot on the station was a great honour for me, not only because I appear on the schedule alongside seasoned broadcasters, but also because I get to play the easy-listening music that I’m passionate about.

I loved broadcasting on Christmas Eve into Christmas day; it was the icing on the cake for me to be on “Santa Watch” across the Stockport sky last year. I look forward to presenting more Chilled Pure weeknights from midnight in 2013!

2) Making Mental Health Positive

MMHP - new yearIt might seem obvious but one of the best things about community radio is that it puts you in touch with some of the wonderful things that happen in your local area. Through my Chill Room show on North Manchester FM a listener, Dawn Perry, got in touch to tell me about her Making Mental Health Positive campaign and during 2012 I’ve enjoyed getting involved with this.

I’m the campaign’s media co-ordinator and part of the admin team that moderate the Facebook page, which acts as an online peer-to-peer support network. To see content featured on my radio shows have an impact in the community as well as a positive affect on people’s lives is wonderful. The campaign’s monthly meet and create events have been a success at The Lowry last year and these are continuing in 2013. With the campaign’s member count growing every day we go into the New Year outreaching to more people than ever.

1) Broadcast Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)

The turning point in my year came in September when I enrolled onto the Broadcast Journalism masters course at UCLan. Journalism had been a career path I’d considered for a long time but taking the plunge and starting the course was the best decision I made in 2012.

galleryMy family’s roots are in Lancashire so I’ve enjoyed exploring Red Rose County and getting to know the people in the area, especially in a year as special as the Preston Guild. Being a broadcast journalist means that I’ve had the opportunity to meet people and try out things that I would’ve never had chance to otherwise. I love the spontaneity of it; no two days are ever the same. I’ve met the man who designed a Preston CityScape out of MDF wood, sparred in a Blackpool Boxing Gym as well as eaten a battered mince pie…. and that’s just some of the places where my reports took me last year!

When I write my review of what a year 2013 has been, I will have graduated. It’ll be interesting to see what I’ll be doing then and look back at how I got there. I’m dedicated to my career and determined to achieve my dream of becoming a broadcast journalist. I know this year’s going to be hard work but it will also be exciting. I hope you’ll stay with me and follow my blog throughout 2013.

To be continued…

road

Apple’s iPhone 5 is bigger but is it better?

This photograph shows what it was like at the Apple Store in Manchester’s Trafford Centre at around 6pm – what I thought would have been a relatively quiet time. The store was so busy that barriers had to be put up so that potential customers could queue to try the device for themselves.

What’s new? [Features reviewed hands on in store and with the Tech Radar and T3 websites used as sources.]

– Size: At just 112 grams, the first thing I noticed about the iPhone 5 is how light it is; so much so that I thought I was holding a mock-up display version, rather than a fully working device. The size of the screen has also been increased to 4 inches, making this handset a longer 123.8mm compared to previous models.

– Camera: 8 megapixels worth of panoramic shots are a welcome addition to the iSight camera but this is only available when the phone is being held in portrait orientation. The front facing camera has been improved making it great for Skype and FaceTime calls. Although, at just 1.2 megapixels it would not be my stills camera of choice.

– Maps: Google Maps has been replaced for Apple’s own offering in partnership with SatNav giants TomTom. This means that Street View has gone in favour of a 3D flyover mode, which is reported to be good for tourist areas but less once you start exploring residential areas. Voice navigation is also possible and now Siri can guide you through the streets.

– Passbook: Apple’s version for a virtual wallet for things like tickets, loyalty cards and boarding cards that usually take up room in your pocket. Payments can’t be made but it will potentially keep everything in one place and close to hand. A nice idea, it’s a shame no UK businesses have signed up.

– 4G: Installed on the phone but not available in the UK yet. Moving along…

– EarPods: A quirkier change rather than an update is the iPhone’s new earphones.  EarPods have a bud shape, designed to fit snug in the ear canal. The sound quality is said to be superior compared to the iconic white earphones supplied with previous iPhone / iPod generations.

iPhone 5 more of an incremental update rather than a new revolutionary device. There’s not much difference from the iPhone 4S model, especially if the iOS 6 software update is installed where the new maps and Passbook capabilities will be available.

Apple have been consistently releasing new products in the autumn for some years now. With this comes eager anticipation but it can also be a let down if products don’t meet customers’ expectations. Last year’s iPad release was labelled as “The New iPad”, even though it is a third generation model. With such features as a retina display and an improved 5-megapixel camera it’s actually not all that different from the iPad 2. This is possibly why the ‘new’ version didn’t earn the label of ‘iPad 3′. Mark Pattison’s predictions before the new iPad’s release became a self-fulfilling prophecy:

iPad 3 is going to look uncannily iPad-like, and the computer giant’s constant game of conspiracy with consumers, has created something of a Gruffalo effect.

History repeats itself with iPhone 5 only having minor tweaks to their 4S model. Nobody believed the boy who cried wolf after a while and if Apple keep delivering false hope instead of fresh ideas the excitement that surrounds their products may wear off sooner rather than later.

This post first appeared over on my science and technology journalism blog.

Stick a label on Charlene Soraia

APR signWherever You Will Go, featured on the Twinings tea advert in the lead up to Christmas last year. I was so enamoured with this song that I had to delve deeper into her work and was thrilled to find an already impressive repertoire to her name.

It’s interesting that Chalene’s biggest chart hit is purely piano led because she’s an incredibly gifted guitarist, self-taught and having played since the age of five. These influences feature prominently in her EPs and debut album Moonchild. At the age of 23 she is already a veteran of the touring circuit, regularly selling out the Night and Day in Manchester and countless other venues across the country. I was excited to finally get the chance to see her perform at the Royal Northern College of Music and her set didn’t disappoint.

To best describe the sound we have to talk about genre. I’ve encountered lots of musicians over the years but have never met one who liked being pigeon-holed by a label. This is probably because it becomes very constrictive; there’s a sneer if the artists venture beyond the genre that has been bestowed upon them by critics. Music shouldn’t be like that; it’s one of the most expressive and creative art forms so experimentation should be encouraged. Any good artist will want to enrich their own style by taking influences from many genres, therefore overlapping them all.

APR charlene

Here are some more labels for you: With similarities to artists like Katie Melua, Rumer and hitting the high notes as good as Minnie Ripperton, it made me wonder why the RNCM concert hall was only half full for the gig? Setting the ambience for the evening was the opening song When We Were Five, psychedelic in style.  Charlene’s prowess with a guitar is almost mesmerising because it is so effortlessly natural to her. She switched to playing the mandolin for the mellow Midsummer Moon in June, baritone guitar for edgier Animal and back again throughout the set. All of which was interspersed with humorous anecdotes, making it a thoroughly enjoyable night.

With many strings to her bow (or should that be guitar?), Charlene Soraia has an impressive back catalogue, dabbling in various styles, that keeps on growing. If you’ve only heard The Calling’s cover song then her musical cannon is definitely worth exploring further. Especially if you like her style of music… whatever it is being labelled as at the moment. Regardless of what genre it is, the music sounds good. That’s the most important thing.

APR band

Pure visit Stockport’s Teenage Market

What first comes to mind when you think about the town of Stockport? Maybe it’s the successful Metro swimming team, containing many hopefuls for the 2012 London Olympics. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia of Tudor house Bramhall Hall or the fabulous art deco restored Plaza theatre.

Don’t worry if none of those things instantly spring to mind; over the years Stockport has built up a reputation of being the forgotten sibling of the bright lights and bigger city of Manchester. However, as a proud Stopfordian, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way! (FACTOID: Natives are known as Stopfordians because ‘Stopford’ is the name the town derived from. You never know, that might be a question in a pub quiz sometime.)

MAR pure logoPure 107.8 FM is the radio station serving the borough, which I have been involved with in lots of different ways over the past two years. I’m part of the team who put together The Basement, a community show which focuses on issues that affect young people across the town. You can imagine when we heard about a new initiative called the Teenage Market this was something that we wanted to feature on the show. By being there on the day, this also offered us a great opportunity to promote the show to our target audience as well as the potential to sign up new victims… sorry – presenters!

As I headed towards the market place on Sunday April 1st, just walking down the streets was like stepping back in time. The town centre is steeped in history – quite literally actually, with Stockport being infamously built on a hill! Mixing old nostalgia with new ideas, this was a perfect backdrop for the inaugural Teenage Market. I collected vox pops for the show and got talking to many of the stallholders; from vintage clothes to film making equipment and lifeguard training, there was something on offer for everyone. It was inspiring to hear from young people who not only have good business ideas but who also have the entrepreneurial skills to get the ball rolling and put their business plans into action. There’s plenty of things in Stockport to be proud of and The Teenage Market was a great showcase for many of them – the rising stars of the future!

(C) Mark Pattison

Hear how we got on at The Teenage Market this Wednesday from 7.30pm on Pure 107.8FM. The Basement is Pure’s youth show, made for young people by young people in Stockport. If you’d like to get involved email basement@pureradio.org.uk 

For more information, visit the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/purebasement

Review: Invisible Circus – No Dress Rehearsal.

FEB circusInside Circus: No Dress Rehearsal, directed by Naomi Smyth.

The film gives an insightful look into the stylish modern day circus underworld. Behind the glitz and glamour lies turmoil as these performers have to move from pillar to post in order to find appropriate venues to stage their shows.

Set in gritty urban Bristol, the film highlights just how many lifeless buildings do lie derelict in our cities. The Invisible Circus team ‘pitch up their tent’ (metaphorically speaking!) in all manner of places; from a disused Audi garage to a cathedral, police station and a cinema from yesteryear. It’s disheartening to see them evicted from what they have turned into vibrant community spaces, but squatting and moving on is a way of life for the Invisible Circus. Through sheer dedication to their craft they take on the council and developers who are playing Legoland with the city. Their plight is difficult at times but they manage to overcome it again and again in order to stage mesmerising shows.

It’s an uplifting message which underlies the raw reality of the film; proving that with passion, talent and hard work you can overcome your obstacles, just like these skilled performers did. The ringmaster couldn’t have said it better:

“From the dizzy heights of the trapeze to sweeping up after the audience leaves… We’re all stars of the show. Life is no dress rehearsal.”

When Invisible Circus comes to town on a screen near you make sure you catch it!

For more information go to: www.invisiblecircusfilm.com

Review: ‘John Peel’s Shed’ by John Osborne

You’d be forgiven for thinking that there had been a revival of classic kitchen-sink drama ‘Look Back in Anger’ when you see John Osborne’s name appearing in ‘What’s On’ guides at theatre near you. However, the talk  I went to last night at a snow covered Lowry in Salford couldn’t have been more different. His namesake has an awesome vinyl record collection and speaks passionately about a subject close to my heart – radio! All presented enthusiastically in an enjoyable one-hour monologue called “John Peel’s Shed.”

The book Radio Head is what the show is based on. This was the first book that I read about radio back when I was starting out. In the summer of 2009, I had already been bitten by the radio bug and had just been promoted to Head of Marketing at my student radio station Fuse FM. With such a rich landscape and history to this medium I was eager to learn all about it. I headed off to Borders book store (remember those?) in Stockport’s appropriately named ‘Peel Centre’ to find out more. Among an array of television literature in the media section there was just one radio book available for me to devour:  Radio Head. I must have been fate. I bought it, trying to convince myself that they were going to help with my dissertation research at university, which it did actually, so that was an added bonus!

The tagline is “Up and down the dial of British Radio”. It’s such a brilliant concept for a book; each day John listened to a radio station for the entire day and notes down his findings. As radio is such a fast moving medium this is now slightly dated but the stories are timeless. All types of stations are given the radio head treatment, from Virgin Radio (now Absolute) and Classic FM to the acclaimed community arts station Resonance FM. The foundations of radio are built on stories and each chapter is a fascinating culmination of the stories that happen on-air at each station the day that John was listening. As well as including special chapters devoted especially to topics like the ‘Test Match Special’ and an interview with Tommy Boyd speaking frankly about ‘Human Zoo’.  As John recalled:  all the best presenters speak to ‘you’ (singular) through the radio but Tommy actually was speaking to me!

John’s monologue delivered in ‘John Peel’s Shed’ contains nuances of his book as well as expanding on certain points too. He speaks about how he always wanted to be part of the community of listeners that tuned in to John Peel’s shows but initially found it all “too loud”. He preserved and it was only when he has an “epiphany” and connected with the lyrics in The Smiths’ song How Soon is Now? that he became hooked. Who knows what would have happened if he hadn’t have won the competition to win a box of records from John Peel’s shed, that form the soundtrack and backdrop to this trip down memory lane. A special mention must go out to Oi-Zone – a punk rock cover band inspired by Boyzone!

If you haven’t heard of Resonance FM then you must tune for the experience. It is an arts based project broadcasting to the South Bank and Bankside of London on 104.4 FM and online at www.resonancefm.com This station shows the depth of what community radio can do. While researching for his book John speaks of how on the day he listened to Resonance they broadcasted a show called ‘Me and My Floor’ which did exactly what it says on the tin, each week featuring a different floor. Yes, the whole show consisted of the sounds made up from a microphone placed on the floor in the presenter’s house! Remember, this is an award winning arts station and they are incredibly good at what they do. I’ve said it before and I don’t mind saying it again, this shows the real depth of what community radio really can explore. I know some community and student stations can be a little rough around the edges but because they are not restricted by having to deliver RAJAR listener figures, TSA reach and the like then this allows for innovation and creativity, if done well. This is why community radio is so important as part of the radio landscape.

FEB lowrySpeaking about BBC Radio 1, John recalled the dismissive comments he made about the station at the time his book was published. (See Here)  I personally think that something so subjective as taste can never be criticised; if it is different to our own then this doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The Radio 1 faithful also had much to say about this. Having  been ‘forced’ to listen to the station everyday while working in a warehouse John now understands their way of thinking… as well as being there during the rise of Justin Beiber.

Delivered with passion and gusto, what makes John’s stories so fascinating is how life, radio and music are all seamlessly entwined. This is not just engrossing for anoraks like me but it can be appreciated by anyone who has ever listened to the radio. Whether you realise it or not, radio is part of all our lives. It’s with you when you wake up in the morning, it’s there as you drive home from work, part of your routine as you tune in to a specific show each night. Do you notice when your favourite presenter is off? When you miss a show must you catch up on the podcast? If any of that sounds familiar then you are a radio head too.

John Osborne’s own blog about the show is available HERE 

If you want to go up and down the dial of British radio yourself then check-out John’s brilliantly witty and informative book Radio Head.

2011 – My year in retrospect.

Now January is in full swing and it’s probably a bit too late to wish you ‘Happy New Year’, but I will do anyway. I only really got blogging regularly during the last quarter of 2011 and, because of that, missed out on writing about a lot of my adventures. In this digital age of mobile technology, I like to keep a record of the good things that happen in my life with photos, which are all dotted around on my various social media profiles. However, they are not available all in one place to tell my story of 2011… Until now!

A picture can say more than a thousand words, as they say, so I’m going to give it a go. I’ve had chance to reflect a lot over my highlights of the year 2011 and I will present them to you in three categories, all of which are very important to my life. Firstly, there’s my hobby that I adore: radio. Then there’s all my work in the television industry, a job that I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to do. As well as music; I would go as far to say that music provides the foundation to what all the great experiences in my life are built on. I love it and have been very lucky to see some awesome live gigs this year.

RADIO

2011 started out brilliant for me and my radio work as I won the award for Pure 107.8 FM ‘Best New Volunteer Award’ and ‘The Basement’ show that I present / produce also won Pure’s ‘Best Total Access Community Show’ award. A great night was had all both during and after the party had finished! Here I am on the front row with the rest of the Basement team celebrating our successes:

The Basement

JAN bbcA great start to the year that just kept getting better and better. 2011 was the year of great change for the BBC sector of the radio industry. With the focus on creating a less ‘London-centric’ feel to their output, MediaCityUK, was finally opened. Before this my local station BBC Radio Manchester was based at New Broadcasting House on Oxford Road in Manchester. Even though the building was tired and old it had lovely nostalgic nuances to it. I have had some great memories in there; it is where I started my broadcasting career when I had work experience years ago while at university. As well as where I received my valuable radio training in 2011. In October  it was all systems go; the BBC had started to move into their new Media City home in Salford Quays. As a Radio Academy member I was lucky enough to one of the first to take a look around the Quay house building.

JAN bobAttending my first ever Radio Festival was a huge highlight for me, an experience I will never forget. I blogged about it all extensively at the time so if you want to read all about it then scroll down to the relevant post HERE. It was a great privilege to be surrounded by so many talented people including some of the more famous faces. Just to whet your appetite for my Radio Festival blogs, here’s an exclusive photo that I didn’t post at the time. It’s the legendary Bob Harris, who I was sat opposite in the Lowry restaurant! (You can see my audio recorder in the foreground too.)

 

TELEVISION

The freelance nature of working in television production is not an easy one. However, it is filled with facets that some people can only dream about. For example, during 2011 I was walking down the Coronation Street set one week and above the Emmerdale Woolpack set the next. Some people enter competitions to get the chance to do just that yet I was getting paid to work on it – amazing! I do appreciate how fortunate I am.

I started out the year working in ‘Calendar-land’ at ITV Yorkshire:

JAN itv

I would continue to take part in various projects at ITV’s base in Leeds during the year, but for the majority of 2011 my work was for productions being made by ITV Granada in Manchester. I worked on many different programmes in lots of different capacities, including:

  • COUNTDOWN
  • Love me, Love my Home – Logging.
  • May the Best House Win – Research, casting and recce shoots.
  • No Taste Like Home – Logging.
  • Super Tiny Animals – Logging.
  • Guess the Star – Running.
  • …As well as post-production and gallery running too. Linford Christie ain’t got nothing on me!

Particular moments of the year that stand out for me include getting lost down a single track lane in Conwy, Wales. We were on route to film a fabulously enchanting 1-up, 1-down house and pottery workshop for series 2 of May the Best House Win. Unfortunately, that particular house didn’t make it into the final episode cut but it felt like we were in a Disney film while we were there!

Another experience that perhaps isn’t as glamorous but is a typical ‘Runner’s story’ for you now. I was the runner with responsibility for Granada’s studio 6 when working on the ‘Guess the Star’ pilot – otherwise known as the Jeremy Kyle studio. I had just got all the crew their lunches… apart from one where the box hadn’t been closed properly. No, this couldn’t have been sandwiches could it? Oh no, this was runny beef curry that had left a trail all across the floor, as well as on myself! Not the most attractive look when you’re stood next to the Coronation cast looking perfect after just coming out of make up! Sod’s law strikes again in that it was me who made a mess of Jeremy Kyle’s studio floor. (Not many people can say that though, I suppose!) Instead of wait for the cleaners I thought I better clear it up… all while Lee Ryan from boyband Blue was talking me. That was definitely my most surreal experience of 2011!