Blog Archives

General election fever 

Have you recovered from all the election coverage yet? For journalists, snap election is something we weren’t planning and had no control over but it was actually a fabulous showcase for our work, across all platforms.

I’ve now voted in three general elections but have also covered them for three separate radio stations. All different formats and I’ve had a range of roles each time.

2010 – I was a first time voter and also in the final year of my undergrad degree at the University of Manchester. I was heavily involved in our student radio station Fuse FM as part of the committee who ran the station. Although I presented programmes and had read a few bulletins, news wasn’t really my area at the time. As ironic as that sounds, considering I now live and breathe news! I was Head of Marketing and had responsibility for the ‘Street Team’.  We were heavily involved in generating content and vox pops from voters. We were also really excited that BBC 5Live had decided to broadcast from the students’ union during the night.

I’d been invited to take part in local community radio station, North Manchester FM‘s, election coverage as a studio guest.  Charlie Walduck was roving reporter at the count at Manchester Town Hall, providing inserts and interviews with candidates. It was an ambitious project for a community station on limited resources. It was the forerunner broadcast for me to apply for my own show and then becoming a presenter on the station.

NMFM

North Manchester FM studio

2015 – Five years later, I was working in radio professionally for commercial radio group UKRD’s stations The Bee and 2BR. Lancashire Election Night Live was another big broadcast; the first time the two stations had simulcast together. I was reporting from the town hall on the night. Blackburn is a safe seat with a long Labour legacy. However, this particular year was interesting because, the town was getting a new MP with the retirement of former cabinet minister, Jack Straw. I provided live inserts to the all-night broadcast including scene sets, interviews with candidates and conducted the live victory interview with Kate Hollern MP.

blackburn

Blackburn Town Hall count

2017 – We were doing it all over again, sooner than anyone thought! This time I’d moved stations a couple of junctions westbound on the M65 for BBC Radio Lancashire. Yet another ambitious project! In the lead up to the election, I was one of the breakfast producers who sourced content for the OB’s on Graham Liver’s ‘Big Election Breakfast Tour’ coming live from constituencies all around the county. Along with the Lancashire pop up living room “double-gussetted long-handled Graham Liver at breakfast” bags were handed out to listeners in every corner of the county.

On results day itself, I felt like I’d drawn a particularly long straw, reading our afternoon news bulletins. I love being part of big news days when listeners have a real thirst for developing information. It’s always a privilege to be able to deliver it to them, I’d broadcast previously the day after the EU referendum and when Theresa May was originally announced as Prime Minister, so was well up for whatever the day would bring…

I compiled and read our two extended 10-minute-long bulletins at 13:00 and 17:00. Keeping us journos on our toes, Theresa May began speaking on the steps of Downing Street at around 12:55! We got a clip of her saying she would form a government in the top story. That’s what I love about bulletin reading; the adrenaline rush you get when news is just coming in or changing. On results day, the breaking news buzz didn’t waiver all day long, with new lines coming in all the time.

Depending on your political views, general elections can mean a lot of different things for different people. There’s just some of my memorable moments. We might be making some more soon. Who knows? As we’ve seen over the last seven years – anything can happen in politics!

lancs

BBC Lancashire breakfast OB team

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.

Late Night Radio

Everyone can remember the moment they discover their passion and for me my love of radio was sparked after sunset. I can understand what it must’ve been like to curl up under the covers listening to Radio Luxembourg or Radio Caroline in the years gone by because that’s what it was like listening to late night radio for me. Although, I had my trusty CD walkman with radio tuner and five FM presets instead of  a wireless transistor.

My number one preset was Key 103 and every night I’d be tuning into James Stannage. It felt a bit rebellious doing this, not only because of the show’s near-the-knuckle content, but because it was way past bed time. Listening through earphones, my parents wouldn’t have a clue of my nocturnal radio habit – until I’d gaffaw with laughter at one of the comments. Busted!!

The show ran on until 2am most nights but it was compulsive listening because you never knew what would happen next with a call or especially Stannage’s reaction to what was said. Despite the late nights, I would rush to school because my classmates would love discussing what happened on  show the night before. We’d recall moments when James said he would “garrotte [his callers] with cheese”… and daring each other to ring in next time!

Shock jocks like Stannage aren’t around on FM anymore; even devil’s advocate risky comments pose too much of a risk in today’s courtroom culture to sue radio stations if any offense is caused. It’s a shame because those style of shows where I literally couldn’t turn the tuner off are hard to find now. My passion for radio had been ignited and I continued to listen to late night radio under the covers. Radio is always a very personal one-to-one medium whatever time of day you listen but this gets accentuated at night, especially with a talented presenter to keep you company.

After James Stannage left the airwaves, I veered away from listening to ‘Shock Jocks’.  James H Reeve took the vacant slot on Key 103 – he is very different to Stannage but just as compelling to listen to one of the most intelligent talk presenters I’ve ever heard. Then there was Nicksy who has an amazing talent for observations, which is a foundation of any good radio presenter, but Nicksy excels at it.

The late night slot on Key 103 was changing a lot and, to accompany my own broadening music taste, the next nightshift presenter I remember listening to is my favourite of all – Derek Webster through the night on Smooth Radio. Derek’s too warm and friendly to be a shock jock but just as humourous. I’d never heard a show like it before; it was like joining a club of friends who were other listeners across the county. I didn’t want to go to sleep until I’d heard how ‘Janey from the Dairy’ was doing or where ‘Nightrunner John’ was visiting that night.

I then became a radio rival to all these shows when I started presenting Chilled Pure on Pure 107.8 FM – there’s just something so magical about being on-air after midnight – but, as my career moved on, I had to leave the show with a heavy heart. Now I’m a reporter at BBC Radio Lancashire and sometimes my shift includes working on Alison’s Butterworth’s late show that’s on-air in Lancashire and Manchester. It’s a thrill to call screen and speak to night time listeners, just like myself.

I recently put together a late show reminiscing about memories of the Belle Vue showground, which utilised our Manchester studio to get the guests on air. It all ran so smoothly, listeners wouldn’t have known it was any different to usual but producing that show and seeing my ideas make it to air is one of the proudest achievements in my career to date!

It’s a dream come true for me to work on shows like this that sparked my love of radio so much so that I’m lucky enough for it to be my career. It’s a dream that happens at night but one that I’m staying wide awake to experience.  And you should too; there’s a wealth of late night radio out there. So next time you turn out the light, make sure you turn the radio on…

I’m producing tonight where you can hear the fabulous Joe Wilson tonight sitting in for Alison Butterworth on BBC Radio Manchester and BBC Radio Lancashire from 10pm…

10006641_10152267347138459_1564957451_n

Journalism – a class of its own?

The essence of a journalist in a nutshell is to report news. Think of where news is generated; the possibilities are endless. News – whether it’s good or bad – can spring up from any situation. Granted, the chance of a newsworthy story increases for people in the public eye but a bulletin doesn’t have to resemble who’s on Jonathan Ross’ chat show sofa because it’s important that ordinary voices are heard and their stories are told too. In fact, those are often the most interesting.

In order to tell these stories appropriately, we need a diverse range of journalists who hail from a variety of backgrounds. This is so important for many reasons, including empathy with a interviewee, a range of contacts and  knowing where to look – having a good nose for a story.

The problem with the industry at the moment is that the amount of diversity on offer is grately restricted and that’s  because the most tried and tested way in is through the education system. It doesn’t matter about student loans because, at the end of the day, an undergraduate degree still costs £9,000 a year and for post-grads, the cost varies uni to uni, but it’ll be around the £5,000 mark for a year, without the same amount of student loan support available.

It’s a massive commitment to make when you decide you want to be a journo but it sorts out the wheat from the chaff because it’s a lot of time and money to spend pursuing a dream career. Which is why I would always recommend a budding journalist do what I did and get as much hands-on experience as possible before deciding which direction to take.

I stand by the comment I made on Twitter earlier this month…

Citizen journalism has it’s place but, if you want to make this a profession rather than a hobby,  you need to be an accredited journalist before you can even think about applying for certain jobs. That’s for a reason because media law knowledge is vital in keeping any work accurate and trustworthy – two key qualities of a good journalist. You wouldn’t call someone a Doctor because they can open a bottle of Calpol and it shouldn’t be a parallel in journalism.

However, I appreciate the price tag of the education system can be very elitist. This is on top of needing to do a lot of unpaid work-experience to learn your craft, so you need to be able to support yourself somehow. As well as knowing how to drive and having your own car available, which is all very desirable, on top of enthusiasm and dedication to the craft.

I’m not saying it’s right or  wrong – it’s just how the industry is. In order to become a journalist, education and subject knowledge is important because you need to be able to write well. Even if you’re a broadcast journalist, phonetic spellings akin to that of text talk belong in pronunciation brackets, not your script. You will also have to write web stories online increasingly as the digital world around us continues to evolve too. That’s all on top of probably the most essential skill – you need to be a good communicator.

There is a light at the end of this academic tunnel though and on-the-job training seems to be on the rise. As I’ve written in previous blog posts, I wouldn’t change my journalism training at UCLan for the world; I learnt so much there, made great friends and found myself as a person. Although, I’m like the idea of work while you learn schemes increasing because they aim to attract a diverse range of people to the journalism profession vocationally and that therefore allows more stories to be heard.

The BBC run the Journalism Trainee Scheme and ITV have announced their Break into News initiative. Student, community and hospital radio also rightly deserve their place as excellent training grounds and I’m one of many journalists who cut their teeth that way. The Journalism  Diversity Fund is also available to help with fees for those who want to access the academic route.

Let’s focus on attracting diverse journalists into the profession with a wide range of life experiences that reflect the stories we want to tell because the audience want to hear them – in an engaging and trustworthy way. That’s how we become top of the class.

Radio’s big sex scandal!

If you’re reading this for a kiss and tell exposé then – I’m sorry – you won’t find any of that here! I wanted to give my reaction to the gender split that we have in radio.

Do a quick search on Google and you will see this definition of feminism, in a nutshell:

fem·i·nism  

The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

When I was reporting for BBC Radio Manchester about a topic on feminism, not everyone I asked on the street thought of a feminist in those terms. This snippet from my package also includes Richard Pankhirst speaking about his Suffragette mother, Sylvia:

The feminist movement has evolved a long way over the years, or has it? Not in the radio industry…

This surprises some people but wanting gender equality does not necessarily mean you have to be a woman to be a feminist  – men can be feminists too. In fact, the Director General of the BBC, Tony Hall, seems to be one. Speaking in August, Mr Hall said: “By the end of 2014 I would like to see half of our Local Radio stations with a woman presenting on the Breakfast shows.”

Think of the voices you hear on radio in general, how many of the presenters’ voices are female? Sound Woman is an organisation that promotes equality for women working in audio: their research found 1 in 5  voices on radio is female out of presenters that fly (or should that be drive the desk?) solo. Just 13% are heard on breakfast shows – this certainly does not suggest an equal split.

FeminismAcross BBC local radio this split is more even; 48 per cent of the people who are employed are female. However, this takes into account other roles like journalists. In my experience, this area seems to attract more women than men nowadays. On my broadcast journalism masters there was a ratio of 5 ladies to one man in our class. In terms of presenting, the BBC like to reflect their audience, so it would make sense to have more women on-air, not just on breakfast shows, but more shows all together.

Or is it really that important? I wouldn’t want to get a job purely because I am a woman or any other label, for that matter. In any industry, positive discrimination may tick boxes but you won’t find the best people for the job by narrowing searches down with criteria. However, many women are capable of presenting radio shows on their own but, as the research suggests, not many are doing.

What worries me about Tony Hall’s plans is that he doesn’t specify what role he would like woman to be heard in this overhaul of BBC local radio shows. If women will appear as a sidekick to a (perhaps already existing) male presenter on the station then there’s no point in adding her as a token gesture. All that will do is reinforce the subordinate nature of female stereotypes that have been around since the ideology of the nuclear family.

This year’s Radio Festival, has a female feel to the line-up, especially  with stalwart hosts Mark Radcliffe and Stuart McConnie dropped in favour of Fi Glover and Jane Garvey. Charlotte Church will also be the first woman to deliver the festival’s annual John Peel Lecture. Women’s role in radio is the hot topic on people’s lips at the moment – but it’s the voices the listeners hear over the airwaves that really matter.

BBC North West Tonight

bbc buildingWhen I tell people I did my TV work placement with the BBC North West Tonight regional news programme I usually hear something like “but we didn’t see you on TV!” That’s beside the point really; screen time on any TV programme only accounts for what viewers see. There’s a whole team working hard behind the scenes to get content to air as smoothly as possible – I loved being part of it!

There would be so much to mention about time working on the programme, and alongside so many talented journalists, but then it would become more of a epilogue than a blog post – so this will have to be a whistle-stop tour. (In no particular order, terms and conditions apply… Oops! Didn’t need the bit about T&Cs!) Here we go…

HEART SCREENINGS IN MEMORY OF JOHN MARSHALL

Having footage I shot myself air on the North West bulletins during BBC Breakfast was an honour. My footage was shown after interviewing the family of John Marshall, who died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition 18 years ago. His family were holding a screening session at Edge Hill University as part of their campaign for heart screenings to become more widespread and to raise awareness of heart conditions affecting young people.

NEW DRUG APPROVED TO FIGHT BREAST CANCER

A drug called Perjeta had been granted licence for use in Europe; it prolongs the lives of some breast cancer patients by over 6 months. Although not yet available through NHS treatment, the drug has been trialled by The Christie in Manchester – I was going to interview a doctor about their findings. Case studies are what illustrate news best and when I got there I was able to talk to someone who had experience of using the drug. As this was all very spontaneous I was about to do my most emotional interview to date with no preparation! This is where my initiative journalistic skills came in and I was able to come back to the newsroom with poignant footage used in a big screen presentation by NWT health correspondent, Nina Warhurst.

newswire

APPEAL TO FIND ANDREW JONES’ KILLER

Andrew Jones was killed in 2003 after injuries sustained after falling to the ground from a single punch. 10 years on and his parents, Christine and Andy, were appealing for anyone with information to speak out. I interviewed them at Merseyside Police Headquarters ahead of their weekend vigil. I found out the embargo had been lifted on this story while there and after relaying the messages to producers my work featured in Dave Guest’s top story for the lunchtime and evening programmes.

Archbishop KellyTHE ARCHBISHOP OF LIVERPOOL’S RESIGNATION

One of the last official duties that Pope Benedict XVI had to approve was the resignation of Liverpool’s Archbishop Kelly. I spoke to him at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool and helped film one of his last masses in tribute to the outgoing Pope that featured on the late bulletin.

COMIC RELIEF

It was a privilege to be on placement with the BBC during Comic Relief . I particularly enjoyed helping Carol Lowe film her report on how some of the money was being used in the North West at Stick ‘n’ Step. A charity helping children with Cerebral Palsy, in Wallasey. I also got to shoot footage of what was happening to fundraise around MediaCity. Particular highlights of mine were the Bake-Off, Harlem Shake out on the piazza and the Zumba-thon in Liverpool, all of which I filmed and were shown in the North-West opt-out during the evening’s main Comic Relief programme.

LAUNCH OF MANCHESTER INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL 2013

enoEno Eruotor and I went to the press launch of this year’s MIF, we heard about what was to come in the festival, which featured an appearance from Shakespearean actor Kenneth Brannagh! He wasn’t giving any interviews (and at that point he didn’t even know I was in control of the lighting!!) but we did speak to one of my favourite actresses, Maxine Peake. She gave me a bit of competition for being NWT’s biggest fan too!

Sadly, I can’t cover everything that happened on my placement or mention everyone, but those are the main things I talk about when people ask me about my placement. Thanks to all the NWT team for making me feel so welcome, trusting me with their content and giving me a TV placement I will never forget!

My next blog post will be about my radio placement with Real Radio… Stay tuned!

Quays Cam

Roving reports from MediaCity…

ITVEver since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to work in the media industry and have been fascinated by the broadcast side of things. Starting out on student media laid the foundations for my radio work and when I graduated I was fortunate to earn a place on ITV’s Runner Pool. I was based in Leeds and at Granada working as a production assistant for factual / entertainment programmes and got a real buzz from working in such a fast paced environment. Since enrolling on UCLan’s Broadcast Journalism masters I’ve been able to create content for all broadcast mediums, as well as learm a new journalistic skill. Now I’m looking forward to beginning the courses’  BJTC work placement period with the BBC at MediaCity.

Any big change prompts me to get wistful about where it all began. I can remember vividly where my inspiration to work in media comes from – it goes back to when I was in primary school. My parents’ friends, Mavis and Laurie, owned a company that got commissioned to make TV sets for lots of different programmes. At the time they’d just finished the set of a new Sooty show for Blackpool Pleasure Beach. You can imagine my excitement when they said I could see Sooty’s set… Come to think of it, I’d probably still get excited about that now!

It was an amazing experience to see the sets I’d seen on TV  in front of my eyes. As we walked along the shopfloor I did get to see Sooty’s new lodgings, alongside a fascia from Coronation Street’s Rovers Return and Gordon Burn’s new North West Tonight desk. When the show got re-branded there was the desk that Laurie had made on the screen!  I’ve been a fan of NWT ever since. I love regional news and have watched the programme for years, so I think it must go back to that moment.

It’s been great to have been taught by a producer and cameraman from NWT while at UCLan. The packages that I’ve filmed for our news days are all available for you to watch on my YouTube channel. To quote Blue Peter – here’s one I made earlier! It’s my latest TV report about the Book Cycle project in Wigan…

More of my reports are available my YouTube channel: youtube.com/katybooth

camerasI’ve enjoyed both our UCLan radio and TV news days, where we got the chance to broadcast news bulletins for both mediums as well as creating web content. I already had a lot of radio experience prior to joining the course but it’s definitely sharpened my skills and the voice training has been beneficial – especially in getting, what the vocal coach described as, my “lazy tongue” into shape!

I learnt new skills as well as lots about myself with our TV news days too I can now self shoot my own reports. This was an ambition of mine and I’m glad that I can say I’ve achieved this and can put it on my CV. Having made my own videos for years with a camcorder it’s been good to learn how to professionally edit reports too. These are all skills that I will be using on my work placement with BBC North West Tonight. The news desk that I saw and even the studios where the programme broadcasts from have changed over the years but I’ve watched the programme throughout, so it will be a privilege to spend my placement with the NWT team.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to sign off with my own standard out cue, but until then here’s a photo from our course trip to MediaCity…

The post-grads with Roger and Annabel on the North West Tonight sofas last week.

The post-grads on our trip to BBC North West Tonight with Roger Johnson and Annabel Tiffin

BBC – British Broadcasting Crisis?

BBC Director General and ‘editor-in-chief’, George Entwistle resigned from his post following a string of mistakes during his time in positions of authority. Of all the news stories you would expect the BBC to break it would be one concerning a change at the top of its own corporation – but ITN got the scoop. The announcement came just seconds too late to make the BBC 9 0’clock news bulletin, which epitomises the corporation’s bad luck over recent weeks.

The decision came after the BBC themselves made headlines by not airing a Newsnight interview that revealed allegations into Jimmy Savile’s paedophile past as well as airing another Newsnight programme which wrongly accused former MP, Lord McAlpine, of child abuse in a North Wales care home. The freelancing fiasco about how presenters were paid indirectly through separate companies to avoid tax wouldn’t have helped matters either.

Entwistle had been in charge for just 54 days, making him the shortest director general in BBC history. His time at the top was short and sour, rather than sweet, after being made a scapegoat to take the blame for the mistakes of others. Of course, part of his responsibility was to oversee the corporation, but a consequence of a big corporate hierarchy like the BBC’s is that the people who made the crucial mistakes will escape punishment and carry on, if not at the BBC then at another media organisation. These flaws don’t even concern good journalism – it’s common sense. Programmes about child abuse should have alarm bells ringing to be referred for checks.

However, Entwistle’s name may not have been on the Director General’s door when the root of these problems occurred but he was high enough in other positions at the corporation to have done something about it. We don’t get second chances often in life but Entwistle did when he was promoted to the top spot. Part of his role was to deal with controversy when it occurs and it’s a paradox that John Humphreys’ interview with Entwistle on Radio 4’s Today programme on the morning of his resignation probably played a part in his decision to leave. Instead of sounding like a man of authority Entwistle came across bumbling about facts, not displaying qualities of a strong leader.

The BBC’s ability to examine and interrogate themselves must be commended; this is one of the reasons why the ‘crisis’ will be resolved when the news becomes chip paper. Critical times lie ahead for one of the world’s much-loved and trusted broadcasters. Former head of BBC Worldwide, Tim Davie, takes over as ‘acting Director General’ for now. He lacks a journalistic background but also lacks involvement in any of the scandals that contributed to his predecessor’s downfall. A series of unfortunate events led to Entwistle’s resignation but this was probably the right decision in order to sustain the public’s trust in the organisation that we fund through our licence fee.

VIEW A TIMELINE OF THE RISE AND FALL OF GEORGE ENTWISTLE AS BBC DIRECTOR GENERAL HERE

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!