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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.

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