Best Student Radio Station
Best Marketing & Station Sound
Best Male Presenter
Getting it ﬁrst and getting it right gets the audience every time.
I love the news. I love knowing what’s going on, ﬁnding out why then reporting it on the radio.
I’ve done that for three years with FreshAir News. I’ve interviewed the First Minister, Alex Salmond after we doorstepped him during an OB, grilled student elected ofﬁcials and presented four programmes which have trended top in the UK on Twitter. What a buzz.
I’m able to present serious and lighter stories [3:28], to interview guests analytically, to run outside broadcasts smoothly and chair a debate OB with a live audience of more than 150 people [2:26].
When the team doorstepped Alex Salmond [0:01] – after he had rejected our bids to appear on our Scottish Parliament OB – we had to wrap the previous item early. Mr Salmond was looking for time to apologise. I wanted to get to the facts and questions that mattered so moved on and got stuck in.
I am hugely proud of my interview with Olga [1:21], a Ukrainian student. I found her through a friend and set up an interview to get a student perspective on events in Kiev. It emerged that not only was Olga living in Ukraine, she was protesting too. The headline to come from the interview was that Olga felt more scared of her government and the police force, than the protestors and their actions What passion she had for change.
Interviewing a student from Edinburgh Uni who had been caught up in an alleged ‘kettle’ while protesting in Birmingham sparked some interesting debate [1:41]. It’s essential for the interviewer to present the opposing view, to hold what the interviewee is saying to account.
BBC Radio 5live legend, Peter Allen, once told me that he loves when listeners engage with his programme by texting and Tweeting. Audience reacting to the news is important. So I now build this into the programme – by designing our story coverage to encourage interaction, by continually pointing people to our Twitter and Facebook pages for more info or to get involved in discussions, and by reading out questions and opinions so listeners feel part of the news that’s being covered.
Our Edinburgh Question Time OB in the run up to student elections attracted a record live audience of more than 150. I grilled the candidates – to analyse their promises and catch them off guard [3:00]. The programme producer used talkback to feed me questions sent in from Facebook and Twitter as they came in, which were combined with questions raised after thorough research on each of the candidate’s manifestos and questions from the live audience.
I accidentally take my love for radio into my summer work in a supermarket, where the manager has often laughed at me using my “radio voice” for tannoy announcements.
There’s nothing like reporting the news.
A lot can happen in a year; Russia annexed Ukraine, Edward Snowden leaked secrets about government security, Miley Cyrus twerked. Above all of this however, I’ve finally learnt how to use more than three buttons on a radio desk.
For the last 12 months I have worked tirelessly to avoid my English degree which has meant as a joyous unintended consequence I have developed both as a presenter and a producer of radio. I am actively involved in a number of shows including a weekly drive time show, a music review show and a number of outside broadcasts including, festivals, football and freshers as well as sitting on the committee in the role as Head of Specialist.
I have concentrated a great deal on production this academic year, which has allowed me as a presenter to steer clear of the tempting reliance upon reading wacky news articles from the middle pages of the tabloids and the weird section of the Metro newspaper. I am now more adept with regards to creating features involving sound effects, beds and general audio accompaniment. I’ve built up a great relationship with my co-host which I feel enables us both to improve week on week. My presenting has undoubtedly benefited from the practice and opportunity to work with a number of co-hosts and specific types of show.
With regards to inspiration I really enjoy anecdotal styles of radio and I would argue that Stephen Merchant’s ability to tell a story is unparalleled and definitely a skill I admire and seek to emulate on air, this is also applicable to shows such as The Russell Brand Show and Adam and Joe, all of whom are formerly of 6music and Xfm.
In terms of plans for the future I am always looking to improve and will continue to be involved in a broad range of radio shows to hone my skills in all areas of broadcasting and will continue to experiment with production for all of the above!
This past year has been a learning curve for me as a presenter, hosting both British new music show The SRA Selector and on Saturday mornings the more entertainment-led Louis & Kish.
I was delighted in the first instance to have won a competition run by Folded Wing to attain The Selector for my student station, and I wanted to make it a credible, interesting new music programme. I anticipated that I’d thrive on this show, having previously done stints on Q Radio and a new music podcast, although I found myself uncomfortable during semester one as I tried to find my feet. I ploughed hours in to preparing notes on the music; organising interviews and features; and creating cool production, yet I couldn’t relax, enjoy and make the show my own.
I spent the majority of my University life at Key103 – firstly interning on the Hometime programme before gaining more and more responsibility in the content team – and what I was continually learning and opening my eyes to whilst working there was a truly creative, large-scale approach to programme making. It was exciting to be thinking outside the box and pushing ideas further than I’d ever have done when I started out at my local radio station. Overall it fed in to my Louis & Kish show – and eventually The SRA Selector – with everything from planning; constructing links succinctly but creatively; slick use of production; producing OBs; engaging social media use; and the overall confidence that resonated from the presenters I worked with.
On Louis & Kish I felt most at easy sharing my anecdotes of some bizarre yet humorous experiences from daily life, but in addition I attempted various stunts such as an on-air sabotage of the tech shed to set the show as the website’s Pick Of The Week; descending my interview with voiceover man into a bed-time story recording of 50 Shades; and numerous OBs out on campus and beyond. I wanted the show to feel close to the students and exude a totally positive, entertaining feel.
I decided to apply some of this thinking to the SRA Selector, and in semester two I completely reworked my approach: incorporating fun ideas like my French music rascal Pascal serving up an aperitif of forthcoming music; the awesome ratings robot as a way of endearing new tracks; and conducting interviews more jovially. I became obsessed with identifying a multi-platform treatment for everything I did on-air, and therefore session tracks; bands playing Who’s In The Bag; measuring Kish with bunting for a graduation gown; and nearly all of the special OB at the historic Night & Day Cafe in Manchester ended up online in neatly produced videos and podcasts.
Overall, Louis & Kish was an entertaining, upbeat wake-up call for the foggiest of heads on a Saturday morning, and I’m proud of how friendly and relatable the content was. Similarly the SRA Selector achieved my goals: the music sounded accessible and the show sounded fun.
Best Female Presenter
This past year at URN has been non-stop and my housemates would probably say I’ve spent more time in the studios than I did at home, but it was all worth it.
On top of my weekly show this year, I’ve presented and produced a variety of station broadcasts; from an explosion in the Science quad, setting up for the varsity at the Capital FM arena to organising the eventful week that was Elections.
I’ve really valued the responsibility that comes with being Deputy Station Editor and loved being involved with every aspect of the station, but my show gave me the opportunity to get back to doing what I initially fell in love with; playing the music that students (me included) want to hear with a few laughs a long the way.
It’s safe to say I’m not afraid to make a fool of myself. Without fail, I’ll have an embarrassing story to share with listeners each week (falling of chairs in silent study, getting caught by lecturers drying my behind under a hand dryer – long story!). This then created “Challenge Accepted” [02:35] where friends and listeners would get me doing the most outrageous of dares, ranging from me singing at passing students, accusing people of stealing my copy of 50 Shades of Grey in the library and even asking out as many guys as possible. I got such a buzz from the increased interactivity with listeners around these features, which pushed me to go back, listen to the previous challenge and really work on how to improve for the next one.
Having the Morning Show in second semester allowed me to think of new ways to get students listening as well as help them break their Monday blues. I found sharing memes from my Facebook Show page grabbed more students’ attention whilst giving them a bit of a laugh; this then resulted in more listener activity, who knew students could be awake before 12 on a Monday?!
Even outside of the studios, I was always thinking about my show, I even created personal idents consistent with the station’s branding [3:52]. When it came to planning shows and giveaways, I aimed to make them as student relevant as possible, whether that was the latest gigs and bands in Nottingham [2:10], helping listeners procrastinate or just being their musical hangover cure. When it came to giveaways I always tried to make them different whilst linking back to the show. First semester’s request “Remote Control” show contained “The Cheeseboard”, where listening could get their cheesiest requests in but also be automatically entered for coffees and Boots Meal Deals could be won on “Meal or No Meal” in second semester.
I’ve learnt so much over the past three years at URN and have been given some amazing opportunities. This year has been by far the busiest but certainly most fun, I hope my entry captures that.
(Leeds Student Radio)
(Leeds Student Radio)
Community radio was my first, terrifying leap into the world of presenting on the airways and I’ve never looked back. I started on LSR as what I consider to be a vital member of the team – the celebrity gossip correspondent. Although my celebrity-hating Hometime presenters weren’t keen at first, by the end of the year they were desperate for me to bring them the latest on Peter Andre (sort of). The following year I was honoured to present the flagship Hometime show and this year my baby has been Friday Breakfast.
For me it’s always felt important to be completely real with the listener – the more you give, the more you get back. Revealing you fancy Aladdin or that your old email was ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ encourages the listener to give more embarrassing answers back! The ‘Oh Dear Daily Mail’ feature was born from numerous conversations with friends about some of the ridiculous stories and headlines they publish. It was so much fun to prepare and always produced hilarious talking points that continued long into the show. Features that my listeners can relate to like ‘Very British Problem’ and ‘Ginger Problem’ of the week are brilliant for audience participation, especially when they are my own thoughts and ideas (2:41). My life is just a general embarrassment too, so gurgling ‘Get Lucky’ with milk in my mouth for the Breakfast Food Fun feature was something I didn’t blink twice at. Videos of the feature were put all over Facebook and Twitter and it was a brilliant way of getting more exposure outside of the show and emulated the professional stations by producing content for different platforms.
Presenting a Breakfast show on student radio can often be tricky for audience participation as most students don’t stir before 11! My co-presenter Imogen and I always tried to work round this by prepping and starting discussions of our talking points a few days before going on air. It worked brilliantly for Weird Crushes (1:41) because we had so many answers we struggled to fit them into the show! I always tried to make my bubbly personality come across as much as possible; even though I was tired from getting up early I wanted the listener to wake up with a smile on their face and tell me how much they loved the show.
One of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had through LSR was presenting the LeadLUU exec elections (2:11). It’s a huge OB for LSR and hundreds of people came to watch them live in the union. When I heard we had broken the record for the number of listeners at home I have never been more proud of myself and LSR for such a brilliant broadcast.
I love listening to the radio for hours on end and I wanted to create a show with so much variety and substance that my listeners were not only entertained, but couldn’t wait a week to hear more.
Hi! I’m Emily and over the past three years I’ve been an active producer and presenter at Nerve* Radio (Bournemouth’s Student Station) which has been a huge laugh and personally a great learning curve because I love presenting. I joined Bournemouth in 2011 and studied Radio-Broadcasting so you could say I’ve always been in the right mindset to produce and present great shows. To me good student radio is about producing cool, topical content that strikes with your audience. I spent a lot of time doing preproduction in the university studios so my shows had a mixture of live and pre recorded material which is essential for keeping programmes nice and slick. The majority of my energy over the three years had been spent co presenting ‘Afternoons with Sean and Emily’ but in my final year I also had my own show every other Sunday evening. In my demo I highlight on both shows to demonstrate I have great chemistry with my radio partners but also I can cope Ridin’ Solo (like Jason Derulo). What I find attractive about presenters: if they are natural, seem intelligent and have a good sense of humour…After my three years of practice hopefully I come across as having all three traits! ‘Afternoons with Sean and Emily’ has a solid amount of listeners and I put it down to the effort I put into research, recording and being up for laughs. Having a sense of humour is one of my strongest traits and being natural on air is something I’ve always been commended on. This year at the Nerve* Awards I won Best Daytime Presenter and also Best Daytime Show which was a huge accolade! It certainly beat the Blue Peter Badge I got when I was a kid! Having a good relationship with my audience is crucial. I rely on social media interaction to keep the show upbeat and flowing. Twitter and Facebook allow me to include my listeners into as many entertaining stories as possible and also helps me shape new paths and jokes throughout the programme.
A typical show would have sharp links, relevant features to do with the programme topic of the day, interesting entertainment news and also scheduled chart music. On my sunday show I was allowed to select my own music so I would introduce all the classic anthems ever produced <3 Craig David <3 say no more. Overall I ensure to provide a natural, upbeat and fun style of programming and presenting that resounds with my audience (whether they’re Freshers or Masters!) Enjoy my demo!
Best Entertainment Programme
Sean Montague & Emily Sandford
Sean Montague & Emily Sandford
“It’s Monday, Its 3 o’clock so it’s time to introduce… the man who’s so ginger he can only reach orgasm………alone, and the woman that’s so posh she makes Made In Chelsea look like a charity appeal video”
Our stations tag is ‘We Know Students’, so we know that students think Mondays are rubbish. By the afternoon they’ll be sick of lectures, avoiding work at all costs and scrambling together those few remaining pennies to spend at some ‘Monday Madness’ club night – and we like to think we fit in somewhere between all of that…
Our aim is to create a show that’s upbeat, fun and captures the imagination of Bournemouth Students. We pride ourselves immensely on breaking down boring radio barriers by creating entertaining content that is bold, daring and amusing to our audience. Whilst remaining listener facing we don’t want to do a student radio show where all the callers are our mates so we aim to focus strongly on our personal characteristics which gives regulars listeners that felling of being ‘in’ on long running jokes.
Since starting University Emily had always been labeled ‘Posh’ because her home town is in Surrey (but really it’s because she eats olive breadsticks after a night out instead of kebabs). Sean lives by the reassurance that his hair colour is ‘auburn’ but we all know that’s just a fancy label for ‘really ginger’. There’s also our part-time producer Jonny – but he’s a bit like John Lennon, you never know if he’s really here or not!
Our content is sourced in a variety of ways, we always aim to start with the ‘trending topic’ of the day and then tailor it to our show. With the Derulo call, for example, we’d noticed a huge buzz about his performance in Bournemouth that day and wanted to reflect this in our show. Rather than just sending our roving report, Jonny, down to speak to some fans we flipped the idea on its head and down played the excitement throughout the programme.
We strive to create memorable moments as a programme that create a ‘wow’ moment for listeners. Our best example being ‘Hopkins or Hitler’, by the title of this satirical game you can tell we like to push the boundaries. After the uproar over how shocking the statements Katie Hopkins was making on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ were we wanted to cover it in some way. We wanted to compare TVs ‘Miss Nasty’ to someone equally as bad… Hitler. The name Hitler created the wow moment with the memorable part being the fact that it’s difficult to differentiate the two based on quotes!
Parts of our show are pre-recorded, such as the opening news clip. This is to retain high production values on sketches such as that, but as you can hear with the call to a member of B*Witched, even when pre-recorded it doesn’t always go to plan… During our programmes we post scheduled tweets on our stations Twitter that aids on-air output, during Sean’s campaign to create a ‘Vice President for Beach Fun’ we posted accompanying Vines which saw him on campus struggling to attract voters.
Our show is about tapping into University life, and then taking a gentle poke at the institution. For every idea that we do we have to believe it will grasp students attention, create that memorable moment and get people talking. The three of us involved all did a Radio degree along with our work in student radio, and we hope this entry shows the genuine passion and great laughs that engulfed our University lives!
Afternoons with Jay Lawrence
Afternoons with Jay Lawrence
My ingeniously titled ‘Afternoons with Jay Lawrence’ show (it does what it says on the tin) occurred every week through the whole year. Throughout the hour and a half a week, I tried to do the most I can to entertain – whether that meant making fun of myself, the various contributors on the show, or Lionel Richie [5.55].
One of, if not the most important thing to think about when presenting an entertainment show is: who is your audience? As a university radio station, the answer is obvious: students. Therefore, students will find things entertaining if they are relevant to them. Throughout the year, I constantly tried to either joke or provide features about things relevant, and also sometimes, maybe, prank people that might be relevant. For example, the University of East Anglia’s annual Varsity tournament ‘Derby Day’ against the Uni of Essex was coming up – so I felt like I needed to get an early 1-0 against the opposition. I called up Essex SU and asked them whether or not they could provide facilities for a BNOC such as myself [0.46]. The percentage of people in the UK who understand that phrase may be around 10% – but I knew that on campus it’d be nearer 100%. Annoyingly, the lady on the line was much more quick-witted than I had anticipated and it ended up being 1-0 to Essex if anything…
I presented the show alone for the majority of the year, with producer Dom Smith joining me during first semester. I set up most of the content week by week, and Dom chimed in occasionally. Generally I split up the content into regular features, such as Breaking Lad [3.02] where I set out to make ‘lads’ look silly without them knowing, one off specials such as Shia or Shire [0.00] which could only be relevant for a certain time (though it could be argued Shia Le Bouef is crazy all the time), and conversational topics that encourage audience interaction. This enabled a structure to the show. However, the structure was always there to be broken if needed. If you are getting an overwhelmingly positive reaction then it’d be a shame to stop a game short for something that can be slotted in later in the show.
I always wanted the tone to be easy, friendly and like a conversation. It was also especially important that it seemed like we were having fun whilst doing the show, as how can you expect the listener to have fun if you sound like you are not? That is why on some occasions it was important that I did not tell the producer of the show about a certain feature or reaction by someone. For example, for ‘CopacaFana’ [5.15] where we find out about new listeners through the medium of Manilow, I thought it would be best to get an honest reaction from Ross because I knew he would laugh.
Pre production is something that I think is really important, whether it be from making sure I don’t give the joke away by immediately saying my name is Fenton to Starbucks staff [2.08] or doing a full blown audio piece. It’s something I can spend an awfully long time over and sometimes I just need to let go and realise it sounds good enough as it is. Most things can be entertaining; they just need to shown in the right way. And that’s what is a lot of fun, making an ordinary situation – especially ones people can relate to – entertaining.
Maddie’s Tea Party
Maddie’s Tea Party
Madeleine Hickish is the son of a preacher man.*
Maddie’s Tea Party has it’s tap-shoed feet planted firmly in the camps of both entertainment and specialist programming. With pre-1950’s music and party games, the premise of the show is that of a open-invitation tea party where listeners are instructed to bring out the tea-cups (and gin). I was particularly proud that the show became an appointment-to-listen programme, and that I was a regular feature in lots of students’ Sunday evening plans.
I kick off the show and get people interacting with a high-speed fancy dress competition. As many of my audience listen to the programme with their housemates or friends, it is a great way of getting them to collaborate with each other and with me. I pick a theme for the show and give them the length of two songs to do their level best at dressing up, then they tweet their pictures to the show and a winner is announced. This is effective in two ways; firstly, it’s entertaining for the listeners; secondly, it generates interest and action on social media, a great promotion for the show. Over the weeks I’ve had amazing contributions on the theme of ‘the future’, ‘double acts’ and ‘the weather’ etc- they’re often alarming and always hilarious.
‘All Or Muffin’ was a fantastic feature for many reasons. Firstly, it demanded that I have at least three extra people in the studio which, to my delight, worked out fine! Having three guests on brings a whole new audience of people who might not have listened before, providing a real boost for the whole show. It was also an opportunity for me to flex my production muscles; in advance of the show, I interviewed my contestants and edited together an ‘about me’ package for the judge to listen to- using the bake-off music of course! The combination of friendly banter and surprising competitive tension made for great content and Twitter would light up with debate and controversy throughout. Furthermore, it meant that the webcam could be utilised; the combination of radio, social media and video meant that the listener could be really involved. Also, we all got free cake.
I unashamedly subjected my listeners to all sorts of radio-experiments, and to them I am very grateful! Not all features have made it to this entry. In the feature-graveyard you can find, among others, the Cryptic-Crossword-Crash-Course; sadly it appeared that only I think that cryptic crosswords are a riot! However, one of the more successful experiments, The Archive Reel, became a weekly feature. Delving back into Pathe and BFI archives, I found clips of social guidance and public service broadcasting before the 1950’s. Together, my listeners and I learned about ‘The Do’s and Don’ts of Dating’, ‘The Life of the Rabbit’ and ‘How Quiet Helps at School’.
I know I’m not your regular student radio presenter. I don’t shout much and I shy away from talking about hangovers or thongs because, to be honest, I couldn’t pull that off (not the thong, silly) However, I know my strengths and I know my audience, and I definitely used the former to show the latter a great time! If Maddie’s Tea Party was even half as fun for its audio guests as it was for its broadcasting host, then I think everyone had a rip-roaringly good time!
*(Actually, I’m the daughter of a preacher man. I’m a girl! Despite the fact that, since 2009, it appears that boys have exclusively won 1st, 2nd and 3rd in this category, I’m having a crack at it. Wish me luck fellas!)
Luke Jones interview Lord Carey
Luke Jones interview Lord Carey
Lord Carey is undoubtedly the most controversial figure at King’s College London. He opposed the gay marriage bill and likened those attacking his point of view ‘Nazis’. The KCL student newspaper Roar went wild; ‘ArchBigot Carey’ was the headline. The paper and student council began a campaign to have Carey’s image (part of a long display of famous alumni running along the front of our Strand Campus) removed from the front of the building. It has been defaced multiple times and many students were outraged that his face, very close to the main door to the building, was still there. The debate has been top of the agenda for 2 years.
KCL Radio spotted a hole in this debate. Despite 2 years of argument, votes and grumblings, no one from the student journalism community thought to contact Lord Carey and get his point of view. Most student journalism turns out to be activism. KCL Radio, however, has a unique pledge to make its current affairs output fair and balanced. I contacted Lord Carey and over many months tried to organise a time to interview him. Eventually after many delays we had a date set. We wanted to keep it secret in order to give the announcement of the broadcast the most impact. I interviewed him in the House of Lords then edited the piece together in secret. A week later we announced on our social media (and then on the radio with a teasing trail of the interview) that we had interviewed him and that it was going to be broadcast next week. The student community exploded. We had more tweets, Facebook comments and emails than ever before. I had to clear all the studio computers of any trace of the interview and keep it on my laptop at home because people were trying to get access to it to leak it. All very dramatic, but many had never actually heard him speak.
The interview, which was 30 minutes, was broadcast as part of a 1 hour special at 2pm in the afternoon. In the studio I had a Vice President of KCLSU (who hated Carey) and a student who was against the criticism of him. Our previous social media records were again broken. We discussed the issue before and after, including comments from students via social media and email. I felt like Jeremy Vine. We were so used to having only a few tweets per show but now were getting hundreds. People were vehemently against Lord Carey and passionately for him. A mini debate via email (which we read out) even broke out between the Dean of the College and our union president over the issue. Even though I personally disagree with Lord Carey’s views, it was so important for the debate to hear from the horse’s mouth. So much political debate at universities is people debating with people who agree with them. This exclusive interview, in which he laid out his opinion on gay marriage, spoke about comments he made about Princess Diana, the state of the House of Lords, the church’s attitudes to women bishops, his thoughts on immigration, the government, David Cameron, UKIP, was too tantalizing for those against to ignore. It engaged people, but not necessarily persuaded people, who disagreed with him, and opened up a debate which until this point had been dominated by those against him and with the traditional means (student newspaper, student council, debating society) to say it. It was a terrifically entertaining coup for student radio and balanced debate.
Boscastle: Ten Years On
Boscastle: Ten Years On
“Pass to all emergency services. This is a major incident. I repeat. This is a major incident. We require all standby aircraft available and all available land-based emergency crews as we are in danger of losing Boscastle and all the people in it.”
Royal Navy Sea King Helicopter Rescue 193 Transmission, August 16th, 2004
This interview was recorded between Ella Robson and her mother Janette Robson for a documentary project marking the 10th anniversary of the Boscastle flooding.
Ella had chosen the topic for her final year radio production project at Birmingham City University – as she and her mother had been visiting the North Cornwall village when it was devastated by a flash flood in August 2004.
At the heart of the Ella’s documentary “Boscastle: 10 Years On” – was the interview she conducted with her mother. The unedited interview ran for over an hour, as they recalled the traumatic events of the flooding – and the impact it subsequently had on their lives.
“At times my personal experience with subject matter clouded my perception of the impact and emotional effect of the audio. Sometimes it was difficult to decipher if the quality of the content was any good, or if I was simply finding it difficult to listen to the audio. The audio had a heavy personal effect on me.”
The interview was the first time that Ella could recall having a conversation with her mother about the flooding – and it brought back many distressing memories for them both. Ultimately, Ella suffered a great deal of emotion stress while completing her radio project and was granted an extension from the University to allow her time to complete the documentary – due to the trauma of re-visiting the flooding. To her credit, Ella finished the documentary successfully and was able to use the interview as a tool to help her overcome the on-going impact of Boscastle.
“The project was cathartic. At first, I did not want to apply my own experience to the documentary, however I made the decision to carry out the interview with my mother from a personal perspective; which, I now feel, improved the documentary. During the initial preparations and planning I was unaware of the implications of being personally involved in the story. I feel my personal experience with the flood, and the effects this project had on me personally had both a negative and positive impact on the final product. Overall, despite the struggles I faced throughout this project, I am happy with what I have achieved. I am pleased that I continued with the project despite having to deal with many issues along the way.”
Jay Lawrence intv. Matty from The 1975
Jay Lawrence intv. Matty from The 1975
The 1975 are a band that seemingly blew up over night. When they released ‘Chocolate’, it was everywhere. But this is a band that had already released four EPs and had made a conscious decision to not speak to labels for years. Having this background knowledge and knowing the band’s history, and future ambitions, was key to the way that I approached interviewing Matty in September 2013. Surprisingly, getting an interview wasn’t difficult at all. Livewire’s Head of Music received an email asking if we fancied an interview, and as I had already expressed interest, I was down as first pick. Then it was all about how to approach the interview. Having followed the band for a while, I knew about how they are in interviews and how seriously they take themselves as a band. Let’s be honest, if you’ve already listened to the interview you can see that Matty is a really friendly, open guy but he’s also pretty damn intense. So I chose the music route. Let’s get serious, let’s talk about how you really feel about your music, your intentions and whether or not you feel like you’ve achieved that. As he said to me before the interview, he had already done several interviews that day. But by the end of the interview, I felt that through my obvious knowledge and research of the band, Matty had begun to feel comfortable around me, and the talk went as well as I could have hoped. Nowhere else had reported that The 1975 were working on their second album (and its ‘bangin tunes’) until nearly half a year after we did [2.04], let alone it being on their tour bus. Nowhere else has reported that they plan on releasing a brand new, unheard single in October 2014 [1.47]. All of this, I feel, was told to me because I knew what I was talking about and because it wasn’t a generic, by numbers interview. To make him feel comfortable and to create a more fluid, interesting piece, it was imperative that I could think on my feet and react to what the interviewee was saying. If Matty says he is recording on their tour bus, then there’s no point going straight to another question. React. Ask what’s on your mind, because it will probably be on the listeners’ as well. In this sense, I wanted it to become more of a chat. An informal setting for an informative talk, if that makes sense. Instead of it being ‘Question. Answer. Repeat’ and resemble a grilling, I wanted it to be a conversation.
After the interview, I cut up the audio and took the most interesting bits to create a short audio piece packed full of information, as well as keeping the raw full interview for people to listen to too. I added an ident at the beginning to add Livewire’s brand to an interview I hoped would gain some exposure outside of the station and university. I also added a brief snippet of the Eurovision Song Contest from 1975 to the beginning of the audio to link in with the band’s name, and create a more interesting, less conventional piece of audio. I also added their most famous track ‘Chocolate’ so immediately people that didn’t know who The 1975 were might recognise them from that track.
I had great feedback, winning ‘Interview of the Year’ at the Livewire Awards, and after the interview stuck around for a while looking at funny pictures of pugs with Matty. Touring life must not be as exciting as it seems.
Best Journalistic Programming
The Student Underworld
The Student Underworld
Radio / Journalism student Emma Boyle, from Birmingham City University, created a series of documentaries entitled ‘The Student Underworld’ which were designed to unearth the realities of excessive student drinking and recreational drug taking.
These two raw and uncompromising productions were specifically tailored for a student audience with the intention of informing, educating and entertaining the target market. These documentaries were the end result of three years of study and became Emma’s final year radio production project. Emma pulled no punches with this gritty series – that went on-location to uncover the realties of students drinking and drug taking and questioned the Student Union’s own culpability in arranging drinking nights for their members.
“Every element of the documentaries – from the selection of music, to my choice of interviewees – were carefully chosen to communicate and relate to listeners on a personal level. I exhausted all of my journalistic efforts in structuring a legally sound documentary series, compliant with current Ofcom Broadcasting Guidelines. I drew upon my knowledge of Media Law and Regulations to ensure the airing of my documentaries would not contravene any broadcasting rules or restrictions.”
The “drinking” documentary focused on why student drinking has become so excessive and how the ‘neknominate’ craze has become normalised in everyday student life. Emma interviewed a wide range of relevant individuals, including paramedics, police constables, bouncers, doormen, bar staff, club owners and, of course… student drinkers.
Her “drugs” documentary examined how the habitual use of class A drugs has become a common part of the average student’s lifestyle. Emma also explored what she says is a common misconception in society regarding the dangers of drug usage; that people are not necessarily dying from over-doses – they are dying because they don’t know what is in the drugs they are consuming. Once again, the views of an extensive range of interviewees were featured, to provide a balance of perspectives – ranging from drug dealers to ambulance crews.
“I tested the theory of whether or not street drugs were in fact safe by approaching a toxicology laboratory with a sample. The scientifically verified results were the centre-piece of this documentary – providing me with the audio I needed to cement a stand-out piece of radio.”
A combination of narration, formal interviews and vox-pops from the streets and bars of Birmingham, were intercut – giving the finished documentaries a very fast moving, layered and textured sound. Emma’s naturalistic approach to the narration of the pieces added to the excitement and tension, carrying the audiences from one section of the story to the next.
“The use of music was of paramount importance. When editing the final documentaries I used music to help evoke certain reactions and emotions from the listener. I carefully selected tracks to emphasise a particular point – or to help build a crescendo in the story. This added a further dimension to the project and ultimately played a principle role in helping to tell the story.”
Extensive planning, correspondence, research and meticulous editing spanning a six month period allowed Emma to craft two documentaries that students across the UK could connect with and more importantly – learn from.
“My bank of skills as an investigative journalist, radio producer and presenter have been brought together here to illustrate my own capabilities as a media producer. Drug taking and social drinking are subjects of great interest to students – but they have been exhausted in previous documentaries. Therefore, I needed to try take a unique “real world” approach to each documentary – to ensure I was able to produce work which provided a new perspective into these well worn subjects.”
River Safety: York’s Rising Problem
River Safety: York’s Rising Problem
‘River Safety: York’s Rising Problem’ was a special programme by URY News, broadcast live between 6pm and 7pm on 30th April 2014.
The show followed the deaths of three young people each of whom drowned in York’s rivers in separate incidents in the space of three months. As a result, the issue of river safety became a major concern for young people here in York. As a news team, we try to cover things that students in York are talking about – the issues which matter to our listeners. In what many students perceive to be a fairly safe city, the shock of three deaths in such a short space of time meant the dangers of the rivers on nights out became a huge talking point on campus because it was so close to home – a lot of students thought it could easily have been them getting into trouble after having too much to drink. We therefore decided to dedicate a whole hour-long news programme to the subject.
The main aim of the programme was to probe the question of what can be done to prevent similar tragedies in the future. We did this by speaking with several relevant organisations and investigating what is already being done to keep people safe on nights out in York. We wanted a strong undercurrent of student opinion through the programme, which we achieved through case studies and opinions we had gathered out on campus – we heard students’ experiences of the rivers and what they thought should be done to tackle river safety. Listeners were also strongly encouraged to contribute to the show with their views by messaging the studio and interacting with URY News on Twitter and Facebook.
We tried to structure the show logically by starting with a contextualisation of the issue in the form of a package detailing the deaths which had occurred earlier in the year [0:50]. This built the foundation for the question of what could or should be done to improve river safety in the city. We were especially keen to hear from people close to the recent victims of the river and managed to secure, with help from North Yorkshire Police’s Family Liaison Officer, an interview with the mother of Megan Roberts – the York St John student whose death to the River Ouse was the first of three in quick succession. Jackie Roberts’s powerful words added weight to the issue of river safety, forming part of the opening package on the recent river deaths in York [1:33].
Also in this piece was part of our interview with Rachel Peatfield, the girlfriend of Ben Clarkson, who also lost his life to the river this year [2:35]. We organised this interview through our links with Capital FM Yorkshire and it was a valuable addition to the show as Rachel’s voice was a young one with which our listeners could relate.
Alcohol was obviously an important factor in all three of the deaths in York’s rivers in 2014. We therefore spoke to the manager of The Lowther, a popular student bar in the city centre which backs on to the River Ouse [3:25]. We wanted to get her perspective on how much of a factor drinking has been in recent deaths and what establishments such as The Lowther can do about river safety – she offered a really interesting insight into the practices of bars in protecting their customers.
YUSU (York University Students’ Union) was in the process of launching a new scheme to help vulnerable students on nights out in York when the three deaths occurred. They modelled the project on Street Angels, a Christian scheme which had been in place in cities across the UK involving volunteers patrolling the centre on Friday and Saturday nights. We decided, therefore, to contact the York Street Angels and try to get an insight into what the scheme offers and how a student version could help with river safety. Instead of just an interview with an organiser, we were lucky enough for the team to agree to one of our journalists to accompany them while they patrolled one weekend [4:30]. We approached this section of the show in this way to provide some variety, with lots of actuality creating a really interesting and immersive piece to give our listeners a taste of what the patrol was like and the work that the Street Angels do. A live interview with our students’ union president followed to explain how this type of venture could be applied to student nights [5:41].
We spoke to many other people as part of the programme, many of whom we didn’t have time to include in the audio entry. These included the Police and Crime Commissioner, York Rescue Boat (a charity which has a boat patrolling the rivers during nights, and raises awareness of river safety) and a local newspaper (who started a campaign to make people aware of the dangers of the city’s rivers). Many of the students we talked to said they wouldn’t know what to do if a friend went into the river on a night out, so in reaction to this we spoke with York Fire Brigade to get some valuable safety advice for students [6:17].
Through the wealth of opinion we gathered from experts and students, the consensus at the end of the show seemed to be that awareness was a major part of what could be done to make sure more young people don’t lose their lives in York’s rivers. And the high profile nature of the programme helped to spread some of that awareness amongst the student body at York. We promoted the show through a Facebook event as well as on air trails and the whole show was podcasted so people could listen again. This plus the social media interaction during the broadcast really helped to underline the importance of river safety in York and the need to talk about how it can be tackled.
The Pulse is URN’s news discussion show, which aims to not only keep students up-to-date on the stories that matter to them, but to investigate and stimulate change at our university. The Pulse airs every weekday for one hour, meaning our large team of presenters, producers and reporters are constantly finding stories that our student audience care about. We pride ourselves on being students’ number one news source on the many campus controversies that have rocked Nottingham this year. The voices of students are as important as the stories themselves, and our reporters are always out on campus, gauging student opinions through vox-pops and extended interviews, making our content interactive and exciting. This entry represents a snapshot of the consistently exceptional journalism that our Pulse team created this year.
The Pulse has become more visible to our student listenership than ever by taking the questions and issues from students to the people who have the power to change policies. An important example of this was our first outside broadcast from Candidate Question Time at our satellite campus; part of our extensive coverage of the SU Elections [6.22]. All of the candidates were present and with URN being the only media outlet broadcasting live, we acted as a mouthpiece for texts and tweets from students listening at home. Our online presence has increased this year with twitter being used to ask the big questions for every show and increase interactivity, allowing everyone to get involved in the debate. The turning point in the evening came from a question sent in by a Pulse listener concerning lad culture at university. Our reporter relayed the text and was surprisingly challenged by the Elections supposed ‘joke candidate’. This unexpected moment captured by The Pulse shifted the entire student body’s opinion of that candidate, affecting the outcome of the election.
The Pulse this year has featured more investigative journalism of student issues than ever before. We covered stories specific to the University of Nottingham as well as providing a student perspective on – and contributed to- nationwide issues. A stand out piece was a year-long investigation into the experiences of Nottingham students who studied and travelled abroad [5.00]. The investigation began with a student who suffered a terrifying experience whilst teaching with AIESEC, an account that was not uncommon . The news team circulated a survey on social media, enabling us to gather the stories from students across the university. Through interviewing members of other universities, we held senior members of AIESEC and the University to account, and discovered that very little is done by the organisations to ensure that students remain safe. After our investigation, both are implementing improved feedback systems in order to listen to students and improve their experience.
Text: I can relate to this, I struggled to find an internship in Spain for months and the year abroad office didn’t reply to emails.
The University of Nottingham was at the centre of student and national issues this year and The Pulse was there to capture it. We reported on the controversial story of a lecturer who was using his Facebook account to mock students’ essays [3.09]. After The Pulse covered this story, the incident was picked up by national publications, becoming part of a serious public examination into social media. The confusion and outrage felt by the student body was represented on our show as we spoke to as many students as possible to hear their reactions. Although the national publications focused primarily on negatively portraying the lecturer, we ensured we gave a balanced look at the story: reporting the statuses, speaking to students who were shocked by this, but also talking to those who backed the lecturer’s freedom of speech. In the days that followed, the team returned to the story, speaking to representatives from the lecturer’s department about their response. The campus boycott of The Sun and the Daily Star until Page 3 is removed is another story which has divided both the country and our student population [3.53]. The Pulse was at the Council meeting as the motion was passed and we spoke to the Feminist Society who supported the ban, and to those students who believed it was censorship. We blogged the story within 30 minutes and its contents were shared by the national No More Page 3 campaign. The heated debates that took place on our blog from a diverse listenership illustrated the significance of student issues and our dedication to getting them heard.
The reputation that The Pulse has developed over previous years has meant that we ensure that consistently high standards of production are met. The news team has grown in number, and currently has more student journalists than ever before, with over fifty dedicated volunteers. New members were trained from day one, allowing them to create complex and engaging packages for every show, exemplified through our coverage of the ‘Neknominate’ controversy [0.35]. Since this craze hit young people, our position allowed us to gather unique stories. Moreover, with legislation being introduced to criminalise Revenge Porn, our documentary was at the heart of the debate [1.12]. Through social media we conducted interviews with women in America who had not only been affected by the growing trend, but who were leading the campaign for justice. Our investigation followed a fellow student throughout the year as she campaigned to ban Revenge Porn in the UK. Our interviews were picked up by national stations and the reaction from our listeners was the most divided and passionate of the year. For many listeners, our investigation opened their eyes to the complexities of this topic.
Text: No more victim blaming! The person who uses the photos maliciously is the one in the wrong.
Over the past year, The Pulse has been a standard-bearer for investigative and reactionary news coverage, often influencing national campaigns, and testifying to the genuine impact of student journalism.
Best Event or Outside Broadcast
Edinburgh Question Time is now a firm fixture in the university calendar. With this comes the challenge for the production team to continue to develop and improve the yearly event.
EDQT is the only official hustings before the Student Union elections and the purpose of the programme is to open up the Students Association election process –notorious with low turnout. Broadcasting live from the biggest society hall on campus allowed as many students as possible to quiz the candidates. Over 150 people turned up to do just that.
We also used social media to enable our listeners to join at home and for the first time ever we included a live tweet wall to allow everyone to engage with social media. #EDQT was the top UK trend within 20minutes of the programme going on air.
The programme was split into four sections to allow candidates for all four sabbatical positions to debate. A pre-recorded package featuring the current office holder describing their experience separated each section. This allowed the stage to be reset and the floor manager played a crucial role in managing this changeover. The set was also designed in a simple format to allow for easy adaption and microphones were fixed to each position to make this easier and prevent wasted time had microphones been passed between candidates.
For the first time ever to increase engagement of our online audience we worked with the University Information Services to live stream the video of the event. Our focus was still a radio programme but we wanted our audience at home to visualise the candidates as they answered their questions and this also allowed them to view the twitter wall. Feedback and our online listening figures show this was well received by the audience.
Each of the guests were given a minute for an opening and closing statement and in order for this to follow the editor counted down the time using the talk back facility. This ensured equality for all the candidates. The talkback was set up between the presenter, editor and key
producers such as social media to allow the event to move smoothly.
The OB was planned by our News Team in collaboration with the Students’ Association. The News Team insisted on an open format in order to ensure students could ask any question they wished.
White Paper Publication Day
White Paper Publication Day
Scottish Independence is the dominant political issue this year in the UK. At the start of the year on FreshAir News, we agreed that we would cover the major developments throughout the year and make this issue relevant to our student audience.
Our first planning meeting ahead of the launch of the White Paper in November was held three weeks before the broadcast. Our team of eight decided how to cover the publication of the White Paper on Scottish Independence to inform students of the arguments for and against independence. We settled on a plan to get as many live guests as possible to join us across the hour of the programme and present it live from the Scottish Parliament.
We identified the key “types” of guests we’d want – student representatives of political parties and campaigns, University of Edinburgh experts on history and politics, MSPs and politicians. We also decided to get views from students not just in Edinburgh, but across the country as well to give a broader sweep. One listener commented this added “gravitas.”
We also coordinated with the Parliament to get permission to broadcast. We edited custom audio imaging for the OB.
We had a mixing desk plus radio microphones and headphones, one laptop for audio play-out and one laptop for streaming using a 4G connection. Throughout, several team members used torch apps on their mobile phones to light the broadcast area. Electricity was supplied by a large battery supply, normally used to prevent equipment shutting down in a power-cut.
If we hadn’t been live at the Parliament we would not have secured interviews with the First Minister, Deputy First Minister and leader of Better Together. Indeed, our bids for these guests had been turned down in the previous weeks. Because we had a dedicated team on location we were able to ‘doorstep’ additional guests and actually get them on-air before several national broadcasters.
Two of the MSPs emailed afterwards saying: “We all commented afterwards about how professional the production was – not least because it was an outside broadcast” and “we all commented on how professional your set up was.”
Our huge variety of guests throughout the programme guaranteed quality analysis that was accessible to our target student audience – several said it was the most comprehensive and relevant coverage they’d seen of publication day.
The full programme is online : http://www.freshair.org.uk/team/news/posts/1085-white-paper
The Welsh Varsity 2014
The Welsh Varsity 2014
Planning for Varsity 2014 began just a week after the previous year’s event. While locating all of daytime broadcast at the Sports Wales National Centre captured the raw atmosphere, it also made for some chaotic links and was limiting when presenting up-to-date results.So this year we brought some production back into the studio, ensuring we could provide comprehensive and informative coverage, while focusing off-air promotion through a 12-strong Street Team in venues across the city.
The daytime broadcast consisted of 16 reporters covering men’s and women’s matches in all 29 sports, providing audio reports to the studio via email on mobile 3G/4G and linking up live via phone. Each reporter was provided with a comprehensive document, covering each sport’s past results, league form, facts and player profiles.
We operated on a 10-minute turnaround for the editing and airing of audio from reporters, providing up-to-date coverage. These reports were timetabled into show clocks throughout the day’s coverage.
The studio team produced 3 live results shows and a highlights/build-up show prior to handover to the Millennium Stadium for the Men’s Rugby in the evening. These shows provided all coverage, sports discussion, social media and songs from our Varsity playlist.
Behind the presenter pairs were a team of producers feeding notes and content, as well as a dedicated social media assistant, whose main responsibility was updating the specially-launched App. The App, which has received over 200 downloads, gave push notifications of all scores as well as a direct pathway to our SMS, social media and listen live capabilities.
Though a core of our production team were primed for arrival the stadium for 5.30pm (2 hours before KO), a serious traffic accident resulted in a 5min journey becoming a 1h30 jam, giving us 30min to prepare for broadcast.
BBC Wales had kindly allowed us to use their commentary position and ISDN lines to establish a 128kbps link with our studio. As we didn’t have access to a purpose-built commentary unit, we established a rack ISDN Encoder and mixing desk for connection of our hired Coles lip microphones and ambient mics. Panic over, we were able to seamlessly handover from the studio as the anthems began. Rugby aficionados Greg and Beth provided our commentary, giving detailed play-by-play throughout the match. This was punctuated with analysis at half-time and the end to provide the perfect finish to our most comprehensive coverage of Varsity yet.
Best Speech Programming
Sound in Silence
Sound in Silence
“Sound in Silence” is an exploration of tinnitus through music, sound and noise.
Tinnitus is a condition which affects people in very different ways. It can range from being totally innocuous to utterly life ruining. I have tinnitus myself, and for the most part it doesn’t bother me. For some people though, the sound of tinnitus is something which torments them, and it’s something which they can’t escape because it comes from inside their own heads.
Isobel Anderson is one of those people. Isobel is a sound artist and musician who lives in Ireland. One of her songs, “Little Sounds of Pain”, expresses what it’s been like for her to live with tinnitus. It’s a haunting piece of music, and after hearing it I reached out to her and asked whether I could interview her about her experiences. She told me that her music puts it much better than she could in plain words. But when we spoke, she was totally open and honest with me, which I’m very grateful to her for.
I recorded the interview with binaural microphones, which are tiny mics worn like earphones. This meant that it didn’t really feel like an interview, as I wasn’t thrusting a microphone in her face. I think this made it easier for Isobel to be open with me, and it became more of a free-flowing conversation as we walked and talked for over an hour. I wanted listeners to feel a connection with Isobel and be moved by her story as much as I was, so in the end I completely removed my voice from the piece. I felt it would only be a distraction, and without it the listening experience is that much more intimate.
Sound design was very important to this piece. I wanted to recreate the different sensations of tinnitus as Isobel described them, so I used a large range of effects and filters in the edit. This was tricky to get exactly right, especially during the explanation of how we hear, where I tried to use audio to represent sounds as they travel from the outside world, through the ear and into the brain. Obviously, tinnitus is a very sonically rich subject, and I wanted to take full advantage of that.
In a sense, this was a radio piece about a song. But I didn’t want to mention Isobel’s music explicitly until the very end, so that people could hear her mournful chords and her beautiful lyrics with a new appreciation of what tinnitus can be like. The full piece includes the whole track – many thanks to Isobel for her permission.
I did a lot of research for this piece. I didn’t want the science to be too in-depth, but I still wanted to give people an insight into what causes the condition. Although, to a large extent, scientists still don’t really know. I travelled to Newcastle to speak with Dr Will Sedley, and interviewed two researchers in London, Dr Roland Schaette and Dr Bridgitte Harley, who are featured in the piece. I’d like to thank them all for their time and their clear explanations.
Strangely, my own tinnitus got a lot worse while I worked on this piece, perhaps because I was thinking about it so much. Most people don’t really think of tinnitus as a serious condition – including myself before I made this. But sadly, it’s an attitude that also extends to many doctors, and patients often feel they aren’t given the support they need. I hope that making this piece might go some small way to changing that.
A Brief History of You
A Brief History of You
No story is more epic than the creation and development of the universe itself. From the Big Bang to the dawn of man, natural history has witnessed both unimaginable beauty and devastating death and destruction.
For three years, The Science Show has been informing and entertaining the students of Nottingham. But we wanted to be more ambitious than we ever have been before; to push radio and our own editing abilities to the limits. The result is ‘A Brief History of You’. Part documentary, part cinematic narrative, we have taken listeners on the whirlwind adventure that is the past 13.8 billion years.
The three one hour shows, were split into three distinct sections. The first, ‘From Nothing to Everything’, sent us back to the earliest moments of the big bang. We ‘watched’ as the fundamental forces of physics slowly got to work in the construction of elements, the first stars and eventually the solar system. To immerse the listener in the vast environment that is outer space, the Science Show team created vast soundscapes which included some of the actual sounds of the cosmos. The show ended with the violent birth of the Earth.
In week two, ‘Let there be Life’ explored the acrid early atmosphere and the first single celled life forms. We followed these basic forms of life and as the began to photosynthesise and create the most valuable of gases: oxygen. Taking to the oceans we saw how the increased oxygenation of the oceans led to the evolution of fish and eventually the tetrapods that would take the first tentative steps onto the young Earth’s surface.
The final installment, ’A Journey’s End’, witnessed the colonisation of the Earth’s vast forests. The listener was presented with the earliest of amphibians and reptiles before the age of the dinosaur began. Finally we saw how the K/T extinction event allowed small mammals to become the dominant form of life on Earth and how they would, one day, develop into the human race. This show was heavily augmented with the use of sound effects and background noise of real animals and habitats, adding a sense of authenticity to what was an incredible adventure.
The series closed with a warning about the our future and how we need to improve how we interact with nature and other life on Earth. However, we tried to counterbalance these stark reflections with the beauty and potential of a human birth, leaving the listener with a sense of optimism and a challenge to change the world.
Heavily stylised in the illustrious images of Cosmos and Life on Earth, the writing was the main driving force of the show. Both eloquent and informative, the script was written over three intense weeks. Sections were distributed around a team of 7 writers all of whom are producers of the normal show. A key feature of the script was that it had to be factually accurate, however after that, we were free to explore our narrative based theme. There were broadly two types of prose used, firstly the scenario led ‘watch as it happens’ sections which have already been described. These sections were broken up by extended general readings during which a member of the team would set the theme for the coming parts of the show.
Each of the three shows took nearly 100 working-hours to record and produce and was split between the Science Show team. Regular discussions and appraisals were need to make sure the separate sections would come together to make a cohesive and well-rounded whole.
RavenTales Original Series – CROWE
(University Radio Bath)
RavenTales Original Series – CROWE
(University Radio Bath)
“We respect them equally. We fear them equally. That is our agreement. Without those rules there is only inescapable chaos and darkness. “
“If only I had heeded that warning.”
“CROWE” is a six episode supernatural mystery series set across famous landmarks and locations in present day Bath. Violet Crowe maintains peace between the living, dead and the “others” as she investigates mysterious carvings at the Roman Baths, possessions at a cemetery, fiery attacks along the river, passageways to other realms at the Royal Crescent, an abandoned facility in the countryside and the legacy of a nihilistic centuries-old monster. Each episode is roughly 25-30 minutes long, except for episode 4 which is 40 minutes.
The series was written and produced so that listeners could enjoy individual episodes as standalone stories or delve into all six for an overall story arc that begins in the Roman Baths in Episode 1 and ends during the Summer Solstice at the Royal Parade Gardens in Episode 6. Violet develops throughout her encounters. It’s impossible not to root for the intelligent, heartfelt and brave investigator as she uncovers horrific events or rattles off quirky tales about a ghost dentist or possessed self-service machine.
I started writing Crowe six months before broadcast. Since URB RavenTales productions began I’d been planning to end the academic year with something big. We’d already produced audiobooks and one-off dramas. Four months later we were now ready to plunge into making an original series with co-writer, acting and sound design opportunities for students.
We posted about the project across social media and many students wanted to get involved. Only the main character was auditioned. Annayah was perfect as Violet. All other roles were adjusted to fit whoever arrived on the recording day. On our recording day for episodes 2 and 3 the studio was so full that students were standing outside the door! I wrote in extra scenes and parts for episodes just in case so that everyone could be in Crowe. The emphasis was on fun, and occasionally we got the group in to record crowd sounds such as possessed beings, screaming, and singing “For he’s a jolly good fellow” (believe me episode 5 is terrifying). All of our cast were superb and there was an immensely positive atmosphere during all of our recording sessions.
We had an amazing Foley and music composer. Adam used his experience in student music societies to design some incredibly eerie synthesized songs and sound effects throughout the series. We’d always discuss the context in which actions would be taking place beforehand. Both the audio clips in this entry had the drone music that we used for moments of extreme tension. The clips from Episodes Five and Six hopefully demonstrate the mix of drama, mystery, horror and adventure present throughout the series.
We also had a sound team that sourced Creative Commons Attribution 0 (public domain) sounds for a lot of the basic atmospherics and actions. I’d hoped to record actual locations in Bath, but the sheer number of loud tourists and locals made this impossible! Instead I took notes on the sounds whilst visiting each location and the reverb that would fit into every scene. I then tried to build engaging atmospheres through carefully mixing layers of sounds in Audition.
Crowe was an incredibly rewarding and high energy effort by 30 students. The series has topped Mixcloud’s Student Radio Trending Chart, and the response from everyone has been absolutely amazing. It was the perfect way to round off URB RavenTales’ first 6 months.
Best Technical Achievement
(University Radio Bath)
(University Radio Bath)
In 2013 University Radio Bath launched on UK Radioplayer with a critically acclaimed and award-winning interface – an interface designed for the listeners, for the station, and as a platform for future innovation. In February 2014 we released a new product which utilised this platform as a means of furthering our effort to revolutionise the listener experience and spark the rediscovery of radio. We accomplished this by abolishing the disconnect between presenter and listener, and radically reimagining the way they interact.
We believe it should no longer be the responsibility of the listener to engage with a station for personalised content they love. It’s this philosophy which prompted URB to embrace a new innovative solution and approach to broadcasting. We call it “responsive radio”.
Ours is an industry where creativity and apparent spontaneity is often planned, timed and rehearsed. URB’s programming, by contrast, is dynamically influenced by listeners via our new online music product – URB ReQuester. ReQuester connects the audience with the output, and reinvents their radio experience. We’ve inverted the conventional listener-station relationship by reaching out to our listeners rather than expecting them to reach out to us.
The service is integrated within our Radioplayer console and listeners are invited to connect via Facebook for a uniquely tailored journey of on-air music discovery. For every connected listener, a personalised and forever organically changing “Taste Profile” is born. This is an anonymous catalogue of music associations, based on their and their friends’ habits on Facebook and linked services such as Spotify.
The service is promoted via a visual and audio interstitial ad loaded when a user who has not previously connected with the application launches URB’s UK Radioplayer console. Once connected via Facebook, users are presented with a mosaic of album artwork graphically representing their and their friends “likes” and “listens”. Before committing to build a Taste Profile, users are able to adjust the scope of the analysis. If applicable, the influence on a user’s profile of their online music behaviour is calculated to be greater than that of their friends, and ReQuester will only consider a few friends with which the user has recently connected. The taste of listeners who provide minimal information can also be estimated and extrapolated based on demographics and their similarities with existing users.
As is common with music discovery engines, third-party algorithms provide recommendations based on preferences identified in the user’s profile. However, URB has taken this concept further. We simultaneously analyse the profiles of all currently active listeners to provide a playlist of suggestions based on their aggregate taste. Suggested tracks are then played out live on-air, reinforcing the intimacy and immediacy of radio, and shifting the burden of forging a dynamic relationship from the listener to the station.
During shows of “URB Nonstop” music when no presenter is live in the studio, this process is fully automated. For live broadcasts, presenters are continuously updated with the shifting Taste Profile of the listener pool, and can adjust their music schedule accordingly.
Limits imposed on the rate at which these socially generated requests are honoured ensures continued influence, but prevents domination, of ReQuester over our broadcast. Configuring the variable ratio of pre-programmed to responsive content is an editorial team of music and production staff.
This responsive model of broadcasting has helped URB compete and stay relevant in a world of increasing personalisation and on-demand media. The approach was recognised at the Radio Academy Awards this year, where our product won Bronze in the category for Best Technical Innovation having been shortlisted alongside entries from Absolute Radio, BBC Future Media, Global Radio and Wise Buddah. The judges were “impressed with [our] strong user centred approach to how the radio station could create a stronger relationship with its listeners” and called it “a great example of technical innovation creating listener benefit” despite being developed with “little resource”.
URB ReQuester is the latest development in a campaign to harness technical creativity and facilitate the transition to a uniquely listener focused station. Our pioneering model of responsive radio has pushed the boundaries of twenty-first century broadcasting in a way which has elevated a small volunteer-run student radio station to the point of making a tangible impact on the landscape of modern, professional radio.
Studio in a Box
Studio in a Box
As the station has continued to grow and hold an ever-greater presence across the University and the local community, the demand for Purple Radio to cover events such as Outside Broadcasts was increasing at a rate that we could not keep up with.
Although OBs were possible, they required an immense amount of planning, time and manpower to be successful. There was no designated equipment for OBs, meaning that our broadcast studio and office equipment had to be dismantled every time. This equipment normally included: 2 computers, monitors, compressors, cabling, microphones and booms, a mixing desk and many other large items. On top of this, tables where needed to place equipment on and many power and networking cables were required, all of which had to be transported to the desired location in a car.
Outside Broadcasts (OBs) had always been high on the agenda of past Purple Execs; especially as OB listening figures equalled those of the most popular shows. However, due to the amount of effort required, few OBs took place and many exciting opportunities were missed. It was clear that a piece of equipment had to be developed to allow for more OBs to be carried out with greater ease, efficiency and less technical infrastructure.
The answer: build a ‘Studio in a Box’.
The design and development of the box took just over a year. All options were explored and researched to ensure the best possible value for money and operations. Our three main objectives were:
1. Small enough to move around campus by two people
2. Have the output quality equal to that of our Broadcast Studio
3. Be easy and quick to setup and run
The final design used a flight case on wheels. A flight case normally utilised for mobile DJs was adapted for Radio Broadcasting.
It houses the following equipment:
1. Two computers for broadcast
The first handles the stream connection through a local Icecast server using Broadcast Using This Tool (BUTT) to connect to our stream hosted on our servers. This means that, in theory, we could connect to our stream and play out our audio anywhere in the world. The second PC is used to host mAirList, our playout software and through two 4-channel soundcards pushes audio to the mixer at the top of the box.
2. Three compressors
These then handle the audio processing, enabling side chained ducking on all the microphones (both condensers and roaming mics) so that the audio sounds clear and professional, especially when talking over beds. Utilising threshold settings also enabled us to block out lots of background noise during our OB. A good example of this was getting rid of the extremely loud tannoy system at our coverage of the Durham Regatta.
3. A wireless talkback and monitoring system
Using wireless monitoring packs we created a wireless talkback system. The input to the monitor packs was split taking the broadcast on the left channel and the talkback mic on the right channel. This enables the presenter to hear his/her cue from the producer, as well as the programme, so that links are sharp and the programme sounds smooth.
4. A high speed PCIe network card and Dual Band PCIe WiFi card linked to a WiFi modem for ‘Hotspoting”
A local network can be created through the box using the various network adapters present to ensure a quick and steady connection wherever we are. It also provides us with a local WiFi network by using bridged adapters meaning that we can access Dropbox on our pre-recording devices and then send the clips to the box. The Bridged connection means that we only need one Internet connection, either through WiFi or Ethernet CAT6, to give Internet to both computers and our local network.
5. A headphone distribution amp
This is for producers and presenters to listen to broadcast
6. 2x studio condenser Microphones on booms as well as 2 roaming wireless microphones
7. 2x XLR to iPhone pre-recording interfaces with Dropbox links for easy transfer of top and tailed audio to play out.
All of this equipment can be stored safely inside the box for storage and transport. It can be wheeled to and from location with ease, and has even been taken on a bus! Topping it all off, the sides of the box fold-out as tables, allowing for the producer and presenters to place material clearly in front of them.
The impact that the “Studio in a Box” has had on Purple is unprecedented.
It has allowed us to broadcast from events that were otherwise impossible to cover. Most societies and organisations approach us a week or even days before we are needed, and we are now able to say ‘yes’ to the OB, despite the short notice.
We have been able to supply professional sounding broadcasts with jingles, adverts and music to some of the most important events on campus, such as the hustings and results of the Durham Student’s Union Elections, and provide concise sporting commentary to the BUCS finals at Durham University’s Sporting Complex. Coupled with this, however, it has also allowed us to support local charity and community events, not just those run by the University. This has included a charity fun run and the Durham Regatta, which was attended by over 12000 people. The box was used to cover the whole tannoy system and commentary of the event, which could also be listened to online by those from across the country who were unable to attend.
The box has allowed us to promote ourselves whilst giving something back to the university and the local community. It has proved to be truly invaluable to Purple Radio and nothing excites us more than the broadcast opportunities that lie ahead now that we have such an easy to use, professional sounding and manoeuvrable solution to Outside Broadcasting.
Nerve Extra – a new radio station
Nerve Extra – a new radio station
The idea for Nerve Extra came out of two things. The main one was our want to cover the Students’ Union full-time officer elections during our annual Nerve FM broadcast. The second was to provide a platform for radio programmes created by students at Bournemouth University as part of their courses. Nerve Extra exists to provide a place for more speech-based programmes than that are usually on the main Nerve Radio station.
The Students’ Union election was planned to coincide with the Nerve FM broadcast during March 2014, and as well as a daily outside broadcast from a key location of the University for these broadcasts, the results night was also broadcast live. In previous years, the results night has taken over Nerve Radio for the whole evening, however, with Nerve broadcasting on FM for this year’s event, it was decided to only broadcast an hour-long section of the evening to specifically cover the unveiling of the new full-time SU officers. The rest of the evening would contain some more light-hearted entertainment, and interviews with both old and new officers as well as some of the unsuccessful candidates. It was decided to broadcast this separately online to allow people to listen in, particularly friends and relatives of the candidates. Taking inspiration from some of the ‘pop-up’ stations that BBC Radio 5 have for additional sports coverage, and also BBC TV (and other broadcasters’) ‘red-button’ services, Nerve Extra was born.
As a student on the Radio course at Bournemouth University, I was aware that there was a lack of a platform for students who were producing work as part of their courses. We therefore decided that Extra could work as a full-time station, broadcasting additional coverage of live events, but also for the high-quality programmes that are produced by students on media courses, not just on the Radio course, but for other courses that create radio such as the Multimedia Journalism courses. I have also long-thought over the past three years of my course that although there has seemed to be a shift towards on-demand content for radio, this will not supersede the traditional linear broadcast method of radio. A listener is more likely to hear something new by tuning into a station that broadcasts ‘traditionally’ than they are by listening to a programme that they have already heard before. It is easier for a listener to switch on a radio station than it is for them to specifically select a programme to hear.
Nerve Extra is primarily a pre-recorded station; programmes are uploaded to the system by a user where they are then quality checked before being added to the system for broadcast. There are a certain number of programmes that will be broadcast at fixed times, and of course live programmes are at fixed times, but the rest of the programmes are broadcast at different times each day to provide output at all times whether specific programmes have been created or not. To make it easy for listeners to tune in, programmes start at either the top or the bottom of the hour, and music fills up the gaps. For the 2014/15 academic year, and with new studios being built for Nerve Radio, we are expecting to include more live studio speech-based programmes on Extra that have traditionally always fitted awkwardly into the main Nerve Radio music-based schedule, as well as providing an opportunity to broadcast any guest lectures that may be happening across the University.
The Linux-based Music Player Daemon (MPD) is the primary back-end for Extra. A web server running PHP and MySQL is also on this computer, an old iMac running Debian, to provide a web interface for users to upload programmes, and to run various scripts involved with running the station. All the programmes and playlists are stored in the MySQL database for ease of use on both the internal Nerve Intranet pages and also the main Nerve Media website.
At 11.30pm each day, the following day’s schedule is worked out:1. The database is checked to find any live or fixed-time programmes that are scheduled to broadcast;2. Programmes to fill up the rest of the day’s schedule are selected, picking programmes at random but making sure that there is a fair distribution and ensuring that some programmes are not broadcast excessively more than others;3. Music is selected to fill up any ‘gaps’ in the schedule – for instance, a 22-minute long programme will have 8 minutes of music, or a 36-minute long programme will have 24 minutes of music.
Programmes will typically start at 9am and end at midnight, so either music to fill up between midnight and 9am is selected, or the main Nerve Radio is simulcast. A script known as RoboDJ, which has been described in another entry, does the music selection for Nerve Extra.
The playlist for the day is then set going at midnight, and plays through with MPD transmitting directly to the Nerve Radio Icecast server.
The latest version of MPD has helped with Extra, particularly with the intention in the new year to broadcast studio-based programmes, as it has allowed for input from the computer’s sound card to be output through MPD to the Icecast server; initially this was done the same way as OBs, by using Icecast as a way of broadcasting the studio output and connecting MPD to the stream.
Nerve Extra will allow Nerve Radio to go further in its radio broadcasting, by providing a platform for speech-based radio to be broadcast, with ideas to come including a programme based on Radio 4’s Today programme, comprehensive sports coverage, discussions about technology and games, and dramas and comedy programmes. Historically, there have been people wanting to do these programmes on Nerve Radio, but it has been difficult to schedule them into a music-based station. Extra will allow presenters to produce programmes in their own time, at a high quality, and further increase the professionalism that Nerve has gained in the past couple of years.
Best Specialist Music Programming
Eclectic Sessions is a weekly radio show dedicated to exploring and celebrating a very broad range of underground music covering styles such as Techno, Hip-Hop, Jazz and Electronic Soul. The show is based around one main feature, the Label Focus.
The Label Focus feature dedicates roughly an hour in the middle of each show to a continuous mix showcasing music from a specified independent record label (prodominantly from the UK) in chronological fashion. With this, our host Silecta provides a highly informative narrative collaborating with the music to give an enjoyable and educational story for the listener to embrace.
Another feature, the Romantic Classic from the Dusty Crate, this is where we play a classic, romantic song from Silecta’s dusty record collection towards the end of the show.
Ocassionally Eclectic Sessions features interviews from artists falling into our regions of interest such as the one conducted with New York Hip-Hop star Homeboy Sandman and the one with Oxford’s rising talent Ella Martini.
With the features we also play a host of new electronic soul, hip-hop, techno and jazz from the UK as well as the US, Germany, France and everywhere else producing great eclectic music. The show compiles a an eclectic range of dance music alongside well written songs, rap and beats to form a simultaneous ambience for the music and art enthusiast as well as the present and future DJ.
“Let’s fully indulge.”
Silecta has been DJing for around 12 years (www.Mixcloud.com/Silecta). With an inherited ear for music and a passion for the surrounding culture he soon diversified his musical skills by engaging with rap and songwriting; recently featuring with a self titled jazz band. After a year of being a host/DJ on Bristol based Hub Radio (www.HubRadio.co.uk) Silecta decided to collaborate his enthusiasms for beats, melodies, vocals and radio for him to build a platform for him to share his musical tastes. Frustrated with his disability to showcase the music he listens to at home in regular sets, Silecta uses Eclectic Sessions as the perfect medium to share his eclectic music library. Taking influence from DJs/Radio personalities such as Gilles Peterson, Benji B and LefTo; Silecta aims to provide people with the music that’s too underground for the charts, too ambient for the clubs and too future for fashion.
The show broadcasts every Sunday night 8pm-10pm. Preparation for the show consists of compiling the latest in relevant music, as much as possible of the label in focus’ entire catalogue of releases and other relevant clips and recordings. The entire show from start to finish is a simultaneous mix often produced, mixed and recorded by Silecta before the show is broadcast and sometimes mixed live.
Eclectic Sessions now falls under the brand Eclectivity; an extension of the radio show and a musical media outlet. Eclectivity is the brand in which continues to distribute the latest in relevant musical news, reviews and features when the show is not broadcast or podcast. This includes posts on social media pages and videos on the Eclectivity YouTube Channels. Silecta’s dedication to Eclectic Sessions and Eclectivity has developed to the point he now DJs and produces under the alias ‘Eclecticist’. The intention is to see Eclectivity to become a musical label in the future whilst maintaining it’s foundations in radio.
Maddie’s Tea Party
Maddie’s Tea Party
A thing of beauty is a joy forever! Maddie’s Tea Party was created with the intention of sharing beautiful old things with an ugly young audience. The music I play is almost exclusively from before the 1950’s. This era was chosen for two reasons; firstly, it is music that I grew up with, know loads about, love the most and want to share with others. Secondly, it chimes in perfectly with the Zeitgeist-y popularity of vintage clothing, record players, The Great Gatsby, old bikes and The Great British Bake Off- all particularly popular amongst students at UEA.
The show aired on Sunday evenings at 7.30pm* as part of Livewire1350’s specialist music programming. It slotted in to an eclectic Sunday evening line-up. Although I can’t take the credit for the scheduling, I can take the credit for all 90 minutes of my tea party; I am the host, the cook, the band and, when it’s time for everyone to go home, the chauffeur… all at the flick of a fader!
It has always been important to me to create a special and unique experience for my listeners. My Sunday-evening show was one that a listener might sit down and listen to exclusively, so I was always meticulous when I put together the programme for each show, choosing songs that complemented each other or provided an interesting contrast, and always avoid jarring changes of pace. I like to talk about where the music has come from, and what it’s gone on to do.
Around two-thirds of the show was dedicated to the music, which I hope the audio demonstrates. However, what happened in between was vitally important too! Often, I’d choose a theme for the show’s music and features. One week, for example, we set off on holiday and found ourselves listening to ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ and ‘Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye’, another week we explored the future and listened to the bizarre predictions of the 1950’s fashion and medical professionals.
Tracks were sourced from my own personal collection of vintage music, from musicals that are being revived and from old film soundtracks. Choosing the right songs required sensitivity to the cultural significance of each musical style, lyrical motif, songwriter and performer. It’s not all sweetness and light, my music comes from wartime, from racism and from broken homes. I read up on everything from trivial anecdotes about The Rat Pack, to the sad story behind the lyrics of Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’, and shared these stories with my listeners.
The show was usually organized into three half-hour sections, with corresponding features for each. Features complemented the music, and here are the favourites…
Fancy dress: According to a theme (kept secret until the last moment) my listeners were given the length of two songs to dress up in the best costume they could improvise. Photographs were put up on Twitter and Facebook, and winners were chosen to add an element of competition.
Archive Reels: From the BFI, British Pathe or from YouTube, I would source an entertaining short film, perhaps ‘The Do’s and Don’ts of Dating’ or ‘Women in the Workplace’ and treat my audience to some Public Service Broadcasting.
All-or-Muffin: Two contestants took part in a bake-off each week. A third guest would judge them on taste, looks and comic value. The winner won both entries… the loser got an English muffin.
If Maddie’s Tea Party was even half as fun for its audio guests as it was for its broadcasting host, then I think everyone had a rip-roaringly good time!
*Coaches at 9pm.
Word Count: 600.
Last Donut of the Night
(University Radio Bath)
Last Donut of the Night
(University Radio Bath)
‘Last Donut of the Night’ is presented and produced by myself, and aims to present new music to my listeners, whilst maintaining an intimate and personal feel to the show. In terms of production, I do not use beds so I can maintain a live feel and flow to the show. ‘Last Donut of the Night’ is solely about the music, so I try to keep the volume up throughout the show, dipping it temporarily to speak. I feel this helps keep that personal feel to it, and also allows me a bit of creativity, choosing when and when not to speak. I keep a general rule not to speak too often over vocals, or any particular moment when the beat ‘drops’. Simultaneously I aim to provide information about the artists and tracks I play, for example, an artist posting a mix online, appearing as a guest on television/radio, any particular shows they may be playing, and of course any interesting information about them. I also make sure my show is as interactive as possible, updating my track lists live on twitter, responding to any messages I get throughout the show, and uploading the shows to our Mixcloud the day after broadcast.
I try to keep the music as fresh as possible, sometimes playing music that had been released within a few hours. I have contacted labels, artists, and blogs for any tracks they may be able to provide me with. From my efforts I have managed to acquire an account with a certain promotions company that provided me with countless pre-releases. This enabled me to give L.D.o.t.N an edge and a good way to keep listeners tuning in. I have also played music that some may not consider contemporary, partly to give the show diversity and partly because I can’t resist playing such good music.
In terms of sourcing music, I have a varied selection of methods, however I primarily use Soundcloud. I follow over 900 artists and labels on Soundcloud, the social aspect of the website helps enormously, meaning I am able to listen to music that artists and labels are ‘likeing’, and ‘reposting’ to their own pages. This has meant many a time I have found music before it receives the coverage it rightly deserves, and with L.D.o.t.N I can assist in that act.
I also listen to a lot of radio myself, being a regular listener to Gilles Peterson’s 6music show. Listening to shows like Gilles’s often allows me to hear music that has been sent exclusively to shows with perhaps more influence in the global music scene. Thus I am able to hear it as soon as possible.
I keep a consistently changing list of blogs and music journalism websites. These websites are a good way of keeping track of the trends in music, as well as allowing me to listen to different styles I might not have looked for myself. I also write my own blog, which means listening to and sourcing new music is a good part of my life. It is important for L.D.o.t.N that I know what is going on in music, this means both in music news and trends, so I can keep the show relevant.
Overall, Last Donut of the Night has been born out of my love for new sounds. I have always been enamoured by the prospect of sharing music, and I believe radio is one of the most satisfying ways of doing so.
The Student Radio Chart Show Award
The Cat 1251