Saturday, February 17, 2007

On-Air !

More now on the continuing story of how I got into radio....

I'd finally been given a chance at Hospital Radio Chorley, the chance to gain some much needed experience for my future career. Every Sunday afternoon, I'd turn up, collect requests from patients and play the songs from the hospitals studio base.
It was an interesting experience collecting the requests. More often than not, the patients were hard of hearing. I would come along asking if they wanted a song played, and they would say, `sorry love, what are you saying?` ! - When I did get a request, it would probably be Jim Reeves, I love You Because. I must have played that song a hundred times.

I attended All Hallows R.C High School in Penwortham, and time had come for our work placement, a release from classes to gain valuable real life experiences. Naturally I was keen to go somewhere media related. Several months prior I had contacted the Lancashire Evening Post, and arranged my own placement at the paper. This was my first chance to experience a big newsroom, and compare how newspapers journalists work in comparison to the radio journalists at Red Rose.

I was fascinated. I was shown how the paper was put together, the stories, the features, the articles, the classifieds, the printing and distribution to shops. I got to shadow reporters, trying to see if I could vaguely work out their shorthand scribblings, watching as they transformed it into the story of the day. It was very different to how the radio reporters worked.

I spent a couple of afternoons with the LEP's court reporter in Preston. I remember feeling really intimidated by the grandeur of the court room watching as the proceedings were transformed into an interesting story, more often than not, about some fight or stabbing in the town centre. With email and internet, I'm sure the process is very different now, but then reporter turned his notes into shorthand which was then dictated over the phone to a copy-taker in the newsroom at the Fulwood base.

During my placement I got the chance to write a couple of stories that were published, nothing major, it's not as if they would have let me write the front page lead! My stories were photo stories about children dressing up as characters from their favourite books at the local library, and plaque unveiling type events.

I enjoyed my two weeks at the Lancashire Evening Post, and back at school I was inspired to get involved with the poetry magazine Harlequin, run by my English teacher Mr Garlington.

Back then there was no internet, no mobile phone text alerts, no LEP TV style services, and personally I was frustrated about the lack of immediacy. Yes a paper gives a journalist the scope to investigate stories, write creatively and get involved in the community, but on the radio you can tell people what happens, when it happens, as it happens.

With my look around Red Rose, my Hospital Radio Chorley show I knew now that radio really was for me...