Thursday, March 29, 2007

News Just In....

After visiting all the departments and learning how the radio station operated, I spent a couple of days in the newsroom, this was the place that I was really keen to get into.
I was shown how the journalists got their news stories and where the national news came from. I followed the reporters out on stories and watched as they edited their audio for the news bulletins and programmes.

It was 1995, before the internet was being used publicly, and the back of the Red Rose Newsroom was full of reference books and research material. It also housed huge filing cabinets full of scripts dating back years. Amazingly the newsroom was still using typewriters, and all their scripts were being stored in the cabinets in case of any issues relating to the stories that had been broadcast.

My first task was to sort through most of the scripts and make some much needed space. It was something I was dreading, but I found that I actually enjoyed reading through what was effectively Lancashire's recent history. More importantly I was absorbing like a sponge the writing style and radio journalism techniques. From Keith Macklin and Mike Green's coverage of the terrible Abbeystead Disaster, through Richard Frediani's coverage of the IRA bombing of Weeton Army base to high profile cases at Preston Crown Court. I was given the task to decide what to keep and what to save.

Next I was given my first taste of recording audio to be used within the news bulletins. I was shown how to take the national news feed. IRN supply many commercial radio station newsrooms with audio of national and international stories. Like all things, it's all done online now, but every hour they used to send selection of `clips` - short bits of interviews with people making the news - via satellite from London. I had to record them on the equivalent of an 70's `8 track` cartridge tape, known as a `cart`. It was an important and stressful role, because if you messed it up, the newsreader would not be able run the clip of John Major, or equivalent, in the next news bulletin.

Next: I'm sent on my first assignment, and the typewriter with no `M` !!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Radio Radio Radio

The story how I ended up on the radio continues.....

I'd completed my work experience at the Lancashire Evening Post, and I was playing my part in entertaining the listeners at Chorley Hospital Radio.Ever keen to grab any opportunity that came my way I was out shopping in Preston, I was in the middle of buying some jeans from Debenhams in the Fishergate Centre when I heard over the shop speakers, `Debenhams Network Radio` - The store had its own instore radio station! I hunted around and on the lower ground floor found a man in the smallest studio you have ever seen, playing CD's and making store announcements. I got chatting to the presenter/manager Brett Harley, and he agreed that I come in and help out. So every Saturday I'd turn up, play songs, write news and devise competitions for the presenters, some of whom would become professional colleagues in a few years.

It was now the school summer holidays and I'd arranged a couple of weeks unpaid work experience at Red Rose Radio (Rock FM/Magic999). I loved it. I spent a couple of days in each department, watching and helping out when possible. In the Sales department I watched as they wooed clients and got them to spend lots of their money, selling different advertising packages. Then on to the Creative department as they made an entertaining adverts based on the sales reps brief. I learnt how the jingles were constructed, and how trials are used to promote presenters and programmes.

Then I was allowed into the newsroom.... I got bitten by the news bug.