Sunday, September 14, 2008

Do I need an iPhone?

My mobile phone contract with Orange is coming to an end. I've been living a battered old Samsung U600 for many a month now.
I recently installed a java programme allowing quick access to my Gmail email over the phone. It's become quite addictive and I do find myself checking for emails whenever I have a moment to spare.
My boss has had an Apple iPhone since launch, and several colleagues have the new 3G version, but do I need one.
Yes I would appreciate the easy access to email, Internet and BBC iPlayer, but do I want to be spending a fortune on a monthly contract with O2? I pay around £20 - £25 a month with Orange.
I do take the occasional photo on my Samsung, but would I be disappointed with the camera on the iPhone, I've heard it's not too good.
I already have an iPod Nano, that's mainly used in the car for listening to podcasts - Would I be able to use the Nano and the iPhone on the same iTunes account?
Size is another thing too, is the iPhone too big for my pocket? The Samsung is quite small in comparison.
If I get one, am I being sucked into the iPhone cult? Do I really need it? Am I jealous? Am I envious? Is it too expensive?

- What should I do? I'd welcome your thoughts.

40th Anniversary

Hello - Apologies for the lack of updates.

It was nice to be asked to the 40th Anniversary of Chorley Hospital Radio last Friday. I cut my teeth at CHR learning basic things about radio craft before I started volunteering at Rock FM.

It was very basic during my time, an old studio hut was crumbling, with only one CD player and two Cd's! The rest was scratchy old vinyl and equipment that didn't really work. Now I learn that they are on-air 24 hours a day, it's all computerised and even link up with Preston Hospital and do live bingo! (Watch out ITV!)

Congratulations on reaching 40, hopefully the station will produce more professionals like me, Glen Hunt from Century Radio and Mick Coyle from CityTalk 105.9

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A new Preston

- A small diversion -

I've just been to see the plans for the new Preston. The sooner the building work gets underway the better!

The plans are forward thinking and yet equally reflect the past and retain Prestons heritage. Careful consideration has been given to controversial issues like the location of the bus station. Locating it on Manchester Road, only a couple of hundred yards away from the current location, demonstrates to me that planners have listened to local concern.
Parking problems have been thought about too, and a light rail link to the docks can only help.

But it's more than just a new bus station and parking and people need to see past that. The project breaths life into our dieing city centre, righting a wrong caused by town planners decades ago.

This will bring people into Preston, bring big name stores, regenerate the markets and importantly create jobs. The multiplex cinema and restaurant area will bring a new dimension to the nightlife, moving the focus away from problem drinking zones.

I only hope provision will be made for small independent retailers who might not be able to afford large rents. One of the only good things about Leeds city centre is an undercover street full of these kinds of shops.

If you have time it really is worth seeing the plans for yourself.Our city has been on life-support for far too many years, and this is the re-birth.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

So different

If you work in the newsroom at a commercial radio station you get to do a bit of everything. From reading the bulletins, reporting, sport and getting involved in the main shows on-air. I found it very different in the BBC.

I started at BBC Radio Leeds in January 2001. My job was to read the news bulletins in what was called the Night Network, my shift started at 4.30pm until half past midnight, reading the bulletins on Radio Leeds, Sheffield, Humberside and York four days a week. It wasn't a very social shift, as I was starting work everyone else was winding down and getting ready to go to the pub.

In hindsight I really regret working the unsociable hours, but I don't regret getting a staff job at the BBC. This was my first time away from Preston and from my parents. A couple of weeks earlier we'd been driving around Leeds looking for a suitable place to live. I ended up renting a room in a house owned by the son of a presenter who worked on Magic 999. Tracey would end up being my housemate for around the next 18 months. She worked for a company in city centre Leeds, formerly she operated the autocue at breakfast television stations TV-am and GMTV.

There was lots of learn, different computer systems, different studios and very different ways of working. I enjoyed the challenge of learning about the areas I would be broadcasting to, and trying to get to know some of my new colleagues.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Become a fan!

Become a fan... check out my Facebook page and keep up to date

A Lancastrian on the wrong side of the Pennines

I had heard many things about BBC job interviews, or "Boards" as they call them. Boards summons up the impression of a great panel of suited men around a big table making you feel very small.
Acquaintances talked of interviews lasting hours, spending time searching out an exclusive story, being grilled on journalism law, showing knowledge of the local area and explaining which stories you would include in one of their news bulletins. Needless to say, I spent hours researching the recent history of West Yorkshire, its industries, communities, politicians.. you name it! I'd come up with what I thought were original news stories and a plan on how I would cover them.

My interview was at 1130 at the BBC North, Leeds building on Woodhouse Lane in the city. I'd left Preston and set off with plenty of time, allowing for bad traffic on the M62. This was January 2001, and a time when satellite navigation was the preserve of the military and mega rich. I had never travelled to the wrong side of the Pennines before. Naturally I was armed with maps, directions and hastily scribbled directions from people who had a knowledge of the city.
Getting to Leeds was fine, and I don't know if you've ever been there, but trying to understand the spaghetti like ring road was another thing. By now I was starting to panic that I would be late, I didn't want to give the impression that I couldn't keep to deadlines. I abandoned my car in a supermarket car park and set out on foot.

I arrived a little breathless at BBC Radio Leeds, eager to impress. I was taken to the Managing Editors office expecting the aforementioned suits and table, but was surprised to learn it would be just him and his assistant. Phew! We chatted about how I would cover a news story and how it would develop throughout the day, and a little about journalism law. Then they wanted to hear what I sounded like and I was taken to the studios. At Rock FM (Red Rose Radio) I had been used to a pretty modern set-up, and expected the same at the BBC. The studio looked like something from the BBC Home Service during the war, with big knobs and switches and huge faders. I constructed my news bulletins while another member of staff recorded it.

That was it. I was sent on my way, all that worry just for an hour. Three hours later I got a call asking if I wanted the job and if wanted to join the BBC.
It was hard decision to make. I had never lived away from Preston before. I had good friends at Rock FM and had good times, but things were changing and thought it would be best to move on.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

No adverts please - This is the BBC

(Apologies for the lack of recent updates, I've moved house and it's been a nightmare trying to get back online! All that to come in another posting)

I'd been working full time at Rock FM for three years after they paid for my training. I got to do some amazing things, being involved on the Breakfast shows with Kev Seed, Brian Moore and John Gillmore, producing the sports show in the days when Magic 999 did full match commentaries on PNE, Rovers, Blackpool, Burnley and Wigan. I covered some amazing news stories; the high court appeal of millionaire Owen Oyston, the trial of a Preston nurse accused of killing her husband on Valentines Day in Florida, Tom Finney claiming his knighthood and the sad death of Stanley Matthews to name a few.
The people I worked with both on and off the air were great, welcoming and so much fun. Many remain close friends. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to learn my trade at my local station.

My path to the BBC started with a trip to the University of Central Lancashire, were Rock FM had previously released me to complete the nationally renown Postgraduate Journalism Course. I'd been invited in by course leader Mike Green to explain what it was like working in a commercial radio newsroom. I explained to the students the differences between Rock FM and the BBC. One of the lecturers on the course was the breakfast show presenter on BBC Radio Leeds and we got chatting. I told him how I was getting getting ready for a change after spending so long at St. Paul's Church. He explained how Radio Leeds were advertising for a newsreader and would I be interested in applying?

Eight weeks later I was leaving Preston for Leeds and my first BBC job interview....