Saturday, March 07, 2009


Yesterday I attended a Radio Academy event at the Royal Concert Hall called "Foot in the Door". It was supposed to be just for radio students but, after initially being told I couldn't go, I was invited too. (Thanks to John Collins (no, not that one), Helliate and Laura.)

While in my ways I was glad I went I left feeling rather more depressed than when I arrived (and I've been very down this week). I took a lot of good information away and I certainly asked plenty of questions - I figured it might be my only chance.

The event was split into a number of sessions covering different areas of radio/broadcasting.

Imaging - Marketing a station's brand
Indies - Getting work on the BBC via independent producers
Music radio production - Selection and scheduling of music on the BBC and independent radio
Speech sequence radio production and presentation - Producing busy, regular speech radio
How to get your work commissioned - Exactly as it sounds
Podcasting - See above
Music Presentation Skills - What rocks on air and why
Community Radio - As it says

I plumped for Podcasting, How To Get Commissioned, Indies and Music Presentation Skills, although the last one seemed to have disappeared so I plumped for a very busy Speech Production table.

The podcasting table featured Karen Miller and Jim Gellatly, who already do their own (excellent) podcasts and Tony Currie who runs Radio Six International, an Internet radio station based in Glasgow. Most of the chat centred around money; namely licences from PPL and the mouthful that is the MCPS-PRS Alliance. While it made no attempt to cover up the realities I felt the dark clouds of doom begin to hover.

Cumulo Depressus showed no sign of disappearing through "How To Get Your Work Commissioned". Okay, maybe they were just being realistic about your chances of getting your ideas commissioned or even stolen but there was definitely an air of doom and gloom about it all.

The third table, after a very pricey lunch in the Concert Hall cafe, was even more depressing. Colin Somerville is someone I grew up listening to over many years and while it was great to put a face to the voice he seemed tinged with a world-weary sadness that didn't fill me with hope for my own chances of getting paid for doing what I love to do. Again, maybe he was just telling it like it is, keeping it real, making sure we were under no illusions as to how tough 'the business' is but it just made me feel like going home.

The last table, Speech Sequence Radio Production and Presentation, gave me a bit more hope. One thing I did learn is that Scott Wilson, resplendent in a lovely grey golfing jumper, doesn't need a microphone! Ever! I managed to chat with two of the panellists from this table later on, namely Graham Stewart and Stephen Hollywood, both who work for Radio Scotland. Graham presents "Morning Extra" on Radio Scotland and I phoned in on Christmas Eve to talk about two of the featured topics - Christmas records and working over the festive period. I was on air when I was on my way to do my Christmas Countdown show on VRN. I also had a chat with Stephen Hollywood, a senior Producer for Radio Scotland who looks after Fred MacAulay's Show. I was interviewed about the Jocknroll Best/Worst Album Poll by Fred and I spoke to Stephen about being a music contributor on the show. If you don't ask...

After an excellent closing speech by Trevor Dann and a brief chat with Jim I made my way to one of my least favourite places, Buchanan Street Bus Station. Even in broad daylight I'm very wary of the place.

While the event was well organised I did feel at times that I was on my own and spent a lot of wondering aimlessly around. I did meet and talk to a few people but most of them were the actual panel members for each group.

I like to thank the following people for their time and words of wisdom: Graham Stewart , Stephen Hollywood, Paul Saunders (Programme Director for Radio Clyde who allowed me to foist my demo on to him), Nick Low (Demus Productions, who voted in the Jocknroll Singles poll), Karen Miller, Tony Currie and last, but not least, the larger-than-life Jim Gellatly, who did a little piece to camera for a rolling Jocknroll project that I'm working on (and not telling you about yet).

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