Blog · Radio

Out of the shadows and into the fire

I’ve been back to BBC Radio London a couple of times since my last post and have been learning more with the sports team there.

I was there on Wednesday to shadow Nathan as he drove the desk for the evening match of  Southampton v Spurs. Lucy and Pete were also there editing clips of the goals and liaising with the commentator, in this case Nick Godwin. Andy Rowley who was reporting on one of the matches when I was there previously, was in the studio to provide the sports bulletins.
15824411_10157828641340411_1226010930_oIt was great to be back and to watch everyone working, especially as I was more familiar with the studio and able to absorb more of everything.

Roll forward to Friday and the last time I was visiting. Pete and Lucy were looking after the production of the evening sports programme, Andy was back to provide sports bulletins and Emma Jones was commentating on the featured match, Reading v Fulham. Now if you follow football, you may be aware of what happened in the match but I will come to that later.

Once Emma had begun her presenting prior to the commentary, Pete said I could drive the desk which I’ll be completely honest, was terrifying! I’ve driven the desk before back at university but now I was responsible for the output of a major station- eek! Now it wasn’t the slickest of production as there was a lot of faders to deal with at the same time and not necessarily knowing where everything was didn’t help. Trying to anticipate when Emma would finish talking in order to fade her down and to fade Jamie Hill up who was reporting from the Millwall v Gillingham game when he was providing an update on the match.

This is something that will improve as I get more experience and more familiar with their speech patterns and how they’ll finish their sentences and as I get more used to the desk, I’ll be quicker at switching between the faders. As stated in the Sound Women Tech Training, learning to use the desks is like learning to drive a car. I just need a bit more practice and then I’ll be used to it and stop metaphorically stalling.

Some of the fog in Regent Street plus pretty Christmas lights

So other than trying to control when to hand over to Jamie and when Andy was presenting his sports bulletin and playing the necessary audio clips and not messing it up, it would have been helpful to not have the added pressure of wondering what on earth was going to happen if the Reading v Fulham match was to be abandoned. For some reason, the end of 2016 saw London (and most of the South East) descend into the environment imagined whenever someone thinks up a Victorian scene. The fog was so thick you couldn’t see up the road you were walking and as a result, the Brighton match had already been called off prior to kick off. Now that fog was coming in thick at Reading and the first half managed to be played although there were a few stoppages as the referee discussed the visibility issues with the linesmen but we thought if it got to the second half then it wouldn’t be called off.

Now as a back up, we did quickly speak to Jamie to say whether he could take over and provide commentary on the Millwall match and whether he could find a summariser to help him. Thankfully, Jamie was able to sort this out and just as well as right when the second half of the match was to begin, the announcement was made that the game was called off. Fans were not happy as apparently the visibility had improved somewhat compared to what was being played in before.

15821009_10157828637020411_1963844598_oSo at this point, Pete took back over as we had a bit of a mad scramble in sorting out who was commentating, what Emma needed to do now the match had been called off and as the Millwall game had started 15 minutes earlier, meant we would have a gap to fill at the end of the programme. Thankfully, Emma was able to catch the Fulham manager Slaviša Jokanović and have a brief interview with him about the match being called off but better still, about the issue surrounding Fulham player Chris Martin asking not to play and giving the most fantastic soundbite;

“We’re not a train station…you can’t come in and out when you want”

Now this story and quote in particular as blown up all over the media and has been reported in various newspapers and websites and shows just how an apparently misfortunate event can turn into gold dust.

It was an interesting night, and as first time running the desk it was definitely eventful. Fair to say it was a baptism of fire but then next time can only improve! I’ve seen and experienced the uncertainty of live radio and as said to me by Yasmin who let me sit in with her whilst she was producing the drivetime show with Eddie Nestor;

“If you can drive sport, you can drive anything!”

So here’s to the next time and possibly the start of a rather incredible 2017.


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