One of my favourite sports to watch is Formula 1, so when I saw that Murray Walker was being interviewed by Kirsty Young for the Desert Island Discs programme I had to give it a listen. Before listening to the podcast I was already interested to hear what it was like to be the voice of Formula 1 for so many years, and it would be interesting to get into the mind set and hear what one of (if not the) most respected broadcasters in the sports history had to say. I also wanted to see if he’d pick the Chain by Fleetwood Mac as one of his songs because that has been the theme tune for the Formula 1 broadcasts for many years and every time I hear that song I instantly think of the sport.
The interview starts with opening comments about Murray Walker which tells the audience who he is and what his career highlights have been, I think this is a really clever way to get the audience fully engaged with the podcast within the first couple of minutes of it, and at the end the presenter moves seamlessly from the opening comments into the interview by asking Murray to expand on a point he’d made about Formula 1 being “the ultimate distillation of life with its highs and lows”. The next question Murray is asked opens up the entire programme to a wider audience by asking him “what does it take to become a great sports broadcaster?”, this question opens up the interview and the programme to anyone who aspires to become a sports broadcaster in future rather than just its intended target audience of Formula 1 fans, who want to find out more about the man behind the voice of the sport.
In my opinion the podcast has been well produced as the producer uses panning to simulate a real conversation with Kirsty Young on one side, Murray walker on the other to make the listener feel like they are at the heart of everything that’s going on, and as a listener I was more engaged with the podcast because I felt like I was sat in the studio with them and I felt like I was a part of the interview itself. The past, present, future format of the interview is a safe option in my opinion, but the lines of questioning that Kirsty Young pursued made for interesting listening. Another area where I feel that the podcast succeeded was that Murray Walkers broadcasting career in Formula 1 made up a small section of the show, beforehand I was concerned that the focus would be around his broadcasting career but the focus was more on his upbringing and his journey into broadcasting, and one of his song choices saw Murray and his father broadcasting side by side which I think did well to vary the content which kept it interesting to listen to. It was also interesting to hear the difference in his presentation style when he started his broadcasting career, and hear how it developed from a calmer more casual broadcaster in the beginning to the “pants on fire” broadcasting style that became one of his trademarks later on in his career.
My main criticism of the podcast is the length as podcasts should usually be around 30 minutes, beforehand I thought that the podcast was going to drag out and I’d become disengaged from what I was listening to, but by the end of it I felt that 45 minutes wasn’t long enough and some areas could have benefitted from more questioning as I had questions that I wanted answered.
Image taken from:http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/384×216/p01txcv0.jpg
I’ve listened to a few Radio 4 media show podcasts in the past and I’ve always found them really insightful and the topics that they talk about really interesting, in the past topics they’ve covered include the Leveson inquiry into press standards, the rise of the YouTuber and the YouTube generation, and the challenges involved with making a programme on mental illness. The topics in this edition of the media show were just as ground-breaking as they covered the Oscar Pistorius trail and having cameras in court, why the circulation of Sunday tabloids is decreasing, and a review into the BBC commissioning process by the BBC Trust. Despite the heaviness of the content in the podcast it felt very inclusive as the social media details for the show and an email address for people to send their questions to were given out, which made it feel more inclusive and in the section about the BBC commissioning process viewer’s questions were put to the interviewees.
The first topic that is covered in the show is the trail of Oscar Pistorius which gives a good insight into what the listener can expect from the show and it sets the tone for the rest of the podcast, in the podcast clips from the trail itself were used and in my opinion were a good way to break up the content and showed the listener what the trail was like. The show featured an interview with the owner of a TV channel setup just to cover the trail which gave me as a listener an better insight into why the channel was setup in the first place, the lines of questioning in the interview were good and the interviewer asked whether it was all in good taste considering the tragedy at the heart of the trail.
It also highlighted to me the restrictions of live broadcasting in court, for example the owner of the TV station mentioned that the cameras didn’t have battery packs or tapes as they would need changing and disrupt the proceedings, and some of the restrictions imposed on them by a court order that allowed the station to exist in the first place. Listening to this section reminded me of a similar programme Channel 4 broadcasted last year, where they had cameras at a murder trial and it made me question whether this is a sign of things to come.
In the section about the decline of the Sunday tabloids there was a good use of stats which helped to put the situation into context for the listener, by saying that red top circulation fell 12% faster than broadsheets over the last year. The presenter in this section did well to spell out and demystify everything that the interviewee was saying to ensure that the audience knew exactly what he was saying; so that they could keep following the conversation and better connect with the content of the podcast.
In the podcast I felt that the producers did well to leave the best content till last. I found that the topic about BBC commissioning the most interesting out of the three topics that were discussed in the podcast for several reasons, the presenter did well to keep the topic interesting and engaging for the audience by using a selection of pre-recorded trailers for Dr Who and Sherlock, use of statistics which showed exactly how much BBC content is made either in house or by an external company over TV and Radio, and putting questions posed by the shows audience to the interviewees. An area I feel that the BBC has been successful in the past is its ability to be self-critical, to ensure that as license payers the listeners are getting the best content at the most reasonable price which is a topic that comes up in the interview.
My main criticism of the podcast was the way it was structured as there were two feature pieces, an interview and a final feature piece, I personally would have left the interview till the end of the podcast because it carried a different tone compared to the other pieces, and it didn’t make sense to change the tone to then revert back to what the tone was originally.
Image taken from:http://emmabarnett.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Media-Show.jpg
Arguably my biggest passion in life is music (and radio of course), so when I found that there was a podcast dedicated to one of my favourite topics of new music I thought I’d found the perfect podcast for me. The Guardian music weekly podcast looks at the latest developments and news in the music world; I am an avid follower of the guardian music social media pages and regularly look at the music section on the Guardian website for the latest news and developments. In this podcast the Coachella music festival was covered, the team looked at the highlights from the first weekend of the festival, and the presenters also picked out their favourite new tracks of the week.
After the adverts at the beginning of the podcast you are thrown straight into it. The podcast sounds professional and as a listener I knew exactly what to expect from it as the music that starts off the podcast becomes the musical bed for the presenter to talk over, which sets the tone for the podcast as it later turns out that the music bed is one of the new tracks which is featured later on, the music also served as a means to break up the trail and the main body of the podcast itself while acting as a bridge between the two.
The podcast had a very conversational feel for the most part which I really enjoyed because as a listener it felt like a group of friends having a conversation about the new music and artists that they’d come across in the last week, and the conversational aspect made the podcast feel very inclusive. It was easy to see that the presenters had done their research and prepared appropriately as they sounded well informed, and their tactical use of facts reinforced the points that they were making which kept me listening to the podcast and wanting to listen to the entire thing.
The presenters themselves are another reason that I wanted to keep listening to the podcast as they had different personalities that provided good variety, and their personalities didn’t clash and make it awkward to listen to. The presenters didn’t interrupt each while trying to make their points heard and they seem to know when the person speaking has finished, and in my opinion mastered the art of conversation on the radio. The presenters also moved seamlessly between the topics and at times I didn’t realise they had changed topics at all, and the anecdotes that the presenters come up with were interesting and relevant to the topic being discussed and help to vary the content and keep the interest of the listener.
There were few negative aspects to the podcast but the thing that surprised me the most was that there was swearing in it, and at the top and tail of the show there is no warning of it which is surprising because I have become accustomed to the BBC podcasts which highlight the fact there may be content that some people would find offensive; but in my opinion the swearing isn’t out of context with the rest of the conversation in the sense that the swears are said to better highlight the point the presenters were talking about rather than swearing for the sake of it.
An aspect of the podcast that I would change would be that with the exception of the beginning of the podcast and the Coachella festival piece the podcast is completely dry, I feel that a musical bed to accompany the speech sections of the piece would help to make the content easier to consume. Another aspect that I would change is the length of the podcast its self, at 45 minutes the podcast very long and ideally it should be 20-30 minutes long. A section that talks about the latest singles I felt that bits could have been cut and music was definitely needed to accompany the presenters voices, and keep me interested in the content that was being said because at times I found myself losing interest with the podcast altogether.
Before the lecture I was excited to hear about what the media was like from Huw’s perspective as someone who has one of the best jobs in news broadcasting, I thought it would be interesting to get his take on how news and the media as a whole has changed since he was at University and applying for his first media jobs. In the lecture Huw started off by explaining how technology has changed the news, he explained how viewing patterns have changed especially over the last five years and they are continuing to do so, and people are now accessing news in different ways that weren’t available to the viewers before such as news apps provided by the BBC and their competitors, which has allowed viewers to take the news with them wherever they go and made it more portable compared to watching the news on the TV or visiting a news website.
“You’ll be walking into an industry that will have changed again when you break into it”
Huw talked about trying to break into the media after graduation, one of the first things he mentioned in his guest lecture was that production is a growth area in the media, he also mentioned that the media will have changed again by the time that we (as students) will be breaking into it, this surprised me because it showed how fast technological and other advancements are changing the face and the workings of the media and there’ll many more changes over the next few months. Huw said that if you want to be successful in the media the three main things you need to be are versatile, have a willingness to learn, and flexibility. This is similar to what I’ve been told before in the sense that flexibility is key and if someone asks you to do something always say yes, it’s also about being as indispensable as possible in the hope that at the end of a work placement or internship the company you work for provide you with a job or extension , and ensuring that you can get the most out of the work placement as possible and learn some new skills along the way.
Later in the lecture Huw gave us some advice on how to succeed in the media, he said that you need to learn to keep calm when people are losing it and not to let others side-track you or your work, an example that Huw gave is that his producers in the gallery could be having a meltdown but as the face of the station it’s important to keep calm and concentrate on your job. Preparation is a key skill needed to work in the media for example preparing for if something goes wrong such as a VT not working and knowing how to react in the situation and carrying on, or in terms of sports broadcasting preparation is key to keep some variation in the content and the interest of the viewer/ listener.
As media professionals Huw said that we needed to have a clear brand that showcased who we are and what we’re about, for example the BBC is one of the most trusted brands in the world and is known for its impartiality. Huw mentioned that building and maintaining support networks are key as they could land you your next job or promotion, proving that you are versatile and can do different things, for example Huw also presents Welsh language shows on S4C as well as a variety of history programmes on the BBC. If you want to be successful you have to keep reinventing yourself to show to employers that you are still relevant and valuable to them to ensure that you stay employed.
Huw said that the five key skills needed to keep in mind to be successful in the media are
- The ability to adapt
- Good communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
I gained a lot from Huw’s guest lecture and it gave me an insight into what it will be like for me in the coming months when it comes to applying for jobs, work experience, internships etc. The lecture reinforced some points that I had heard previously such as ensuring that you say yes to as much as possible, and if there’s something that you don’t know how to approach it’s never a bad thing to ask someone else for help/guidance. However I didn’t think about selecting work experience based on what I could get out of the experience myself except from another piece of work experience that I could add to my CV.
Picture taken from: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01567/Huw-Edwards_1567384c.jpg
The minute Bethan walked in the room it was easy to see that she was excited and bubbly which is exactly what you want from a radio presenter, whether it’s the breakfast presenter trying to get you up and ready in the morning or trying to help you through your working day and on the way home from work. Her bubbly and positive attitude made me want to listen to what she had to say about radio and how it’s changed since she started. Bethan Elfyn is a radio presenter at BBC Radio Wales and Absolute Radio, in the past Bethan has worked on stations such as BBC Radio 1 and Radio 6 Music, but before that she started at the BBC as a researcher and worked her way up.
When Bethan started talking about radio and her journey in it, it was clear that she had as much substance as she did style and passion. She started off by talking about her journey and the tips she’s picked up along the way, one of the first topics she talked about was how hard it is trying to break into the BBC and that she had trouble trying to get employed by them which echoed what Steve Austins had said only a few minutes before. Hearing Bethan talking about how hard it is to break into the media and hearing her story of how she started from the bottom and worked her way up to where she is now was inspiring, and it shows that anything is possible if you put your mind to it and have clear goals in mind that anything is possible.
Bethan said that when she got her break that it wasn’t easy and she had to be multitalented and while she was presenting shows on the BBC she was also producing documentaries for them, this appealed to me in particular because when I graduate in a few months I will be in the same position that she was in, and I’ll be looking to break into the industry and Bethan’s story gave me an insight into what I can expect in the next few months.
“Make sure you really paint a picture in the listeners head”
Later on in the guest lecture Bethan talked about what it takes to be a successful presenter and she had some tips that she had picked up along the way. She stressed the importance of building a picture for the listener as there isn’t one readily available like there is in TV, so a radio presenter has to build up the picture for the listener and help them better engage with the presenter and the shows output. Bethan said that to be successful you need to follow your passions and do something creative with them; an example she gave was the love she had for new music. Bethan said how she developed that passion into her radio work, and how she has built a career out of it as a result. Bethan mentioned work experience; she said make sure that you get work experience that will make you stand out from the crowd such as volunteering at a festival if you have a passion for music, or covering local sports fixtures in your area if you have a passion for sport, it was said that anyone looking to break into the BBC as a presenter should keep in mind that The BBC want presenter who sound real and the audience can relate to rather than a presenter who fits in with what they think the BBC are looking for.
Toward the end of the lecture Bethan talked about trying to get into contact with people, the best way to get in contact with someone is to meet them in person (without stalking them obviously) and this shows initiative. We were told that there is no wrong way to try and get in contact with someone about work experience or a internship, but keep trying people in moderation because spamming people across social media, email, & phone would be enough to put anyone off.
The key messages that I’ve taken away from the guest lecture are:
• it’s important to be yourself when your presenting
• Smile when you talk
• Make yourself as interesting as possible
• Give employers a reason to give you work experience
I found this guest lecture really interesting to listen to as I will be starting the same journey that Bethan was talking about in the guest lecture, and when applying for places I’ll have to be thick skinned and not take a no personally because the first place I apply to are unlikely to say yes right away.
Picture taken from: http://www.greenman.net/sites/default/files/bethan%20elfyn.jpg
Steve Austins is the editor for BBC Radio Wales, the BBC’s national English language station based at broadcasting house in Llandaff. Radio Wales’ target audience is anyone living in Wales or who has an interest in it, and the station highlights stories from across the nation that would be of interest to the stations target audience. Going into the lecture I thought that it would be interesting to get an insight into the radio industry from a professional angle and compare it to what I’d learnt and been taught about the industry and the medium from university.
In the guest lecture that Steve hosted, one of the first things he’d said was that there is no defined route into the BBC and the same applies to the rest of the radio industry/ media as it is gets increasingly harder to break into the industry in the first place. Steve mentioned that even he had noticed a change in the BBC in the 20 years he’s worked for the corporation and that it’s harder than ever to get a job with them than it was when he first started out, with this in mind Steve then mentioned how crucial it is to have work experience in addition to a media degree if you’re looking to break into the industry and be successful, it was said that when employers look at prospective employees CV’s it’s great that they have a degree on there but the next question that employers will usually ask is what else have you got to go with it? What practical work experience have you got to back up your degree with?
As an employer Steve said that he takes as much interest in the amount of practical experience an applicant has, as much as whether they have a degree or not. With this in mind it was said that if you have trouble breaking into the industry that community radio should be one of the first places you go to, so that you can get the experience you need before trying to break in the industry again. A good audio reel is key to marketing yourself online and it allows employers to get a feel for who you are and it gives an insight into what your presentation style is like. This made me think about what I could do to make myself stand out with the hope of being employed in the media after graduating, it also made me question whether I have enough experience under my belt that would make me employable to a professional station.
“What unites your audience? When you find out jump on it and put the hours in”
Steve also talked about listeners and branding, he said “what unites your audience? When you find out jump on it and put the hours in” In the case of Radio Wales Steve said that when the 6 nations Rugby tournament is on, Radio Wales transforms into a station that covers nearly all aspects of the tournament and they become “Your 6 nations station” over the course of the tournament as that is what unites Radio Wales’ audience. Steve talked about planning ahead in terms of station output and said “You plan an essay so why not a radio station?” Steve talked about the major events that would come up over the next year and how Radio Wales would be incorporating the events into the stations output for example increasing the stations coverage of the 6 nations tournament, the centenary of the beginning of WWI, and the 100 years since the birth of Dylan Thomas.
I thought that the guest lecture that Steve gave was really insightful! I realised that radio stations operate in a similar way to most businesses in other sectors. B having clear branding that the listener can engage with and tailoring a stations output so it covers upcoming events such as the WWI centenary to meet the needs and expectations of the target audience. It was interesting to hear how one of Wales’ leading radio stations is dealing with the ever changing world of media, and how factors such as Social media affects the stations output and how it is also incorporated into the stations output.
The main points that I will take away from Steve’s guest Lecture are that:
- Clear and effective branding is essential to building a successful station
- What makes me standout from the rest of the crowd when applying for jobs?
- It’s as much about making your own luck as it is getting lucky yourself