Friday, 23 May 2014

BBC Radio 1's Academy

This turned out to be a longer post than I had thought, so if you're not all that interested you can scroll through and look at the bad quality iPhone pictures.

BBC Radio 1 puts on BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend once a year. It is a weekend of free concert, and every year it is hosted in a different part of the United Kingdom. This year Glasgow is hosting the Big Weekend, and the line up includes among other Coldplay, Katy Perry, One Direction and Ed Sheeran. I feel like I choose a god year to study in Glasgow. Tickets are free (except for a £5 handling fee), and I was lucky to get tickets for all three days of the Big Weekend.

In connection with the Big Weekend BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra host BBC Radio 1's Academy. It is basically a week filled with panels, Q&As, master classes and workshops on the topics of music, comedy, journalism, TV, film, radio and events.

I first heard about the Academy on the radio on the Dan and Phil show. They said if I wanted to come see the show live from Glasgow the following weekend I just had to pop down to the QMU the following Monday and get tickets. I thought why not and walked to Glasgow University and Queen Margaret Union the following morning. When I saw the Academy timetable I was very excited when I understood I could actually get tickets to all the wonderful things going on. I was especially pleased they put up workshops and panels on events. They were probably music centered I thought, but putting up an event is basically similar whether it is a concert or a convention, and I thought I could learn something useful I could apply to organizing Torucon.

The ticket queue wasn't particularly long but very slow. When it was finally my turn the lovely man at the ticket desk helped me get tickets for the Dan and Phil Q&A and live radio broadcast, and different event panels and workshops. While I was deciding which event classes to go to he asked me if I put up any events myself. I said I organize an event in Norway, but it is not music related, it is more like comic con. I must admit I mumbled that last part. It is a bad habit I have. Whenever I might have to explain Torucon to someone I internally sigh and try to avoid it. While a large part of Torucon is fantasy, science fiction and video games that most people can relate to, a huge part of it is cosplay, anime and manga. And I just can't be bothered. I guess I just assume "normal" people will judge and think it is an event for "weirdoes".

Anyway, back to the tickets. When I had my event tickets the man asked if I was interested in any of the comedy classes. I inwardly kicked myself when I realized he probably thought I put up a comedy event. I didn't have the heart to say no, and I walked out of there with two more tickets than I had originally planned. But I was fine with it, I looked upon it as a challenge to try new things.

The Academy officially started Saturday 10th of May but I didn't have any classes planned until the next day. I didn't quite know how things worked, so I showed up rather early. I sat in the cafe at QMU before queuing up outside for the Dan and Phil Q&A. IDs were checked and tickets turned into wristbands.

We were eventually let into the building and guided up to the Hang Out. There was a half hour Q&A with Dan and Phil hosted by Aled on the topic of radio, YouTube and armpits. You can watch most of it here:

After the questions it was hug and selfie time. I don't know why getting a hug and a picture with the boys you have been obsessing over for the last half-year is such a big deal, but it is! I felt kind of uncomfortable, I'm a 22-year-old woman and shouldn't fangirl like this. But that is just in my head, I guess because I was a bit older that the average person present. One is never to old to fangirl/fanboy over someone. And I admit I have a huge friendship crush on Dan and Phil. I just want to sit on a sofa with them and watch Game of Thrones or have an anime or LotR marathon. Okay, that sounded creepy, I'll stop now. Bottom line: it was lovely meeting these guys!

After a trip outside and another queue I was back in the Hangout for the live broadcast of the Dan and Phil request show. Dan and Phil had donned kilts for the occasion and looked rather smashing.
One of the main reasons I like Dan and Phil on Radio 1 (apart from Dan and Phil themselves) is that the show is streamed live. You get a behind the scenes experience, and being a part of the audience this Sunday in May felt like a behind the behind the scenes experience. I got to see and hear what really goes on when songs play on the radio, and I think I spent just as much time watching the producers and cameramen and the people in the shadows as I watched Dan and Phil. It is just so fascinating getting a glimpse of how radio is produced.

I'm going to ramble a bit about where my sudden interest in radio came from, if you're not all that interested I suggest you skip this paragraph. For me radio has always been a part of my life as a background noise. I mostly listen to NRK p3, which is the Norwegian radio channel that is most similar to BBC Radio 1 I think. In 2012 NRK p3 decided to send 80 hours live radio from a glass house in the middle of Oslo. It was in connection with the yearly telethon TV-aksjonen that NRK (The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) organize a Sunday in October every year to raise money for different charities. In 2012 the telethon raised money for Amnesty International Norway under the slogan "stand up against injustice". P3 focused on LGBT rights under the slogan "to love is a human right". They had guests speaking about LGBT topics, artists playing live and they took song requests by text. The whole 80 hours were streamed live, and it was my first experience with seeing how radio actually looks like. I saw the mixing boards and wondered what all the buttons were for. I saw the people behind the scenes and wondered what their job was. I remember I was supposed to study or something that weekend, but most of my time was spent gazing at the four p3 DJs speaking to me from a glass cage in Oslo. I still don't know much about how radio actually works and what all the jobs involved entails, but coming to the Radio 1 Academy and watching Dan and Phil live was magical, and I want to thank the Academy from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity. Ugh, that was soppy. Picture time!

Monday I went to a panel about Scottish comedy. I'm not all that interested in comedy, but it was interesting hearing the panelists speak about their job and how they came into it.

On Tuesday I had a panel about how to get a job in events and festivals. It was very interesting, and although I don't know how conditions are in Norway, I certainly know what to do if I ever end up living in the UK.

Wednesday was an exciting day. I started out early with a comedy workshop where we were to create and record funny ideas for Radio 1's Scott Mills. I was very nervous about this, for while it sounded very interesting I'm not so good at the funny part. It turned out to be the most interesting workshop of the week. I learned so much about creating small radio segments, what works and what does not. Scott Mills, Chris Stark and their producer Cara (I think her name was Cara) also stopped by and told us about things they had done on the show in the past, and how they come up with new things. We then got split into groups and managed to come up with many good ideas in the short time we had. We chose three ideas and managed to record them before time was up.

The workshop finished at 1pm when the Scott Mills show started live from Glasgow. We people in the workshop got to take part in Bamboleo Wednesday. Those old enough also got to take part of a mass Innuendo Bingo. I've always wanted to try this and now I had the chance. It was great fun, but I learned I'm not that good at spitting water all over people.
The battlefield afterwards.

Those of us who could were asked to come back around four to get feedback on our ideas from Scott and Chris themselves. To pass the time I went to see if there were tickets left for the Q&A with KatyB, and there was. She answered question before performing two of her songs live. One was broadcasted over the radio for Scott Mills, the other was just for us. Magical.
The audience enjoyed it.

After their show Scott, Chris and their producers came to listen to our ideas and give some feedback. They liked our ideas, and it was nice hearing more of what Scott and Chris had to say.

Thursday came, and the Academy was soon over. I turned up to what I thought was my last class, an event workshop about planning events and festivals. At the start of the workshop one lady said they had three spots open for work experience in the Hang Out the next day for people over 18, and wondered if anyone was interested. I raised my hand and hoped to God there weren't many other hands in the air. If there were more than three hands I was sure I wouldn't get picked. But I was lucky, and only three people, me included, raised their hand. And suddenly I had secured myself a few hours of work experience. I was thrilled.

The workshop was interesting. The people hosting, who I sadly can't remember which company they represented, told us about different roles involved in events and what traits these should have. We then got to go wild and plan a tent at a random festival. We created a logo, drew site plans and made a poster. I confirmed a trait about myself, I'm not that good at coming up with ideas but I would like to think I'm good at planning, organizing and putting the idea to life.

We also had a visit from the man behind T in the Park, which I think is called Geoff Ellis. He gave us an insight into organizing festivals on T in the Park's size and I found it very useful.

Friday dawned and I started my work as part of the Hang Out crew at 11am. I got a T-shirt and a lanyard and felt very professional (and excited!)

Only one of the other two volunteering for work experience turned up. We got a tour of all the rooms involved in Radio 1's Academy, including the backstage areas, before taking up residence in the Hang Out. There was a Games Expo going on which suited me just fine. I tried to talk to as many people as possible about their games when I had the time.

I hadn't expected this to be a glorious job, I expected a lot of menial tasks like running and fetching, moving chairs and picking up people's thrash. It was actually less menial than I had expected. We ran around getting people to fill in some forms, and we talked to the people in the hang out promoting various offers. We carried a box between floors and handed out some flyers. And we got free lunch.
We took a picture in the photo booth and hung it up on the careers wall.

Towards the end of our shift we sat in on a panel about women in radio. We were to make sure there were enough chairs, and provide help underway if needed. We basically ended up just watching the panel. It was an interesting panel, I hadn't really realized how few women there are on daytime Radio 1. There is only Fearne I believe. (If I were to draw a parallel to NRK p3, my home radio station, there are on a weekday between 6am and 7pm six shows, with 5 women and 9 men.)

Doing work experience at the Academy was so much fun, I loved seeing how things work.

I leave you with a picture of the wristbands I collected over the week.
I hoped to get as many different colours as possible.

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