BBC Radio One Demo – Monday 6th June 2011

BBC Radio One, Great Portland Street, London.

The target.

Being in there for two days and then having to leave (not forcefully luckily – that’s what you get for befriending the security guard).

For those of you who are not religious followers of my blog, I was lucky enough to be granted the opportunity to record a demo at BBC Radio One. A demo is simply a three minute amalgamation of what you believe proves you to be an ace radio presenter – so you would hand it in to a job application as an addition to your CV. Although as this has so many elements it’s not exactly three minutes.

Once the reality of going up to London to record this demo sunk in, it dawned on me about how under-prepared I felt. I only created my original demo from two weeks of properly structured shows. Before my shows were developed ramblings of a girl learning to use the studio properly.

So the people at R1 are expecting me to come in, have a show schedule sorted, maybe some features, and probably planned to high heaven – whereas the reality was me worrying that they had made a big mistake, and will be realising this sooner than expected.

I headed up to old London town the Wednesday before to gain a better idea of how we were going to do this demo, and to meet up with SRACON judges Sam Gregory, Chris North and Neil Sloan.

We came to the decision, seeing as I am training to be a journalist and am not entirely sure about my future yet, that I would sample several styles of Radio One shows. So the list was compiled to be:

–          Top ten chart run down.

–          Request show with a caller.

–          Specialist new music sell (I chose Jamie Woon).

–          Promotion of the Nero’s Dubstep Symphony.

–          Newsbeat Bulletin.

I feel that this was to be the best way of me utilizing R1 facilities, so if I apply for a presenter job then I would send both this demo and a general one.

The day itself was quite surreal. The Wednesday during my first visit I met Scott Mills moisturising on the floor of the daytime office and was introduced to Greg James. On the actual day I grazed shoulders with Chris Moyles, Fearne Cotton, and was lucky enough to sit in on Greg’s show. I didn’t take any photos as the fan girl inside me wanted to. But my pride wanted to try and look more respectable to the future people I want to work with. Also not owning a decent camera had a big impact. Maybe I could have asked to have borrowed one of the several paparazzi’s cameras?

Seeing the dynamics between the presenters, producers and the rest of the team just makes me want to work there more. Hopefully after this demo this could make my radio career at R1 closer to reality and seem slightly more in sight.

I think the demo itself went quite well. There are bits I would like to redo. The key element that stands out to me is that, especially with the chart rundown, my confidence grew nearer to the end. But I see this as a working progress. I am only in my first year at BU, so would want to finish my degree before seriously thinking of getting a job in radio.

I think any feedback would be good, but as I said – work in progress, the best is yet to come.

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Student Radio Conference

The Student radio Conference. £120 forked out of my ever-growing overdraft. As soon as I clicked that internet transfer through, I thought – “I’ve never been to a conference… aren’t they just usually stuffy lectures for business types and networking and talking about the WENUS?”

Fortunately the rest of the Nerve* Radio insisted it was going to an event not worth missing out on, and if nothing else, could be a laugh for us fellow Nerverts.

Nerverts at their best.

As much as I love Devon, and hate to dismiss it – I am going to. It makes everything so far to get to. So I traveled to my halfway house in Bournemouth before setting my alarm for 4:30am (even once half way there, a ridiculously early start awaited me).

Queuing for my new found friend, the National Express, I bumped into fellow Nervert Chris Jones, and as the journey progressed it appeared I had become some sort of Dorothy Figure from the Wizard of Oz. Starting with Chris Jones, (The Lion as later discussed by myself and Trosh) and Steve, we then picked up Scarecrow man WEB. WEB being Nerve Radio’s honorary work experience boy, who happened to be actually called Michael and is ironically older than myself! This was not only another welcome addition to the SRACON mission, but with a handful of oyster cards,  WEB was more than welcome.

Up to this point I was nervous about travelling to Hatfield on my own. The journey would have technically started in Devon on the Sunday, caught the national express to London on Monday morning, tube it to Kings Cross and then jump on another train. Hey, I’m a Devon girl born and bred, so expeditions like this are a big and scary for me.

Anyway, once we thought we had collected enough Bournemouth goers, the infamous James Trosh of ‘#troshyrumours’ decided to casually sit next to us on the train to Hatfield out of nowhere.

So self-acclaimed Tin-man Troshy, Scarecrow WEB, Toto Steve and Dorothy – God knows why I’m carrying on with this random analogy – arrived at Hatfield with remixed of Womble theme tunes and Snoop Dog instilled in our heads.

Registration was pain-free, but then we entered our halls. Now as a first year student who has only lived in Unilet house accommodation I think I may have had the best experience of halls life on the De Havilland campus. The rooms were ridiculously luxurious for student living and with even (to my embarrassment) personal cleaners for our later fairly trashed flat. We were going to clean it up honestly….

Right, I will tell you now about the actually conference itself, instead of waffling on about trivial matters. The conference was pretty useful. There done.

Geoff Lloyd and Dave Gorman

Nah seriously, there was a pretty awesome line up – if you can refer to lectures like that. My top favourite had to be Creative Radio with Lloydie and Alex Duffy. I won’t reveal all about the sneaky top-secret radio tips but I would highly recommend a bit of research into a KFC prank and a cheeky Chico phone call which both made ace radio features.

Another personal favourite would with the casually titled ‘In Conversation with Dave Gorman’ session. I’m not sure this helped me with my radio show as much as me enjoying an eaves dropping to the inner workings of Dave Gormans’ mind. Did you know he had his nipple pierced? And then re-pierced when it migrated out again?

I think the only bane of Monday would have to be the queuing for the opportunity to be the Voice of the Student Radio Awards. We looked at the queue and thought ‘Meh, it’s bound to die down’ little did we realise that queue had been averaging a wait of about an hour.

So once we had read the infamous line ‘Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to the Student radio Conference 2011’ we skedaddled down to dinner and I mildly fretted over the Demo Factor rumours that had begun to circulate.

The Demo Factor is essentially the radio presenters version of the X Factor. I had naïvely expected a parents evening style, one to one critical session about my first demo CD, whilst taking some improvement comments away with me. But no – a judging panel consisting of (to be lazy and list:)

Demo Factor Judges

  • Chris North, Head of Talent & Joint Managing Director, Wise Buddah Creative
  • Vicki Blight, Presenter, Absolute Radio, BBC6Music, & Voice over artist
  • Sam Gregory, Freelance Producer & Exec Produce, Round2Creative
  • Neil Sloan, Producer,  BBC R1, & Workstream Coordinator, BBC Radio
  • Rob Watson, Network Content Producer, Capital 95-106

So yeah. First of all woah, some big industry names there, as well as being presented by the (for me to discover later) lovely Adam Catterall. These judges would then buzz you out if your demo was wrong or lost their interest in any way shape or form. Hmm. Then to make the rumours worse – they had set up a counselling service with The Pips to comfort those who had broken down in tears from years gone by.

Oh dear lord.

When the Demo Factor started, I was excited and nervous – to be expected obviously. However they didn’t have time to play all 70 odd demos handed in, so a raffle system put the chances of my demo being played at a slimmer chance. Not sure if I was pleased by this or not.

However as CHARLOTTE GAY boomed from Adam’s Northern lungs and changed my smiling face to one that look as if I was, and I quote,  ‘sh**ting a brick’. I knew from earlier contenders where my demo was already going to fall on its face (The Peter Dickson style jingle was perhaps not as cool as I had hoped). But it kept playing…. and playing… and playing… why haven’t they buzzed me out? A couple of boards went up, I thought surely I’ll be out soon; no one else has had their played to the end.  But by God Sam Gregory was keeping me in right to the very end. What? How could this happen. I’ve only got a copy of my 2 week FM shows, where I was the co-host and referred to as the spare part to the talent.

I guess I should have paid more attention at this point but my mind was still trying to comprehend what just happened. I generally heard that my voice was well suited for Radio 1 and with a clear voice sounded like the next Lauren Laverne.

It was the first time I had heard any professional criticism and so to then find out I had been then as a result been offered the opportunity to go up to BBC Broadcasting House and record a professional demo was (clichés acknowledged) a dream come true!

King of HipHop himself: Westwood!

I fear how this blog post is going to come across. As nobody likes that person who tries to rub their success in your face – and I hope it doesn’t sound like that. I am incredibly dumbfounded to have this chance. So I will keep you up to date on the latest BBCR1 news.

The rest of the SRACON was pretty awesome too, I really enjoyed Podcasting and Radio not for girls was quite insightful and rounded off the last session nicely. The glorious weather did make the finale of the conference have that deflated end of holiday feeling. So to then accidently leave my luggage on the train and dash back through Kings Cross to luckily still find the train there was an even bigger heart attack than Demo Factor – or even meeting Westwood BIG DAWG!

I think after all this excitement I may need to sit down…