Freelancing: feast versus famine.

freelance blog post

It’s coming up to roughly a year since I started freelancing as a radio person* and I have truly discovered what people mean when they describe it as feast or famine. Fortunately when I started I was still studying so money wasn’t so much an issue, but soon after moving into a new flat and for once being truly self-sustaining I did have a panic that I wasn’t going to earn enough and started working some part-time jobs in waiting and bar work just to top up the rent money. Summer suddenly became quite manic, it slowed down a lot again around Christmas, but throughout February I have been working double shifts.

I wanted to write a quick post about how I both love and hate freelancing at the same time. On the one hand it’s great, I get to work with a variety of stations, and do so many different things each day and I can never complain of getting bored or finding myself typecast to one role when I am still working out what I am best at. However, I would love to be able to feel a lot more secure in what work I am doing, when I am next getting paid and when my car decides to breakdown at 5am on a dual carriageway on my way to work I know that I’m not going to look unreliable.

What really spurred this blog post though is the fact that today I got my first pass to Radio Solent, and I am starting to work on a lot more of their programmes – so I feel like I am making progress. Unfortunately now I just have to be able to control my habit of saying yes to everything to make sure, like my car, I don’t conk out at 5am on the roadside.

*Mainly as a broadcast journalist, but now as a voice coach, broadcast assistant, and social media manager.

Freelance roster

Who I am working with LEFT TO RIGHT: Bournemouth University, voice coach; Wessex FM, broadcast journalist; Jack FM, broadcast journalist; Hot Radio, presenter and broadcast journalist; Approved Family Friendly, social media manager, BBC Radio Solent, broadcast assistant; Fire Radio, broadcast journalist; Spire FM, broadcast journalist; and The Breeze, broadcast journalist.

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2013 Roundup

Radio 2013, graduation, Nerve, Greg James

Clockwise starting from the left. Graduation, 2013 Nerve Awards, My Family, Meeting Greg James (again) at SRAcon13, Presenting on Nerve Radio.

Ah 2013, you’ve been quite an intense and end of an era type year.

Without repeating my Post University Roundup blog post, I’m now re-adjusting to non-academic years and the reality of adult life. Since graduating I’m working as a freelance broadcast journalist, but I am finding myself torn between my heart and my head with what to do next.

I’ve grown up adoring BBC Radio One, and as you can see meeting Greg James was one of the highlights of my year, but being a journalist and a presenter at the same time is something people in this industry are finding a little difficult to get their heads around. I’ve applied, got to interview and been dubbed as ‘also suitable’ for two BBC radio jobs now, it’s frustratingly close and yet not quite there because jobs in the beeb or this industry aren’t exactly easy to come by.

However my time as a journalist has meant my efforts into presenting have been put on the back-burner aside from my weekly Hot Radio show, I’ve not been making the podcast and need to start really channeling all the great feedback since being nominated for SRA Best Female back into my on air work.

I don’t usually blog, mainly because my radio show is often my way of audio blogging but I’m really writing this to try to push myself into working harder to get where I want the be in the radio industry.

The problem is picking my direction.

Anyway, for anyone who reads this at the time of posting, Merry Christmas and may 2014 be a successful year for you and I.

The great badger battle. Friend or Foe?

The debate of the future of our friend the badger has been toing and froing for years now but with the badger cull targeted at summer 2013, what a political pickle the government have found themselves stuck in with such adamant opposition.

Bovine TB was once a disease affecting only a small percentage of the farming community, however it has now rapidly spread through the UK with new cases doubling every nine years. In 2011, farmers had 26,000 of their cattle slaughtered and over the past decade TB has cost the taxpayer over £500 million. It is estimated this figure will sky rocket to £1 billion in control measures and compensation over the next ten years unless something is done.

Badger strip tail

Andreas-photography

A Devonshire farmer wishing to remain nameless who breeds pedigree Friesian Holstein cattle and lost over a third of his cattle to Bovine TB in less than a year.

“It is ruining a lot of people’s livelihoods at the moment. I had the cattle for about 22 years and it was all of my own breeding. It’s heart breaking to see them being loaded up in the lorry and some of them got shot in front of me.”

To stop the spread of TB, the government planned two pilot culls in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire with the National Farmers Union (NFU). The aim of the cull is to reduce TB in cattle by approximately 16% over nine years in the immediate areas. Evidence from the 1997 Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) suggested 70% badgers had to be killed in these controlled areas to reduce the spread of disease.

The Welsh government has chosen a system of badger vaccination, as there are no cattle vaccinations approved by the EU, while Scotland is officially TB free.

Until October 23rd it was full steam ahead until these pilots were postponed following a letter sent to the Environment secretary of state Owen Paterson, by the NFU’s president Peter Kendall on behalf of the companies coordinating the culls, when it was realised the amount of badgers in the cull zones were significantly higher than expected.

The department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) have justified the cull with evidence of the RBCT, however Lord Krebs, one of the government’s most respected scientific advisers and whose research was cited in evidence, has described the cull as ‘crazy’.

Lord Krebs told the BBC that Defra has no way of knowing how many badgers are in one area and so will not know when they have shot 70% of the creatures in the cull zones.

“I would go down the vaccination and biosecurity route rather than this crazy scheme that may deliver very small advantage, may deliver none,” he said

MP for West Devon and Torridge, Geoffrey Cox who has been on the government’s select committee for the past five years believes Krebs’ comments are not based in science.

“Krebs’ discussions and remarks, I think are regrettable and irresponsible.

Geoffrey Cox. MP for West Devon and Torridge

Geoffrey Cox. MP for West Devon and Torridge

“It isn’t crazy; the only reason the scientists don’t accept it is because they didn’t think it would be economically and socially acceptable.

“If the science says there can be some reduction, and it does, then it’s judgement for politicians to decide whether it is socially and economically acceptable.”

Huw Rowlands, a farmer near Chester in Gloucestershire has organised his own badger vaccination plans on his farm at his own expense as he disagrees with the notion of killing to remove disease.

“I completely disagree with this idea that the way to control disease is by killing things. I’d like to see lots more money thrown into researching into a [cattle] vaccine and to see lots more negotiating with the EU to get it licensed.”

Only two days after the government announced the delay on the cull, the majority of the MPs in the House of Commons voted to abandon the controversial cull in England entirely. The debate was granted after over 150,000 people signed an official government e-petition to stop the plans for a badger cull. The motion stood at 147 votes to just 28 yet with the government not being legally bound by the vote, the cull still stands.

Is it a wise decision for the government go so directly against the views of the general public and of the parliamentary vote? Cox believes their decision is justified: “You can only when faced with opposition, search your conscience, but ultimately you’ve got to do what you feel is right and I firmly believe that on the limited lines we are proceeding it is the right policy. You can’t be ruled by numbers and sometimes the majority isn’t always right.”

What is Bovine TB?

Bovine TB is a form of bacilli caught by cattle breathing in droplets of fluid containing the cells. Unfortunately badgers can also catch TB, so cattle grazing in the same fields as badgers cause this to spread. When in the lungs, immune cells usually destroy disease by consuming the bugs but that’s what these bacilli want and inside multiples. Some instances mean the bacilli get trapped in a lump but unfortunately often the bugs get out and the disease spreads through the body even getting into the bones of the infected.

Gordon McGlone OBE, chief executive of the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is concerned debate of the cull is distracting the general public from what else needs to be done to manage this disease.

“With the Badger cull people are talking 12-16% benefit, that leaves 84% of the problem still not tackled but this is rarely discussed. So whilst badger vaccinations similarly don’t solve the problem, there is 4-8% improvement, it certainly doesn’t make it worse.

“The cattle vaccine still requires good industry and political leadership and still we are hearing all the reasons why it can’t take place instead of all the reasons how the problem could be resolved.”

It seems the coalition has more than enough to tackle with arguments over the logistics and effectiveness of the cull, its financial benefit, it’s dealings with the EU in approving and the role of a farmer in controlling their land.

As the winter draws in the creature in question heads southward to begins its underground winter holiday but the badger is the only one to put this debate on hold for the season.

Seth Lakeman Interview March 2012

Seth Lakeman Interview March 2012 by Charlotte Gay on Mixcloud

Thrust into the limelight for his for his Mercury nominated album Kitty Jay, folk singer-songwriter Seth Lakeman has returned to the scene with a new found freedom from record label giants. The Devonian musician took some time out from his bow shredding antics to talk to Charlotte Gay, before hitting Bournemouth shores this month.

I originally recorded the interview for my radio show, but have since written for 247 Magazine, Muso’s Guide and The Rock


247 Magazine Seth Lakeman PDF

Muso’s Guide Seth Lakeman PDF

Fathers Rights Radio Package.

My first radio package. Two minute piece written for BBC Radio 2 News. Based on the issues of fathers rights and changing stereotypes in today’s society.
Special thanks to Charlotte Foot.

Countryfile Work Experience

My week of work experience at Countryfile magazine.

These below are all of my articles that have been published on countryfile.com

Cob Cottages – pdf.

Five Days To The Weekend: Great Torrington– pdf.

 

 

 

 

Best Places To Pop The Question – pdf.

History Re-Enactments – pdf

Unplugged Experiment

The Unplugged Experiment was global experiment to see how different people of different ages and background could cope with going without any media access for 24 hours. Bournemouth University was the only university in the UK to take part in this task and in doing so I was selected to be followed by BBC News Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.

The piece was broadcast on 22nd October 2010, on BBC Breakfast, BBC News at 1, BBC News24 and Online.

Click here for an interview after the experiment.

 

 

Subsequently BBC Solent interviewed me on the 23rd October 2010.