A few weeks ago, I wrote a post dispelling some of the myths around journalism. Reading that post you’d be forgiven for thinking I hate my job, I don’t, people on the other hand…..the jury is out.
Today is world radio day, a celebration of all things radio and it seems only right, I share my love of radio and the at times utterly bat shit life it has allowed me to lead.
I’ll address the elephant in the room first, I did not always love radio, most presenters and fair few journalists will talk about growing up with a love of radio, I did not have that.
In fact, when I was training to be a journalist, I hadn’t given radio a single thought. I thought I’d go into television news; radio was a means to an end. I now spend a lot of time explaining to people why I don’t fancy television and why I don’t see radio as a steppingstone to the land cameras and white balance (assuming white balance is still a thing).
All that changed in June 2007.
As a postgraduate, we had to complete a month providing a news service for a community radio station in Bradford. I read the news on 24th June as Tony Blair handed over power to Gordon Brown from that moment, I have never looked back.
Fifteen years down the line, there’s something about the immediacy of radio that still provides a buzz.
There’s something about a story breaking late in the day and seeing the newsroom spring to action and the reaction getting to air in next to no time. It’s why I’m still doing it even when I’ve had days where I question whether it’s time, I got proper, grown-up job instead of talking for a living.
There’s something about telling a story with audio that I find powerful.
I like being able to create an image with sounds. I like putting a package together and really thinking about giving the listener an idea of where I am whether that’s through sounds or descriptions. My old lecturer always referred to it as theatre of the mind, that’s what it is, just because there’s no actual pictures doesn’t mean you can’t create one.
With radio, interviews literally speak for themselves.
There’s something special about hearing an emotive interview. It can keep you pinned to the car seat unable to get out, it can make you late for work. It can make you turn the dial up and tell the kids to shut up.
I’ve always believed that in radio, different stations aren’t competing with each other, we’re competing with day-to-day life, the aim is always to cut through as quickly as possible and get a listener to really pay attention.
There’s something incredibly personal about hearing someone speak openly and candidly about their experiences. Done right it feels like they’re talking to you and only you.
A really good presenter will feel like friend.
Radio news has given me amazing opportunities, real pinch yourself moments.
It’s taken me across the country and the globe.
I’ve interviewed Prime Ministers and followed royalty around (not as creepy as it sounds).
I met the Fonz and Sir Trevor McDonald and for some reason found myself curtseying in front of both.
I got an exclusive interview with Arthur Scargill on the 25th anniversary of the miners’ strike by simply being in the right place and having given up my Saturday morning.
I’ve been on air and heard myself in Greggs (always weird). Broken some huge stories and reported on every twist and turn on various election nights.
I’ve reported on horrendous stories and been able to celebrate the happier times too.
A local radio station is made up of people like you, they live in and care about the area they broadcast too. They live the moments with you.
The start of this year has reminded me how much I love the variety of the job.
On my second day back, I found myself waiting to catch a bus with an angry farmer, complete with a sheep and a Shetland pony – she was arguing the proposed clean air zone for greater Manchester made no sense, she made her point rather well.
I’ve been able to continue talking to, meeting and hearing about the multitude of problems with special educational needs. One of the mums had me howling with laughter within five minutes (we were very much on the same wavelength), she asked if she could call her local authority ‘thunder cunts’, it pained me to say, ‘best not’ and she sent me on my way with three packets of biscuits. Interviewing her was an absolute tonic after a tough week.
Because that’s the best thing that radio has given me, the chance to meet some wonderful people.
People who’ve shared painful memories and stories with me, being trusted with those stories is always a privilege.
Radio has given me some lifelong, genuine, friendships.
Working in radio is odd, you need to be able to like the people who are in the office at 5am with you, you need to be able recognise what each other’s rules are on when it’s acceptable to speak that early in the morning (usually after 6am and third coffee of the day).
You bond over a shared hatred of Ed Sheeran and Jess Glynn.
Radio has allowed me to become friends with some fantastic people, people who understand your temper tantrums, accept them and understand where you are coming from.
I’ve worked with brilliant teams. As journalists you have each other’s backs, you have to. You bounce ideas off each other, you share the load, you value each other and at times drag each other through the day.
Radio has given me so many special memories that are equally bizarre and special.
Radio has changed dramatically; the landscape is completely different. I know that as well as anyone, I’ve survived more consultations than I care to remember, I know I’m incredibly lucky to still be employed, I never take that for granted even on those days where it pisses me off.
Radio may be different but the things that made me fall in love with it in the first place are still there, the very worst days are not that bad. The buzz is still there.
So, for those who still insist on asking when I’m going into TV, it’s not bloody likely.
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm