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Chill out, man

I decided to join Sunday Club today, the metaphorical fitness collective that find themselves clad in Sports Direct’s finest burning off the December blues and shaping up for the onslaught of marathon sports events the summer will bring. Today was a solo effort on cycle – a tester of the water to see how far we can push ourselves when we assemble next week for a proper ride – from MediaCity through Trafford Park (where I got lost), Stretford, Chorlton, Fallowfield and eventually town (Nero’s, precisely), where I am currently sipping a latte and have just gotten through the heat rush of the warm indoors.

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I decided to take a little stop off because something really riled me en-route… I thought I’d have a pleasant toddle through South Manchester with the playlist for this week’s SRA Selector show and for the most part that is exactly what happened. Spurred on by the toe-tappy new tune from Clean Bandit, soothed when irate at the bloody sat nav by British Sea Power. I reckon the music on Wednesday night will be up there with the best British stuff we’ve played.


All that was very nice.

(The Nero’s playlist is good today… Marling, now Lucy Rose-(you ever tried her Builder Grey tea?- very nice)).

Still, I took a detour through Platt Fields Park – a place I hadn’t visited before – and found this lovely lake right in the middle of it. Perfect spot to take a break, and I was going to bash out a blog there, had it not been for the sodden benches. I thought of the wet-ass consequence and bailed on the idea. I perched on my ‘plush-comfort’ saddle (and although looks antiquated and Granny-suited, I’m keeping it. It came with the bike and it’s comfy), took an obligatory grammable photo and watched a family feed the fat geese.

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Then it all turned a bit sour. First up Mum got all ratty that her rechargeable batteries had run out and therefore the camera was out of the game. Shame. There was a short bicker about the batteries, then upon the young Daughter’s prod, Dad dished out some bread and pointed in the direction of a few plump birds coming down the hill towards the lake. Daughter runs off in excitement only to lose her footing on the mud and hits the deck. Now, I witnessed a mate of mine do that on a skiing trip in Austria: managed to lose control of her skis and off she shot towards the ONLY muddy section of the slope and caked her white salopettes in thick, clayed up mud. To say it was amusing for absolutely everyone on the slope is an understatement.
Think about the amount of stupid things you did as a hapless child. Crumbs above, I remember trying to impress my sister by throwing a golf ball over the roof of the house: smashed a window. Then for some bizarre reason as a small boy I sprinkled talcum powder on every square inch of the bathroom floor. The reaction to both from my parents – well, amusing since we were due to rip out the window soon anyway, and my Dad ran and got a camera to photograph the hilarity of the talc incident..

Back to Platt Fields – Daughter is now rather muddy. Oh my hobgoblin the explosion from the parents of fury at getting so filthy was unbelievable. Swearing and shouting… I felt extremely sorry for the poor girl. This probably happened within about two bike-lengths of where I was perched on the ‘plush-comfort’. Dad carried on feeding the geese, berating and cursing as Mum led the daughter further from me to tell her off more…

Chill out, man. Aren’t everybody’s blood pressures high enough as it is!?

I don’t mean to cast dispersions, I don’t know the background of this family. The daughter might well do that every single time they go out, or a load of washing might be last thing parents want to deal with amongst the preoccupations of whatever else. I don’t know. I’m not even a parent myself. As I say though, I remember many times in my young youth where this kind of thing happened and it was always met by laughter. When we were playing once, my cousin Rowan fell in a stream: he ended up wearing his sister’s spare clothes back home.
I just remember everyone finding it very amusing – it’s priceless entertainment and no one got hurt.

What shame for what could have been a lovely morning feeding the geese. I hopped back on my bike and put Clean Bandit on again to brighten up the mood. I then cycled past some dude doing his morning yoga and though, good on you mate.. Your blood pressure looks absolutely fine to me.

Ttfn deadlines

The last few months have been a relentless onslaught of assignments and work, which on the face of it sounds incredibly negative and overwhelming. Work aside (which has obviously been awesome – Key103′s Mission Christmas; producing breakfast; and going out with a bang on one Hometime show, then having a right good time on the new one – what better), I’ve been schlepping through assignments one after another in year 3 semester 1.

I can’t believe there’s only a few months left of uni altogether – it was only yesterday my new flatmate was hanging from his fingertips from a pillar-ledge in 5th Avenue, sloshed. It was only the other day my living revolved around a communal kitchen, a box of a shower and a bed that had more storage than leg-space.

One of the modules from this past semester was called Professional Practice and meant putting together a CV, an online portfolio and reflecting on work outside of assignments. It was a really useful time to reflect on some of the wonderful things that have happened since moving to Manchester, because there’s no doubt Uni life has dealt me bags of confidence, good times, eye-opening experiences and creativity. Putting a fresh CV together gave me an opportunity to look back at the modules I’ve completed so far at uni: things like video production, where I recreated a scene from Sex, Lies & Videotape in Booths cafe…..the awkward scene where the dude declares he’s impotent; audio post-production, where I raided the shed to find as many sfx as I could to recreate the audio of a scene from Up!; pre-recorded radio documentaries; live radio producing; loads of theory that was mind-numbing at the time but actually very interesting looking back; and I’ve just submitted a module that involved producing three hour-long speech shows.

Things go wrong... 4 words - Blue Screen Of Death. Perfect.

Things go wrong… 4 words – Blue Screen Of Death. Perfect.

Producing Kish Underhill – the first and final live radio assessed show

It’s so easy when you’re in the throes of assignments to be critical of ‘the system’ and get a bit ratty with the workload… but taking a few steps back to reflect on what I’ve learnt and how ‘into’ the work I’ve gotten has reminded me how much the hard-work pays off and I see how I better myself with every passing deadline.

Last week saw the conclusion of this semester three modules and the relief to get them submitted was immense. I’ve got one more module – the final documentary, the big daddy module when it comes to the final grade – and I’m looking back over a fond 2 and a half years of learning and experimenting. I feel set for the onslaught of this doc… so ttfn deadlines, see you in June.

The Community Ballads

The Community Ballads have been whirring away for a few months now, with myself and filmmaker Connor Hawkins eager to produce both a radio documentary and short film about the bustling countryside communities, craft ales of Hooky Brewery, and the pubs of north Oxfordshire.

Getting Started…

In its infancy, the doc was set to be purely about Hook Norton Brewery, and took inspiration from filmmakers like Danny Cooke. The tone was going to be very celebratory and convey an appreciation for craft and hard-work.


I was personally drawn to a radio ballad I had been introduced to at the Charles Parker Day at Salford University. It so happened that another radio feature of mine was commended on that day and narrowly missed out on the prize! It was inspiring to hear how Smooth Operations produced these programmes by modernising the techniques used by Charles Parker and Ewan McColl & Peggy Seeger to fuse folk music with interesting speech. I wanted a go, so Connor and I both had very clear influences that would inform our productions.

Getting down to business…

The really exciting thing was that we had no boundaries. We had copious contacts from basing the production in our home county of Oxfordshire, and we had interest from the local radio station 107.6 Banbury Sound. Our first port of call was to meet with Hook Norton Brewery and get ourselves on the same page.

It was also the summer, so it seemed every week there was a village festival or a gig in a local pub. It proved quite a cunning documentary idea because as I trawled through the gig listings at local pubs, it became evident that to truly soak up the community, we’d have to go along ourselves!

The good did come with the bad – some of the events such as Bodfest and the Conie’s Beer Festival were glorious sunshine, others (such as Bloxfest) poured it down with torrential summer rain, causing some soggy songsheets at the end of the performance for Frances…

Despite the miserable British weather, the spirit of these events was awesome. Community groups and punters flocked together to put music, food, stalls and bring the village together. It was said by Chris Leslie of Fairport Convention that village days are not new, they go back hundreds of years, but now-a-days it seems like we need more of an excuse to put them on…say for example the Queen’s Jubilee. The great thing about these events is that it is communities genuinly saying “let’s have a party!”, and you don’t have to look far to find a pre-fixed village name shoehorned in front of the word ‘fest’.

Bloxfest, Bodfest, the Adderbury Day Of Dance… the events came thick and fast and I began to storyboard how we could tie everything together.

Hook Norton

Our visits to Hooky’s Victorian tower brewery were exciting and the footage and recordings sit proudly on our clogged-up hard-drives. I’d organised for us to spend the morning with Head Brewer (and 5th generation of the founder) James Clarke, to record the brewing process, sit down and talk candidly in the Visitors Centre and mull over the family business, and indeed the craft of brewing. From there we spent time with Martin Beck in his workshop, where he restores and repairs the tower brewery using the same materials as were originally used by the Victorians. All his repairwork is bespoke to the original building, so to observe his handiwork was fascinating.

We then hopped about Roger’s Hooky dray. This is the horse-drawn dray that carts barrels of Hooky beer to nearby pubs – our short trip took us down to the Pear Tree Inn at the foot of Brewery Lane, where the Brewery workers used to go at lunchtime for a recharge. Roger told us about the heritage of the brewery and how he keeps the horses. The landlords joked with us that even in this day and age – you’ve got beer deliveries coming in on horse-drawn cart is if it were 1900, then you see him ticking off a computer-printed order!

The experience of recording with masters of their crafts was awesome – at times we were creeping up the steepest of staircases straining to capture the best content we could, the next moment you’ve got Roger pilfering a 12-crate of Hooky Gold from the Visitor’s store to fuel the jaunt down to the pub!

Fairport’s Cropredy Convention

We had Fairport in the diary (no different to any other year…) because it is the most remarkable story of a sleepy, canalside village that completely transforms to welcome 20,000 music fans for a long weekend. It turns in to tent-city, the pubs spring in to life with fringe festival, and the zest and character of the village makes the whole event not just a folk-rock festival in a field but a whole community celebration.

It was at Fairport that we spoke with a few of Fairport Convention themselves – Chris Leslie who is local to the area, and we organised to speak with bassist Dave Pegg a few weeks later. The messy art of voxpopping is often considered a hard task – trying to get punters to stop and talk – but at Fairport it’s the easiest thing known to man. It is dubbed the ‘Friendliest Festival In The World’, and for good reason. I don’t think anybody declined to have a chat with me about why Cropredy is so wonderful. The overarching response was that it brings the whole village together – the pubs act as satellites to the main stage, and the community groups welcome with open arms the revellers to their breakfasts and stalls. It’s a good time in the countryside back-end of nowhere.

 

The Pub

After darting about to our fair share of north Oxfordshires village festivals and casting a celebratory light on Hook Norton Brewery with our early-morning visit to where it all happens, it left the pubs to explore. Not that we needed too much of a push to do that.

It struck us that the hub for music and social life in a vilage community is the pub. It’s the heart of everything – everyone at Fairport told us about it, and every village day we visited revolved around the pub. The characters we met in the various locals were fabulous, and it became clear that we needed to take a look at what happens in a village where there is no pub… Visiting Morton Pinkney brought back teenage memories of razzing a motorbike around remote, nearby fields: the stern old lady that came out of her house, not to repremand us for the noise of our 50cc hairdryers, but instead reccomending a good place for riding.

By the time we’d finished in Moreton, we’d pretty much got everything we needed. Just the songs left.

The Ballads

This part of the programme was the linchpin for me. It’s in the title! The Community Ballads. I had set out to make a programme that took heed of Charles Parkers’ technique to fuse music with speech to tell the story. I had been squirrelling away the best nuggets of audio that we’d recorded along the way, and got a local songwriter/musician on board who had agreed to turn these nuggets of inspiration in to music.

I sent him three 10 minute clips, focussed around the local pub, the countryside village, and the brewery. What came back were three demos, which even in their unpolished form, hit the nail square on the head.

We soon took to the studio of Njinxky – Pepe Cartwright – who is pictured earlier in the post with Frances Mitson. Tight for time in the run-up to the broadcast on 107.6 Banbury Sound, we spent a few hours on a countryside Sunday morning laying down these three songs.

Slotted in, they completed the programme.

I was absolutely delighted with the finished doc. It’s the result of months of hard work, that coincided unhelpfully with final year Uni projects and an ever-increasing workload at Key103. Regardless, we pressed on and after I sit here with three very precious bounced WAV files after some satisfying hours tinkering in ProTools on trains and the seat I’m sat in now: infront of my girlfriend’s garden table which has been left in our lounge after use as a prop in her TV show.

Have a look at some of the photos from the months of production – it’s been rewarding and extremely fun…

And the accompanying short film is entitled Know The Field – you can have a preview of what’s to come below…

New Demos…

The advice I have trawled through for demos in recent years is awesome. It’s all noted down in my big notebook and I can only hope that it serves to help me make a bang-tidy 3 minutes of myself…

It’s a hard ol’ task whittling down hours and hours of material in to a couple of minutes. It’s even harder than awards entries because with an entry, people set aside time to actually listen and judge it. With this battlefield people have genuinly made up their mind after a couple of seconds.

But heck, everybody’s in the same boat. The audio sieve is a ruthless sifter, and fingers crossed my half-decent stuff has made it through to soundcloud. I’ve actually had a good time putting together some new showreels – it’s been ace to look back over some really proud moments at Key103 and some fun & games on air at Wire FM, with Kish on Shock Radio and also doing the SRA Selector shows.

I’ve been having a right ball presenting, and a right ball producing! So I’m in no hurry to sway you either way, if you’ve got three minutes to spare then pick your poison, and I hope a smile gets bought to your face for whichever you choose…

Key103′s Mission Christmas

Mission Christmas started back in November with the lofty target of raising £1m worth of toys for underprivilaged kids living in Greater Manchester. I had worked fleetingly this campaign in 2012 and was struck by the enormity of the whole thing. The fact that the Arco warehouse – Mission HQ – was brimmed with toys, the constant ringing of phones with listeners wanted to get involved, the many drop-off points. I think in 2012 around £850k was raised both in toys and cash donations for the cause, which was awesome.

I didn’t feel my involvement in 2012 was much of note, and having stepped up my role at Key103 in 2013, I was eager to get amongst it and help make a difference.

It’s always very easy to be blase about charity, what with the mass of organisations out there all doing a stirling job for the great many worldly causes, it’s too easy to bury ones head in the sand. I wanted to at least try and make whoever listening to Key103 to stop and truly put themself in the shoes of somebody in the UK, in this day-and-age, NOT recieving a Christmas present. It was a heartbreaking thought on the surface of it, and when I actually delved deeper, it became apparent just how much this appeal meant. It was an education for me, too.

Over the course of the campaign I recorded a whole range of society in Greater Manchester. Asylum seekers, widows, disabled parents – you get the picture. I also spoke to some children at local primary school, who brought to life the very reason Mission Christmas exists. To hear them explain to me how Mission makes them feel – how they felt that kind donations made them think somebody cares – was the epitome of the campaign, for me.

Hearing this content come to life on-air provided quite a few proud moments, because the reaction from listeners proved the messages were hitting home. The OBs I produced from the Hamleys intu Trafford Centre and the Arco Warehouse showed just how massive the whole operation was. It was ridiculous to walk in to the toy-store of these places (well, Arco was one big toy-store), and see the outrageous volume of donations, it was genuinly awesome.

I felt very humble over Christmas, as I reflected on the work that not just myself but the whole Key103 and Cash For Kids team had put in. To raise, in the end, £1,070,611.86p worth of toys was absolutely incredible. For the 150,000 impoverished kids in Greater Manchester, Key103 made a difference to their Christmas.

I interviewed Jimmy, and after hearing his story I went back with presenter Adam Catterall and produced this film. It really was an real eye-opener.

Another film I produced as part of the campaign was totally different. I produced it as part of the show I usually work on, Key103 Hometime. OJ Borg boarded the Flight Of Dreams, which put 50 families on a plane (most of whom would be experiencing a flight for the first time), and flew them to find Santa Claus…

Dave Pegg

Currently sat on a train craving a brew. WHERE’S THE SERVICE TROLLEY?! On my interior I’m having a mini rage, on the outside I’m typing away furiously and listening to Gabrielle Aplin. I found out today via a lovely email from Wembley Arena that she is supporting John Mayer this weekend. It’s my Dad’s birthday present from me this year – a Mayer gig, which I’m sure will promise supreme guitarwork, bluesiness and country vibes. I’m excited, and so is Papa Chad. 
It’ll be awesome to escape this week’s rigmarole and take some down time. This week seems to have been a craze pot of constant diary events, early starts, late finishes, but above all a LOT of fun.
I’m ever so content to be working all the hours under the sun, working at my goals and having a good laugh. This week I hosted the second, and certainly my favourite of the two SRA Selector shows I have done so far. 2/2 – back of the net.
With Robbie Boyd in town I was pleased to catch up with him on the phone for the show this week – his new song Under My Skin sat alongside music that’s been delighting my lug holes this past week. New additions to my favourites list have got to be Wolf Alice, Lea Lea and George Ezra – who I saw a few weeks ago in Notting Hill. He’s got a brooding, deep voice and delectable acoustic guitar work. Worth a listen, and his track Budapest is a free download on his website!

Today – alongside pals Connor and Jen – I was honoured to interview Dave Pegg, who is the bass player with Fairport Convention and who has played with, and booked for the Cropredy festival, outstanding musicians such as Richard Thompson, Ralph McTell, Steeleye Span and many many more. His back catalogue of CD credits is way to vast to contain to a blog post. We once bumped in to him in a foggy-headed daze at the Cropredy after-party and he amused us for a solid 45-mins with tales of touring and his life in music. To catch up with him in the humbling setting of Banbury’s oldest building, Ye Olde Reine Deer Inn, was a slightly clearer-minded affair. 
I stuck 5 Hooky’s on the slate and sat in the pub’s Globe Room, a cute room round the back of the bar lavishly decorated in rich mahogany (no leather bound books), paintings of immense landscapes, rustic oak floor and a grand fireplace. Dave and I got talking about pubs, their importance for villages and communities, how they get on board with the Cropredy festival and how crucial real ale and local music are in village life. It’s for a documentary-ballad, which we’re making as a 3-parter exploring Villages, Pubs, and Hook Norton Brewery as the engine room behind a huge array of cracking local pubs.

This is one of the last cogs in the machine for the documentary, most of it is now assembled with Dave’s sections, some final recording in Morton Pinkney, and finally the excellent music of our local singer-songwriter Franc Sutherland who is composing original music for the programme. It’s an incredibly exciting point in production, we’re so close to tieing the knot after a summer of recording and editing. I’m really eager to hear the finished doc and indeed Connor’s film, which follows the same subject thread. It will be set for a December broadcast.

New Chapter

This blog has been dormant for a while now, but now is the time for a new chapter. Time to turn the page and fill you in with the current fun and games…

Since my last post a few months ago, nothing’s changed on the Key103 front, still loving my work there and it seems to be snowballing in the right direction!.. Indeed I’ve made a wee video of all the awesome stuff:

Third and final year at uni is upon me – so 5Live style radio shows and documentary projects await… I’m excited to get started with next semester’s final project. We have free reign over a documentary project and can spend a whole semester producing it. 
I’m currently in the throes of a doc about countryside village pubs, and how the twee, one-man-and-his-dog stereotype of the countryside is far from the case in this bustling community of pubs and locals, all fuelled by family-run nearby Brewery: Hook Norton.
I’m eager to hear the original songs created especially for the doc by a musician we’re working with – as soon as they’re written/recorded, that doc will be on it’s way to air, and I’ll be turning my gaze towards the final year doc.
Presenter gigs have been the object of my strife this past summer – demo’ing left-right-centre and working on feedback to try and land a show. Well right at the end of the summer, I managed to get one, then another! 
Firstly the exciting opportunity to present Saturday afternoon’s on Wire FM – part of the UTV group. A good few hours of airtime each week to have a bit of banter, tell some stories and play some music. Thrilled to bits with that – I feel like an excitable terrier.
And within a few days of the news of Wire – a show I’d applied for called The SRA Selector got back in touch to tell me I’d been successful with that!
Wee bit of background – The Selector is produced for the British Council – by top London production company Folded Wing – to showcase the best British new music across the world. The show broadcasts in 39 countries globally and reaches an audience of 4 million people! I’ve now got a chance – along with 5 other people – to broadcast the SRA Selector on my student radio station, which is Shock Radio.  A chance to chat about my favourite subject each week – new music. First show’s on Wednesday. I’m excited.
I went down to a training day at Folded Wing, which was awesome: masterclasses and tutorials about the show and presenting new music radio. As if that wasn’t good enough, we all went for a few beers in the evening and sampled the local ales. Managed to get a few people keen on Strava – a cycling app that maps your routes and shows how well you compared against other cyclists! And in return I have come away with an app called Untappd – a social network for beer drinkers!

The new chapter begins with lots of exciting projects on the blend, and many more to come! 

Back again..

This blog has been dormant for a while now, dormant like a sleepy volcano. Time to turn the page and fill you in with the current fun and games…

Since my last post a few months ago, nothing’s changed on the Key103 front, still loving my work there and it seems to be snowballing in the right direction!.. Indeed I’ve made a wee video of all the awesome stuff:

Third and final year at uni is upon me – so 5Live style radio shows and documentary projects await… I’m excited to get started with next semester’s final project. We have free reign over a documentary project and can spend a whole semester producing it. 
I’m currently in the throes of a doc about countryside village pubs, and how the twee, one-man-and-his-dog stereotype of the countryside is far from the case in this bustling community of pubs and locals, all fuelled by family-run nearby Brewery: Hook Norton.
I’m eager to hear the original songs created especially for the doc by a musician we’re working with – as soon as they’re written/recorded, that doc will be on it’s way to air, and I’ll be turning my gaze towards the final year doc.
Presenter gigs have been the object of my strife this past summer – demo’ing left-right-centre and working on feedback to try and land a show. Well right at the end of the summer, I managed to get one, then another! 
Firstly the exciting opportunity to present Saturday afternoon’s on Wire FM – part of the UTV group. A good few hours of airtime each week to have a bit of banter, tell some stories and play some music. Thrilled to bits with that – I feel like an excitable terrier.
And within a few days of the news of Wire – a show I’d applied for called The SRA Selector got back in touch to tell me I’d been successful with that!
Wee bit of background – The Selector is produced for the British Council – by top London production company Folded Wing – to showcase the best British new music across the world. The show broadcasts in 39 countries globally and reaches an audience of 4 million people! I’ve now got a chance – along with 5 other people – to broadcast the SRA Selector on my student radio station, which is Shock Radio.  A chance to chat about my favourite subject each week – new music. First show’s on Wednesday. I’m excited.
I went down to a training day at Folded Wing, which was awesome: masterclasses and tutorials about the show and presenting new music radio. As if that wasn’t good enough, we all went for a few beers in the evening and sampled the local ales. Managed to get a few people keen on Strava – a cycling app that maps your routes and shows how well you compared against other cyclists! And in return I have come away with an app called Untappd – a social network for beer drinkers!

The new chapter begins with lots of exciting projects on the blend, and many more to come! 

Awards and London

Last week I won the award for the most raucous celebration after the announcement of the Bauer Show of the Year nominations.
Before we get to that, I’ll tell you about the fun we’ve had leading up to it all. Alas, here we go, whilst I crunch on my Sula fruit mix. Sugar free.
I work on OJ Borg’s Hometime show on Key103, last year we had a right laugh working on bits and pieces for the show. One of my favourite but cumbersome features to produce was the House of Pain, pitting local rivalries against each other in the a physical battle for bragging rights. Whilst the nation enjoyed Bake-Off, we had the Key10-Tea Afternoon and the Key103-Tea-Mergency Services running to the rescue of those continuing to work in the rain!…we had a great year full of features and continually learning. I worked as many hours under the sun and fitted uni work in around Key103, which suited me.

Food update. Sula fruit mix have been devoured. I’ve found Turkish Delight from Christmas, still uneaten, which is sugar-coating my keyboard as we speak.
To progress the tale, I put together our awards entries for the various industry awards at the start of the year. I put in my own Cropredy Festival documentary too. Took absolutely ages to put these entries together, and I did so with hope but not massive expectation.
Key103 are owned by Bauer, and they have a huge internal Bauer awards party in May where all the stations from around the group put in for various things.
Last week was that very party. I awoke at 7, made for Manchester Piccadilly train station and got aboard. Gin’O'Clock arrived, and then we had our own Anchorman quiz, making up our own questions. ‘What was a bad choice? Milk.’ We also attempted to name, in chronology, the James Bond films. We’re so middle-class aren’t we?..we arrived into Euston and got aboard a coach. I was bewildered at this point with the scale of the event and couldn’t believe I was a part of it. We arrived at the Park Plaza on Westminster Bridge. It’s a lovely part of town and it looks even nicer with the sunshine! Blazers off, we toddled inside to the drinks reception where I necked my first drink of the day- a lemon Vodka martini – and basked in the sadness of Q Radio’s demise with Kev, who also present(ed) on the station.

It was awesome to have the whole radio sector of the company in one room, about 1000 people. All downing Vodka Martinis. A few drinks in, we made our way to the… what do you call it? Awards room? Main room? Function room? It’s a little more than a ‘function room’ – loads of tables seating the various stations, TV cameras filming everything, big bad graphics, my old boss doing the deep voiceover, a neon blue night that made you feel as if you were in the engine bay of a car from 2Fast 2Furious, and silver troughs of wine and beer on each table.

We sat down, got treated to a 3 course meal consisting of the best cut of the cow, a chargrilled courgette and a tiramisu with raspberry coolie. I’m a student. My plate was soon cleared and I made for the pick’n'mix.
Talking of food, I’ve just found Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups (also from Christmas). I’m home for the weekend and this stuff just hasn’t been devoured. I’m amazed.
The awards began and Key103 soon picked up some nominations, to the delight of all close by. Then the Show of the Year category popped up, and believe it or not Key103 Hometime with OJ got a nod! I  leapt out of my seat as if my team had just scored a goal in the Champions League Final and flung my arms in the air. A little over-reaction I think. But who cares, I was delighted. Hard work had received some recognition. Although we didn’t win, I felt so chuffed that we’d got noticed, really proud to be part of the show and to have had a big hand in the entry.
We’ll win it next year for sure.

The awards finished, drinks continued flowing, and then the afterparty begun. I nipped off to Covent Garden at this point to meet my mate and have some dinner. We put the world to rights over a gin and tonic, then set off in search of a pint in Soho. Bad move being the bank holiday weekend. We retreated to homely vibes of a pub on Baker Street for another G&T. All in all, a very successful day, which left my brain absolutely shattered. It’s one thing drinking all day, it’s another to drink and socialise all day. Anyhow, we’ll be doing exactly that x5 days at Glastonbury. wheeeyyyyyy, roll on Glasto.
The following morning we headed to Golden Square for a coffee and a cinnamon bun in the Nordic Bakery. I am going to build a Nordic Bakery next to my flat and have a cinnamon bun and a coffee every morning. My taste buds danced all the way back to Manchester.

Standing Up For Comic Relief

Have you ever had a go at stand-up comedy?? – It’s one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done in my life!

I was really delighted, recently, to be asked to produce some packages for BBC Radio Manchester, to introduce the listeners to a host of Mancunian volunteers who had bravely agreed to partake in a stand up comedy evening to raise money for Comic Relief. I have to admit my thoughts were hazy at first on how to produce these pieces… I decided I’d make a couple of bespoke ‘introductions’ to some of the volunteers – really find out about their lives and get some nice, evocative audio and interviews together to provide a window into their worlds… The other I decided should be a bit of a document for the group’s journey to the comedy night and all the prep that went into the evening.

A few weeks in when the group had begun practising, it was suggested that I get involved with the stand up myself! This would entail me, a Southerner, going on stage in an Irish Club in Fallowfield, Manchester, and telling a load of jokes for a few minutes. It doesn’t sound too daunting… it was.

Wherever you go and it’s a new environment, place names are tricky to get your head around. Hell, you don’t even have to go anyway, for years I was mispronouncing Palmolive hand wash. I decided that with a few place name gags done and dusted, that I would regale the story of my turkish bath in Bulgaria.

On our lads holiday, my mate and I decided to haggle the prices down at the Spa round the corner. It was a rock’n'roll lads holiday, for sure. We managed to get some decent rates and I booked in a Turkish Bath. Oh my word, I’ve had them before, and done properly they are incredible.

I was excited.

I arrived and was met by a Turkish Bath Giver (what do you call them?…) and instructed to take a small plastic bag to a changing cubicle and don its contents. Alas, I removed my clothes and stark naked in a Bulgarian 3* Spa, I removed the outer packaging of a paper G-string…which I had to poke my head out of the cubicle to confirm which way round to wear…

I assumed I’d have the audience in fits of laughter and I’d go home having stole the show… let’s say the tale of the posh Southerner having a spa on a lads holiday was more ridiculously amusing than the thong incident itself. Still, despite my worries, I didn’t forget my lines and I didn’t wee my pants.

Success.

I was delighted with the audio too. One of the volunteers was John Consterdine, so I thought it would be a good idea to join him doing a Parkrun and find out more about him to introduce the audience to him!

Another of the volunteers was Sam Smith, this was a package I produced with her to introduce any listeners to her prior to the comedy night!

This was a package intended to document the journey the 10 Mancunian volunteers had been on to prepare for the Stand Up evening