Ed Doolan: Christmas Show
Just before Christmas, I helped out with BBC WM’s special Christmas show which takes place in Birmingham’s impressive Symphony Hall (see pic below!) I was primarily responsible for looking after the talent backstage – making sure they had everything they needed and getting them to the stage on time. We had a range of great performers, from The Sons of Pitches (UoB alumni, no less!) to Jack Pack, Lemar and one of the stars of Hairspray: The Musical. An array of BBC WM’s most popular presenters were on hand to introduce the acts and spread some festive cheer. I had previously performed in Symphony Hall with my university choir but it was great to get to see the venue from another angle and witness all the logistics that go in to making a great show.
BBC WM shadowing
Whilst at BBC Birmingham, I’ve been keen to shadow in other departments and see how they work. Having never worked on radio before, I spent some time shadowing BBC WM’s popular Sunny and Shay show. I helped the producer to write the presenters’ cues for the day’s key stories, sourced quiz questions for the on air game ‘The Knowledge’ and lined up contributors for upcoming shows. Producer Andy was impressed by my contributor suggestions and the roller derby team I lined up featured on the show the following week! I had the chance to spend a bit of time in the studio with Sunny and Shay before they went on air and took the opportunity to ask them lots of questions about how they got into the industry and how all the studio technology works.
Watching the show go out live was really interesting. One group of guests were from a magic show who were touring in Birmingham at the time. It was fascinating to see how Sunny and Shay were able to describe the tricks the performers were doing in the studio to really make it come alive for the listeners at home. Now that WM have a significant social media presence, the Producer also filmed the magic to put on Facebook and Twitter later on.
There was a definite buzz working to a tight production deadline and having the chance to give groups from the local community a platform to share their stories, events and talent.
My latest big project has been organising BBC School Report News Day. School Report is an annual project run by the BBC, with 2016 being its 10th anniversary! BBC mentors go into schools to help pupils get to grips with how to put together their own news reports. On ‘News Day’, pupils upload their reports to the School Report website and there are events nationwide to celebrate.
For News Day 2016 (which took place on the 10th March), approximately 60 local secondary school children came into BBC Birmingham for a range of workshops. There was everything from having a go at being a commentator, to learning how to present the weather and going behind the scenes with Midlands Today. Birmingham was also selected to host this year’s national School Report pop-up radio station which broadcast live for two hours on the day. The radio station provided insight into School Report events from across the UK, with pupils co-presenting with BBC WM’s Richie Anderson. Radio guests included the BBC’s Director General, Tony Hall, and the one and only Joe Jonas.
Newsround presenter Martin Dougan and news presenter Nick Owen were also on hand to talk to pupils about their experiences of being in the media and offer top tips and advice.
School Report gave me the chance to build on what I had learnt whilst planning BBC Birmingham’s Open Day. There were a lot of detailed logistics to figure out, particularly making sure the pop-up radio worked seamlessly alongside our usual WM output. It required the ability to keep both the big picture and the small details of the event in mind simultaneously. My tendency to write a lot of trusty action lists helped me out a great deal!
There’s so much more I could say but, as it’s not an essay-writing competition, I’ll leave it there for now! Check back soon for some overall reflections on my time at BBC Birmingham as well as plans for the future…