Tag Archives: radio

Breaking news

One of the biggest parts of my job is making sure the news bulletin sounds up to date making sure our listeners know about the important things happening right now.

Sometimes the details of a story can change really quickly, like election results or resignations, and this can mean keeping the bulletin up to date is more of a struggle. And to be honest quite exciting as well.

Recently a suspicious package was left outside Lincoln City Hall and the bomb squad had to be brought in as a precaution. We knew through police updates that it was unlikely to be a bomb but it was causing some problems in the city centre. There were traffic problems and people had been evacuated from their homes and offices.

I felt it was important that the scripts weren’t sensationalising what was happening, because we knew most a lot of the police work was precautionary. Instead I wanted to reflect on the disruption, so I sent a reporter to talk to people and send back a voicer describing the scene.

However, just as I started to read my bulletin we heard from the police that traffic restrictions were about to be lifted and the bomb disposal squad were leaving the scene. As I was in the studio I was oblivious to this update so my head of programming started to write an update for me to read.

He walked into my studio with a piece of paper with a couple of lines describing the latest situation which I read completely blind live. I’ve uploaded my bulletin with a big chunk of it that’s not relevant edited out. But you can hear my boss walking in over our creaky floorboards and hand me this piece of paper. It was all quite exciting and a bit unbelievable but hopefully to the listener sounded normal and meant they were being kept up to date.

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Learning to talk again

Some stories it’s clear what the news story is and how you want to tell it to others, sometimes you have to spend a little longer thinking about it.

The other week I was sent to a music workshop for people who’ve had strokes, it’s a new approach helping people in Lincolnshire learn how to speak again. I was introduced to the Sound Lincs group in Navenby while they were still happily singing pop songs. While one of the staff told me about some of the stories behind the people there. I came to realise that all the families had been through a lot.

One of the problems was that people were incredibly keen to share their stories but as they struggled with their speech it was hard for me to include them in my radio package. In fact I spent about an hour talking to all the people in the group and knew I was going to have to cherry pick all the best bits to get the greatest impact.

In a brief amount of time I found out how people coped with learning to speak again, from the sad moments to the everyday moments. For some it meant bringing music into their lives for the first time, and for others it was a good way to bring back something normal back into their lives that they loved before having a stroke.

I also wanted to make sure that someone explained just how people could sing 80s ballads word perfect while still stuggling to talk. It’s all quite complex, but put simply it seems another part of the brain is responsible for singing and another part is used for speech.

It was quite daunting to think that this encounter needed to be summed up to a listener in around about a minute long package. Also people had trusted me with their stories and I wanted to be able to tell them authentically. On top of that I didn’t want it to be gloomy, it is of course a serious subject but the people I’d met where optimistic.

To help make the piece more upbeat I used recordings of the group singing. I always knew I wanted to end with them singing The Proclaimers, as it’s the group’s favourite. I also used the singing as a chance to introduce some of the serious things the group members were explaining about having a stroke. Hopefully this made it both an interesting start to the package but also allowed the listener to reflect on some of the serious aspects of it too.

Basically it was a great opportunity where others were eager to tell me about what they’d been through, and I saw it as a chance to best tell even more people about this remarkable group.

Here’s the package that went out in the Lincs FM news bulletins.

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Princess Anne in Lincoln

It’s a big year for Lincoln as the city celebrates 800 years of the Magna Carta. It’s important for the area as the Cathedral has one of four remaining copies of the historical document. Until recently it was just displayed in part of the castle but a decision was made to invest in these beautiful parts of Lincoln and so started 10 years of work.

There’s now a dedicated vault in the castle grounds for the Magna Carta which opened earlier this year. Then to mark the occaision it was officially opened a few months later by Princess Anne.


As well as being a chance to show the best of Lincolnshire to royalty it was also a chance for lots of people to come together and celebrate the area.

We covered the event throughout the day on our news bulletins on Lincs FM. We started off by having some copy in our bulletins but once I was in the castle grounds recorded a voicer on my smartphone which I sent back to the office. This was then used in the bulletins to help give listeners an idea of how the event was building up.

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I only had about an hour to interview lots of people before the Princess arrived in the grounds and security protocols kicked in. I used this time to vox plenty of people who were at the event to find out the local reaction.

I then spoke to lots of people who had been involved in the project as well as local dignatries. All of these were sent back so the team had lots of different interviews to use and reflect how the event was moving on. I was also making sure to record lots of sounds, clapping and speeches so I had lots of bits of audio to play with to make a package.

Then I had a chance to just enjoy the event and the excitement of Princess Anne arriving. At this point I made sure to take plenty of photos and also tweet the news on the station’s Twitter account.

Then as they were enjoying their tour of the castle I went back to the office to assemble my package. I looked up what the team had already used of my audio. I then built a simple story that I wanted to tell in my package, only using the best bits of my interviews and recordings.

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It was really interesting to cover this event, not only was it an important day for Lincoln it was also a chance to be creative. More importantly it was good to work with the rest of the team, providing them with good quality interviews to help them out with news bulletins whilst out reporting. It was also great to think of the story beyond just what was going out on the station and remember the importance of social media too.

Tips for creative writing in radio

Before Easter some of the University of Lincoln’s journalism students were treated to a talk from Harry Youtt, who teaches creative writing at UCLA, about how to write creatively for radio. Here’s my notes from the talk.

To get an idea of what works on the radio it’s good to listen to other examples of fascinating radio. Harry Youtt is based in Los Angeles and he says as an outsider the US is jealous of the BBC. There’s such a variety and scope of documentaries and programmes on BBC radio that are interesting listens.

The only equivalent in the US, Harry Youtt says, is This American Life presented by Ira Glass. The hour-long show covers a variety of topics and each week’s show has a theme but predominantly the show explores human nature.

A good way to approach creative writing for radio is to think about the perfect listener. They are already interested in your programme topic — do you think they will enjoy it all and continue listening? Is your story worth telling?

Think about your top lines — this is how you draw your listener in so start somewhere that matters and shape the rest of your piece around that. Also consider centring your topic on an individual because people identify with other people’s difficulties and challenges easily.

Let others do the hard work for you. Characters speak for themselves so let your interviewees speak and not you speak on their behalf. It will mean more coming from them and leave the presenter to narrate the story.

It’s a cliche but Harry Youtt says “Actions speak louder than words” and radio gives you the perfect opportunity to be creative with this statement. You could just talk to someone about an event, or you could go to the event and get involved remembering to record interesting sounds as you go along. Then it’s not just a chat but actually getting the listener involved.

Interview techniques are also key to good radio. When it comes to programme making this means going beyond just what questions you are going to ask because you want to be able to use all parts of the conversation. Interviewees need to feel comfortable and you can take the time to get good answers.

For news bulletins in radio you need to act quickly so you can ask the difficult and daunting questions first and these questions are likely to be asked to people who are being held to account, so they expect it. If you are making a programme then you are more likely to be chatting to someone who has a story to tell which will take time to get out of them. It doesn’t mean you have to use those first easy questions and you can change the order of the answers to suit how you tell the story.

Harry Youtt has some good techniques to help with interviews including remember to look at people’s faces when you are interviewing them, as it helps to get more of idea of how they are feeling. Also research is always a good idea and sometimes it pays off to do extra research to help you out.

Essentially the best pieces of radio you will create are about topics that you are emotionally interested in. Make a list of the stories you want to tell and rank them in order, now you know what you want to report on.

Best of Food for Thought

If you’ve never listened to Food for Thought before then this ‘best of’ episode is a great place to start. I like to interview the people running Lincoln’s cafes and restaurants so I get to learn about the amazing food that you can find in Lincolnshire as well as hear people’s interesting stories.

This week’s show is snippets of interviews from the past few weeks, including the Angel Coffee House, Baked by Eileen and The Little Espresso Company.

Listen to this week’s show here:

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The places featured on this best of are:

Little Espresso Company

The Little Espresso Shop on Silver Street in Lincoln. | Photo: Charlotte Reid

The Little Espresso Company is the smallest coffee shop in Lincoln, and possibly in the country. Remember though, good things come in small packages. Adam Lowiss, who owns and runs the Little Espresso Company, opened the shop because he wanted to have his own space to share great tasting coffee with others.

He’s also just started a coffee delivery service. During the day if you’re unable to escape the office for lunch he will bring the Little Espresso Company to your desk at work. And you get to order online. Find out more about the new delivery service here.

Angel Coffee House

We’ve had the smallest and now to the prettiest, the Angel Coffee House. It’s an independent cafe based in the old vestry hall for St Swithins Church.

The new owner CJ used to work at the Angel with the previous owner so she knows what the customers want. At the same time she has a few plans of how to put her personality into the place as well.

You can listen to the full original interview here.

Revival Lincolnshire

Revival Lincolnshire is a community cafe, run by the local community, for the local community. Revival is a pop-up store on Sincil Street and offers workshops, a health and wellbeing centre and a craft cafe.

I met up with Angela Porter, who leads the Revival Lincolnshire project, to talk about the importance of supporting Lincolnshire and the people who live in the county.

Revival Lincolnshire | Photo: Charlotte Reid

Baked by Eileen

Eileen Robertson makes all her cakes in her kitchen at home using local and seasonal produce. Eileen mostly sells her cakes at the Castle Sqaure Market in Lincoln, but some of her cakes are also stocked in cafes around the city too.

Baked by Eileen is a relatively new venture for Eileen. She’s surprised by how successful her business is when it started as a simple idea a couple of years ago. Find out more about Baked by Eileen here.

Next time

On next week’s show I find out more about how we can stop wasting our food and and I’ll be explaining what is cultured beef.

Angel Coffee House

The Angel Coffee House is one of the prettiest cafes I’ve visited as part of Food for Thought. The cafe used to be the vestry hall for the nearby St Swithins Church and is a very peaceful space for the centre of Lincoln.

Angel Coffee House

CJ is the new owner of the Angel and it’s a place very close to her heart. In my interview with CJ she explains that she used to work at the Angel as a waitress with the previous owner so knows what the customers like and expect. At the same time she has ideas to put her own personality into the place too.

Also on this week’s show I chat to Ben and Alex from Snap it. Taste it. Blog it. They blog about and review food, but there’s a difference with their blog. They’re a couple in a long-distance relationship, Ben lives in Boston, Lincolnshire and Alex lives in New York.

Reading Snap it. Taste it. Blog it. is a fascinating look at the difference in food and food culture between the UK and US but also a glimpse into Ben and Alex’s relationship. To find out more I invited Ben to the Siren FM studios and we called Alex in New York so I could chat to both of them about the blog.

Listen to this week’s podcast here:

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You can listen to the show live on Siren FM every Wednesday at 2pm and repeated on Saturday at 3pm.

I’ve also been working on a Pinterest board for Food for Thought to group together all my photos of Lincoln’s cafes and great food.

Radio 2 and friends

I had good intentions, like all people who make resolutions. I vowed to do something and then promptly forgot. I have no excuses because my challenge was even written down. So here two weeks later and I am spending the day with Radio 2.

BBC Radio 2 logo | Photo: BBC

I freelance meaning there are parts of the day where I am by myself. I was starting to feel a bit lonely, and remembered when I used to listen to the radio on a daily basis. It was back when I was working in an office, but we weren’t supposed to get distracted. Eventually the silence became too much and I found myself regularly tuning into Radio 2. Since I left that job I have missed Steve Wright in the Afternoon, so I decided to have a listen and see how he was getting on.

A lot is made of radio listening being a relationship. Jeremy Vine, who also has a Radio 2 show, says in his book ‘Its All News To Me’: “Television is impact, radio is intimate. TV is all about creating a splash, radio is all about forming a relationship”. I have to agree and, frankly, it was a relief that Steve Wright sounded the same. Instantly I felt like I had some company to help me through the afternoon.

The strangest thing was when I had real human company again it did feel like I was getting two friends that you know won’t really get on try to have an awkward chat.

Aside from my reunion with the station, I was drawn in by their Comic Relief activities. Over the past week in the lead up to Red Nose Day the comedian Miranda Hart has been given ‘mad’ challenges. Her charitable attempts were nicely woven into the day’s shows. In the morning Miranda found out what was in store for her from Chris Evans, then updated listeners throughout the day on the other programmes. It was cleverly done and was interesting from a Red Nose perspective but also inviting me to carry on listening.

Of course this is Radio 2 so there are some odd songs, although Toto’s Africa was a genuine highlight. A few years ago BBC Trust said the age of the average listener should not drop below 50. Therefore the station is a comfortable listen, but that is no bad thing. It also meant it was really easy to transition from show to show and from presenter to presenter. The mix of a variety of topics yet with a reliable and trusty feel meant it was a great listen. The programming feels almost like the ideal way radio should sound.

According to the latest RAJAR figures, audience listening figures, Radio 2 has over 15 million listeners. Therefore I cannot pretend to have discovered anything new. But if you listen to any radio that you would recommend others to listen to then let me know in the comments.