01 September 2014

Made in Leeds. Make it Happen.

After much anticipation Leeds' own local TV service 'Made in Leeds' will launch .. soon.

It was due on air in November last year, a test card gave a tantalising flash early in 2014, then it all went a bit quiet. Now, with artfully-shot time lapse pics of city landmarks looping on Freeview Channel 8 it appears a launch is, well, imminent.

What's important now is that we give Made in Leeds a warm welcome. For better or worse it's ours, and it's here. What's absolutely certain is we'll never get another go if this fails, so Leeds needs to get behind the project.

The following was originally posted on the Leeds Culture Vulture website.

31 August 2014

Video: Austin Mitchell at Pennine House

Radio is evolving. Those who speak of a 'golden age' of commercial radio in the UK in the seventies and eighties are missing the point.

Yes, those times were great and I was so immensely privileged to be part of them. But the industry is moving on in different ways and I saw both the old and the new on a visit to Bradford yesterday

More importantly I saw plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future.

19 August 2014

Defining Radio

OK, I'm going to have another go at an old chestnut. Is radio on the internet 'radio'?

On one level, it obviously is. The listener's experience is, or certainly should be, platform blind. I don't care how utilities are delivered to my home, so long as they arrive when I need them. BT once ran a witty commercial showing the scale of technical effort that went into maintaining a copper-wire connection to an unappreciative elderly customer in the Scottish highlands. Listeners treat radio as a utility.

I don't care if the product gets to me via AM, FM, DAB, 3G, IP or any other system the geeks can devise so long as I can hear it when I want to at the click of a switch.

But there's more to it than that.

07 August 2014

Experience or Exploitation?

Pay rates in commercial radio are under intense scrutiny at the moment.

Scourge of BBC management John Myers has turned his fire on the Bauer Media group, who have allegedly been putting wannabe jocks to air on national digital radio stations without paying them anything.

John's not mentioned news as yet - but as someone who's done his damnest to get journalism postgraduates into radio jobs with a measure of success over the past 20 years I thought it could be useful to add a few thoughts about what is, and what isn't, acceptable practice.

04 August 2014

Car Compulsory

I'm beginning to think we should make a driving licence an entry requrement for Journalism courses.

It goes without saying that mobility has always been an advantage for newshounds. Bus timetables are not designed around radio's requirements for earlies and lates. Fires and murders often occur in exasperatingly isolated locations not served by Network Rail.

What's different in 2014 is that it's difficult, if not impossible, to get a job, or even to get freelance work to build the portfolio tequired to apply for a job, without a driving licence in your pocket. And now, it seems, the keys to a car as well.

13 July 2014

Degrees of Separation

This is the time of year when I really get stuck in to the job of interviewing candidates for next year's Postgraduate Broadcast Journalism course at Leeds Trinity. With money tight for postgrad study they're thinner on the ground than they used to be.

My course, most unusually, starts in January - so anyone graduating this summer has six months to earn money, gain experience, find themselves or just vegetate whilst consuming the contents of their parents' fridge before starting a demanding programme in the new year.

The timing also means we turn people out on placement in October and November, a time when those who conform to the rigid academic year are in full-on delivery mode. That way we get the pick of the best newsroom placements for our lot to choose from. But that's another story.

I want to see diversity in applicants. Rather than just seeing those still recovering from the cost of hiring a gown for an hour in July I'm anxious to meet those who are changing career. Mature candidates, those who made the wrong choice at 21 or were steered away from broadcast journalism by the naysayers predicting the imminent death of radio (Again. That game started in 1953) or local papers (we achieved 100% employment on last year's Print course. The majority in -er- local papers).

I want to see more scientists. I want more applications from minority communities. And - heresy of heresies - I want to hear from those who aren't even graduates at all.