NQ4 calling – memories of a wannabe radio host

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be on the radio.

One of the first gadgets I remember owning was a Fisher-Price tape player and recorder, with which I spent hours recording fake radio shows and “mixing” in tracks that I’d play from my dad’s HiFi system. As I got older, I wasn’t tuning into the Top 40 on Radio 1, but instead the soothing voice of Clive Bull doing late night on London’s LBC 1152 AM would accompany me as I drifted off to sleep.

LBC 97.3 - Clive Bull photocard

My love affair with speech radio has continued on and off since then, and as creating and recording audio has become easier, I continued to dabble, but without any real training. A radio experience day at a community radio station in Norfolk gave me a chance to try out what it’d be like running a show, but it seemed like hard work.

What I really wanted to do was just… talk. Talk, to myself, to listeners, to friends about anything that might interest me. I didn’t want to have to learn to drive a desk, or think too hard about when to fade in music or the technicalities of capturing a voice. But I did want to make fun, interesting and compelling content in easy to digest clips that don’t drag on.

That’s why I really enjoyed the recent Omniversity course, Radio Production for Pod and Cloud Casts. Armed with just my iPhone and my Mac, I enjoyed a hugely hands-on day with Barney (aka Doodlebug Presents) and other coursemates where we learned just how quick and easy it could be to grab people for sound clips, edit and stitch together some conversations and polish it all off in a neat little package – easily published online.

Course leader Barney has a wealth of hands-on experience producing audio for the web and other channels. His relaxed yet knowledgeable style makes this course a pleasure. Taking advantage of World Record Store day happenings just around the corner meant that we produced a fun and interesting podcast of a very topical event, so everything we did had real and immediate relevance. It was a real buzz and gave me the perfect template for other podcasts I might do, both personally and professionally.

Check out the first MadLab podcast that we did about World Record Store Day.
[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.996544&w=425&h=350&fv=]

… and a more recent piece I threw together ahead of attending Carmen as part of Opera North’s blogging event.

Thankfully, the Omniversity is running the course again on June 11. It’s an all-day thing, with lunch included in the price, so if you’ve got an interest in producing a piece of radio and “exploring the theatre of the mind”, check it out.

BarCamp Manchester 3 at MadLab

A brief report on the above event written for MadLab.

A building in India made out of pallets, open source software in government, casual gaming and a 10 year old demo’ing Linux graphics software.

These were just three of the brilliant informal talks that were presented at BarCamp Manchester, held at the MadLab last Saturday (22 August).

“BCMan3″ was the third annual BarCamp in Manchester. It’s an “unconference” – where anyone is welcome to turn up and give a talk, lead a discussion or ask a question to the rest of the audience.

Check out the Flickr photos from the day

It sounds like a recipe for chaos, but it’s a huge credit to Andrew Disley, Dan Hardiker and everyone who was involved in putting it together, that the day ran so smoothly.

MadLab was buzzing with activity on all three floors and the diverse sessions meant that there was always something to go along and learn about. In fact, the great thing about BCMan3 is that sessions were constantly being added throughout the day as people with common interests found each other, hacked together new things and presented them for discussion later on.

There was even an international flavour with a Skype video walkthrough of the Jaaga project in Bangalore, a hackspace similar in intent to the MadLab. Also, some intrepid types banded together, armed with cameras and went on an outdoor exploration of some of the nearby gritty urban scenery.

The event concluded with the space being reset for an after party featuring Rock Band on the XBox 360 and a Puzzle Bobble tournament on the arcade. There may have even been a few hardcore geeks playing Star Trek Online over the MadLab wifi.

The atmosphere was incredibly refreshing and engaging — this wasn’t just a bland conference or another techie/geek event. Everyone was welcoming and encouraging and the mix of people made it truly possible for anything to be presented. There’s no better proof of this than a successful and popular session run by 10 year old Andi Southern who demo’d some incredible skills on Tux Paint. Overall, BarCamp Manchester 3 was a great event at which I met other creative-minded types and had the chance to share my knowledge and learn from them.

Special thanks again to Andrew Disley, Dan Hardiker and all the sponsors who made this happen – for free.