Life on the Radio
My day job involves being on the radio. I’ve been at BBC Three Counties Radio since about 2003 and am probably best known for reading the news on the station, although I’ve done quite a few other things too.
I’ve presented shows, including a daytime afternoon show and the weekly gardening show. I’ve produced programmes. I’ve done a bit of reporting too, but seeing as I have a tendency to get lost and miss being somewhere where I can easily get a cup of tea, that’s not something I’ve done too often.
My other regular stint, aside from the newsreading, is occasionally writing for the online news page, which is why my name comes up there every now and again. Unfortunately, they keep using that picture of me that I don’t like to go along with it. We’ve had some nice new pictures taken, but at the time of writing, no one’s got around to uploading them to the system.
What does a newsreader do when they’re not … er … newsreading?
That’s a question I get asked a lot. The simple answer is that I have to put together the bulletin before I read it, and this means gathering news from all sorts of sources.
As far as the local news is concerned, I make sure I’m across all the sources and deal with anything that comes up. It maybe a report from the police that someone has been arrested, or a report from a court case via a news agency, or something that our own reporters have generated. I need to take that raw material and turn it into readable copy. Sometimes, this is just a few lines, other times it is a longer report, or there maybe some audio that needs to be clipped to accompany the story.
The BBC Three Counties Radio team when we moved to new offices in Dunstable. That’s me kneeling down in the front row in the black and white dress.
The national news is produced centrally and sent out. I then pick what local stories I’m running, mix them with the important national news and put together a bulletin of the required length. At BBC Three Counties Radio, we currently have three minute news bulletins and I like to have three pieces with audio (either a voiced report or a clip from an interview), plus two or three ‘copy’ stories (i.e., without audio) to add variety. I’m always looking out for a lighter to story to end the bulletin on and try to squeeze one in whenever I can.
I write the headlines which start the bulletin and end on a brief weather forecast which is subbed down from a longer report compiled by a clever weather person (in other words, when the forecast is wrong, it’s not my fault!).
BBC THREE COUNTIES RADIO (2003 ish to present)
• Currently newsreading and online news
• Presented weekday afternoon show, firstly with Justin Dealey, then solo for about a year. Also presented the Saturday morning gardening show for even longer. (Annoyingly, the recordings of all these shows got wiped in the Great Computer Failure before I had a chance to run myself off a copy or even listen back to hear how brilliant (a-hem!) I was).
• Have done various bits and bobs at the station over the years.
NATIONAL NEWS (2002/3)
Worked at IRN (Independent Radio News, part of ITN), writing and reading news bulletins. This service is taken by many local radio stations around the country, so I would have been heard in some far flung places in the UK where I have never even been.
BBC Radio 4 & 2. More news writing. I read a couple of bulletins in the middle of the night while covering the regular newsreader’s break — and was amazed how many random people said they’d heard me at 3am!
MIX 96, AYLESBURY (2000-2001)
• A great little station and a great job. I was the News Editor and, therefore in charge of both of us working in the newsroom!
MORE NATIONAL NEWS AT NETWORK NEWS & METRO NETWORKS (late ’90s / early 2000s)
These small companies provided national radio bulletins for a range of stations and I would have been heard on Virgin, Magic and various others. I did a lot of radio freelancing for NN & MN while I was also a freelance writer.
CHILTERN RADIO (on and off 1993-1999, I think)
This was my first actual radio job. I was only employed as a member of staff for ten months, after that I went freelance and mixed radio shifts with freelance writing.
DIPLOMA IN RADIO JOURNALISM
Guess what?! I’m qualified. I did my course at the London College of Printing (now the London College of Communication).
RADIO FOR FUN
I spent a lot of time at the campus radio station at the University of Kent at Canterbury, UKCR, while I was studying for my English Literature degree. I presented weekly shows, got involved in the management committee and generally hung around having a good time. I’ll dig out a photo of me back then, when I can get to the boxes in the spare room.
I started doing hospital radio at Hemel Hempstead (Hemel Hospital Radio!) when I was 14. I presented a weekly show and stayed for many years.