Saida completes a week at Podium.me

I was always interested in media and getting to know the story behind things, and on the 17th of March I was lucky enough to have got an internship placement with Podium.me.I was really excited to see what it was like to be a journalist for a week, on the first day we were taught how to interview each other and record each other’s voice using a voice record app. I found it easy at first then the questions got more complex which were a little harder to answer straight away, I had to think. The next day we were shown and taught how to edit a voice recording using a computer software we edited our own voices and got rid of long breaks and unnecessary sounds.

On Wednesday, we went to visit the BBC and we were shown around the building. What was interesting to me was that for somewhere so big and having so many different programmes going on it was rather quiet. After visiting the BBC, we went exploring London and went to several places, the first place we went was Liverpool street and looked around, and went into some shops and asked the shop owners some questions. This was supposed to show us how to ask people questions. Then we went to Fashion street which is where a lot of fashion schools are, and we asked two girls a couple of questions and their answers were rather interesting. Then we went to Brick lane, this place was the most artistically beautiful place which I have ever seen, everywhere I looked was there were different colours, every shop which was there was different and unique even if it was selling the same thing. We took pictures of things which we liked and stood out to us .

On Thursday, we were told to search for five things we could talk about in a magazine and we had to pitch our ideas and say who we would interview and the questions we would ask and this gave us a little insight to what it is like to be a journalist. Taking up this internship has help me develop some skills and I am very grateful that I have been giving this opportunity.

 

By Saida Sheik

A day in the life of Nisbah, intern at Podium.me

Media. The world of technology and fascinating stories to tell across the nations. As an I.T. student, I am fascinated by the news, such as government and politics which draw my attention to the media. Fortunately, I was given an internship with Podium.Me for a week to learn, build and improve my skills.

I learnt how to interview someone with an audio recorder or a phone. Interestingly, I found that being interviewed by my friend was more difficult than being interviewed by a stranger as I felt more comfortable to express how I felt about the arts. I learnt how to use an app called Voice Record and I then found it interesting that I could edit the audio using the software Audition and take out the irrelevant pieces such as the gaps and words like um, and err. It allowed me to change the audio around to make it sound more interesting.  Our interviews will be used for a documentary in Devon for Totnes radio.

I then went to the BBC with my friend and a journalist. Security at the BBC was tight due to a breach recently, as someone gained access to the main room while a reporter was doing the news. Luckily no information or data was lost and no one was harmed. We were still given a tour and saw where all the audio is edited, where the weather report took place as well as seeing the creativity in the BBC. For example, it’s not just offices inside but there is a lot of art there too.

We then went to Brick lane, in East London. The street is full of arts, vintage and graffiti grabbing people’s attention as if you were a tourist. We spotted a fascinating and creative shop called Dark sugar, where they make chocolates in all different shapes and forms. As I took a bite it felt as if i was in a different world, tasting all the different textures. We interviewed the owner and asked how the truffles were made. We then explored the area and interviewed some people which helped me build my confidence more.

The next day I continued editing the audio that me and my friend made and completed it. I then played it back with Camilla Byk to see if the audio made sense and if not, we changed it along the way. On my last day, I decided to join Camilla in the morning to play football. I found it really enjoyable and a great time as I also met new people and heard their perspective about sports.

By Nisbah Arif

Meet the writers at Podium.me

Frankie: Staring

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What made you interested in writing?

I think writing has always come naturally to me. I’ve always liked telling stories and writing them down. Or if something was happening in my life, good or bad I took comfort in writing journals and documenting my feelings. It was after hearing David Sedaris, my favourite writer, and watching Gavin and Stacey that I began considering writing scripts for comedy and drama. 

What had you written previously and what challenges did you face writing an audio drama monologue?

In the past I had always written for performing stand up comedy or for myself. So writing for a character, developing their personality and finding their voice, making sure it was different from my own was quite difficult. To me and my friends I have quite a distinctive way of delivering lines or jokes when performing and I didn’t want people to recognise me in this character. 

What did you learn writing for audio?

The main thing I learnt is you have a lot more freedom. Audio relies on the imagination of the listener for scenery, so you can literally base you story anywhere. I think that’s really exciting. There is no limit. 

How did attending the group help you to develop your work?

Meeting in a group for me really helped. Writing on my own I have found it hard to get started and stay focused. Cordelia set us some writing tasks and without me even knowing she got the creative juices flowing. It was nice to be in a group and really appreciate everyone’s different styles and takes on pieces. 

How did you find the challenge of re-writing and how were you supported in this process?

I tend to overdo it. Sometimes a character does not need to rant or directly tell you about themselves. Cordelia taught me that sometimes it’s about what is not being said. 

Molly:  Compassion Fatigue

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What made you interested in writing?

It’s a job you can do in your pyjamas. Also, we all live in own little heads and we can never truly know what it is like to be another human being. Writing from someone else’s perspective is one of the few ways that we can see into another person’s mind – everyone is their own protagonist and we are all as real as each other. But mostly the pyjamas thing.

What had you written previously and what challenges did you face writing an audio drama monologue?

It is hard to create tension and drama in someone talking to themselves. You have to have a strong sense of the internal conflict, especially when there is nothing visual for the audience to focus on.

I love writing for radio/podcasts and am eager to continue in the future. I know how intense the connection you have with something right in your ears. I was once so engrossed in Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate on Radio 4 that I got trapped in a bog and I had to be rescued by some pensioners.

What did you learn writing for audio?

The importance of detail in the language, which creates a picture for the audience, without spoon-feeding them facts.

How did attending the group help you to develop your work?

The writing group was an honest, supportive space to explore ideas and make mistakes. The discipline of a writing group combined with the challenge of using a different medium led me to producing some of my best work.

How did you find the challenge of re-writing and how were you supported in this process?

I am unusual in that I don’t mind rewriting, it’s the writing bit I hate. Re-writing is working with something actually on the page, which is infinitely easier than looking at a screen and pondering maybe writing some words. While re-crafting my work, I felt supported by the writing group and the clear feedback I was given.

Daisy: Who Cares?

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What made you interested in writing?

People. People made me interested in making stories. I think for me it all started with a fascination in the way people speak. A lot of that began with listening to family conversations and copying their speech patterns and opinions to create dialogue that felt real. My work is always inspired by the world around me and I think that people, with all their wackiness, are a big part of that.

What had you written previously and what challenges did you face writing an audio drama monologue?

Before embarking on this project I had only written short plays. I had no experience of writing a monologue and I think that I underestimated its craft. I found this project really challenging because it was difficult to explore a story in such a condensed amount of time using just one character’s voice. Whilst developing this monologue and understanding more about writing for radio I completely fell in love with audio drama. It is different from writing scripts for the stage because in audio drama you don’t have a set or any visuals to help you tell the story, but what makes that so fascinating is that it allows you to really unlock your imagination.

What did you learn writing for audio?

With radio you have no limitations. At first it may seem that you have because you don’t have a set and the audience can’t see your character’s traits. But because you are purely relying on the characters and the audience, the who, where and when can be whatever you like – your characters don’t even have to be humans!

How did attending the group help you to develop your work?

I learnt so much from attending the group because I could listen to the work of others and learn from them. We progressed together which was really nice because usually writing can be quite a lonely experience. From this group I learnt that there are just so many ways to write a monologue. I also learnt that choice is the key to developing any story – a character needs to have a choice which they then decide where to take it.

Finally, some thoughts about the challenge of re-writing and how you were supported in this process.

For me the re-writing process was the most important part. I began with a completely different monologue to what I ended up with. I learnt that I had to really think about where my character was in order make the story come to life. I also found that the more I re-wrote the more experimental I became which was a very enjoyable and exciting process. 

Pip Swallow:  Just Joella

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Pip is studying at Goldsmiths for a PhD in Theatre. She trained as an actor but does all sorts of things to keep afloat in London. 

What made you interested in writing?

I’ve tried to work as an actor but it’s a tough and over-saturated industry. I wanted to try my hand at writing because the roots are the same. You need to have an interest in character and story-telling to do both. 

What had you written previously and what challenges did you face writing an audio drama monologue?

I’ve never really tried writing before until this year so it’s all a challenge!

How did attending the group help you to develop your work?

I learnt about the need for impact early on and also about writing with the audience in mind. It was great to have constructive critique and bounce ideas off people in a group format.

Finally, some thoughts about the challenge of re-writing and how you were supported in this process.

Cordelia could point out the weak spots which is hard to see for myself. It’s hard to be objective when you’ve been wrapped up in a piece.

Rianna Mitchell Henry: Broken in Two

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What made you interested in writing?

Writing gives me freedom to express my feelings, perceptions and thoughts without limitation. I relish the power to shine light on dark subjects and unspeakable truths that are evocative and enlightening to others. My writing can serve as a voice for social issues; potentially stimulate minds; and change lives, just like other writing has done for me.

What had you written previously and what challenges did you face writing an audio drama monologue?

The main challenge was writing a monologue in the active voice and in present tense.

Before the writing group, I had written a full-length play for the Royal Court theatre, and screenplays with the BBC. Writing for audio was more challenging than writing for stage because the story is presented through dialogue and sound effects only. It was difficult to keep the story entertaining, as there are no stage directions to keep the audience visually engaged.

What did you learn writing for audio?

I learnt that to make a monologue as impactful and engaging as possible is to write in the active voice. Listeners are able to understand the characters and story in greater depth and fully immerse themselves in the narrative, as they are experiencing the character’s journey.

How did attending the group help you to develop your work?

I learnt how to produce an effective monologue and its differences in convention and style compared to other writing genres. Attending the group helped with the re-writing process because I was able to gain constructive criticism, and figure out which elements worked.

Finally, some thoughts about the challenge of re-writing and how you were supported in this process.

The re-writing process can be challenging because eliminating or changing parts of your work involves possibly having to make large changes to the narrative. The writing group provided the opportunity to share ideas with others and helped me tell the story I wanted to tell.

Bexie Archer: Second-hand Meringue

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What made you interested in writing?

I starting writing monologues out of necessity, as strong young female voices are hard to find in audition pieces, and I didn’t recognise myself or the people I know, in many of the characters I was coming across.

What had you written previously and what challenges did you face writing an audio drama monologue?

I like to write minimal dialogue and leave the actors to express their stories and relationships, so I initially found it very unnatural to be commenting on the surroundings and scene as it happens so the radio audience knows what’s going on, so that was the main challenge. I think we got there in the end though!

What did you learn writing for audio?

It forced me to get across the subtleties using audio alone and taught me I don’t have to rely on visuals to create dialogue and environment that feels realistic

Finally, some thoughts about the challenge of re-writing and how you were supported in this process.

My earlier drafts overcompensated for the lack of visuals by being long and overwritten, so it was liberating to cut it down and play with how little exposition I could still get away with! I’m really chuffed with the piece that Cordelia and I have ended up with, as I couldn’t have done it without her guidance or patience.

  

Abe Buckoke: Out at Sea

abe-buckoke-writer

What made you interested in writing?

I’ve been a huge fan of Radio Comedy and Drama since I was young. I used to listen to the then Radio 7 for The Goon Show, Hancock’s Half Hour, and my absolute favourite, Dick Barton. I’ve always felt like the medium has an intimacy and a magic that is unparalleled in any other form. As they say, “the pictures are better in radio” but I really do find that to be a truism. Recent radio favourites of mine have been “The National Theatre of Brent” and anything by John Finnemore. 

What had you written previously and what challenges did you face writing an audio drama monologue?

I found the “mono” bit hard. A lot of my work is very relationship based, I have a penchant for status war between people, and to find myself all alone when writing, “Out At Sea” was quite daunting. In fact the first draft I sent Cordelia, did have a huge gang of other characters because I just couldn’t seem to get the pen moving otherwise, but Cordelia’s guidance gave me confidence in isolating the focus of the story. In terms of the audio aspect, I suppose you don’t naturally think about how to tell the story of the world, when writing, because usually for theatre or film they’re just going to see it. Cordelia explained “you’re creating pictures in sound so think about what the audience will hear and remember if they can’t hear it it doesn’t exist. “. This was a key nugget which really helped me, because then I could translate what I was seeing into sound and it also gave me new ideas as restrictions so often do. 

What did you learn writing for audio?

That you do have to create the world with your ears, and that’s exciting. 

Finally, some thoughts about the challenge of re-writing and how you were supported in this process.

The rewriting was great, Cordelia had a really solid idea of what the piece was trying to do. Her directions where uplifting and helped strengthen and clarify my work, without letting it lose a sense of where it came from. I felt very supported indeed and hope to work with Cordelia and Podium.me in the future. 

Meet the actor ‘Out at Sea’

Jamie Finn: Out At Sea

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What took you into acting?

Seeing lots of theatre as a child. My school took me to the RSC all the time and I remember thinking “I want to do that”. 

Did you do any training?

Yes. I did a foundation in acting at RADA and my BA Acting at Central School of Speech and Drama. 

What advice would you give to young would-be actors?

I’m still a pretty young actor myself, I’ve just graduated. However, I would say it’s great to get a good training under your belt and make the most of those three years. There are some truly extraordinary actors who never trained, however, for me I think training and learning discipline of the craft is vital for a long career.

What did you learn most from recording audio? 

Recording audio is brilliant fun! I’d love to do more of it! I’ve only done a little bit at drama school but from doing this I really took away that you need to really be precise with your voice to really portray where you are and what you’re doing for the listener. 

Meet the actor ‘Broken in Two’

Melanie Gayle: Broken in Two

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What took you into acting?

Well I attended Barbara Speake Stage school as a child, but went into the music business first, I didn’t  start acting until 2013. It was something I just felt like pursuing as an adult. I also started stand up comedy the following year.

Did you do any training?

I did acting training many years ago. When I started acting again, I Initially started doing small extra/supporting actor roles to get myself comfortable on set and in front of the camera again. The following year I got bigger speaking roles and now I have lead role experience in films.

What advice would you give to young would-be actors?

Be yourself, never give up and learn from every audition and workshop. If you don’t get a part just move on to the next one. There is a role out there for all of us, patience is key!

What did you learn most from recording audio? 

I think I learnt how to really change a story with just voice control and phrasing. There are no special effects to make the audio drama more interesting, you have to keep the listener engaged with your voice alone and bring the story to life.

Meet the actor ‘Unravel’

Alex Harvey: Unravel

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Actor, writer and poet

What took you into acting?

Acting always seemed like a natural progression for me, something I could do and do well. What drew me in were the stories. I remember my Dad telling me how important drama was to the Greeks, how attendance was a necessity as they tried to make sense of the world around them. Even now I believe drama has the same importance in the world no matter how much it has changed. There is a story for every time, every mood and every feeling and each time we hear one, old or new, we learn. That’s why I do this, you never stop learning and you never should.

Did you train?

Yes, first with National Youth Theatre and then at Drama Centre London in 2011 on a foundation course. Later I studied at the Identity School of Acting and finally at Room 1 with James Kemp. I’m not sure I’ll ever stop training, a musician never stops practicing and neither should an actor.

Advice?

Don’t give up and don’t quit but if life starts taking you in another direction don’t be afraid to try that as well. If you’ve only ever lived as an actor how will you pretend to be all the characters we meet in these stories? Confidence is key but arrogance is ugly. Trust yourself – if you don’t have trust you might as well give up now and go find a nice beach somewhere to sit, read and drink because it won’t get any better if you’ve already started thinking it won’t.

What did you learn most from recording audio?

Intimacy is easily achieved. When working on stage it becomes natural to project. With radio there is no need, the microphone is close and the headphones are in the listener’s ear. If you raise your voice too much it becomes irritating, a shout is full blown aggressive. Instead I found that that dreadful saying, “less is more” is very relevant.

Meet the actor ‘Just Joella’

Ajjaz Awad: Just Joella

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What took you into acting?

I always really loved history and visiting castles, pretending I was from another time and imagining myself in a different world. So I think that is what first excited me about acting.

Did you do any training?

Yes, from 14-18yrs I studied theatre at the BRIT School. After that I did a foundation year at RADA and then completed my BA in acting at ALRA.

What advice would you give to young would-be actors?

Be determined and imaginative about how you can get involved with the industry (Write to people ask at theatres etc). Always remember what it is you love about acting. 

What did you learn most from recording audio?

How much you can do using just your voice.

How did it differ from your previous acting experiences like film, theatre an TV?

Unlike TV Film and Theatre, radio allows you to be faceless and without preconceptions. Enabling you to paint the audience’s picture of you with your voice.

Meet the actor ‘Who cares?’

Alex Tenispo Pritchett: Who Cares?

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What took you into acting?

I went to watch Oliver in the West End for my 7th birthday and was mesmerised. After it finished my parents bought me the sheet music and soundtrack and I decided from that moment I wanted to act!

Did you do any training?

I trained at Mountview on the 3 year acting course. I loved every moment of it and it exposed me to stage, screen and audio training.

What advice would you give to young would be actors?

My only advice to young would-be actors is dream big and work hard to get there. If you don’t believe in yourself no one else is going to. Stay positive and remember everything happens for a reason!

What did you learn most from recording audio? 

I love recording audio! There is something so freeing just not having to think about your face and body and immerse yourself in the character and story. Also it’s such an intimate process where you feel you can engage with your audience individually and really focus on bringing them in. It’s so easy to do multiple takes and try new things out so you can play play play. With theatre and TV there are so many other factors to consider that a larger part of your performance relies on technique. With audio it feels much more stripped back

Meet the actor ‘Compassion Fatigue’

Amy-Jean Ward: Compassion Fatigue

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What took you into acting?

In a nutshell I’m not really sure as none of my family do or have ever acted but from a very small age I was involved drama groups and school productions and I absolutely loved it! I used to save up my pocket money each week and buy a musical CD whenever I could afford one and listen to it on repeat in my bedroom until I knew all the words off by heart

Did you do any training?

Yes I did, I did a Foundation Course at Arts Ed and then went on to do an MA The Royal Centre School of Speech & Drama. 

What advice would you give to young would-be actors?

Get involved in anything and everything you can and try to create your own work, it’s a super competitive world now with so many people wanting a career in the arts that it’s important to stay focused and creative. Also reminding yourself now and again what you love about the industry and why you wanted to be part of it in the first place so super helpful. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break!!! Life is hard enough without beating yourself up all the time, a person once said something to me that I found really helpful and hopefully you will to, ‘What’s meant for us will not pass us by.’ Stay in your lane, everyone’s is different. 

What did you learn most from recording audio? 

That I speak too fast!! Haha no seriously I learnt that the voice is an incredible instrument and you can say phrases in so many different ways, sometimes very subtly but it can be very powerful in the story telling process. Also that a lot can be achieved in a cupboard haha! 

How did it differ from your previous acting experiences like film, theatre an TV?

I had to listen to myself a lot more and play the scene out in my head. 

Meet the actor ‘Staring’

Nicholas Oliver: Staring

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Actor and Artistic Director of Pint-Sized

Spotlight: 9971-0167-5166

What took you into acting?

Initially it was the idea of exploring and playing other characters, especially as I was very shy when I was growing up. Later on, it became a way of expressing myself and channelling all my creative energy.

Did you do any training?

Yes, I studied Drama at Loughborough University before doing a two-year diploma in Professional Acting at Drama Studio London.

What advice would you give to young would be actors?

Just focus on being creative and finding the best way to express yourself – don’t let the idea of not getting work get you down. Go and see theatre/film, write your own material and do workshops and classes – this means that not only do you feel like a part of the industry but you can also go into auditions having been busy and creative.

What did you learn most from recording audio? 

To take my time and really enjoy the language – I tend to get intimidated by the microphone and rush. As soon as I realised it was all about communicating the words to the mic, I began to relish the experience.

How did it differ from your previous acting experiences like film, theatre and TV?

It’s very intimate and personal – it’s all about the voice. But in many ways you have to treat it like these other mediums – at the end of the day you’re still acting, and you still have to use your body, as well as your voice, to communicate a character’s thoughts. There are unique techniques to audio you have to learn – distance from the mic, reading from a script, etc – but I’d say that as long as you feel what you’re saying then the listener will hear it.

‘Out at Sea’ Credits

Abe, Jamie, Cordelia and other drama team members
Abe, Jamie, Cordelia and other drama team members

Out at Sea was written by Abe Buckoke

Performed by Jamie Finn
Editing, recording and sound design by Cordelia Galloway
Additional sound effects freesound.org *
Music, Breakfast In New York by Stefan Kartenberg (c) copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/JeffSpeed68/54780 Ft: Javolenus, Martijn de Boer (NiGiD) (NiGiD)
Directed and produced for podium.me by Cordelia Galloway

From Page to Podcast. How to Create Pictures with Sound

So you’ve got a great script and you want to turn it into an effective audio drama. How do you get an actor to lift a piece of writing off the page using their voice alone?

You may not realise it but a smile can be heard on radio. You don’t need to be able to see it in order to hear it. That’s good news for an actor. They can trust that much of what they do in other acting media will translate to radio.

Radio acting isn’t just about standing passively in front of a microphone. At the BBC’s Broadcasting House the radio drama studio consists of a whole set, including a working kitchen, ‘exterior’ and ‘interior’ spaces, and on-set doors for entering and exiting. It’s similar to a stage set but with microphones and the actors move around it much as they would on stage.

actor-in-cupboard

Okay, so my cupboard isn’t a professional recording studio, there’s limited space for a start, however the same principle applies – physicalising a performance helps it sound convincing. When Jamie Finn’s character in Abe Buckoke’s piece Out at Sea (out soon) is kicking his way out of a crate, Jamie was doing sit ups and kicking his legs in the air with his head inside a recycling bin! His physical effort can then be heard in his voice. Obviously, it’s not possible to recreate everything physically. Jamie wouldn’t have been too happy when his character jumps in the sea! Some things you just have to act.

Often radio drama studios have someone to do spot effects – ‘live’ sound effects like stirring a cup of tea or pouring a glass of water. They are recorded during the performance. This avoids messing around with fiddly editing in post-production and ensures the effects are timed with and take place in the same acoustic space as the vocals.

If you don’t have the luxury of a spot effect person then the actor can do it. When performer and writer Bexie Archer opens a pack of Mentos in Second-hand Meringue (coming soon) she is actually opening a pack of Mentos. We chomped our way through at least two packs that day! That’s not a reflection of the number of takes it was just pure greed!

Likewise when Ajjaz Awaad’s character in Just Joella is taking out objects from a Herschel bag, Ajjaz is taking things out of a bag. Okay, not a Herschel bag but she does take out an actual pair of knickers! The advantage of an actor doing their own spot effects is that it enables them to commit imaginatively and it sounds more real.

They can also help an actor get their timing right. Bexie’s character is outside a toilet in which her sister has locked herself. Bexie used the cupboard door as a substitute for the toilet door which allowed her time to her responses to, for example, the sound of her sister unlocking the door. The real toilet door sound effects were added later in the same rhythms Bexie had established during the performance.

So acting for audio drama is physical and involves handling objects much in the same way as on stage. But how does an actor pitch their performance correctly? Size matters – too big and you’re affectively shouting in someone’s ear, too small and you’ve lulled the listener to sleep. Performance poet Alex Harvey who created Unravel is used to performing to large crowds, so his challenge was to reign in his performance without losing its energy. Listening to his first recording through headphones helped him to deliver a more intimate performance.

Above all, an engaging performance requires an actor to tell the story, to know who they are telling it to and why. Radio production is fast; there is little time for rehearsal or character analysis. An actor needs to be prepared and know the script well in advance. Good sight reading skills, quick wits and the ability to be spontaneously creative are a must. Many actors love this as there is no time to get bored!

In an industry which employs actors primarily for the way they look, acting for audio drama can be incredibly liberating as it allows actors to take on all sorts of roles they wouldn’t ordinarily be cast in.

At present the BBC produces most of this country’s radio drama, with the Radio Drama Company employing a core team of ten actors who get to do a wonderfully diverse range of work. My hope is Podium will play a part in the audio drama revolution and provide even more actors with the opportunity to create new and exciting work.

Listen here to Alex Harvey’s Unravel:

 

By Cordelia Galloway

Head of Drama Podium.me

How I created the Imaging for the Podium Dramas

Mia Lainchbury

Mia Lainchbury, interning at Podium.me

I found Podium.me at a networking event called 30Under30, I was here to gain contacts in the media world as I was about to finish university. Here, one of my peers came across Camilla and took a card, knowing that I would be highly interested my friend gave me Camilla’s details.

I loved the concept of Podium.me, as young people really need more of a voice in the media and this platform is perfect to do so.

Since then I have created four different jingles for Podium.me and thoroughly enjoyed producing them. I was given complete freedom so I let my creativity flow. Andrew Mercer (fellow student) and I went around Bournemouth University with a Tascam recording voices of students reading aloud a script that I had written; this later went into the imaging. I then edited each 10-12 second jingle on Adobe Audition. As the demographic for the podcasts are typically under 25 I tried to make them as young and interesting as possible, with energy incorporating as many different voices as possible. I have a free account with a copyright free sound effects site so used all sounds and beds from this website. The whole process took less than a day but was spread out over quite a large period of time as I was still finishing university.

I look forward to doing more work with Podium.me in the future!

Why radio drama?

staring-by-fw

‘Staring’ can be heard here.

Cordelia Galloway on the reinvention of audio drama in the digital age

When I was asked by Podium.me to produce drama with the under 25s, I jumped at the chance. Podium had already won awards for its unique peer-to-peer journalism, why not the same for drama?

I’ve been listening to radio for as long as I can remember, everything from Listen with Mother and Afternoon Drama, to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and the comedy genius of the transgender Hinge and Bracket. My facts were from the Today Programme and PM – but then I’m from the generation that grew up with the radio in the kitchen; and the radio was always on.

But why radio drama? Isn’t it a bit old-fashioned? Surely, most young people don’t even own a radio. If the milkman appeared at your door, wouldn’t you think you’d gone back to a post world war Britain, or a 1970’s sitcom land? Isn’t it the same with radio? The days of the wireless are over. What even is a ‘wireless’? Why awaken the next generation of snap chatters, instagrammers and tweeters to audio drama?

There is a world of possibility in audio drama and potential for comedy, too. Radio might be the closest medium to film. Instead of images, pictures are being created in sound and because there is no restriction by the huge budget necessary to recreate the images visually, the story can be located anywhere: from Mars or the North Pole, to a future world dystopia where giant insects rule. Science Fiction and Fantasy have long recognised the benefits of radio drama: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in 1978; Neil Gaiman’s wonderful Neverwhere set in a parallel universe beneath the streets of London; Elvin Quest set in Lower Earth – a satire on Tolkien’s milieu.

Remember the milkman? His disappearance from the modern world was heralded as the end of an era , but it wasn’t. In fact, with advances in technology online shopping evolved and home delivery boomed. This is the case with radio; technology has led to the ability to stream online content anywhere. Now we demand audio material wherever we go.

Online radio is thriving. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the rise of the American Podcast Revolution: the popularity of podcasts like the Mystery Show in which Starlee Kine solves every day mysteries and Serial which although based in fact is shaped in the dramatic form of a thriller.

Audio drama is undergoing a Renaissance, too: The Truth featuring dramatic short stories combining great writing and quality performances with rich sound design; Welcome to Nightvale – a fictional night radio station set in a an American desert town – reaching no 2 in the iTunes chart; Limetown – the mockumentary thriller investigating the disappearance of 300 men, women and children from a small town in Tennessee attaining the no 1 position in the iTunes chart..

The BBC aren’t releasing the next series of Doctor Who until sometime in 2017, but audio drama episodes are being produced by Big Finish Productions online and on Radio 4 extra.

The internet and smartphones have made audio the perfect medium for young writers to cut their teeth: quicker and cheaper than putting on a play or producing a film. My aim is for Podium.me to be at the start of the audio drama revolution. I want to be a part of encouraging and supporting a new generation of new writers for audio.

For Messrs Seely and Page to listen to the weather forecast, perhaps.
By Gary Knight from London England – Old Radio CCBY 2.0

 

I hope you enjoy our series of eight monologues – they’re just the start of more things to come!

Location, Location, Location or The Cupboard by Cordelia Galloway

Staring by Francesca Wells was the first audio drama monologue to be written, in the first ever workshop at Podium’s hub in South London. It was also the first audio drama to be recorded.

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Compassion Fatigue can be heard here

My background was as a writer, actor and teacher, I had no technical expertise at all and no budget. However, I knew Podium journalists recorded professional sounding audio on their smart phones and I hoped I could do the same for audio drama.

My original idea was raw sounding audio, recorded on location. Molly Sweeney who wrote Compassion Fatigue sent me a mobile phone recording of a friend performing her piece in a cafe. I loved its informal, almost incidental style – like accidentally overhearing a conversation and feeling compelled to keep listening. Although aware that parts of the story got lost in this rough recording I thought with better direction I could capitalise on our lack of budget and turn ‘on location rawness’ into our own unique signature style.

So one weekday afternoon in November 2015, armed with my phone and a Zoom H4N digital recorder, the actor Nicholas Oliver and I set off to the exotic location of Elephant and Castle shopping centre and headed for Tesco.

As we walked through the doors the noise hit like a Tsunami. How could I not have noticed it before? Entering the supermarket we were assaulted by sound; screaming babies, tills beeping and worst of all the constant electric buzzing of fridges and freezers. Nick, standing by the aisle for bottled sauces, valiantly tried to perform the piece, pausing to dodge the squeals of children, the squeak of trolley wheels, and ringing mobiles. Would Poundland be better? What about Superdrug or the top floor of the shopping centre? The noise pollution was so great we couldn’t hear Nick speak. It sounded a mess. To distinguish Nick’s vocals from the background noise around us we would need far more sophisticated recording equipment and … technical knowhow.

So with heavy hearts we trudged back to my house – our on location plan aborted. We’d record there instead, and add the background sounds later. But where was the best place to record in my house? My house is urban, it’s loud, it’s got single glazing and the single most important quality in producing quality vocals is they have to be ‘clean’ free from background noise and disturbance.

My cupboard was our best option; large empty rooms create too much reverb, but small spaces are ideal, especially with clothes to absorb sound and take away the hard edges. So, Nick and I huddled together in the cupboard and with me carefully holding the recorder so it didn’t pick up sounds from my hands, and we recorded Podium’s first ever audio drama monologue. I then recorded the supermarket sounds separately which gave me much more control over the material.

Since then the cupboard has become my preferred place to record and the following seven monologues were all recorded there successfully. I discovered it is actually possible to create high quality audio in there, especially now that I’ve worked out that wedging a jumper under the door stops it rattling! My thanks goes to all the actors who spent an afternoon crammed into the cupboard with me. I only had to press buttons, they had to perform.

 Ajazz in the cupboard, performing Pip Swallow’s ‘Just Joella'
Ajazz in the cupboard, performing Pip Swallow’s ‘Just Joella’

Later I learned that many a brilliant podcast started out in a cupboard – take the wonderful true storytelling podcast Strangers, the award-winning producer Lea Thau used to record it from inside her son’s bedroom closet. So I feel in good company.

And, the advantage of recording in a controlled environment? Rather than getting distracted by the technical difficulties of recording on location it allows me to focus on the storytelling and performance, which is of course the most important thing.

Listen to Amy-Jean Ward perform Molly Sweeney’s Compassion Fatigue our second audio drama monologue.

 

How we got onto Talk Radio via Podium

Aidan and I will always be grateful to Podium.me for the countless opportunities it has given us in the time we have worked with them. We feel that it has been vital for our development as broadcasters and radio producers, and it has enabled us to develop and hone our skills, broaden our contacts, and experience a whole new world of possibilities in audio. From coming up with our own podcast ideas, to editing the work of others, our time with Podium has been both fun and challenging in equal measure. Camilla’s passion for both young people and great audio is truly refreshing, and it is impressive to view first-hand the respect that both she and Podium garner with professionals from across the industry.

 

Perhaps what we are most indebted to Podium for is the opportunity to regularly appear on national radio with the Jon Holmes’ Show, at Talk Radio thanks to Podium’s ties with assistant producer Cornelius Mendez. Through this work experience, we’ve met many different presenters and producers from the station, and once again managed to gain so much insight into the industry we wouldn’t otherwise have.

 

Whenever we speak to other young people interested in getting into radio, Podium.me is the first place we tell them to turn to. It is Podium which has developed our love for educational podcasting, which you can see in our most recent work. Having teamed up with a pair of PhD students from King’s College London, we have created a 15-episode podcast series that explores themes of Global Health and Social Medicine. You can check it out here: http://www.healthandsociety.co.uk

Aidan Judd and Ellie Clifford
Aidan Judd and Ellie Clifford

‘Who Cares?’ Drama Credits

‘Who Cares’ was written by Daisy Watford
Performed by Alexander Pritchett
Edited by Aidan Judd
Recording and additional editing Cordelia Galloway
Sound effects: Freesound.org*

Directed and produced for podium.me by Cordelia Galloway

*http://freesound.org/people/Sergsil/sounds/185631/
http://freesound.org/people/Yuval/sounds/210091/
http://freesound.org/people/Ch0cchi/sounds/15284/
http://freesound.org/people/bonehead/sounds/203125/
http://freesound.org/people/Otakua/sounds/217982/
http://freesound.org/people/FlatHill/sounds/211451/
http://freesound.org/people/inchadney/sounds/151823/

‘Compassion Fatigue’ Drama credits

‘Compassion Fatigue’

New Drama Short written by Molly Sweeney

Performed by Amy-Jean Ward

Edited by Aidan Judd

Sound recording, design and additional editing by Cordelia Galloway

Sound effects Freesound.org

Music ‘Burning the microwaves’ by Spinmeister

(c) copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/spinmeister/54388 Ft: Blue Wave Theory

Special thanks to Darius G and Toby Dean

Directed and produced for Podium.me by Cordelia Galloway

*http://freesound.org/people/Sergsil/sounds/185631/

Beth’s Podium Journey

Feeling sad posting this last blog from our wonderful features editor Beth Young

Beth has moved back to Australia
Beth has moved back to Australia after writing the features brief as an associate editor at Podium

Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a journalist.
But I wasn’t so interested in the news, I was more into talking to real people and discovering what made them tick.
That’s why I was so excited to come across Podium last year.
I’d been in London for a year, working at a bar to earn the cash I needed to travel Europe.
I’d moved from a little town in Australia where I’d worked as a reporter for a local paper.
The break was much needed, but I was starting to feel that itch to tell stories once more.
But to be completely honest, I’d lost a little confidence about my ability to be a journalist.
Print journalism had always been my passion, but I absolutely loved listening to podcasts.
So I went online and searched for work experience and volunteer opportunities.
Rocking up at the Pod that first day, I was so surprised to find that Camilla ran the entire operation out of her home!
I was thrilled when she asked if I’d like to be Podium’s news/feature editor.
It’s been such an honour writing the brief each week since then.
I’ve enjoyed getting to know our amazing team of talented journos. You’ll all go far! I’ve no doubt about that.
I’ll still be a part of the Podium team, but I won’t be writing the brief anymore.
I’ve moved back to Australia and I’ve got a job fas a features writer for a national weekly magazine called That’s Life.
We tell real-life stories about Australian people. Exactly what I love doing!
It’s the Aussie equivalent of Take a Break in the UK.
I just wanted to say a huge thank you to Camilla for bringing me on board.
You really helped to restore my confidence as a journalist.

The podcast I’m most proud of: https://soundcloud.com/podiumme/im-a-stripper-and-i-have-rights

Thank you Beth! A true example of a long-standing and very loyal journalist.  She will go far, lucky Australia

Thinking positive

by Sian Williams  @sianylouu

I’ve actively avoided the news for as long as I can remember. I’m the type of person who averts negativity at all costs – I have ‘positive quote’ boards galore on my Pinterest and preach the power of positivity to my friends so much so they’ve started calling me the ‘positivity fairy’! It’s not that I don’t want to know what’s going on in the world, it’s just – like so many others – I’m sick to death of hearing about what’s going wrong with the world. So when I was asked to attend Positive News’ Constructive Journalism course on behalf of Podium.me, I was excited that actions were being taken to shape the news as we know it.

I’d not heard of Positive News before and I won’t go in to too much detail (because we all have Google) but in short, it’s a ‘constructive journalism magazine’ that reports ‘with a focus on progress and possibility’. Imagine a magazine that looks at the amazing progress we are making around the world. Instead of reporting the wholly negative, Positive News might look at solutions to global challenges and how we can move forward from them. Their second quarter (2016) edition contains articles surrounding body positivity, the future of clean energy and alternative approaches to the failed ‘war on drugs’. It’s a complete breath of fresh air.

It was an intimate (around 10 of us), seminar-style day session of brainstorms and discussions. I learnt invaluable lessons about the nature of the news, the media industry and how both of these shape the way we view the world. These lessons aren’t solely useful to journalists alone (I don’t consider myself a journalist at all!) but are widely transferrable and useful to anyone interested in our human potential, progress and the future – so I hope this might benefit you too, in some way.

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Constructive Journalism is defined as ‘rigorous, compelling reporting that includes positive and solution-focused elements in order to empower audiences and present a fuller picture of truth, while upholding journalism’s core functions and ethics.’ (http://constructivejournalism.org/about/) When looking at ‘constructive journalism’, it helps to look at the news as we know it. We watch/read about shocking events in the news day-in and day-out, such events are normalised, we become used to them and de-sensitised, the news is exaggerated/becomes even more shocking, we are de-sensitised further… and the cycle continues.

During the course, Jodie Jackson, a psychologist and associate of the Constructive Journalism Project, gave a presentation about the impact that this kind of negative news has on our mindset. Jodie explained that, not only does negative news affect us psychologically by triggering feelings of anxiety, sadness and helplessness, but behaviourally and socially it encourages feelings of contempt, anger and hostility. If we begin to think of the world as a dangerous, scary place full of risk, we are less likely to be trusting and compassionate towards others, which has a whole host of negative implications.

To fully grasp how the news is shaping our world view, Jodie spoke about a recent episode of the ‘Secret Life of 6 Year Olds’ on Channel 4 (a series that studies how young children interact with each other). In Episode 6, the children can be seen role-playing as news broadcasters. The news stories that they report (though only make-believe) are about international terrorism and violence  – “there was a train attack on a French train to Paris. They got the knife and got the guard and stabbed them.”  We see this kind of news on a daily basis, as do our children. So how is this shaping their view of the world? (Watch the clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLXGuonEi0k)

One thing the course clarified is that constructive journalism isn’t just positive, happy news stories or ‘fluff’ as they called it. It doesn’t mean ignoring all the terrible things that are happening in the world. Instead, it’s news that focuses on solutions and progress – stories that ask what next? and how can we grow from this? It’s reporting the news in a way that inspires and motivates us to take action, to be more active in our society; a type of journalism that makes us want to engage, instead of disengage with the events around us. This is why constructive journalism is so important and it seems now, more than ever, there is a need for it.

At the beginning of the course, we drew a mind map of ‘how the news makes us feel’. Common key words were powerless, anxious, sad, angry, confused…You get the idea. Constructive journalism aims to leave the reader inspired, motivated, informed and empowered. As the next generation of journalists, creators and leaders, it’s important to remember that the news, the media and the messages we are sending out are shaping our world view, and ultimately our world. If we keep sending out negative messages, our world view and perspective will be negative. If we can begin to inspire feelings of hope, empowerment and change, maybe the next generation of six year olds will have a kinder world to re-enact.

 

Blog: http://www.theadventurethatislife.co.uk

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/c/SianLouiseVlogs

My Week With Podium

My name is Shae Carroll, I have been working at Podium as an intern this week. For the past 2 years, I have aspired to be a journalist so I was very happy when I was given this amazing opportunity. I have been very lucky to have Camilla guide me and to take me places I would never think of going, such as the Houses of Parliament and the BBC.

This opportunity has given me a newfound interest in politics. On my first day I was very busy, we went to BBC Headquarters where I read magazines on politics and became more aware of what is happening around the world and why. While watching the BBC news a rather bizarre report caught my attention. The report was about pigs being tested on, by a scientist who wanted to attempt creating human organs by using the pig’s embryo. I suggested that we put this topic on the weekly brief that goes to the Podium journalists all over the UK.

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I also furthered my knowledge of the EU Referendum, as I was not entirely sure what this was about, and what it would achieve if we left. Later that evening I went to a youth debate about the Referendum, ran by ShoutOut UK who are an organisation that want to encourage young people to have an opinion on politics.

It was hosted by SBTV’s Aaron Roach Bridgewater, On the ‘IN’ youth panel was David McKenzie and Kate Stevenson and on the ‘OUT’ youth panel was Kamail Jaffer and Victoria Kilbane. The two key-note speakers were Luke Springthorpe, Conservative Future Chairman and Stella Creasy, Labour MP.

Both sides had very valid points although I agreed mostly with the ‘IN’ panel. Their points were more powerful than Victoria and Kumail’s, who were also powerful and passionate about their speeches, but didn’t convince me enough to make a decision to leave the EU.

Stella Creasy was very inspirational and motivating, her speech on staying in the EU was so powerful that the whole room applauded her. What made me enjoy her speech so much was her worry for the younger generation and how much she wants to support us and our education.

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As a young person I believe that we should stay in the EU as the younger generation is the future. If we leave they may not be able to have the same opportunities that we have now, such as working and studying abroad.

On Tuesday I was able to explore and learn in-depth radio journalism. Camilla and I got on the tube to Borough, where we prepared to have a meeting with Whistledown, a London production company. At Whistledown  we met David Prest and Kevin, who gave me an insight on how competitive radio journalism is, especially when you’re a freelance worker.

After that we went to Joes Kitchen, where I met one of Podium’s producers Oliver Morris, to discuss future projects for Podium.

On my third day at Podium, it was a lot more relaxed than the past 2 days. I became much more comfortable being interviewed, having my voice recorded, however hearing it back still makes me cringe.

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On Thursday, it was very exciting as I went to BBC Radio 1. Before the meeting I met two Podium journalists Sera Baker and Edgar Maddicott.  When I arrived, I was really surprised with how relaxed the environment was. I met Andy Worrell, an commissioning editor, who has teamed up with Podium to create a 1 hour documentary on Radio 1 and Radio 1Xtra relating to smartphones. It was really inspiring to see how enthusiastic Camilla, Sera and Edgar were.

I have now finished my week here at Podium but I will voluntarily submit interviews with young people and continue to be a member of the Podium team.

-Shae Carrol

The Digital Tour Visits The Podium Pod

Visiting The Pod, the beating heart of Podium operations, is a surreal experience at the best of times. Moving through the suburbs of South London until you find yourself in a quiet living room, full of other journalists, almost by accident. But my own bemusement was nothing compared to that of the 22 Danes who shuffled off a bus in front of the pod last Thursday morning. These were the media makers of Denmark who were participating in the Digital Innovation Tour 2016. The tour, which was organised by Henrik Keith Hansen and Klaus Henriksen had the objective of visiting a range of media organisations across Europe with the intent of learning good online media practices. Among them were representatives from Denmark’s public service broadcasters, independent production companies, and even print media, all anxious to learn about the best ways to use the Internet. Enter Podium.Me.

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As I walked up the road to the pod, I saw the tour shambling off the bus and into The Pod, having travelled from Calais that same morning.  The media men were eager to eat and stretch their legs, and soon an impromptu table tennis rally began. After a week of sitting in boardrooms, the open an airy nature of the pod allowed them some freedom.

Camilla Byk kicked off the event with a talk on Podium.Me, explaining the origin and goals of the organisation, and how we intended to expand. She was later joined on stage by Canadian intern Emilee Senchyna who guided the assembled crowd through the web of podcast statistics, and by Nandini Upplori, who detailed her own experiences as a Podium Journalist. After the presentation, the Danes asked open and pertinent questions about various aspects of the business model and engagement, and received frank answers not only from Camilla, but also from the few podium journalists lurking among the group!

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After Camilla, there was a talk by Mark Egan about Mobile Journalism. He described the iPhone as being like a Swiss army knife for journalists, and highlighted the innovation of mobile phone technology compared to more specialised equipment. He then proceeded to put together a minute long news package using only footage from his camera and the iMovie app! Finally, Olivia Cappucini from Scenes of Reason, explained the format and content of her company’s videos. She ended up being quite a hit with the Danes, who all lined up to pass business cards after the event!

After all the talks, a hearty lunch of sandwiches and éclairs, and the presentation of a model bus and a box of marzipan, the tour moved on to another meeting in Covent Garden. What was clear is that all these media professionals appreciated the homeliness and comfort of Podium, without pretension. We hope to repay the visit sometime in the future!

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Oliver Morris 

Does Rap Music Promote Violence?

My names is Reekz and this blog is about rap, its lyrical content, and also the influence of rap on younger generations. This topic is rarely spoken among friends or relatives which makes it a very interesting topic to discuss.

Rap is commonly known as the official genre of the urban rap scenes. Some rappers may use it as a way to express their feelings, say a story that has had an effect on their life, or maybe even talk about topics that relate to them and also their audience. On the other hand, other rappers may use rap to promote violence by mentioning things that they may have done to other people such as hurting them or getting the attention of their rivals.

rap

The influence of rap and its lyrical content can be very negative as young people have access to these violent tracks. By listening to the lyrics of certain songs, it can promote violence and influence young teenagers into thinking that committing crime is allowed, that they can copy the violent actions mentioned in the lyrics of the rappers that they idolize. This results in the increase of  criminal activity, which can be seen recently in the boroughs of south London. For example, in Croydon where I am from, crime activity is slowly increasing, and the age people that commit such crimes are getting younger. For instance, recently there were stabbings and fights in the middle of Croydon town centre and a stabbing at a party in South Croydon by a youth, who is thought to be between year 7 or year 8.

In my opinion, the lyrical content of the UK rap scene is very repetitive which shows that there is no versatility among specific UK rappers who are well known. This may be bad for the UK rap scene, because it does not allow rappers to use their talent to their full potential. This also does not allow the UK rap scene to progress as most of the rappers mention the same things in their tracks, which can become boring for the audience – unless you bring something different to the table.

Examples of UK versatile rappers are Stormzy and Section Boyz originating from south London. Stormzy is one of the very few rappers which change their style of their music, so the audience hears something different from the usual stuff. Section Boyz are a south London boy band which has been showing versatility in their recent track releases.

During a meeting with Jamal Edwards, the CEO of the known youtube channel called SBTV, we were discussing the influence and effect of urban rap lyrics that has on young generations and what can be done to prevent young people from committing crime at such young ages. We were also discussing the percentage of male rappers and female rappers in the rap scene, and what the possible cause may be as there is only a handful of known female rappers.

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Due to my interest in this important topic, I have made my own research by finding the opinions and perspectives of young people and friends which are related to urban rappers and what are their thoughts on the topic, what they would talk about if they were to be part in the rapping scene; and also what might be the reason that there are only a handful of female rappers in the UK rap scene. The podcasts will come out soon and will be also featuring on the SBTV news website.

Reekz

A Dramatic Edit

Aidan Judd on fact/fiction differences from an editor’s perspective.

Making a radio drama is not easy. You have to compensate for the lack of visuals with a rich, involving, and realistic accompanying soundscape. You have to imagine the scene, with all its little details, in your mind and then recreate that purely through sound.

As the editor working with producer Cordelia Galloway on Podium’s dramatic content, it has been an incredibly steep learning curve.  Although the pieces have all been less than ten minutes long, the presentation has to be absolutely perfect. The leading voice needs to be prominent and even throughout, the background sound effects and ambience needs to be not too loud to obscure the vocals, but not so recessed that it gets completely lost in the mix. The Foley (recreated sound effects that are added after the main vocals are recorded) needs to be realistic and able to slip seamlessly into the drama, adding weight and meaning to the words without distracting the listener from them.

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The differences between the dramatic monologues and Podium’s mini-documentaries extend beyond technicalities however, as you also need to think about what the audience are looking for in a piece of radio drama. When they listen to Podium’s factual content, they are there because they want to be informed. I don’t have to do anything particularly special with the editing, I just need to make sure that all the facts and areas of discussion are covered succinctly, and that the piece flows and is easy to absorb. With drama, my approach to the audio has to change entirely. I am not merely presenting a set of facts and opinions; I am creating a piece of dramatic content. Suddenly timing and space becomes crucial. You have to consider how much silence remains after each statement, and whether the sound effect comes in before, after, or even during the action that is being performed.

In the end however, the goal of the piece remains the same. The audience are there primarily to be entertained. And this is down largely to the content that you work with, which has been absolutely fantastic. What has been most exciting about the project is seeing all the incredible writing talent that Britain’s young people have to offer! Although editing Podium’s dramatic content is a lot more challenging, I can imagine it would be even harder trying to make something of a script that has been poorly executed. Thankfully, the content I’ve been working with has been really quite brilliant. It becomes much more rewarding and exciting when you get to work with something that has been so well written and performed, and I can’t wait for you all to hear it!

– Aidan Judd 

A Bit of Drama

“One day I broke my phone, and I had no internet, and I had this dream and I just started writing and it came out as poetry.”- Alex Harvey

Podium.me will be launching a drama series soon.  Young writers from across England are writing and producing original audio dramas for Podium.me.

On assignment I was sent to speak to some of the writers at the Royal Festival Hall in Southbank to find out a little bit more about what makes them tick.

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After being astounded by the singing elevator in the Royal Festival Hall, I met with 4 young writers from London, and Cordelia Galloway our Podium Drama expert. I’m going to be honest I haven’t listened to a lot of radio drama, or read a lot of plays, but that was one of the reasons why I had an interest in going.

“I’ve been writing since i was around 8 or 9, I wrote a novella, I’m writing two and a half books, so I’m just dabbling in everything. I did an art degree in University, but I always loved to do writing. I had so many interests like music, drama this and that, but I always had my main focus in writing.” -Jannine Smith

All four writers were passionate and attentive but their intentions and inspirations were all completely different.

“I find inspiration from things I am passionate in, or things that I want to educate people in, in a more entertaining way, or my past experiences.”-Anabel Provansal

After being briefed about some of the topics they are working on, I sat and listened to Cordelia talk about what makes a good radio play, the small details in the text that nobody would ever think could make the story that much better. Her excitement was apparent as she talked about the progress of the Podium.me dramas.

“To go from meeting in a coffee shop to saying we’re going to do this, to actually doing it and having our first audio monologue recorded, that’s been really exciting and it’s just getting more and more exciting and I can see the possibilities of taking this all over the country.”- Cordelia Galloway

Cordelia then goes on to tell me about how most of the young writers had found out about Podium online, except for Alex, one of the writers she had met at a coffee shop in central London. They had got chatting about goldfish of all things, and both had named their fish after Shakespeare characters, and that’s when then she said that she knew that he had to be a writer. She explains how she eventually convinced Alex to come to one of her courses, to grow and improve on his writing skills.

“I take a lot of rhythm, and rhyme, and tempo that all comes from rap hiphop, and grime. That sort of always influenced me,  and i find myself in traps, and in little loops of sounds, and making things sound like a battle MC, when I’m talking about something like chips. I’ve come here because I’ve sort of arced out this story, but then when I go to write it, I don’t have the passion like some of the others, that just come out naturally. I feel like I need some tools on how to make it better, and how to put the same passion into something planned.” – Alex Harvey

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After sitting with them at a table for about an hour, I felt like I had not only learnt more about radio dramas, but also about the writing process. It got me all excited about the growth of Podium.me, and what is to come in the near future.

-Emilee Senchyna

Why Study International Relations?

The current political climate seems rather hostile and has been for quite some time nationally and globally. You’d think that watching the ‘News at Ten’ is just about being informed on social and political issues making headlines but, the reality is that it affects us, literally and mentally every day!

So how do we make sense of what’s happening around the world? I say study International Relations! It may sound simple and random but had I not studied this degree, then I would have missed out on a chance to understand and learn about a discourse that exposes you to a world which you would have otherwise never come to understand.

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I initially studied Sociology and Criminology however, during the middle of my first year I ended up in the wrong lecture theatre! I thought to myself ‘I may as well stay as it’s too embarrassing to leave with everyone glancing up at the slightest sound of movement’. The lecture was on US Foreign Policy and the War in Iraq. It was rather insightful as it explained and explored the motives behind such tactics. I realised at that point that World events can only be explained and galvanized through profound analysis. International Relations did that and a whole lot more for me!

 It fuelled my passion to know and understand; why we have Wars, the impact of ‘McDdonaldization’ on global society, the benefits of the Liberal economy, the perils and perks of International Security, why Geopolitics matters etc. My inquisitive nature soon led me to change my degree by the end of the year as that one lecture triggered questions in my mind that needed answers.

I find it to be an interesting interdisciplinary subject that can explore a phenomenon such as War and Conflict or Peace which other subjects may not necessarily do so well in. Take the example of 9/11; did you ask yourself what motivated the terrorist attacks? What context was used? How was the world’s perception of Muslims? And what News channel was I watching? All these questions arising from this unique subject-unfortunately not taught in schools- helped me understand and explore the themes around my own Identity, Culture and Religion. It was what shaped my Political views, the career path I aim to take (a News Correspondent for the record) and even the News channels I regularly watch amongst many others factors.

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Whilst I was studying International Relations, I was also thinking about my career prospects and hoped to work for the UN or become a diplomat however, by the end of my degree I developed an interest for News and correspondence work particularly because the Media has a huge impact on us and I want to contribute in telling accurate stories without having an agenda or misusing it to propagandize others. The fact that the careers prospects for this degree are vast appealed to me a great deal so maybe I’ll work for the UN sometime in the future!

I know that no one expects me to have all the answers to conflict, terrorism, poverty or nuclear proliferation however; I came to understand the patterns of behaviour between State actors- from presidents, to Corporations to International actors. This in turn helps me cope better with global issues and more importantly, I learnt to think critically which is a much needed skill in a corrupt world!

Let’s face it, our fate will be decided by what happens globally so I’d rather prepare today and have an impact on many futures than regret tomorrow!

Sharmin Ayman

The Person Behind The story

My name is Ellie Clifford, I’m 20, and I’m from London. Call me biased, but I am a huge advocate for young people getting involved in journalism and telling their story, which is why I knew I had to get involved in the amazing work Podium.me is doing. I’ve never met a group of friendlier people, all of whom share a motivation and a passion for their work which is incredibly infectious: it was just one week after I emailed them first before I was out on the street collecting voxes!

For me, one of the biggest things I’m curious about at the moment is the impact and popularity of drugs among young people so this is what I set out to investigate. For this, I interviewed a few of my friends about their experiences with drugs, and why they do, or don’t, take them. Despite all of these friends of mine mixing in similar circles, I was interested mostly in why people took drugs rather than the drugs they took, and this ignited a lot of debate in conversation with my friends, sadly some of which wasn’t recorded in audio. Despite my best efforts, one friend refused to be recorded, but something he said really stuck with me. He argued that we should use drugs to understand the higher states our minds can reach, and once we’ve done so, we should aspire to reach those heights whilst sober.

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When pitching this idea to the Podium team, they were more than happy to listen to my suggestions which I really appreciated. It made me feel confident in my abilities and also helped excite me about the prospects of going out and recording people. Despite having plenty of experience of being on the radio, I was definitely a little bit apprehensive doing my first interview for Podium but it helped that they were happy to let me have some control over which questions I got to ask.

As the week went on it became much easier to interview people and I was much more confident in asking people to elaborate on what they were saying. Whilst I still wasn’t quite brave enough to approach total strangers this time round, this is something I’m hoping to do next as Podium encourages me to take my podcasting from strength to strength. If I could give some advice to anyone looking to get involved I would say: Do it! Podium is surely only going on to bigger and better things and I ‘m looking forward to being part of it!

Ellie Clifford

Check out Ellie’s podcast: Do we need drugs to have fun?

 

 

Ask The Right Questions

Do you ever stop and think about the people around you when you hop on the tube in the morning. If you are like me, you judge an outfit or weird accent, and go ahead with your day. In the month I have been working for Podium.me I have gained a new perspective. Every single person has a story, but being in London has opened my eyes to the massive amounts of young people that have such amazing stories, that they are willing to share.

We have done interviews with Kitty, the 19 year old stripper, Jack the young Conservative, and Molly a young girl I interviewed who has dedicated her life to God. Every individual is the same age, every story is completely different.

Kitty, and Molly have incredibly different perspectives. Both of these girls are extraordinary in their own ways. When I first read the title for Kitty’s podcast “I’m A Stripper, and I’ve Got Rights“, I’m not going to lie, I immediately judged her without even hearing what she had to say. After listening to the podcast, I had completely changed my perspective on her. The strength it takes for somebody that young to share their story, and not be afraid to face the judgement and stigma that might come with it is incredible.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have Molly a young Christian American that moved to England to spread her faith, and help the less fortunate. She moved across seas, to preach the word of God, a huge step, and a huge risk. Now I’m not a religious person, even though I spent 12 years at a Catholic school, I could never understand how people could have so much faith… After talking to her for about 45 minutes, I wasn’t converted but I was enlightened, it’s so different hearing the perspective of somebody who is the same age as me talk about the reasons why they do what they do. We are so used to hearing older people lecture us on what is right, and why we should do something a certain way, but hearing it from somebody who is in the same boat as you can truly have an impact. Molly is an incredible girl, who is passionate about her faith, and just wants to be heard.

Jack, who is interviewed about his Conservative outlook would never be someone that I would chat with on the street, I am not a political person, but the fact that he is so passionate about what he does, and wants to make a difference in society at such a young age, inspires not only me , but maybe other young people listening.

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They all answered the simple question that we all fail to ask, why?  The two girls are polar opposites, with such different stories, but both so incredibly inspiring. That’s what is amazing about Podium.me, I find myself phoning my friends, and family back home and telling them about the people I have met, and begging them to listen to the podcasts.

My journey at Podium.me has just begun, and I am learning so much about myself, and the people that surround me. This isn’t just a platform for young people to get their voices heard, it’s a place for them to be confident in who they are, and the listener gets a new insight that they may not have expected.

Emilee Senchyna

Check out the podcasts here: I’m a stripper and I’ve got rights, Praying for cash, Backing the blues

What’s Your Platform?

I’m Emilee, I’m Canadian, and I’m 20.  I use a lot of social media. For me it’s Facebook, then Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, that’s my routine. For the last few weeks I have been exploring social media, in a way that’s more than just checking out the latest pictures the Kardashians have posted on Instagram. On a Podium assignment I went to a secondary school in London to talk to 15 and 16 year olds about the growing social media platforms, and what is “in” right now. Less than 30 minutes later I have never felt so old in my life.

Most kids are using Snapchat, and Instagram as I expected, but there was no mention of Facebook? Most of them didn’t even have a Facebook account, let alone check it every couple of hours. Is Facebook dying? When I think of Facebook I think of it as a way to stay social with my friends and family, and keep up to date on current events… So how are these kids staying relevant?

More than half of the students all check Youtube on a daily basis and it’s one of the first things they open in the morning, they  spend a lot of their time watching their favourite YouTubers talk about specific topics. Maybe it’s because I have never understood Youtubers, and I don’t quite understand how people can sit and watch 10 mins of somebody putting makeup on, or describing their morning routines.

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YouTubers are becoming celebrities, I listened to these kids name these channels, and YouTubers that they idolize, and I had no idea who they were… I know Youtube, I occasionally spend time watching band interviews, or funny videos of people falling down the stairs, but I have never thought Youtube would become one of the main social media platforms for young people. Their explanations were simple, they are visual people, and they enjoy watching something instead of reading.

So how are young people staying in contact with each another? I usually Facebook message, text, or iMessage… Whatsapp is something that has astounded me during my time here, old and young people are using this messaging app all the time, and are surprised to know that I don’t have it or, even know what it is… I have come to the conclusion it’s not just me that doesn’t use it, my fellow Canadians back home don’t use it either… Skype was another popular use of communication, a easy and free way to call, or message your friends. These kids don’t need a data plan, they just need a smart phone and wifi.

I like to think that I am still quite young and up to date with most things, but this experience totally changed my perspective. Every generation seems to bring in a new wave of social media. How are people supposed to keep up, and stay ahead? Social media has turned into more of a popularity game, the more platforms you have, the more hip you are. It’s like getting a new stylish handbag that you love, and then 4 months later it’s gone out of style, and you are on to the next one. It’s already a chore keeping all your platforms up to date, making sure you are posting every couple days on Instagram, or updating your Snapchat story, but keeping up with all the new apps, that’s another challenge.

It all seems overwhelming really, I had thought I was hip, and cool until I was schooled by kids not much younger than me… My journey with social media has just begun, and I am looking to the kids at local secondary schools across London to help me along the way, to keep me hip and cool.

Emilee Senchyna

Our Brixton Boy

Four days, 96 hours, that’s the amount of time I have been in London. After a draining 10 hour flight from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, a place I have realised 99 percent of people here have no idea about… I have arrived in the city of my dreams, to work for Podium, and pursue my dreams.

My first Sunday afternoon was spent walking through Brick Lane, salivating over the best looking curry, pasta, and tacos, seeing the cutest vintage shops, and of course drooling over all the records. As I’m looking at the most beautiful gold East Indian inspired handmade jewellery I have ever seen in my life, I hear David Bowie’s “Starman” blasting from the vinyl shop next door, I turn to my friend, and say “I love this song, what an album, what a legend..”

Less than 24 hours later, the world was hit with the news that David Bowie had died. I didn’t think it was real at first, two days before that he just released “Blackstar“? My Dad introduced me to Bowie at a young age, and “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust” was one of our favourite records. We would sit in my room, put on the vinyl, and my dad would describe what he thought a song was about, and then I would tell him what I got from the song. There aren’t many records that you can listen to over and over again, and feel a different emotion every time you listen to it.

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Brixton, the place where Bowie grew up was the first thing on my mind, I kept seeing these pictures, and videos of people paying tribute to him.. “I’m in London, I could be there.” Within the next hour I hopped on the tube, and brought my Canadian, and Aussie flatmates with me to pay our respects.

We hopped off the tube, and less than 10 steps away hundreds of people were lying flowers, candles, and notes down in front of this mural. People filled the streets, I could hear stories of people describing the first time they had heard Bowie, or what their favourite song or album was. One lady stood out to me, I heard her describing her feelings towards the media, and how she thought the media was ruining the mourning process for fans. Of course my instincts were to talk to her, and pick her brain about what she was feeling. Knowing I was a member of the media she was a little hesitant to tell me her feelings, but after about 5 minutes she warmed up to me.

“Without music, life would be intolerable, and it would be pretty damn dull.”  A simple thought that must go through every music lover’s mind.  “My granddad is in his sixties, and I’m 22, and we love him equally.” as she describes the legacy he has left behind.

“I was a bit of a punk, I was bisexual, and a bit working class, and David Bowie helped me to be myself, because he himself was always changing and transforming, and I hated Madonna and people like that because all of their transformations were all surface, but all his transformations were real, he was always thinking of new innovative ways to make music.”

The passion from her voice was apparent, and you can tell that Bowie wasn’t just another musician, but a role model, and somebody that helped her be the person she is today and be proud of herself.

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“He didn’t just make it okay to be different, he made it cool.”

No less than 5 minutes after my interview, people began to crowd around a man with a guitar, soon after you could hear “Changes” being belted through the streets. I have never experienced something like that in my life, the passion, and glow from people’s faces showed the huge impact Bowie had on so many people’s lives. We stood in the cold, passed around beers, and ciders, and sang our hearts out to songs we love, with people I had never met before. I had to stop, and take a minute to remember that this was a sad time, we have lost one of the most iconic artists of all time, but then I stopped and looked around, and thought I could be sad, or I could look around me, and focus on the amazing impact he has left, and created a unity that only music can create.

“He taught you to explore, not only artistically, but in life.”

Bowie was more than just a musician, he was an innovator, and his work will never be forgotten.

Emilee Senchyna

Salford Training Day 2015

Following my internship with Podium.me last year, I landed my dream job in radio. The only downside of the dream job is that it’s located in a small semi-underground, cave-like studio with no windows. So, when I got the opportunity to get out for the day, all the way up to Manchester for Podium.me’s furthest-ever-from-home training day at BBC North, Media City UK, naturally I jumped at it.

Coming back into Podium.me, I see how hugely it continues to grow since I finished interning last summer: there are 100 more journalists from around the country, original radio drama is high on the agenda, and the very top names in radio and broadcast journalism are still coming to impart their wisdom to our innovative young generation of journalists at training days.

The day started, for example, with Controller of Radio 5 Live Jonathan Wall explaining to us the challenges of running a national network with 70 per cent news output.

Radio 5 Live’s Head of News Steve Mawhinney followed him to the stage, pointing out that in the social media age, journalists no longer feel the same sense of ownership over the news; the news belongs to us all, and is a more exciting landscape for it. As he put it: “news is what connects us – as a community, as a world.”

We’ve never run live pitching sessions in a Podium.me training day before, but former Commissioning Editor at Radio 4 Caroline Raphael encouraged Podium.me journalists to come up on stage and show her their ideas for radio documentaries, comedies and dramas. I was impressed by not only the ideas Podium.me journalists have been brewing in their incredible brains, but by the long queue of people brave enough to share and develop those ideas. If we can continue to be so tenacious, the BBC will be overrun with Podium.me journalists’ programmes before long.

Amy Voce, half of Gem 106’s award-winning breakfast duo Sam and Amy, explained how important it is for us to develop a personal brand that is true to ourselves: and, importantly, that we should never tweet anything we wouldn’t want our mums to see.

For me, a highlight was running a workshop in the afternoon with students from Oldham. Although they were new to what Podium.me does, they brainstormed the mission statement of Podium.me’s music channel with passion and huge creativity. If these are the kind of people that Podium.me continues to recruit as journalists, then we are lucky, and it’s no surprise whatsoever that we continue to set the agenda in what matters to young people, every day.

And yes: I loved BBC North’s big glass walls, looking out onto Salford Quays. One day, I will work somewhere with windows.

George Ward’s Blog: Podium.me Training Day

From the Inside of the Freedom of the Press Conference

Our journalist Rebecca Juster reported from the UNESCO conference about the future of the press. I got ready for the UNESCO conference feeling incredibly excited but also stuck for what to wear. I went for the smart option, grabbed my camera and my notepad and took the metro to Segur where the UNESCO building was. On the way, I followed the suited-up folk to reassure myself that I was headed in the right direction. I entered this modern building and received the official UNESCO pass, before heading through the airport-style security. There were tables scattered about a large room on which were many leaflets about the freedom of the press, including some about Article 19 (freedom of opinion and expression) which was the focal point to the current talks about the post-2015 agenda.

I entered the first room not knowing what to expect. The auditorium was huge and full of wooden benches, on which were microphones for asking questions. I also grew a fixation for the front benches which had the signs ‘Member States’ on them for all the different countries that were represented at the event. It felt very official. I had wondered how they would translate the talks given that many countries were represented there – I had expected perhaps an individual translator for each person to translate after the speaker. But, along the sides of the auditorium were language booths where people were sat translating the talks on the spot and their voices came through headpieces on the desks. I was impressed.

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The first lecture I attended was on the question of the impunity of those who commit crime against journalists. It discussed measures to be taken to combat the dangers that journalists face worldwide in reporting. What really struck a chord with me was the fact that it is local journalists who bear the brunt of the discoveries made by foreign journalists, who often go on to win prizes for their bravery. For many journalists, the realities are harsh and depressing – on the 3rd May, Al Jazeera journalists in jail were ironically wished a happy Freedom of the Press day before being returned to their cells. Not only the government, but also a large section of the public hold very negative opinions of journalists, believing their discoveries pose a threat to the security of their country. Both the public and legal enforcement need to play a role in the protection of journalists.

One of the most engaging debates was about what should be done to encourage press freedom. It was established that a framework was needed, but the question remaining was to what degree this would be a constitutional one or another framework. Some of the speakers talked about creating questionnaires for the public on their beliefs on press freedom, and also about the importance of media development and the training of journalists. It was concluded that the need for a ‘healthy tension’ between government media and other media was paramount, and this all had to exist in the context of worldwide corruption and poverty.

Tuesday’s talks intended to more largely conclude what had been discussed, and were about how to evade the barrier of repressive governments. Influencing culture and the youth was one key suggestion to challenge this problem. Speaker Ying Chan really held the room when she talked about needing to reach out to the ground to make them aware of the importance of freedom of the press, and ‘spend less time talking to the converted.’ The ‘data revolution’ has given citizens a much louder voice, something highlighted at the talk, but there is a long way to go. There may be more outlets for free press, but states must do yet more to change policy.

What did I learn from UNESCO about the issue of the Freedom of the Press? I learnt that we take it for granted in Britain that journalists do not face imprisonment, physical attacks or even murder for doing their job. It really highlighted the barrier that some governments create around the truth. It is something we all profess to know, but something we do not think about enough. Maybe George Orwell was not too far off, but we are now 30 years beyond his predictions and people’s voices still aren’t being heard. I also appreciated that while there are these enforced bulwarks to press freedom, regardless of the country, it is almost impossible to have a completely objective press. We may have plurality, in that one government machine does not control all the output, but plurality can always be improved. Do we really seek out our news material? Or do we take what is given to us? These were questions I was asking myself.

I was talking to a journalist who said that in countries where the freedom of expression is repressed, people tend to be much more aware of it than those in democracies. They tend to be the ones fighting and fighting for plurality and hunting out corruption. We can patronise those whose voices cannot be heard and who live under tyranny as if they do not realise it, but they are the ones fighting on the frontline for their freedom. Maybe in the West, we do not truly realise our freedom to choose and to speak.

-Rebecca Juster

Radio Academy Award winners 2014

2 years of persuading teenagers to give their opinions on politics, awkwardly grilling people at the bus stop on body hair and asking repeatedly if they can answer “in a full sentence” has finally paid off, We won a bronze award for Creative Innovation at last night’s Radio Academy Awards.

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To thank for that we have our brilliant journalists. These guys send in top interviews and vox pops week after week on every topic you could think of. Everyone that’s ever featured on our podcasts, you’re what makes us get out of bed in the morning. We also have our great team in the office, Camilla, Penny, Annabel and myself and of course, the people that listen.

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The night started off well with Annabel asking Ricky from the Kaiser Chiefs “are you in a band then?”. We chatted to famous people, spotted some Podium.me alumni up for other awards, ate fancy food and threw some shapes on the dance floor.

Well done to everybody that won awards last night. It was a pretty proud night to be part of Podium.me and thank you thank you thank you to everyone that’s helped us in any way.

What Happens at a Training Day?

On Friday, Podium.me journalists from around the country came together for what was arguably our most important training day yet. I’m the intern at Podium.me, and I was there six months earlier at our last training day, which we held in founder Camilla’s kitchen. Now, here we were in Canary Wharf, with a hundred young Podium.me journalists, and a Radio Academy Award nomination under our belts.

Thomson Reuters very kindly lent us space in their Canary Wharf office, and we spent the day in their capacious auditorium with glowing orange walls. 120 Podium journalists came from around the country, many of them getting up valiantly early to travel to London; it was such a brilliant opportunity to get all of Podium.me’s talented journalists in the same room.

After a great welcome from Camilla and the Podium.me team, we heard from some very wise and inspirational speakers. Alex Dalton was first; she had risen up through the BBC as a sports producer, working on the Sydney Olympics and with such prolific broadcasters as Clare Balding. She gave us brilliant advice, applicable not only to our future careers but to life more generally: she encouraged us to keep a diary of our interests, to help guide us in making our aims, and to never get our phones out in important meetings.

Rosie Bartlett, who began her career at BBC World Service before moving into different roles including launching and managing the BBC’s Production Trainee Scheme, told us about the key qualities a journalist should have: curiosity and nerdiness about the stories that interest you. Both Alex and Rosie stressed that much important journalism is being done now outside of traditional institutions, on blogs and, of course, YouTube.

Shanique Joseph then took to the, err, podium, to speak with Camilla about her experiences of being a journalist from the very beginning two years ago, and making her own podcasts for Podium.me, Views on the News.

Reuters Picture Editor Simon Newman explained how the global flow of Reuters pictures get from the ground to the papers, and enlightened us on so many things, from how he edits pictures to how Reuters handles issues of copyright.

We also heard from Dan Whitworth of BBC Radio 1 and 1xtra’s Newsbeat. He talked us through a typical day at Newsbeat; it turns out that no day is ever typical at Newsbeat. The team all keep overnight bags and passports in their lockers, and might find themselves anywhere from the streets of Stoke to up in the sky in a Chinook helicopter.

All of the day’s events were filmed by one of our own journalists, Karkiu, for a very exciting film for our website. I’ve had a sneaky look at the footage, and the film promises to be brilliant (so watch this space!).

After lunch we came back for three half-hour workshops. I’m sad I didn’t get to sit in on Cheeka and Penny and Annabel’s workshops, but I was extremely excited to get the opportunity to run one of my very own. I chose to work on interview skills, and use press freedom as a discussion topic. I was so impressed at how passionately everybody talked about this issue, and was pleased to see it at the top of the minds of the journalists. We asked the question why do you want to be a journalist? Based on the interviews they did with each other, this is why our Podium.me journalists chose their vocation:

I got a chance to take to the stage myself with Imogen Eason, who interned at Podium.me before me, to speak about our experiences of working at the Pod. The other event of the day which deserves a special honourable mention is, of course…Penny’s cake! It was so delicious and fuelled us through this extremely busy and exciting day. I ended up with so many things running through my head: how professional everybody was, how much information there was to think about, how different people looked than the version of them I have in my head when I edit their audio…

I think congratulations are in order to Camilla, Annabel, Penny, Cheeka, and everybody else who worked hard to make the day so special. I wish a very special and prosperous next few months to all the amazing people I met on Friday. Where on earth will we when we meet again for the next training day?

Journalist: Catherine Brinkworth