Here you go. Brace yourself:
Securing the interviews was a far easier task than I’d expected. Normally when I’ve asked to speak to politicians I’ve had to jump through hoops to get them to agree to see me. But not this time.
I arranged interviews with MEP Julie Girling (though she could only commit to a phono), Stephen Gilbert MP, Mairi Hayworth of UKIP, and Richard Snell from Tremough Innovation Centre. And all in one day.
Getting from one interview to another was no problem. I made sure I’d left myself enough time to switch from place to place, and I’d prepared all of my questions for the four interviewees the night before.
Each of them seemed happy to speak to me and they were all pretty open about their feelings on EU membership, which helped form solid arguments in my package. Even when I asked how they’d be voting should there be a referendum they didn’t mind telling me, removing the need for me to go all Paxo on them.
The only issue I’m having so far with my piece is where timing is concerned. Fitting four voices into a package little over two minutes long is a challenge, and I may have to consider dropping an interview.
I’m fairly pleased with the few I managed to record. Because sound effects don’t really lend themselves to my piece, I decided to use a clip from PM David Cameron’s speech (watch it in full here) to lead the audience into the package. Then I recorded one of my links on location at Tremough Innovation Centre, just so it sounded a little more interesting. I recorded Stephen Gilbert’s assistant welcoming members of the public to a surgery at his St Austell office, and used Mairi Hayworth saying her name to introduce her.
Well obviously it’s not wrong now, but during editing, figuring out how to cram four voices into a short piece was no mean feat. Seeing as each interview lasted about 15 minutes, I had an hour’s worth of audio to whittle down into two minutes.
My decision to keep all of my interviews meant I had to be ever so slightly brutal in choosing which clips to include. I eventually settled on dramatic, short and sweet ones, to add impact to my package, but without stealing too many seconds off it. Take for example, Mairi Hayworth’s. I changed her clip right at the end, because -with her introducing herself – she had almost twice as long as everyone else. Instead of having her pretty much repeat what Julie Girling had already said, I used her quote saying it’s about time we had a referendum.
I’m begrudgingly including my phono with Julie Girling in the ‘what went wrong’ section as nothing went wrong per se, it’s just the sound quality isn’t great. She was travelling in the car on her way to a meeting about guide dogs, so as you can imagine, her voice occasionally cuts out. But given her position as an MEP and my story topic, I felt it necessary to include her views in my package. And besides, the poor sound quality kind of adds another dimension to the piece!
I feel she starts the debate off quite nicely, saying something along the lines of ‘it’s bad news for Cornwall, but actually we’d have more money if we weren’t paying into the EU’. That gives the other interviewees a change to agree or disagree with what she’s laid down.
Don’t get me started on this one. It was part of the assessment criteria to add a SOC to my package.
I’m sure plenty of you will disagree, but I think it’s completely unnecessary to include one. As I was already struggling with timing, adding another couple of seconds onto my package with a pointless SOC was the last thing I wanted to do.
Listening to local and national radio stations, only rarely will you ever hear a SOC. It’s far more likely a presenter will say “that was our reporter Joe Bloggs there” at the back of a package.
After spending a good while thinking of a nice, thought-provoking out line which sums up the piece, it seems something of a shame to stick a clumsy SOC onto the end. It doesn’t fit well with my piece (or any, for that matter) and I don’t like it.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not overjoyed with the overall package, there’s nothing really wrong with the clips or my script, but I strongly feel the equipment I used has let me down (more on this later).
If I could have my time over again, I think I’d probably choose a different story – one with more of a distinct narrative – which would allow me to be more creative and show off my radio skills, particularly with sound effects. That said, I’d like to think my piece drives the debate forward, and displays some of those skills – after all, super-exciting SFX will not be suitable for every radio package, and it’s good to know how to deal with different types of stories for different audiences,
Anyway, on the bright side, I feel I’ve learnt lots from putting this together. For a political piece, I’d like to think it’s not too dry, and I had the opportunity to speak to the different politicians about their views on EU membership. As a short political package, I wasn’t able to cover as much ground as I’d have liked, I really feel this would have lent itself better to a 4-5 minute piece.