20th of July 2020 was a great day for me. My day was great generally but it was the first live edition of The Feelgood Lounge since it started in April and my first live hospital radio show since before the UK lockdown.
The only major difference between then and now – aside from now being 29 years old rather than 28 and it being called The Feelgood Lounge rather than The Thursday Night Lounge – was presenting the show from my home. To be precise – from inside my home studio (and to put it bluntly, inside my walk-in cupboard).
Up until July, The Feelgood Lounge was pre-recorded. When I started the show, the show was pieced together manually before submitting everything to the station for inclusion in its automation system.
This turned out to be the WORST way to produce the show. Mainly because it took up to 5 hours to produce one show or to put it in another way – 2 and a half Feelgood Lounges for one show. This was nonsensical!
We then switched to voicetracking which was much quicker and less painful. We still use voicetracking if a live show or recording “as live” are not viable options for that particular week.
Presenting live is a different kettle of fish. It’s much more spontaneous, the adrenaline flows like a waterfall, you have to be on your toes to start/stop on designated cues, keep to time, know what you’re going to say that is entertaining and informative and knowing how to react when things go wrong, which they inevitably do.
On the whole it has gone well. In fact you can hear the latest show [show 22 at the time of writing] and find out how it sounds live.
Now presenting live from home is not the same as presenting from a radio studio. Despite this, I learnt several things:
Preparation is everything.
Yes I’m stating the obvious but this even moreso when presenting from home. Especially if your home studio is only a mixer, microphone and a Skype connection like mine.
So when preparing my running order for example I have to include cues for when the mics on the mixer are faded up and faded down so Graham, my engineer, can help make a technically smooth show.
Always check your levels!
This is a standard must do when presenting any radio show but even moreso when you are presenting remotely.
Just because the levels sound fine on your end doesn’t necessarily mean the levels are good on the engineer’s end.
You need to check levels on both ends to make sure you don’t sound like a distorted mess.
Skype is actually reliable.
Years ago Skype was hit and miss in terms of connection relability for a call with friends let alone for presenting.
Nowadays it is pretty much bulletproof, if you combine with an isolated network connection – in my case my phone’s 4G data signal.
Even “proper radio” can present shows from home.
During the first UK lockdown back in the Spring, many presenters on major radio stations decided to present their shows from home instead of going into radio studios with various different set ups.
Even RTE Radio 1’s Bryan Dobson was presenting the early morning national news radio show from his dining room. If it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for anyone.
I still prefer to present from an actual studio.
Don’t get me wrong I love presenting from home and I’m grateful to do so but nothing beats from presenting in a radio studio. A great temporary solution, especially when pandemics are running wild but hopefully sometime in the future I can see a radio studio again.
The main point is if I can help entertain and distract the hospital radio listener for a couple of hours, then that’s what matters at the end of the day. If I’m able to do that from home then great.
Another positive is, I now have a credible excuse when I tell friends what I do on a Thursday evening, “I stand in a cupboard for 2 hours talking into a microphone”.