Busy with The Feelgood Lounge – the latest show and reflections

I’ll be honest – I’ve not been good with producing regular content on here or on social media and that’s my fault so sorry for that. It’s something I’m thinking about how to fix and I’ll let you know what my next steps are in due course. For this post, rather than trying to painstakingly plan and craft in advance, this one will be more off-the-cuff.

Despite that – I’ve been really really busy with my hospital radio show The Feelgood Lounge I present every week on Southern Sound Hospital radio. It’s definitely a highlight of my week regardless if I have the greatest week ever or the worst week ever.

From around 15 minutes before 8pm when I Skype in to just after 10pm when I take off my headphones, switch off my mixer and close the Skype line for another week, the time flies at warp factor 10.

I am blessed to have a great co-host in Fiona and a fantastic engineer in Graham providing that vital technical link between Fiona and I and the radio station. Not to mention he’s also a good laugh on air (and off-air with his colourfully blunt and dry wit and remarks that keep all of us in stitches).

If we can make even a small difference to whoever tunes in from hospital and at least make him/her chuckle and smile, then job done.

My studio clock counting down the minutes to going on air. The buzz really kicks in around 7:30pm onwards.
Reflections on show 22 and now on Mixcloud

On Friday, I caught up with the backlog of previous shows that need to be uploaded onto Southern Sound’s Mixcloud. You can find the latest show below and others at The Feelgood Lounge page on this website.

Plus you can head over to Southern Sound’s Mixcloud page to find this and many other great Southern Sound shows to listen to whenever and wherever you like. Ok, team player plugging – tick!

Show 22 was a great laugh, especially during the first hour. I won’t spoil it for you but I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard on air for a while when we talked about a rather risqué Halloween tradition in particular.

Show 22 was also a particular challenge as we were broadcasting on Guy Fawkes Night. If you’re not from the UK, once a year the country highlights the failed assassination attempt of King James I on 05/11/1605 by the Gunpowder plot. The UK celebrates this failed attempt by lighting bonfires (not so common in Scotland) and setting off fireworks.

Let me tell you – presenting organised entertaining drivel while so many fireworks that explode so loudly to make you wonder if you were broadcasting from some warzone is not easy. A real test of concentration.

For me that’s another quality any good presenter needs to have – adaptability.

What’s next?

Speaking of which I’m currently preparing some posts including one about my observations on presenting a show from home and another about what’s it like to only present versus presenting and operating your mixing desk (or tech opping) concurrently.

All being well I hope, I can share these with you along with my podcast picks for November from this coming week.

The Feelgood Lounge broadcasts on Southern Sound every Thursday evening 2000 UK time on Channel 8 in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and on southernsound.org.uk.

Why should I prep for my radio show or podcast?

Heard of the phrase "fail to preprare, prepare to fail"? It is a phrase that can warn you for, well, pretty much anything in life. School, college/university, job interviews, visa applications, holidays, etc.

This phrase is especially true for radio shows and podcasts.

From my experience preparation can make your show sound like either: a slick, entertaining and memorable event; winging that best man’s speech or sound like you’re quoting Encyclopedia Britannica syllable by syllable.

I’ve seen/heard many radio shows and podcasts over the years, with very little or literally no prep at all. On the other hand I’ve seen/heard many radio shows and podcasts over the years with so much prep that it sounds stilted, dry and bland.

For me show preparation is like a see-saw. Both extremes can produce undesired consequences.

So my formula for good prep is:

My good prep formula

So how do I prepare?

There’s no right or wrong answer on how to prepare. You have to find the best preparation method that works for you and your show, much like swotting up for a school exam complimenting your learning style.

For The Feelgood Lounge, which has the additional complication of being presented remotely and I don’t do the technical operation myself like I would in pre-COVID times, the following components are:

Running order

I prepare a running order with timings, segment details (feature or link and it’s intended length), song details and next item cues. The last is very important since there’s no visual indicator for my engineer.

Piece of the running order from show 14 of the The Feelgood Lounge that keeps me on track.

Notes

Alongside the running order I also have my notes for links and features which I keep in very short bulletpoints. This acts something like cue cards that can be read at a glance.

Other things that help

  • Throat lozenges with menthol, for me it helps to clear my nasal passages and therefore clearing my voice.
  • Large bottle of water (typically 2 litres) to keep hydrated and obviously wet the whistle. Keeping your voice in good condition is critical.
  • Skyping my engineer prior to the show so I can go over any important details, discuss anything technical issues I need to be aware of and also create a mental fence where I enter "the zone" and not think about anything else.

Good prep of course is no guarantee your show will win a Sony award or it’ll enter radio folkore; but it can minimise the chances of your show becoming an on-air tragedy.

How do you prepare your radio show? Any tips of what and what not to do? Do you think that prep is essential or a waste of time? Feel free to share in the comments below.

The Feelgood Lounge, Thursday evenings, 2000-2200 UK time on Southern Sound (Channel 8 in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow and southernsound.org.uk)

It’ll be alright on the night (I certainly hope so)

Different kind of musings post this week.

Rather than write my thoughts down, I’ll record what’s on my mind at the top of this post.

Basically, my hospital radio show – and the first time for me personally since lockdown – will be live from tomorrow evening.

The Feelgood Lounge, 2000 – 2000 UK time, Thursday evening, on Southern Sound.

Channel 8 in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, if you are or know someone who is a current patient there and online at http://www.southernsound.org.uk

Feel free to follow the station on Facebook and Instagram too!

Presenting from home during lockdown

I lived alone during lockdown so for me there were two pluses: Concerns of the virus being brought into the flat by others was non-existent and being left to my own devices.

What also helped me get through this tricky time was my radio presenting.

Access to SunnyG and Southern Sound studios were (and still are) off limits as soon as the virus took off in Glasgow. For many it brought a temporary pause to their volunteering.

Thankfully my home studio (ok, mic on a mic arm, mixer, some cheap duvet for soundproofing in a tiny cupboard) saved the day. However there’s no air conditioning, light fixtures and the only way my laptop, which acts as my recording/streaming device, could be placed was outside the studio. It wasn’t perfect but hey it works.

My home studio, circa December 2019, during recording session for the Monday at Six Christmas special.
The home studio since lockdown. Much tidier and compact isn’t it?

Cupboards and walk-in wardrobes in my opinion are good for home studios/home recording booths. Especially if there are fittings, the headroom is lower and the space is more confined which can act as partial soundproofing. I also have £6’s worth supermarket duvet at the back of my mic just to be sure.

This has been my setup for recording The Feelgood Lounge and even before the pandemic, the Monday at Six Christmas special for SunnyG and the Hansen’s Corner podcasts.

I miss presenting radio shows live – sadly my “studio” currently doesn’t have the technical capacity to fully broadcast live other than down a Skype line and the technical operation handled by someone else.

Besides such a setup is expensive and would cost hundreds, if not thousands of pounds to be compatible with the station’s existing playout infrastructure.

Nevertheless such an activity gave me another purpose during the lockdown. In this case, to provide some kind of distraction for the hospital patients who not only have to worry about their own health but also that vicious virus.

Having such a purpose inspires me and reminds me that I’m actually lucky to be in a position to do so.