We are mid-way through the summer break for students on BSc Radio Production & Technology, and while many will be relaxing, sitting on a beach or reading books, most of us are holding down jobs, earning a hard-won living or planning for the new academic year that starts in September. But enough moaning, what media technology, media production and radio production learners in the second year at De Montfort University really want to know is what will they be doing on TECH2005 Radio Production this year?
Learners who sign-up for this module get to run the Intermission Reports programme on DemonFM. The programme goes out live Monday to Friday from 12pm to 1pm. It is then followed by Intermission Introduces, which is run by the latest batch of year one radio production students. The aim of this programme is to build-up the experience of the programme teams in producing and managing a spoken-word magazine style programme on DemonFM.
While the vast majority of programming on DemonFM is music and entertainment derived, the Intermission Reports programme is a chance for learners to develop a wider set of skills in radio content production and programme management. This is a programme that is run by the learners themselves. They set-up and establish teams. They have to figure out a way to communicate with one another, and they have to be able to reflect on the practice of producing spoken word content for an audience that ranges across Leicester.
In previous years the Intermission Show has evolved from a set of general themes with a personality edge, into a programme that is all about the lives and views of the listeners. Rather than relying on banter and chat between presenters in the studio, Intermission Reports is going to put the listener up-front in the form of interviews, location reports, debates, outside broadcasts and invited VIP guests to the studio.
The best model for this type of programme can be found on stations like BBC 5 Live, and the Lunch Time News. BBC Five Live is a news, sport and features station. Shelagh Fogarty is in charge for for two hours, with a combination of reports, panel discussions and current events. Overall BBC 5 Live station takes a very flexible and adaptable approach to the daytime schedule. They follow events and report on news as it breaks. It’s not for nothing that BBC Five Live has repeatedly won the Station of the Year at the prestigious Sony Radio Awards.
One innovation that we are introducing to the Intermission Reports programme this year is how we will diary-in specific social action programming based around issues that are relevant to the DemonFM audience. Chris Smith has volunteered to start researching the social action themes for the programme for the coming year, and is going to develop a list that covers each week. From housing and finance issues, to drugs, alcohol and general health issues. We want to talk about issues that impact on the lives of the DemonFM audience. Crime is a big issues for young people. Identity, faith and community are huge issues.
The recent news that Leicester has the largest population of under-twenty-fives in the country means that there will be no shortage of issues to talk about. Getting jobs will be a high priority for many young people. Likewise volunteering is something that many people will do to help improve their job prospects. Not everyone in life, though, has a good start and a strong network of support around them. How can Intermission Reports reflect and guide the concerns of young people as they seek to get a head start in life.
With this in mind, how can DemonFM hold powerful people to account? Can Intermission Reports provide a platform where the people who make the decisions and spend money are quizzed by young people themselves? Intermission Reports aims to be fully interactive with the DemonFM audience, putting the views across and asking the questions that young people want answering.
Continuing from the success of last years Intermission Show teams will be the content strand that looks at DMU Life. There is a lot that goes on every day at De Montfort University, and Intermission Reports is a great opportunity to tell people about it and report on it. The life of students around the university is a rich stream for the programme teams to mine. Likewise the expertise that is on-hand across the different faculties and professional support teams. Last year the show teams ran a RAG week outside broadcast, that followed the elections to the De Montfort Students’ Union team. These gave a vibrant and up-front platform for learners to engage with subject that are close to home.
A little further afield, but no less important to the life of De Montfort University is the Square Mile project. The square Mile project aims to engage “with students, staff and residents as well as public services, the local authority and businesses in identifying and responding to the needs and challenges faced by the local area.” This high-profile initiative by the Vice Chancellor is a great opportunity for radio production students to engage with a real community in Leicester, and demonstrate that they can think beyond the De Montfort University campus.
As ever there is loads of potential for programming content with Intermission Reports, and the challenge will be to introduce learners to a style of programme making that needs consistent and in-depth research, as well as a good sense of what keeps an audience listening and engaged.