Sep 172012
 
Play

For some time now a small group of people who are passionate about Leicester’s cultural scene have been working to launch a show on DemonFM that tells the story of what’s going on each week. Presented by Kirsty Monroe with contributions from Nathan Human and myself.

We have been gearing up to launch the show for a few weeks now. The team, so far consists of Kirsty, Nathan and myself, each with a different experience of the Leicester cultural scene, and with different approaches to the way that we tell the story of what’s going on in Leicester.

So I’ve taken the role of producer at this point. Assembling the material that Kirsty and Nathan have gathered and putting it into a running order. Kirsty and Nathan have been out and about meeting people and recording quick interviews with them. What’s amazing is that the interviews are recorded on mobile phones and then uploaded onto Soundcloud and sent to me to download and edit. It works amazingly well, there were very few issues with the recordings, just a couple of tweaks that needed to be made.

I set myself the challenge of producing the ‘Charity Shop Challenge’, with the aim of going to a local charity shop and finding three interesting things that we can turn into performed pieces. My first trawl brought up a Japanese film Tony Takitani, a CD of John Barry film scores and a book of poems. I put them together as three separate sequences and they gave a nice interlude to the show, a creative reading.

Charity Shop Challenge – Sounds Good Sequence

We had a brainwave on the day when we met to put the show together. With all the fuss last week about the potential unearthing of Richard III’s bones, we thought it would be great to put in a reading from Shakespeare’s Richard III. Mike Leo Brown very ably delivered the reading. I hope we’ll be getting Mike in each week to do a different reading as it’s lovely to hear a reading given by a decent performer.

Shakespeare’s Richard III – read by Mike Leo Brown

Now to start planning the next show.

Jul 252012
 

If you could sum up the range of cultural activities that are on offer in Leicester, what would be the best word or phrase that you might use? Can such a diverse set of events, performances, exhibitions and talented individuals be brought into a singe phrase or word? Some cities and art movements have achieved this. I’m thinking of The Factory, Andy Warhol’s creative space in 1960s and 70s New York. Or Factory Records in Manchester in the 1980s and 90s, with its associations with the Hacienda Club. They each have a connotation that there is a group of people who are passionate about their art. This was combined with a clear sense that the experience that they promoted was social, intelligent, international but aimed at generating a wide appeal.

Fast forward to Leicester in 2012 and the focus in so many forums is on how artists, performers, writers, photographers, musicians and sound designers (and many more) can showcase their creative and commercial talents in a way that gets a wider audience, and provides the people involved with a living. From Dusk To Dawn‘s website is a hub for creative talent in Leicester, and manages to connect people from different backgrounds and with different aspirations in an interconnected network of creative businesses.

DemonFM has run a show for the last two years that aims to cover events in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter. In the past we have covered events taking place at the Curve Theatre, at Phoenix Arts, at De Montfort Hall, and the many other arts and culture venues, including De Montfort University’s Cultural Exchanges festival. This year we are looking at renewing the Cultural Quarter show for a new generation of producers and volunteers on the station. With a new name and a new approach, our aim is to reflect the growing sense of community around the creative and cultural sector in Leicester, and to provide a platform where issues are discussed and broadcast as part of a weekly show that will be broadcast on DemonFM.

Kirsty Monroe, Nathan Human and myself met at the Phoenix for a coffee and chatted about what we want from the programme. The first thing we’ve done is decided that the foundation of this programme is going to be based on social media. Using the FD2D site as a central network – the programme is being produced in association with FD2D – we want to collect ideas for stories to be told and discussed on the show by following hashtags in social media. A couple of ideas for these tags range from the mundane to the ridiculous. What do you think of #onthepulse, #coolture #lestart #noquartergiven or #doleicester?

At the same time we are determined to ban some words. So we can’t use ‘culture’, ‘arts’, ’embedded’, ‘accessible’, ‘relevant’, ‘sector’ or ‘engaged’. These all sound like terms that are used in local government strategy meetings, and come across badly on a live radio programme.What other words should we ban?

The next stage is to get out and about and record some content and to put together a couple of pilot shows. Watch this space and follow #noquartergiven for ideas.

Feb 202012
 

This weekend was something of a watershed moment for the production team behind DemonFM’s Cultural Quarter Podcasts. The general feeling among the team was that the show isn’t being as well supported as it might be. This week’s show ran short of content and was felt by all involved to be light on material.

Rather than struggling to have a decent debate and discussion in our usual computer lab venue, we moved into the Queens Building meeting room, tucked just behind the staff tea room. We could sit in one place, face-to-face, and discuss why we felt that the show was lacking cohesion.

It was a very frank discussion with some very realistic assessments of the issues being put forward and discussed, but what really made the difference was that it was all done in a sensitive and collaborative manner. Rather than lead the discussion I took the role of note keeper, which was very useful because it forced me not to interrupt and to listen intently to all the points of view expressed.

Once we had established a list of issues that everyone agreed on as in urgent need of attention, we then put together a list of fixes and some simplifications to the production process for managing this content, including the usual who and what? Then we thought about how and in what way? We don’t tend to ask why, because the answer is often too vague.

It was established that:

  • Facebook is sole point of communication and alert – we have a TECH3013 Cultural Quarter podcasts group which can be used to share information, ideas, links to documents, etc.
  • Simon Cooper is going to be the sole presenter. Rather than struggling to find a presenter who can be cajoled in to giving the links some credibility, it was agreed that Simon gets this already and so makes the most suitable choice.
  • Ryan Arnold and Elle Hall are going to assist Simon with production issues, and will do the chasing of the events and the production team to ensure that content gets made, shared on the DemonFM website, and broadcast on air.
  • There’s a pressing need to set up a media share resource, with a set of file name conventions, standard file formats and a process for alerting the producers that the material has been posted, and acknowledging that the material has been downloaded.
  • All content producers are able to upload content to Rivendell for play-out on the broadcast systems. What names and tags are given to this content needs to be identified.
  • It was agreed that Google Docs would be used for planning each show in detail and to share script information, background and research documents.
  • Each person is going to self-edit and mix their own audio, and they will be asked to write a detailed cue sheet. This cue can also be sued for information posted online about the podcast.
  • Each piece will need a standard ‘top & tail’ to link the feature into the podcasts as a stand alone and as part of the general programme.
  • The deadline for delivering the audio to Simon is 9am each Friday morning, giving him time to sequence the material and write a linking script.
  • Everyone agreed that taking photos of event and the interviews sessions would be a great idea, as it looks better on a site if it is visualised as well.
  • Finally, Simon Cooper will collate and share everyone’s contact details via Facebook and the Google Docs.

So, in the end, not a bad session. There’s much more of a sense of urgency now about the content, and I’m looking forward to listening to the content that they produce for Cultural Exchanges next week – oh, that’s after the next show on Saturday. Tune in. DemonFM, Saturday, 12-1pm.