Making a Radio Documentary – Honorary Doctorates

For my final year project at Staffordshire University, I’m making a radio documentary on honorary doctorates.

During the 2012 broadcast of Cre8 Radio, we got a list of the latest honorary doctorates that Staffordshire University were bestowing. I tried to get some of the honoraries on the station and had limited success.

When we were asked to come up with an idea for our radio feature, I thought ‘what difference do these honorary doctorates actually make to the university?’. Thus, my radio documentary was born!

To help solidify our ideas, we had to draw together a presentation to present to our lecturers and then put together some research to ensure that we will actually have content for our feature. This also helped us ensure that we have a clear direction for it.

So how will I fill this feature. It will have three main components:

  • A history of honorary doctorates; why do universities do them?
  • Interviews with honorary doctors; why did they get them and do they benefit from the awards?
  • Vox pops with students; did they help shape the choice of which university they went to?

To start the whole process off, I posted a survey online which asked students (current and graduates) to tell me what they think of honorary doctorates. The survey is still open, so please feel free to fill it in!

So far I have conducted an interview with the Academic Registrar and Director of the Student Experience at Staffordshire University, Noel Morrison. He gave me his views on why the university gives away honorary doctorates and if these doctorates influence the choices of students when picking universities.

I also have secured interviews with Esther Rantzen and Peter Coates! Esther is well known as a broadcaster, but she also founded Childline. And Peter Coates is the owner of Stoke City Football Club and founder of Bet365 and Signal Radio.

I am very happy to have secured interview with these two distinguished figures, and they will help show the way in which universities choose their honorary degrees; one is a well known national figure, and the other more local.

Those two interviews will take place over the next month and hopefully come mid-March I will have nearly everything recorded (apart from my own narration).

I’ve also got some audio of the actual Staffordshire University graduation ceremonies from Humanoid Productions and Reels In Motion. And the University have very kindly granted me permission to use the audio in my production.

It’s all slowly coming together and there are still the possibilities of getting another interview for the documentary!

Once it is completed I hope to post it online and no doubt I will blog about it again.

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