Live from a field in Lincolnshire, this is Poacher FM!

“3500 Scouts and Guides. Seven days. Hundreds of activities. Thousands of friendships. Unlimited adventure. One Poacher FM.”

Poacher 2013 has come and gone. Two and a half years of planning with my best friend, Christopher Smith, and Poacher FM was a blast!

I previously posted about what we had planned back in June, but now the broadcast has passed it’s time to look back at an amazing week of radio and camping.

The studio setup
The studio setup

When we arrived I discovered I had the biggest room out of the two that would become the Media Centre!

Radiquip, who we hired nearly all our kit from, arrived earlier than planned and were a dream to get on with. They set up in a flash and everything worked as expected. I can’t recommend them enough.

We used Psquared’s Myriad and Autotrack, which meant we were able to mix up the music nicely. Some of the best compliments were about our music mix and how campers of all ages felt they could listen. Throughout the camp, I reckon that you only maybe heard the same song three times a day (sometimes a little bit more) Despite this our three most played songs were still by The Wanted, Icona Pop and Avicii!

The launch went as planned, but due to some technical difficulties (no internet!) we weren’t streaming until Tuesday. When we did get up and running, our page was instantly the most visited on the website and continued to be a big hitter for the rest of the event.

Preparing to report live from a glider as it takes off!
Preparing to report live from a glider as it takes off!
Preparing to report live from a glider as it takes off![/caption]We also made use of this by asking parents/guardians/grandparents/cats/dogs to get in contact with their messages for their loved ones on site. In a one hour show we had about 250 messages for lots of people on site! It kept the final show of the night very busy.

Throughout we had some special guests, such as the Chief Guide Gill Slocombe, both the CEOs from Scouts & Guides and Simon Carter who is the Assistant Director for Marketing within The Scout Association.

All of those interviews, and loads of other bits can be found on our AudioBoo channel, which was kindly given to us for free by the ladies and gents at AudioBoo.

My favourite clip and highlight of my career is from when I reported from a glider 900ft above the Lincolnshire Countryside. You can listen to my experience below.

Before the event, I had planned all the imaging, with a whole document of lines to be read! Fortunately, Christopher organised for a couple of the team from Spark FM in Sunderland to read them for us. Below is a short demo of the imaging we played.

Another highlight was working with BBC Radio Lincolnshire, who did a whole three hour show live from the showground! Amanda White and her producer Andy come along and Lucy and I showed them around the activities and ensured they got everything they wanted. Amanda even had a go at a couple of activities! It was fantastic to work with them and it got a good response from the BBC Radio Lincs audience. You can listen to the programme on BBC iPlayer until Friday at 9am.

I had such an amazing team. All 11 of them did a sterling job and I couldn’t have asked any more of them. They were a real team and I always knew I could rely on them to do a great job. So much so there were a couple of times when I was off site and they handled things better than I expected!

Would I like to be radio team leader again? Definitely! It was such a ball and when you have an team like I did, it makes the job even easier.

I hope to work with the team again in the future, at whatever event or company I may find them at.

#NowPlaying: Summertime Sadness – Lana Del Ray vs Cedric Gervais

Becoming an Employed Graduate in London

On Friday 12th July 2013, I graduated with a first class BA (Honors) degree in Film, Television and Radio Studies from Staffordshire University. But let’s back up a bit. The story of me becoming employed starts before then!

During Cre8 Radio’s broadcast in May/June, a lecturer from Sunderland University was visiting student radio stations around the country and came to Staffs Uni to see what we got up to. Fred Marden is also a contact of a good friend of mine, Christopher Smith. Fred had got in contact with Christopher about a position at a company called All In Media. Christopher didn’t really fancy it but suggested I might be.

aimlogoSo Fred passed on the details of the job, along with the CEO of the company, Chris Gould. I sent my CV to Chris and the conversations led to me meeting up with him and CTO Jason Malaure in London. We spoke about what the company gets up to, its future and where I might be able to fit in with that. The meeting was on Thursday 26th June and on the Monday, I undertook a small task Chris set me. I apparently passed with flying colours as I was offered the job the same day

I took a couple of days to consider the offer and way up what it meant for me, before accepting it. I thought about where I might live, how I’d get to the office and also what life would be like near London. Fortunately someone I met at Essex International Jamboree posted a tweet saying they were looking for a fourth housemate, just 5 minutes away from London Euston.

By Thursday 4th July, every was sorted. I had a new job, a new place to live and a first class degree to celebrate!

WP_20130712_006On the following Friday (12th) I celebrated my graduation at Trentham Gardens with the class of 2013 from Staffordshire University. My mum, dad, sister, grandparents and auntie were all there and we had a great day.

We traveled back to Spalding the following day, before moving me into my new house in the Borough of Camden on the Sunday morning.

On Monday morning (15th), I headed off to my first day at Quality Assurance Engineer for All In Media. It was a pretty busy couple of days!

So I’ve just finished the first week at the company and it has been fantastic. I’ve got involved in the development of a load of apps, and I’ve been working heavily on a couple of apps in particular. I look forward to what lays ahead for me at the company and I can’t wait to get more involved as time goes on.

What makes the job offer from AIM even sweeter, is that a couple of days beforehand I got an offer from another company in London. They contacted me first, after they saw a project I worked briefly on. Being head hunted is rather exciting! I visited them for a day; got to know the team, how they worked and where the company was heading. At the end of the day they presented me with a t-shirt and also an offer. They were really lovely people and I could see great potential in the company, but it just wasn’t for me. I failed one of their tasks that they set me, yet they still invited me to their offices. They obviously saw something in me. But the role wasn’t really what I wanted and I don’t think I’d enjoy it. Writing my email to them to turn down their offer was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as of late. But I learnt a lot about the recruitment process with them.

So here I am. I’m in London, with a full time job at a great company which is going places and taking on great projects.

View from the bridge over the Thames, which I have to cross to get to the office.
View from the bridge over the Thames, which I have to cross to get to the office.

I know others who graduate this summer won’t be as fortunate as I’ve been, but the positions are out there. Some people have asked why I haven’t gone into a radio station for a job. The answer being because I love being part of a company that assists stations in doing what they do.

My advice to anyone coming out with a degree, is to open your scope a bit more. See what positions are laying around your ideal job. Who knows, maybe that job that isn’t directly linked to what happens on air may get you closer into the station than you think.

Watch this space! I’m sure I’ll post news about what apps I’m working on soon; both on here and on Twitter via @OliverNeedham.

Preparing for Poacher FM at Poacher International Scout & Guide Camp

PoacherFM-twitter-flatThis summer I’ve taken on a project which is very exciting but will also test my organisational skills.

In June 2011, a childhood friend Christopher Smith (Head of Media & Marketing) asked me if I’d like to be the station manager for an RSL to run at the Poacher International Scout & Guide Camp in 2013. At first I thought “That’s years away! I don’t know what I’ll be doing then!”, but I said yes anyway and here we are!

To prepare for the task of managing a radio station aimed at the Scouts, Guides and leaders at such an event, I went along to the Essex International Jamboree in August 2012. I had a great time with the Scout Radio team and also learnt a lot about what can be expected from an RSL covering a Scout or Guide camp. I also looked at how they were doing things and how I could possibly do them different to suit our campsite and audience size.

Poacher 2013 - Roundel RedSo firstly, what is ‘Poacher’? It’s a camp for Scouts and Guides from all over the world in the setting of the Lincolnshire Showground, near Lincoln, England, UK. It happens every four years, and I attended the event when I was younger (2004?). However they decided to postpone it a year, as it should’ve happened last year. I think it was because of the London Olympics and that EIJ was also happening that they decided to delay it.

Because Ramadan means there are so many more RSLs throughout the UK, Ofcom decided to setup a small application window for RSLs that wish to broadcast during July and August 2013 (read more). We went through the process, and thought that historically there are usually only RSLs from the Showground during the summer months in Lincoln, so we wouldn’t have an issue. We were proven correct as there was only application for an RSL in the Grange-de-Lings area; ours.

Earlier this month we received confirmation of our broadcast, which will take place on 87.9FM, with the full wattage available to us.

So how will we be broadcasting from the Lincolnshire Showground?

Fortunately we have the use of the EPIC Centre, which is a permanent structure, and this will offer us power, internet and a secure place to broadcast from.

Equipment wise, we are hiring in most of the equipment from Radiquip. For playout we are renting Myriad and AutoTrack from P Squared, as both Christopher and I have lots of experience with Myriad and find it a nice experience for presenters (most of the time). We also feel it will enable us to make sure we aren’t  hearing the same 20 songs on repeat thanks to presenters choosing all their own music!

We’re also very excited to be using products with HD Voice for our outside broadcasts. In essence it will be good quality audio, along with reliable signal. It also means that we’re being very ambitious with some of our show plans.

On top of that, of course we’ve been making sure we get the right broadcasting licences from Ofcom along with PRS and MCPS.

The most recent activity has been surrounding our actual on air content. Presenters have been asked for their opinions on the schedule and I’ve been speaking to some of them about what will happen during their shows. I’ve also been working on our on air imaging, where Christopher has been recording voice overs with some students from Sunderland.

In addition to broadcasting live, we’re also planning to do PoD; Poacher on Demand. It will be a podcast type format, which is posted via our AudioBoo channel. These ‘PoDs’ will contain highlights from throughout the broadcast, as well as anything extra that we don’t find time to play on air.

Another feature of our AudioBoo account will be the option for camp participants and parents of those participants to share voice messages with us. They simply record them into our channel and then we’ll moderate them before being played on air. We hope to embed this into the Poacher smartphone app. We also envisage people recording request messages via the platform, which we can then play straight on air.

So overall things are coming along nicely. There’s still a few of the finer details to work through, but with an 11 strong team, I’m very much looking forward to the week!

Poacher FM will be broadcasting from Saturday 27th July to Saturday 3rd August 2013, on 87.9FM and also online via the Poacher website.

#NowPlaying: It’s You by Duck Sauce