Deacde In Review.

With the birth of social media, it’s great to have a visual look back at what i’ve done over 10 years… So without further ado, let’s have a look at my life…

 

2010

  • DJ’d NYE Party in local pub.
  • January – Another Year Older.
  • Relationship: Still dating Jo’Ann
  • Worked briefly at Link FM (hired 2 weeks before it closed) as Promotional & Sales with a target area of “Whole Local Area” – This was clearly going to end well..
  • Uncensored on Google Maps!
    Passed Driving Test (CAT B) – Thanks to Elaine
  • Make a Twitter Account MusicMat 
  • I Appear on Google Maps – UNCENSORED!
  • Short Weekend away with Jo’ann, can’t remember the location.
  • Became a ‘volunteer’ Travel Correspondent for Time FM Drivetime show. 
  • Visited Newcastle to see my friend Laura.

2011

  • Laura Visits – “Mind The Gap” Becomes “One Baguette”
    January – Another Birthday
  • Relationship: Breaking Up with Jo’Ann. 
  • British Pullman ride (Bellmond) for Mum’s 50th Birthday. 
  • Relationship: Dating Lucy. 
  • Laura Visited London,  She hears ‘Mind the Gap” as “One Baguette”, Tube trains become subways sandwiches… 
  • Asked to Cover shows Time FM
  • Received a Team London Award for Volunteering at Bedrock Radio.

2012

  • January – Turned 21, starting to feel old. – Parents Booked a Microlight
    21st Birthday Treat – I even got control of the stick!
    experience day! 
  • Became Presenter of the Weekday Afternoon Show on Time FM. 
  • Booked to Microlight flight – Got to fly the plane too.
  • Relationship: Broke up with Lucy.
  • Bedrock Radio’s 10th Birthday.
  • Unveiled plans to begin program of upgrades to the studio ‘Onward’ 
  • Saw Dave Gorman Live with Lauren, We buy CD from warm up act Jay Forman, we being singing “Stealing Food” to each other… 
  • Relationship: Dating Lauren.
  • Get added onto the car insurance for the Kia Soul, i’m let loose on the roads!
  • Visited Laura in Newcastle for her 21st Birthday. 

2013

  • January – Another year old! 
  • Letter from Finland, gentleman had heard my Time FM Afternoon Show on his FM Rig! 
  • Lauren “Bum Hand Pocket” – rear pockets on jeans… Name now sticks forever.
  • Visage Night with Time FM – Ellie, Jo L & Caz came along.
    Visage with Jo, Ellie & Caz!
  • Jo L passed away in car collision – Ellie & Me in shock, later attended funeral. 
  • Forced by Time FM into “volunteering” to do a “Charity” Stand up gig… which wasn’t for a charity & I didn’t get paid., The experience of stand up fine, other aspects no. 
  • Myriad Installed & Live at Bedrock Radio
  • Signed up to Anthony Nolan Charity as a doner.
  • Visage Again with Time FM crew & Lauren. – Listeners loved Lauren more than me! 
  • I Cover various shows through including Breakfast & Drivetime. 

2014

  • January  – birthday time! – given a chocolate teapot cake.
  • Time FM owners London Media Company / Sunrise put into administration & forced to sell up, making all staff redundant & selling the licence & studio. 
  • Time FM bought by Lyca mobile – While transfers happen all staff are muted #MatOnMute. 
  • Resumed Afternoon Show with new employer LycaMediaII , really don’t like the ‘freelance agreement’ i’m being forced to sign. 
  • Interviewed Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) at CEME for News Team. 
  • Delilah’s Pancakes – Lauren follows recipe, but gets name wrong – Pancakes are now forever known as De-Lihas at home.
  • Used Redundancy Payout to go Gadget Show Live with Lee, I make impluse purcahse of a drone… Lauren disapooves.
  • Tried Ostrich Steak Burgers – Lovely! 
  • Have a weekend away with Lauren at her Nans during her uni break. I win multiple games of Draughts. 
  • Havering Show with Time FM – Drone get’s used for some crowd footage. 
  • Relationship: Dumped by Lauren. Uni & other things in way of our relationship.
    Vino Time!
  • Lee comes to see  Dave Gorman with me at Westcliff, He introduces me to the Westcliff casino – I sign up. 
  • Spend a few months feeling sorry for myself after breaking up with Lauren & Work getting me down. Ellie takes me to the pub so we can drink & forget about life. 
  • Lee get’s involved with Jumbo Sound to help fix their studio. I slowly get involved in some minor repairs & Jokingly say how Bedrock & Jumbo should share programmes…. 
  • After months of in-denial flirting & not wanting to be in a relationship, me & Carly hit it off at a social night out, resulting in us going on a non date, date.
  • Relationship: Dating Carly (in a non date, date way… Makes sense right?)
  • I become a producer for Eric Hall’s Making Memories on Sundays on Time FM.

2015

  • Another Year Older, must be January.
  • Me & Lee attended HBA Conference in Newcastle, Carly as a +1 to visit her friends.  – I start realising what a waste of time the HBA actually are.
  • Had Lunch with Laura while in Newcastle. Managed to avoid Sunderland completely knowing Lauren was still at Uni there. 
  • I get approached by Decades Radio, an online station operating in Dagenham, they have me prepare & produce David Hamilton’s Million Sellers show. Time FM become slightly annoyed that I’m working at another station nearby..  I state i’m on a ‘Freelance’ agreement, that doesn’t tie me in. 
  • Lee & Me get asked to host a School Fete (as Bedrock Raido),  Geoff the toy Shark becomes a thing. 
  • Decades Radio have me do ad-hoc breakfast cover as ‘Mathew Thomas’, so not to clash with Time FM, Decades Radio Breakfast is re-broadcast on NuSound Community Radio as their Breakfast show, covering East London (East Ham / Manor Park etc)
  • I’ve had enough of Time FM. They don’t want to give me a pay rise & are
    Last Ever Time FM Afternoon Show
    reluctant to make big changes with the pending studio move. They’ve likely had enough of me & my sarcasm, I apply for a new Job. 
  • Relationship: Carly & Me split up – In a non relationship, relationship way. 
  • I get accepted for the new job… I start by public ‘Count Down’ to my Last Show, Many listeners call / text / email their thoughts & we say our goodbyes, I’ll miss the listners most.
  • I pass my PCV test & gain a CAT D driving licence to drive buses for Stagecoach London.  I first drive the 252 with an instructor with my first solo run a week later on route 103 Rainham Station to Chase Cross (Romford) – I undoubably run late. 
  • Decades Radio closes as it struggled to make money, despite pulling in a small audience & hosting live roadshows. Everyone is disappointed, but we knew the risks.  
  • Lee & Myself fitted a new office desk at Bedrock as part of the upgrades.
  • Me & Dad went on a beer making experience in Brentwood Brewery we had two polypins of IPAto collect & drink over Christmas. Making it a very merry christmas.
  • First time behind the wheel of a single decker bus.. I managed to break it, shattering a pane of door glass.. I still don’t know how I did this. – I have an instant dislike of single deck buses. 

2016

  • January – I’m 26, starting to get on a bit now. – Mum made a Bare shaped cake after finding the baking tin she used when I was a child. 
  • I’ve learned all the routes from RM garage. 103, 165, 174, 248, 252, 256, 287, 365 & 372. Also know NS routes 294 & started learning 496. 
  • Lee adds me to his car insurance as a named, as I saved him cash – Plus side I can now use his car as & when I like! 
  • Bedrock Radio take over Jumbo Sound – All Studios get refitted with newer gear following insurance payout – We won’t talk about the woodwork being cut wrong. 
  • I was rostered on the 287 route AKA ‘Barking Bin Lorry’. Following very heavy rain in June, I sitting in traffic for over an hour, I didn’t make it to Barking, until the 2nd part of the shift, on my last run. – A memorable day & plenty of lost mileage!
    New Gear at Bedrock Radio
  • United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, I voted Leave, after a bit of pencil waving, I’m dubbed a Brexiter. I think it could be good for the UK. But also who doesn’t want to watch the world fall apart?  
  • Bedrock Radio  & Bedrock Radio, Goodmayes start broadcasting, in addition We soft launched Bedrock GOLD, to target the older listeners.
  • Visited Whipps Cross Hospital Radio to help fix a network issue. 
  • Changed to 4 Day Rosta at work (12 to 14 hour shifts where killing me), becomming rostered on the 174 AKA ‘Dagenham Dustcart’…. Hated it.
  • Me & Lee went on an EU Roadtrip! Covering; Luxembourg, Zurich, Milano, Venice, Innsbruck, Munich, Prague, Berlin & Hamburg & Rotterdam
    Making full use of me being on his insurance! 

2017

  • Jan – Getting ever older 
  • Hello London – TfL Bus Drivers course, met Sir Peter Hendy (Head of Network Rail) on the course, which surprised us all. 
  • I bought my own car – Kia Optima (AKA the Vixen)… I’m super pleased with myself.
    I bought a Car! – Kia Optima 3
  • I discover how much I actually enjoy driving the old TA Buses, I like them as much as the scanias. However, the TA days are numbered due to EU Emissions targets, I try to get my hands on one every late shift. 
  • General Election time. Reading the manifestos, I hovered the pencil between Conservative & UKIP. finally settling on UKIP.  I felt the others where too ‘soft & something for nothing’ 
  • I apply for another new job – this time within core TfL, not thinking i’ll get, I forget I’ve applied. 
  • Dad turns 60, Now I don’t feel so old, he does! – We spend a few days up in Cambridge with family. 
  • Bedrock Radio takes a vote to change to a CIO, Giving myself all the work. 
  • Mum is finally awarded the disability allowance she deserves & is able join the motability scheme. We say goodbye to the Kia Soul.
  • On The Buses
    I get a call back from the TfL Job & I’m asked to book in for assessment, these go well… I get invited into interview.
  • Bedrock Radio does a live music night & we broadcast it Live from a mobile studio. 
  • I’ve been offered the Job by TfL, I formalise by Notice of Resignation at Stagecoach with some sadness as I enjoyed driving buses, despite the god awfulnes of the 174.
  • My Cousin gets married again. Family catchup & the ennavale awkwardness of “Mat, You’re next” for the excuse to have a big family do.
  • Ellie & Me agree to have ‘monthly’ catch ups as we’ve hardly seen each other in the past year.  
  • I start my training as a CSA2 for London Underground Limited. I become rostered at South Kensington Station.
  • Me & Mum start a very long & ongoing ‘Ducky’ game – A Duck related gift now become standard every Birthday & Christmas. 

 

2018

    • ‘Back In My Day, Birthdays used to be…’ – Yep Older still. Duck themed Cake this year. (See above)
    • The Dark Side – Underground
      I settle into working at South Ken with my new colleagues, although the commute is a slog, it’s a nice place to work.
    • HBA Conference in Windsor – I’m totally not buying their nonsense & remain firm on Bedrock Leaving the HBA. 
    • I begin the CIO Conversion for Bedrock Radio. 
    • I make friends with a squirrel. Mum nicknames it “Buddy”.
    • Lauren contacts me, we have a long catch up & reminisce about our relationship & ‘Stealing Food’. We have occasional catch ups every few months by text & few years in person. I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about this. But i’ve gone along with it. 
    • A rather warm summer I remember, felt sweaty.
    • Bestie Ellie get’s married to her long (suffering) fiance Chris! – I have a catch up with Ellie’s parents & some old school friends.
    • World Cup Fever, means a good excuse for the South Ken team to have a good drink.
    • I Finally admit I sorta like Curry… James doesn’t believe me, photo evidence is sent he calls me a “Tart”.. 
    • Tower Hill / Marks Lane Disused.
      I transfer to Tower Hill Area in order to get my promotion to CSA1. While it’s nearer to home. I felt there was something amiss with the staff & how the place operated – Turns out later my gut feeling was right.
    • Lee & Myself have started offering technical help to Harlow Hospital Radio, studio visits ensue.
    • Tower Hill Christmas Party on a boat.  Those of us who got on had a proper laugh. We almost threw colleague Rachel off the boat.
    • I got the CIO conversion done, Bedrock Radio now has a new direction.
    • I’ve got the Squirrel to now take food from my hand, I have a friend for life. 

 

2019

  • Now 28… Christ, I’ll be 30 in two years! January is here.
  • Bedrock Radio, Goodmayes told parts of the old building are shutting & we need to remove equipment from them areas. 
  • Ellie & Me discover Tortilla at Lakeside, our catch ups regularly(ish) happen over burritos! 
  • I transfer back to South Kensington as a CSA1, About a month later preverbal hits the fan at Tower, proving my gut instinct was right – This was confirmed by staff there.
  • I discover I can park around Kensington on Sundays for free & my Car is ULEZ exempt (For now)… Sundays just become a lot nicer to work! 
  • Lee & Me sell the old mixer from Goodmayes & agreed to meet halfway in  Lincoln to hand it over. We realise this is where our friend Rebecca lives & met her the next day for breakfast.
  • Old & New 150 Steam Special with Dad
    I booked tickets for Me & Dad to ride the last Steam Specials on the District Line as part of it’s 150 year anniversary  – The special train was late.. by almost an hour.  
  • Family Day Trip to Colchester Zoo – Mum loved it, we made friends with a Duck (I know a whole zoo of animals, and I found the wild Duck most interesting).
  • I decided to take myself on a little holiday to Devon, to relax (I’ve not been away properly in a while) I went down to see my old school friend Shannon & explore the town.
  • Eden Project
    While in down West, I finally visited the Eden Project, which i’d been longing to see for years, I may go back in 2020 when all the plants in are in bloom. 
  • Finally opened a Help To Buy ISA to try & get onto the housing ladder.
  • Annoyed ‘Brexit’ hasn’t happened & on glancing through the manifestos I voted Conservative for the first time, I have formed more stronger views & find Labour intolerable, I find myself thinking ‘World owes people nothing, why do they want something for nothing’. 
  • 2009 / 2010 to 2019 / 2020
    Bedrock Radio Goodmayes, Studio closure confirmed by NHS as building is being closed. Lee & Myself hire a Van and clear the place out. A degree of Sadness is shared between us after all the effort put into keeping it on-air. Content will now come from Queen’s. 
  • Genuinely feeling a bit lost with life. I’ve started coming up with ideas of how to celebrate when I’m 30 in two years. 
  • Relationship Status: Single (Since 2015). I sti

This Bus Terminates Here….

I have been driving a London Red Bus for almost two years come September. However, I’m not making it to my two year anniversary… because I am chaining jobs (again), but staying within transport!

I’m actually off to work for London Underground, not as a a driver (yet!) but as station staff, I stumbled across the vacancy on the TfL Linkedin page and thought “why not!”.

Like most jobs i’ve applied for, I had some scepticism as TfL jobs, like many high profile companies, notoriously have thousands of applicants, so it’s a long and competitive process. I applied a few months ago with a small bit of resentment when I got news I was being put on rota for the 174, in the same week I was doing spread-over (split hours) shifts. I remained optimistic, because I have the possibility of progressing and trying for operations roles fulfilling another boyhood dream of playing with a real size train set!

So I applied, a few months back and made it through the various assessments, interviews and finally the medical… and i’m off to play with the railway!

To be honest, I’m not sure if the time was right, there where a few things that interested me with the bus operations such as iBus & Service Control, plus learning a few more routes such plus the rail replacements runs…

When I was rostered for the 174, I  started highlighting problems to our management so they can take our concerns up the chain of command and get the route running right.
Now I have an opportuntiy not be missed to work for the ‘the Tube’ / TfL – Who knows if I would have got another chance?
I admit I have some sadness leaving the Buses, the team at RM made the job worthwhile, It’s left me with a feeling of ambivalance over the whole thing, which is a shame as part of me really wants to celebrate that i’m changing jobs.

I start training in a week, so I can let the excitement develop!

No more ‘This Bus Terminates Here‘. Instead; ‘Mind The Gap‘!

 

Refitting Studios

There is never a dull moment in volunteering, this is quite true at Bedrock, Since our merger with The Jumbo Sound, we’ve had a lot on our plate. I’ve had a team of Trustees to oversee different aspects of the merger  – But the bit I’ve gotten myself most involved in is the studio rebuilds!

It’s fair to say I’ve made quite a few changes over the 10 years I’ve been at Bedrock.
Mostly involving the way the studio operates. With temporary studios, ‘that’ll do’ fixes and the last one ‘functional & practical until the next one’… and now the current one.

Not only is it my favourite studio build I have been involved with – It’s also the best looking!
Of-course I’ve not done it alone, I’ve had Lee working with me on the projects. The studio at Queen’s in Romford is a small rectangle. That’s got awful acoustics, and in all honesty is a bit all over the place, oddly placed plug sockets. A window into the office and a door that doesn’t have an automatic closer (which can be very annoying…).

But this is the Third and FINAL! (take note Lee) studio build for the studio at Queen’s.
It’s got everything I envisaged. It looks professional. It looks tidy & most of all I’m proud of it.

So what’s this new Romford studio box got? 

  • Sonifex S2 mixer (acquired through the Goodmayes (Jumbo) merger);
    This actually created the first problem, the woodwork at Goodmayes was actually too big for the Romford studio. It left very little space to manoeuvre, and the only orintation the desk would go, resulting in the presenter lookin at the window and no room for co-hosts. Which resulted in us buying…
  • A Bespoke Studio Desk.
    Sonifex have a range of furniture for S2 mixer that’s modular, which looked nice, but resulted in limiting the space again, Lee and I looked around and found Broadcast Warehouse also done furniture, but again the suggested ones would limit our space down.
    Sitting in the studio one afternoon, I got the the idea of a droplet shape, resulting in the presenter not directly facing the wall or window, but rather towards the door, with the mixer modules angled appropriately to maximise space.  So we drew the idea out on a whiteboard (because my best ideas are scribbled on these). so Lee measured up, resulting in a Bespoke desk for Romford! – Unique to our studio only!
  • 4 Microphones.
    Another request of mine was to introduce a 4th Mic if we had room, some of our team shows resulted in 2 – 4 people being in the studio at once, and often resulted in two people sharing.
    We’re using B-1 Behringers in the studio (I actually own one of these personally, and I quite enjoy the warmth the mic has)
  • Extra PC’s
    So the presenters in our studio have their Myriad Playout PC, that was actually rebuilt with a rack-able PC case. They also have an ‘Internet PC’ for emails, research, spotify etc…
    We decided to include a second ‘Internet PC’ for the co-hosts to use, as the one for the presenter was extremely far away from the co-hosts. both these actually plug into the desk… but only the presenters one is able to record.
  • Mic Live Light
    Okay this one is cheating a little bit – We already have a Mic Live LED light in the window in our office, Plus we have info-screens with cue lights on… so why the extra one?
    Well we decided this was more of a luxury extra, but would also be in eye-shot of everyone, In the studio or the office. when it’s on… don’t enter! (But you always get someone who does.)
  • Speaker Poles
    This was an afterthought. We realised that with the new position the speakers needed to come down from the walls and be repositioned to be central to the presenter – now in an ideal world I’d love to cealing mount the speakers but that would breach the lease. So we opted for speaker stands, it rises them off the desk & keeps the stationary

QH Studio
Mixers and PC’s just in… more work still to do!

Apart from some of these extra toys, we also repainted the whole room white. Plus a featured green wall, that will have a massive white Bedrock logo on it soon.

The only real problem we’ve encountered is the acoustics, since we dumped all the old panels (that had seen better days) we’ve not really focused on what’s going to replace them.  Foam ‘Egg Box’ panels seem a reasonable idea, but we know people will start to pick at the texture and it will make a mess – I’m opting for flat bevelled edge squares, but the challenge will be trying to mount them onto the walls…

 

What about Goodmayes? 

Well they are getting a new fancy studio too (It’s due to be put together soon (May 2016)).

This studio is receiving the equipment that came out of Queen’s but it’s perfect as the Goodmayes studio is being used less than the Romford one.

  • Sonifex S0
    It’s a fantastic compact mixer & a great workhorse of a desk. – there’s one still sitting at Queen’s in the office production area.
  • New Desk.
    The old one was water damaged, but as mentioned above was too big to fit into Queen’s, we tried to offer it out to other stations. sadly no takers so it’s gone to the local recycling centre.
    The new desk is a fairly standard rectangle but has plenty of room for the mixer and gear.
  • No Mic Live Light.
    Now That’s a Lie! – There are two info screens at Goodmayes that have a Mic Live cue light on them, we debated keeping the old ones, but didn’t like the amount of wires required, so the screens where given the job.
  • PCs?
    Yes, it’s got a Myriad Playout PC, an Internet enabled PC. Plus some other engineering bits.
  • Speaker Poles!
    The old Goodmayes studio had the speakers wall mounted behind the presenter, but again this involved running wires all round the room and we’re avoiding running masses of wire.
    So like Queen’s, speakers are being screwed onto the desk on poles! much neater!Goodmayes was painted up a few months back, plus had some new carpet tiles laid, it’ll also get Logo’d up. Oh and it does have a small green ‘feature wall’… just because we really like green!

The most rewarding bit so far is how ‘impressed’ they are with our studio builds.
Hopefully the programmes that are broadcast from them are just as impressive, we’ve given presenters facilitates – let’s hope they are used. (Fingers crossed)

 

Merges & Acquisitions

I always find that volunteering at Bedrock has presented a range of new challenges, and the last few months have given us a new one…. A merger! Bedrock has expanded, and it’s all gone rather smoothly.

I’ll be honest and say a lot of the work was done by delegation, having the correct people talking to one-another. That is how any organisation should work really. The right people, sorting the right items.
So as of April 2016, Goodmayes Hospital Radio (Jumbo Sound) is now Bedrock.

We’ve got the next project to come may bank holiday – refurbishment of the studios.
(Yes Queen’s gets another refit – This one is FOR GOOD!)

Read the press release (posted on bedrockradio.org.uk);

Bedrock Radio to provide service for Goodmayes Hospital and wider health community.

Bedrock, the health & hospital radio service is to take over broadcasting from The Jumbo Sound (Goodmayes Hospital Radio Association (GHR))
The Jumbo Sound had recently celebrated it’s 40th anniversary in 2015 and soon after suffered major equipment damage, caused by a burst radiator flooding their studio forcing the station off-air. For several years volunteer numbers dropped as did income. As insurers evaluated the cost of damage, The Jumbo Sound (GHR) voted to merge into neighbouring station Bedrock, Queen’s Hospital, Romford.

The merger will see Bedrock Radio provide programmes to the Goodmayes area as early as April 2016.Mathew Watson, Chairman, Bedrock commented: “I appreciate the team at GHR/The Jumbo Sound made a very difficult decision to merge. We welcome their volunteers to Bedrock and look forward to sharing ideas, meanwhile we are working tirelessly to repair the studios to reintroduce live & local programmes to Goodmayes Hospital & it’s health community’

Jumbo Sound LogoGoodmayes Hospital Radio Association was founded in 1977, in 2006 the station adopted ‘The Jumbo Sound’ as it’s on-air name to modernise the station and attract new volunteers. The studios are still located in the old Goodmayes hospital building, but provide a full broadcasting service to patients receiving treatment under North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT).

Marj Young, Chair of Jumbo Sound: “Our studio equipment was becoming unreliable, and our membership numbers dwindled making it difficult to fill our programme schedule and raise funds. I would personally like to thank everyone involved with Goodmayes Hospital Radio from the 70s through to the remaining members who have struggled to keep the station running, we have every confidence that Bedrock can take the station forward successfully.”

Lee Howe, Engineer for Both Bedrock & Jumbo Sound said, “There is a lot of work ahead to re-build a studio at Goodmayes, but the merge with Bedrock will see an increase in programmes. Utilising the latest technologies available, we will be able to provide shows that are either presented specifically to each hospital, or shared between both”

Bedrock formed in 2002 as a merge between Oldchruch & Harold Wood Hospital Radio’s in preparation for the opening of Queen’s Hospital (2006), Bedrock is built upon a 52 year heritage from it’s founding stations. The station calls itself a ‘health and hospital’ station focusing on both in-patient entertainment while keeping outpatients, staff & local community informed of heath related matters.

We are Bedrock Radio, Your Healthy Music Mix.
Merger

“Professional Driver”

credit: wikipedia / GeographBot

credit: wikipedia / GeographBotAfter 7 weeks of training, passing numerous tests, I’ve finally succeeded in obtaining my PCV (Public Carriage Vehicle), Category D licence. Alongside this I’ve also obtained my Drivers certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). So what’s next for me?

I’ve been signed over to my garage, I’m route learning plus now on the job learning how to work with passengers, plus correctly completing my paperwork.

It’s been said numerous times to me now “You’re a professional driver”… I’m actually a professional something (On paper with the CPC!), I feel somewhat a little smug now, but I know there’s much more to learn. I’ve put in hard work to get this far, and I’ll continue to do just that, do my job and learn while doing it!

 

I’ve patted myself on the back, and now to do some ‘real’ bus work!

 

Alight here for a new career.

I’m changing career….

Well sort of, I’m a man of many hats, and soon to doth another cap to my collection!

So, I’ve been in professional radio for a few years now, built up a nice afternoon show, with some fantastic loyal listeners. but the only problem with working in professional radio is the pay. Essentially your only paid for the work you do, and when your doing a few hours a day, that doesn’t add up to much, with both Time & Decades. it’s below a ‘liveable’ wage.

So I’m taking a rather bold move, I’ve applied to Stagecoach London, to become a Bus Driver.

The future Image sourced from: TFL forum

Seriously… I admit it’s quite a change, well it’s a totally different industry, but one that’s calling out for people to join it, the pay seems good for a person of my age. I’ve undergone a series of assessments, interviews and medicals. Now I just have to apply myself to passing a theory, practical and CPC tests to become qualified. The motivation is the pay and a different environment are appealing.

So next time you get on a bus… it could be me saying hello!

The radio dream isn’t over! I’m still keeping my finger in the proverbial pie, with cover shifts and production work. Plus the charity stuff! It’s just a decision, based on a realisation that I want and need to be able to move on and progress along the highway of life.

So here’s to driving a double decker bus…

 

 

Bedrock Two is coming!

This August another one of my crazy ideas has become a reality – we’re setting ‘Bedrock Two’

So this rather ambition project I have had in mind for a couple of years. Following some research at it being done at two other stations and hearing a relative form of success. We’ve agreed funding, invested in equipment. It’s finally happening!

What is Bedrock Two?
Is is a second station to run alongside the current hospital radio service, it’s going to be a oldies or ‘gold’ format.

The station will initially play classics hits from the 40s – early 80s, with most songs coming from the 50s, 60s and 70s.
with a strong feature of Motown (Soul) and Rock & Roll. The service will also play Classical music and become home to our Audiobooks. It’s intended that news will be provided hourly, with local and hospital information given on the half hour.

Presenters will be volunteers of Bedrock, with occasional external syndicated programmes that will compliment the service, the occasional suitable programmes will be shared between both Bedrock stations. The service will be primary autonomous in service, however it will have the ability to broadcast live if required.

It’s undecided if the on-air branding would be ‘Bedrock Gold’ There is currently no slogan. It’s possible that the station would carry the ‘Timeless Classics’ motif from the main station, for big selling or iconic songs. On-Air imaging will need to be created, ideally with an ‘oldies’ feel. It’s possible a strong clear male voice over could be the ideal voice over for the station.
(finer details to be sorted, after the music is loaded)

 

The new service has the potential to work very well, just by the demographic of Havering alone.
According to the 2011 Census:

Havering has the highest proportion of adult social care users aged 65+ compared to all London boroughs. Three quarters (74.2%) of Havering adult social care clients were aged 65 or older in 2010/11.

It provides an alternative service suited towards the older listener, who may not want to hear more current chart music as part of their regular programming. I believe this service has potential to be listened externally by the local areas catering towards the social inclusion of patients receiving care in the community (providing they have access to an internet connection).

Thoughts: Hospital Radio Conference 2015

Your always learning… that’s a true fact.

I attended my first Hospital Broadcasting Association (HBA) Conference & AGM earlier this year, in Newcastle.
It was an experience, with the opportunity to visit another studio, see the trade show and hear what the HBA is doing.
Myself and Lee (Bedrock Engineer) decided to take a chance and attended – As a little extra, we also took a portable studio along to record our programmes (our hotel had free, stable wifi) so we made it sound like were broadcasting live! – Impressive for us!

Before we event went to the conference. I’ve been looking at Hospital Radio in general and seeing a mass transition into streaming online, with some stations applying for community radio licences from OFCOM, and even a couple of station applying for the DAB trials.

Even at Bedrock we launched an online service as part of a further plan to expand to King George Hospital and reach outpatients. I still believe it could expand further than this, possibility a community licence, but with the focus of ‘health and wellbeing’ the Trust we work with should utilise us as a Communication tool, local health related charities too, in return they should encourage listening to the station, in a nutshell, hospital radio, becomes community health radio. 

One of the first seminars we attend was on the future of Hospital radio, exploring it’s changing landscape.
As mentioned earlier, I had the vision that a form of ‘Community Heath’ broadcasting, it turns out I wasn’t alone. The panel of stations from England, Wales, Scotland, and a Hospital station that had flipped to Community.
There where a few trains of thought, but for me the ones that stood out where:

  • ‘Hospital Radio’ as it stands sounds dated and limiting – Flip to Health Radio
  • Update your image & branding – drop the ‘hospital’ terms or specific hospital names.
  • Broaden your area – get speakers in your trust sites, use internet (Where possible go community*)
  • Provide engaging content that informs and entertains.

Even with a community (external) target, the focus would still be primary in-hosptial, with requests & patient interaction, promoting hospital services. So the end of the first seminar it was food for thought, but started to confirm my ideas I had in mind to progress our stations.

The trade show provided an opportunity to see what we could do next with the studios.
Lee and I took the opportunity to have a chat with PSquared about Myriad, as we had a few questions and problems.
It was great to see they bought along a Sonifex S2 mixer as they offer studio packages. I’ve always been fond of the S2 mixer, but they require a £6000 investment, plus we would need to buy new desks to fit them. My plan would be to upgrade to one in a few years, should things develop at Bedrock.

At this point, we had missed the start times of the next seminars, but luckily we spotted Graham, who was the regional representative for the south east of the HBA (We had attended some local HBA meetings) We had a coffee and a chat about where the HBA was actually going. I’ve been debating for a few years about pulling Bedrock out of the HBA. We’ve not had any dealings with the HBA head office, except for paying annual fees’ (that seem to increase), we spoke about if there was a purpose for the organisation, who seem to forever re-structure, but only ever appear to offer a conference and awards show. – It was nice to see Graham wanted to see the HBA change as much as I did.

Over lunch we furthered into talking about our stations, Lee had recently started helping out Jumbo Sound who where in dire need of engineering help and had got them in a position to be back ‘on-air’, Both Bedrock & Chelmsford had launched web streams last year as the stations both hit a 50 year anniversary.

So onto the AGM and conference, which i’d describe more of a membership grilling. It seem’d apparently that the chat with Graham earlier was echoed throughout various member stations. What where the HBA doing?
They announced a new-strcutrue plan, that would require volunteers to step up to help at national level, This wasn’t met with enthusiasm, it was clear volunteers at individual stations where fighting their own battles to stay afloat.

The plan it’s self, although longwinded, follow a suitable business model that have a board of Trustees that managed the charity and a board of directors that run the day to day of the HBA. However. the was a big catch, the Chief Executive post was one requiring a lot of travel to visit stations and representatives. but would remain unpaid (well except expenditure). In fact that was the downfall to the whole organisation. It’s run by unpaid volunteers.
–  A national charity representing Hospital Radio, don’t  pay member of staff. They just paid expenditures

It was suggested that maybe the Chief Executive post become a paid role, due to it’s intensive work,
Lastly a new website was unveiled, although had teething problems, it was a fresher(?!) look for the organisation.
Despite all this restructure and renewal I still struggle to see it’s viability. Many questions where fired around the room, but I had to ask “In today’s charity sector, with the stations individually fighting to stay open, could you justify if the HBA is viable”…. needless to say I didn’t much of a response, just ‘Yes, it is’… At this point I began to feel quite annoyed, partly as my question wasn’t answered fully, but in the other sense it answered itself. No. it’s not viable.
It needs dismantling and rebuilding.

If the stations are moving away from ‘hospital’ to ‘health’ then maybe the HBA needs to be more active in it’s support.
now this isn’t a HBA bashing post, no, I would like to see it become viable in my eyes. It has many avenues to do so.
but just hasn’t (maybe as the posts are unpaid?). If it was me, I’d have a dedicated studio built and produce interviews and other content for the stations, like a sort of youtube space for radio – stations could use the space for a small fee.
syndicated shows could be hosted from a central sever – rather than having dozens of links. Finally News, why not have a news service that maybe provides interviews with health ministers, or key health people,  (Maybe a partnership with IRN) to provide bulletins, but have the service provide news as mp3 downloads. (many softwares will update automatically) – Then you may have a fit for purpose – viable – national organisation.

 

After the whole weekend, Me and Lee know we’re going the correct direction, but work needs to be done at individual level to make any sort of widening listening base work, but it may require a total overhaul of the charitable guidelines.
and a general high level of standards

 

Maybe hospital radio isn’t the training ground it once was. It need to be tough enough to keep viable for the next 50 years… ‘local Health Radio’ appears to be a strong move. but how long for?

 

Lee & Mat Broadcast their shows from their Hotel during HBA conference weekend

 

 

*On a sidenote, I’ve visited and listened to a handful of community stations, monitoring outputs to see how ‘community’ based they are, compared to a hospital station, on many occasions the hospital stations i’ve dipped into where providing just as much, or more relevant local information that some of these ‘community’ outlets offered. 
I think that Hospital Radio stations (Well the good ones) should be given first refusal to any community licensing, as they often produce really good local information, with some even doing sports coverage too, additionally most of them have been operation or have a legacy of at least 50 years making them a good established ground to be offered a first refusal when the licences come up