The Big Broadcast

So on Monday 1st April we mark the end of Hospital Broadcasting Week 2013. This is the annual week where hospital broadcasting in the UK is publicised and shouted about.

The event began with the Hospital Broadcasting Associations annual conference and awards ceremony held this year in Blackpool. It ends on monday with over 30 stations sharing the output from Richard Smith who runs the A to Z of Pop website.

This is his third ‘Big Broadcast’ and this time in association with the HBA he has been asked to broadcast for 24 hours from midday on Sunday to midday on Monday. This is a great concept of stations coming together over a period of time where they may be difficulty in getting live presenters on the individual stations. I spoke to him recently on my podcast here and he explains a little more about his past broadcasts.

Richard sees this kind of syndication/networking growing in the future and so do i as the need to have presenter led output rather than jukebox output on Hospital Radio stations increases. I wish him luck and will be listening – why not tune in via the website yourself?

Live Tweeting of the National Hospital Radio Awards 2013

I will be live tweeting the National Hospital Radio Awards this coming Saturday, 23rd March, from the Hilton Hotel in Blackpool.

I am doing this for Radio Today and the tweets will be on this website – http://radiotoday.co.uk/live/ or if you are on twitter then you can follow @radiotodaylive

Not quite sure what the hashtag is for the event but keep a watch out there for all the info if you want to keep across the event.

Newsroom Software

At HR Chelmsford we have recently upgraded one of our studios or really just made a new studio in what was the production area. We installed another copy of Myriad and purchased a mixer from Psquared – the SRM which integrates with Myriad via USB. The next thing was software to enable us to run a newsroom efficiently compiling our own bulletins from material provided via IRN and self written local stories.

I came across Airscribe from Impishfish and version 2 of their software. Last week Ken, who runs the company, kindly came down to visit us and check over the system and give us some training. There are a few bugs with it at the moment which he is working on ironing out for us but I am pretty happy with it.

There are some details on the Impishfish website but basically it pulls down the text and audio from the IRN Net Newsroom plus text from any RSS feeds you put into it. You can then add these stories along with any locally written content which you can attach audio files to into a bulletin. You can re-arrange the bulletin running order and then when you press on read the screen fills up with the bulletin which you scroll through with the arrows keys pressing the 0 key when you want the audio to play.

Very simple and for HR and community radio stations good value too.

Pudding Club Visit

I have been meaning to write something up from my visit to the Pudding Club for years now. I went in 2009 after waiting for years to finally sort it out.

So what is the Pudding Club? It is a club based at the Three Ways House Hotel in Chipping Campden in the Cotwolds. They now seem to meet every Friday evening but it is normally the 1st and 3rd Friday of every month – more dates etc on their website. The idea is you have a small main menu which isn’t too filling and then you eat your way through 7 puddings scoring each one as you eat it. The aim is to eat all 7 and then go back for more of your favourite afterwards. The whole room (80-ish people) vote for their favourite and one is declared the winner at the end of the night.

We stayed over in one of their normal rooms (pudding themed rooms are available!) afterwards which was great as we were stuffed and just wanted to flop after the meal although we weren’t tired due to the amount of sugar we had consumed!

I would thoroughly recommend it, certainly in the winter months when the big puddings are on. I will be going back at some point I’m sure.

More details are available here and please see the comment from Jill at the Pudding Club who kindly wrote in the comments.

A Trip on the Night Riviera

In late May 2011 I went to the Isles of Scilly to do some work for Radio Scilly based on the main island of St Marys. This involved getting a ferry from Penzance at 0915 in the morning. This early start meant either an overnight in a hotel in Penzance or an overnight sleeper from London. I choose the sleeper and thought I would do a blog post about my experiences on the service.

History
A small bit of History. The route has been called the Night Riviera since 1983 and it is one of only two overnight sleeper services. The other one is the Caledonian Sleeper which goes to Scotland and offers two different destinations. There has been an overnight sleeper service from London to Cornwall since 1877. More history and info from this wikipedia page.

My experience
The train departs from London Paddington and goes to Penzance. It leaves Paddington at 23:45 (23:50 on a Sunday night – it doesn’t run at all on Saturday nights). You can get on the train at Paddington from 22:30 to settle down.

Departure Board of Night Riviera

I love the report to the Sleeper Car Attendents

Your ticket allows you access to the First Class lounge at the station although I did find this a pretty sad place to hang out in and would not recommend it. I would suggest you pop in if you need the loo and you can also pick up complimentary water and have a hot drink if you want to – there may be some papers but doubt it at the time of heading in there as it will have been used all day. I went in and grabbed some water and went to the loo but was soon out and heading for my coach D.

Pendennis Castle Engine for Sleeper Train

I found my berth in Coach D and awaited the sleeping car attendent (believe her name was louise). We were due in to Penzance at 0800 and she asked me what I would like for breakfast and what time I would like to be woken and then left me to it. You can leave your berth and the door locks behind you if you wanted to go into the lounge car for a hot drink or something stronger. Hot drinks are included in the ticket price. The berth can hold two people in bunk beds but mine was just for one and the top bunk was folded away. If you book I would suggest booking through the First Great Western website rather than trainline.com as I think FGW guarantee single occupancy and so you don’t have to share.

Cabin on Cornwall Sleeper
My berth consisted of my bed on the left hand side with two pillows and sheet/blanket combo, somewhere to hang my coat and put my suitcase, a wash basin (on the right in the picture underneath and pull up counter) with running hot and cold water, towels and toiletry kit which includes a razor, flannel, soap, eye mask and ear plugs and toothbrush/toothpaste. It also had in berth television which you can see at the middle top of the picture. The TV was like airline tv and you could choose programmes from a variety of genres. You could buy some headphones or use your own which you connected to the wall unit by your head. There was a remote control on a chain to change volume etc. There is a black out blind behind the basin which did a great job of darkening the room. I was probably asleep by the time we left Paddington and must say I slept much better that I thought I would do and didn’t need the ear plugs or eye mask at all. Louise woke me at 0700 with breakfast.It was a great experience eating my breakfast with the blind up and Cornwall going past my window whilst laying in bed. It arrived on time at 0800 into Penzance after calling at many stations in Cornwall and got off the train feeling pretty fresh and slightly amazed that I was actually in Cornwall and I hadn’t just driven for hours on end.

Penzance Station

Sun rising at Penzance Station

 

The return journey was not much different in terms of experience. It departs Penzance at 2115 so had time to find my berth and sit in the lounge car and enjoy a drink as the sun was setting in Cornwall. The only issue being it arrives into London Paddington at 0543 the next morning but you can stay on the train until 0700. You do get use of the showers at Paddington if you want also. I didn’t sleep quite so well this way as I think it was slightly noisier as we got closer to London. The cost of this journey was £90 each way but you can if you book far in advance get all inclusive tickets from £49 each way single berth. This may seem expensive but an overnight stay in a hotel in Penzance and or London if you are heading in the other direction will not be much cheaper once you add either petrol or a daytime train ticket. ConclusionI would recommend this as a great experience to have and if you need to be in Cornwall early in the morning for something it is the best way to travel. I did a small recording on the train which you can hear here – Hope you have found this post interesting/useful – M
September 2013 UPDATE: The waiting room has apparently been done up in Paddington and if you head to the right when you go in the door you go to the older part of the lounge not the modern soulless area. There is a great video and more details at this site –http://www.seat61.com/Cornwall-sleeper.htm. 

Am about to go on it again in September 2013 and will report back any new findings.

Using WordPress to produce iPhone optimised website

I volunteer at Hospital Radio Chelmsford as I have since 1991 and recently they have released a new website and Facebook Fan Page to improve their online presence.

This lead me onto helping them to create an iPhone oprtimised website to run in conjunction with the main site. I knew that the facility existed in wordpress to automatically format the page into a readable experience on the iPhone so I thought I would write up how I did it so if anyone else wishes to do it they can.

As with anything run by volunteers the idea is to reduce effort/time to a minimum so the webmaster did not want it to increase his workload. The main site already produced a couple of different RSS feeds and so this was key to automating the process.

I installed a wordpress installation into the /iphone/ directory on the website which was going to be the url and from there it was down to the plugins. Firstly the plugin I used which formats the site for iPhone is called ‘WPtouch iPhone Theme’ and then to import the RSS feeds and process them as Posts I used a plugin called ‘FeedWordPress’.

Both of these plugins once installed are easy to configure to your needs. The FeedWordPress allows you to set a category for each RSS feed you import and it will automatically poll the RSS feeds every hour for changes so the webmaster needs do nothing except update the main site.

From there it was just a matter of making a front page which would be the static page on the site you would see when first visiting the site and getting hold of any missing icons I needed. I bit of searching around found me the html I needed to get the site to operate the SMS messages and the Calling function from the site which automatically makes the iPhone go into the SMS app or the Phone app.

All this work can be seen at the site which is www.hrc.org.uk/iphone. It doesn’t look pretty if viewing in the normal web browser but on the iPhone or Android phone it formats correcly but feel free to copy the html if you want.

Hope you find this of interest – Matt