2021 Theme

It’s January and so time for me to think of a new Theme for the year. I don’t do resolutions anymore as don’t want to start the year with eventual failure. There is also a podcast I listen to called Cortex and they talk about Themes quite a bit. There is also a video about them. 

2020 was meant to be the Year of Progression. It kind of was! This is one of the benefits of Themes rather than resolutions as they are less specific and can be twisted if required. 

Originally my progression was to be focussed on my day job but it ended up becoming more relevant to home and family. With lockdown in March and moving to a 4 on 4 off rota at work I had more time to be at home and think about things to make life easier and/or better. We finally had the time to focus on clearing out the loft so we could install a train track for our son. There is more work to be done as I think there is a round 2 to be had up there but we did enough to both feel good at the end of the multiple days efforts and also we were able to install the track and my son has been using it quite often and in 2021 we will be embarking on an upgrade from the wallpaper pasting tables clamped together to a proper baseboard construction.

Another project highlight from 2020 was the reconfiguration of our Kitchen and Dining Room v1.0. We moved our fridge and replaced the tiles and it has made a world of difference and am so glad to have done it. So there was some progression but just entirely different from what I imagined would move on. But hey with 2020 you have to take what you can!

2021 – The Year of Creation

I want to make more things in 2021. I have done quite a bit of learning in 2020 and want to use some things I have learnt. An area I want to focus on more this year is Video. I want to grow my YouTube channel(s) and would love to work with some businesses in Essex to produce some live streams on Facebook and YouTube.

In 2019 I produced and presented quite regularly some cooking shows on Facebook – search ‘Matt In The Kitchen’. Unfortunately, I had to give back the computer I was using to make them to work as I changed roles. It left me with a low spec machine not quite capable of doing what I wanted and also with 2020 lockdowns I didn’t have the Saturday mornings without my son being in the house to present them. I hope in the latter part of the year he will be able to get back to his dance classes and my Saturday morning will be free to do more baking and create some tasty treats. 

I have been able to save up in 2020 to afford a new computer which leads me onto the first thing I have really created in 2021. I have built my first PC

I would say I am more of a Mac person myself but am pretty experienced in Windows too as we use them at work and have done many screencasts of software running on Windows. 

The application I am looking to use for live streams runs on PC only and in terms of ‘bang for your buck’ Windows is/was cheaper (those M1 macs are amazing!). Mark, a friend of mine, pushed me over the edge as he has been building them for years and gave me the confidence that he would be able to fix anything I ended up breaking. I am pretty chuffed and am just waiting on the stock of a graphics card and probably another hard drive and it will be finished completely. 

So am looking forward to creating Gear reviews and tips and tricks to help businesses and individuals improve their live video whether it is just on zoom, 1-2-1 or broadcasting out to an audience in 2021.

Check back here to watch my progress… Get thinking of your Theme and let me know in the comments if you wish.

2020 Theme – “Progression”

Cortex Podcast from Relay.FM

The end or start of a year is always a good time to think about the future and one of the ways I do is by choosing a yearly theme. Resolutions don’t work for me and probably don’t work for many.

The idea for yearly themes comes from the podcast Cortex and you can listen to their episode talking about their theme here.

I can’t quite remember 2019’s one which is why I have chosen to write down the one for 2020, I think it was around mindfulness and being aware of myself and activities. I do know some of the things I wanted to do more of in 2019. These included less time on Social Networks mainly Facebook as was spending 30 minutes each night being a ‘completer finisher’ scrolling and scrolling past stories from ‘friends’ that I didn’t really care about that much. I have done a lot of pruning of Facebook in the last year to reduce this time to catchup on all the updates. This will continue in 2020. I wanted to read more in 2019 of physical books and I have managed to complete at least 3 books and am a good way into several others.

Onwards to the theme for 2020 and it is ‘Progression’. In 2019 I was made permanent in my job after doing a secondment and my aim is to progress in this role and apply for a senior position role in 2020. Exercise continues to be something I need to do more of and I also need to eat better so wish to progress weight loss but more physical change than pure numbers. I want to progress work with my side project YouMeLive offering live video to companies who want to try it. I am looking for Estate Agents who want to offer to their clients the ability for a virtual open house via Facebook and for me to lead these on video. I worked with Chris Branch at Forte Health in Chelmsford in 2019 and enjoyed it. I read and watched videos on the subject of Minimalism in 2019 and is an area I want to progress in and get rid of more stuff from my house and make it work better for me and all in the family. Finally I would like to learn more about Photography and change my camera for something else more portable and also use it for more video activities.

I will add more to this list over time but these are my current thoughts. Have a great 2020 and do try to avoid resolutions.

Podcasting to less than 250 people

In 2018 I was determined to resurrect my podcast and give it a proper series/season so I could then decide whether it was something to continue with or drop.

A brief history if I may. The Podcast, then called Desert Island Geek, began in 2007 and was hosted by Neil Dixon who did the first 7 Episodes. It then vanished from ‘iPodderX’ which was the app I was using to sync podcasts to my ipod nano. I got in touch with Neil in 2008 and asked him when the next episode would be and he said he did not have the time to do anymore. I asked him if I could take it over as I loved the format – he said yes.

He kindly gave me all the website files and the domain name and other assets and then I promptly did nothing until 2014! I started my next run with an interview with Neil himself as felt this was a nice way to end that association and for me to become the next ‘Customs Officer’. I did three episodes for Season 2 going in 2015.

Another 3 years passed and it was still playing on my mind that I hadn’t done anything properly with it and felt I was still letting down Neil on taking it over. I was feeling nervous about the name of the show and the link with Desert Island Discs and the use of the word Geek so rebranded as Deserted at www.desertedpodcast.com .

Towards the middle of 2017 I started recording episodes for release as part of Season 3 which was going to be 6 episodes. I wanted to release on a fortnightly schedule and wanted to get the majority of the recordings done before launching as you need to release on a schedule to pick up any type of audience. I did that for the first 5 episodes starting Jan 28th 2018. The sixth was delayed by two months and I released a Christmas Special on the 20th December to make it 7 episodes in total.

I ran the stats through podtrac so I could see download numbers. The highest amount of downloads for an episode in this latest season has been 278. It’s an interview show and so can expect fluctuations in numbers depending on how well know the guest is. I have decided with these numbers it has not grabbed enough people to make it worth investing in another series. I will keep the site and feed up until it comes up for renewal and then drop it.

Has it been a complete waste of time?

No – it has given me a variety of skills and experiences.

Interviewing – during 2016 I started broadcasting/presenting cover at BBC Essex. My presenting experience up until then was on commercial radio (1998 – 2000) and Hospital Radio which I did for 25 years (1991 – 2016) and during these stints hadn’t done many interviews and longer form voice links. By having a strict format on the podcast to fall back to when conversation dried up it has helped me to listen to my guest and worry less about the next question which I believe has improved my interviews/phone calls on air.

Editing – I have done audio editing since starting at Hospital Radio in 1991 and for 15 years was a Studio Manager for BBC World Service editing audio in foreign languages so am not new to it. After seeing a great article linked from Podnews I went all in on Reaper as my editing software and have really enjoyed it and would recommend it. As the years have gone by and more and more podcasts have come on the scene I think you need to edit and edit and be respectful of the time your audience has and ensure they are getting the best bits only. I could have been more disciplined but in the end I don’t think it would have changed the outcome much in terms of numbers.

Talking with some of my heroes – it has also enabled me to speak to people I have listenned to on podcasts and always wanted to meet virtually or for real and the podcast has enabled me to do that so I am grateful for that and for their time.

So that’s it. If you want to make a podcast do it and if you don’t get an audience it doesn’t mean it has been a failure.

Hospital Radio: Deliver More Value

I am going to write at least one more article on the future of Hospital Radio. I don’t think it is very bright if stations only continue to be a “Radio Station for people in Hospital” – I hope to back this up with facts and figures to support this claim. In the meantime, I wrote this article which I have submitted to the Hospital Broadcasting Association for sending to their members.
We are aware of the impact that Hospital Broadcasting has on the NHS through the study released a couple of years ago but unfortunately, I don’t think simply broadcasting and ward visiting is enough anymore.
Everyone is having to do ‘more for less’ and I think Hospital Radio stations should be no different. I can understand this is hard to read and the items outlined in this article are simply to act as ideas or suggestions to be made to your trust. These extra activities are designed to make your existence within the Hospital more certain at a time when trusts are being squeezed financially, politically and in some cases physically as the demand for accommodation increases – do you become a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘requirement’?

Interview Room

Do you have an area that could be made available to trust staff during the day that they could go to to be interviewed live or pre-recorded by a radio station? This could literally be a small cupboard area with a PC (you could add a mixer if required). Around half of the BBC local radio stations are now using a web-based SIP audio connection via the Chrome browser so as long as you have a mic going into the machine and a pair of headphones this could be used. You could have Skype on the machine also to connect to others. Plenty of other solutions too – cleanfeed.net is free for example. This would save NHS staff having to leave the site to go to the radio station and it might be that the NHS IT department would supply the PC and/or internet connection. You could then use the room in the evenings to voice track shows or pre-record interviews yourself.

TV Studio

I realise you are thinking ‘we do Radio!’ but if you have a room with no outside light or a larger studio space that isn’t utilised then do consider putting a camera on a tripod connected to a PC. You could start off with a webcam and lapel mic and attach it to skype again to allow some live in vision interviews to be done and build up to a basic camera and a backdrop. This area would serve 2 purposes – live interviews on TV/pre-records and also an area where hospital departments could come in to ‘film’ something for use on their website or on their youtube channel. This could, for example, be the physio department showing those recovering from breaks some common exercises to do to aid recovery. You could use it at the station to do Facebook Lives or pre-records in-vision to put on your Youtube Channel. By offering video/tv as part of the offering you open yourself up to a new group of volunteers.

Audio to Waiting Rooms or external Surgeries.

Think of the charity as an audio providing service to the NHS in your area. Are there waiting rooms, communal areas or even Doctors Surgeries in your area that could do with some audio added to them? If there are, think whether your main hospital radio feed is the best feed for them. We all hope to not spend too much time in a waiting room so perhaps the audio offering needs to be music/info jukebox style. Perhaps investigate ways in which those listening could request a song via an app or touchscreen device in the waiting room to make things more fun for those in those places.

Audio Versions of Literature

Make sure the Hospital are aware that you could voice any printed material they produce to enable those with no or reduced sight to be informed about the services the NHS Trust offers.
The important thing with all of these is to speak with your trust. In most situations, they are your landlord so it makes sense to speak with them so you know of any changes to your accommodation or services. I hope these ideas have been useful to think about and maybe you can try to implement one or two?

Matt Wade

About the writer – Matt was a volunteer for Hospital Radio Chelmsford for 25 years and is now an associate member of the HBA.

Always think ‘Why?’

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I was sent a link to this video where the question of why is asked and how important it is to selling. This instantly got me thinking about how to apply it more in Radio.

The excellent book by David Lloyd speaks more about the words to use when talking on the radio including the powerful ‘you’ but this got me thinking about the whole way you come at something to talk about on the radio.

I have some personal experience of offering up a travel insulated mug as a prize which is branded with the station name and so normally whenever I spoke about this competition I spoke about the name and ‘mechanism’ of the competition and the prize was almost an afterthought (it is only a travel mug after all!).

But using the question ‘why’ spins the wording and technique completely. I now promote the benefits of having an insulated mug through a variety of stories or dream up scenarios where it might help the listener to use one. That then leads onto telling them how one could be theirs.

As with most bits of advice this is not rocket science and you may well do this every day of the week but I thought it worth talking about. Hope it helps you in the future.

photo: Eric Kilby

Myriad Playout Hack – Scripts Location

Myriad Playout has a ‘script’ feature built in which allows you to either link to script or allow the presenter to choose a script to read out on air.

A client wanted to have a dropbox folder be the location of their scripts so it could be updated from outside the studios.

I reached out and spoke with Peter Jarrett, who is one of the founders of P Squared, and he told me of a sneaky hack that could be done in the registry.

It is strictly unsupported and could well be undone if you upgrade the version of Myriad Playout you are using.

Using ‘regedit’ go to HKLM\Software\PSquared\Myriad v3\Profiles\Profile1\FileLocations you should see a key called “LiveReads” – set this to a different folder and then start Myriad.

Using My Library to set Intro/Extro points for import to Myriad Playout

A lot of users of Myriad Playout are volunteers and only visit the studio when presenting a show so do work at home beforehand.

One job which can be done at home is tagging up songs and idents for importing into Myriad Playout when at the studio.

The application I use and recommend is from Charlie Davy called My Library. I have made a small video to show you how it simple and quick to tag up songs.

 

 

Programming Axia IQ to put players into Preview Mode

Have been working with Hospital Radio Chelmsford on their Axia Install. One of the desires was for the studios to operate with Myriad Playout the way it works when Myriad is plugged into the SRM mixer from P Squared.

They are using the Axia IP Audio Drivers which have built in GPIO and they had it working so the ‘next’ soft button fired off the player. What we have now programmed is if the fader is ‘off’ the player goes into Preview Mode. Preview is then removed when the fader goes ‘on’. This enables levels to be taken from the fader the audio from the log will come from without messing up the timing.

Here is the contents of the file should anyone else want to use it.

# Event constants:
# 0 ON
# 1 OFF
# 2 PREV
# 3 START
# 4 STOP
# For Element source type defined as a COMPUTER PLAYER
UDP_DSTPORT=6959
DEV0.0 COMMAND=”PLAYER PLAY 1″
#DEV0.1 COMMAND=”PLAYER PAUSE 1″
DEV0.3 COMMAND=”PLAYER PREVIEWMODE 1,CLEAR”
DEV0.4 COMMAND=”PLAYER PREVIEWMODE 1,FORCE”
DEV1.0 COMMAND=”PLAYER PLAY 2″
#DEV1.1 COMMAND=”PLAYER PAUSE 2″
DEV1.3 COMMAND=”PLAYER PREVIEWMODE 2,CLEAR”
DEV1.4 COMMAND=”PLAYER PREVIEWMODE 2,FORCE”
DEV2.0 COMMAND=”PLAYER PLAY 3″
#DEV2.1 COMMAND=”PLAYER PAUSE 3″
DEV2.3 COMMAND=”PLAYER PREVIEWMODE 3,CLEAR”
DEV2.4 COMMAND=”PLAYER PREVIEWMODE 3,FORCE”
DEV3.0 COMMAND=”PLAYER PLAY 4″
#DEV3.1 COMMAND=”PLAYER PAUSE 4″
DEV3.3 COMMAND=”PLAYER PREVIEWMODE 4,CLEAR”
DEV3.4 COMMAND=”PLAYER PREVIEWMODE 4,FORCE”
DEV4.0 COMMAND=”PLAYER PLAY 5″
DEV4.1 COMMAND=”PLAYER PAUSE 5″
DEV4.3 COMMAND=”PLAYER PLAY 5″
DEV4.4 COMMAND=”PLAYER PAUSE 5″
DEV5.0 COMMAND=”PLAYER PLAY 6″
DEV5.1 COMMAND=”PLAYER PAUSE 6″
DEV5.3 COMMAND=”PLAYER PLAY 6″
DEV5.4 COMMAND=”PLAYER PAUSE 6″
DEV6.0 COMMAND=”PLAYER PLAY 7″
DEV6.1 COMMAND=”PLAYER PAUSE 7″
DEV6.3 COMMAND=”PLAYER PLAY 7″
DEV6.4 COMMAND=”PLAYER PAUSE 7″
DEV7.0 COMMAND=”PLAYER PLAY 8″
DEV7.1 COMMAND=”PLAYER PAUSE 8″
DEV7.3 COMMAND=”PLAYER PLAY 8″
DEV7.4 COMMAND=”PLAYER PAUSE 8″

VIDEO: Tascam DR-10x overview

Have done a video showing off a new gadget. The Tascam DR-10x which plugs into the bottom of any xlr mic and allows you to record in .wav format.

Podcast Show Notes – what Radio could learn

Some more thoughts I have been having about what Radio can learn from podcasts.

One thing I find useful about podcasts are their show notes. These are often links directly to the stories and/or website mentioned, equipment talked about and sponsors of that podcast plus a rundown of topics is sometimes included. The big benefit of this is whilst the show is on I am often walking to/from work and don’t have a means of writing things down but I don’t have to – often the links are “in the show notes”.

Now I am thinking primarily of BBC Local Radio here but commercial radio could use it with their sponsors to help engagement. Wouldn’t it be much better for them on air instead of reading out website addresses they just say “for the website links head to the programme page on our website”. This doesn’t need to be confined to website links as it can contain contact details and more specific details of requests/appeals plus a photo or two. BBC Local is tending to rely on Facebook to give this info and added edge simply because it is simpler to achieve. I shall simpler to achieve as I believe the ‘ibroadcast’ system is capable to adding notes to show (let me know in the comments if this is true)

These show notes could also have timecode in them allowing the listener to be able to jump to that particular point when the interview begun. I often see tweets from presenters saying “Great having x on the show today – listen again on the iPlayer (scroll to 47:30 in)” or those tweets come from guests on the show. This would enable more SEO for the BBC Website plus those appearing and enable better sharing of content via social media. It would also help if in the future you wanted to ‘atomise’ the content and use it in a similar way to the way NPR do for their NPR One App.

Podcasts can do it. Here for example I will link to the in point in my podcast, Desert Island Geek, where I spoke to Christian Payne AKA @documentally about how he ended up being a sheep farmer for 6 years. I can then link or embed the player to an earlier part of that same podcast where he spoke about his book choice to read during his time on the island.

Along similiar lines the URLs of the individual shows should be improved to be, for example, www.bbc.co.uk/essex/monk should get me to the Dave Monk show on BBC Essex and his latest programme should be front and centre with listen live if he happens to be on air at the time.

Please let me know your thoughts on my thoughts in the comments below.