Newman House was eerily silent yesterday morning at 6am when my alarm went off, and I staggered to the shower bleary eyed and craving caffeine. Coffee consumed, I set off for Portland Place – fortunately a short walk from Gower Street – and arrived looking fresh faced and enthusiastic having psyched myself up on route for a morning at BBC London 94.9.
I was greeted by Phil, an assistant producer, who showed me up to the studio where I was introduced to Becky, the producer, and Paul, a pastor at a non-conformist church who does a morning news round up every Sunday for the Inspirit programme.
The Inspirit programme deals with ethical issue from the week and so yesterday conversations focussed on the continued viability of horse-racing, the European scientists developing a human brain in a lab and the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
Becky talked me through the different software programmes they use, how she plans the running order and decides on which callers to put on air, as well as the editing process for when the programme is uploaded to BBC iplayer.
After the programme finished, Becky and I went for breakfast in the BBC canteen. Half way through my Special K as Becky went through the differences between doing the Inspirit programme and Vanessa Feltz’s programme that she works on during the week, legendary DJ Tony Blackburn sat down on the table next to us and tucked into a fry up.
Becky is a one woman show, a whirlwind of energy and ideas. Her first experience of working in radio was at university in Bradford and she continued to be involved in arthouse radio when she moved back to London, never considering it as a real career before being told about a BBC internship.
Returning from breakfast, the offices were suddenly much busier, with lots of people buzzing about and what seemed like hundreds of TVs all switched to various BBC channels. Becky and a couple of colleagues flicked through the Sunday papers and identified a few good stories to pursue for the next day’s programme.
By 11.30, most of the guests for Monday morning had been tracked down and booked in and Becky was satisfied with the cues she’d written for them. I emerged into the bright sunlight feeling content having done nearly a full days work, just as tourists and Londoners where starting to emerge, sitting in cafes nibbling croissants and flicking through the papers, still waking up slowly.