Hi, I’m James Pearce (JP), the best part of being a Brooklands Radio presenter is that while I spend the weekdays in my classroom as a primary school teacher, I can do something very different and somewhat unexpected at the weekend. The safest type of double life to lead! It is untrue that presenters (amateur or professional) can walk straight into a radio studio and present a show with no preparation so there is always a lot of prep to be done. However, as I celebrate 9 years in radio, I have now got myself into a good routine and enjoy the job more than ever.
07:30 – A ‘show day’ always begins with a surprisingly early start – some people don’t expect us to put so much prep into a show! Being a presenter for a station that is focused on ‘The Sound of Surrey’, the county’s stories are an integral part for the show. Therefore, before I even leave my bed, it’s onto the laptop and phone to catch up with what has been going on. News sites and blogs (just like What’s In Walton) are the main way in which I get my information. Any good stories get saved or added into my notebook for later.
08:00 – It may sound silly but I do have to think carefully about eating on the day of a show. Being such a busy day, I often have to skip lunch and settle for a coffee on the way into the studio or a snack during the show. While far from ideal (as my mother would tell me), the way I get through is by having a good breakfast! My housemate is now more than used to seeing me sat at the breakfast bar, munching through a big bowl of porridge or a sausage sandwich at such an ‘early’ hour for a weekend. It’s also a brilliant time for me to listen to my dad’s radio show, as he presents a breakfast show in my old hometown. Like father, like son…
09:00 – Time for more show content and this time, it’s on good old social media! Being the station’s social media co-ordinator, I have become quite accustomed to trawling the feeds for the latest stories and reporting from wherever I may be at the time. Over the past few months, I have discovered the brilliant #SurreyChat gathering on Twitter, which takes place every Saturday morning. This allows me to chat with business owners, local hubs and a variety of different people with upcoming events to publicise and stories to share. I really enjoy ‘meeting’ up with them every week and doing a bit of networking!
10:00 – With all of my content saved or on a notepad, I sit down to write my show plan. This is basically a list of the events I will be mentioning, the local stories I will share and the news I will discuss. As the time has gone on, this has got a bit easier and so I have got this particular act down to 30 minutes now. However, many people still think we can just improvise week on week – not the case!
10:30 – After being over two hours of work already, I take a bit of a break to catch up with Friday night telly (being a teacher tires me way too much to watch it live!) and then grab that all-important shower before getting ready to get out there.
12:00 – Some weeks, I try and get out to see some of Surrey before heading into the studio. I think that as a community radio presenter, it’s important to get out there and see our community. This particular week, I headed to Guildford Spectrum where a group from Mid-Surrey Mencap were trying to break a world record for the longest distance covered by a conga-line. Never a dull day…! During other Saturdays I have visited food fairs, gone for a walk, popped to a local event and even gone celebrity spotting when I had a tip off. Of course, while I am out and about, I also keep tuned into Brooklands Radio. This means I know what the other presenters are covering and what songs I need to avoid later on, during my show.
14:00 – Once I have dropped my car back off at my place, I set off for the studio. Being a local myself and living in the town itself, it is only a short walk to reach our complex at the top of Weybridge Library. As I will be sitting down for the next 3 hours, I think it is important to have this little bit of exercise before the show and it gives me a chance to clear my head as the show looms! I also tend to ‘fall’ into a coffee shop before reaching my destination too.
14:30 – With 30 minutes to go, I head into the first of our two studios to finish the final part of the show’s preparation – the music! We are very lucky to have free reign with the tunes we play during our shows (well, in accordance with the music policy) which makes the choice difficult. However, I tend to use one of my many ‘base’ playlists before adapting it with new music and switching out some of the regularly played songs for something a little more topical. Of course, this hardly ever is the final playlist because it can easily change as you go through the show.
14:45 – Now that everything is ready, I move into our second studio which is where the majority of our live shows are broadcast. This is one of my favourite parts of the day as I usually get to chat on air with another presenter. It is always a laugh interacting with the other hosts on the station as we are a diverse bunch of people with different personalities. More often than not, it is Barry Richards who is on air before me. This means we spend the 15 minutes discussing entertainment news and sharing the same on-air banter that we did when I started as his studio assistant 2 years ago.
15:00 – As the end of hour jingle plays and the news fader goes up, the show begins! All of our shows start with the national news which gives us 2 minutes to change over from one presenter to the next. At Brooklands Radio, we regularly laugh at the chaotic nature of the transition but it is always a hilarious way to start the show. The great thing about radio is when my voice appears after the news finishes (at 2 minutes past), listeners can’t tell if I am tangled up in a headphone wire or stretching for a piece of paper across the desk. The show must go on! The show itself is a busy three-hour smorgasbord of music, entertainment, stories, travel, weather, features and humour to count down to Saturday night. Most weeks I am by myself in the studio (although the complex is busy with other things being put together or recorded) so I prepare my own live travel and weather, as well as frequently checking out our email, Facebook and Twitter feeds. You have to be on the ball with so much going on but while it can be a little stressful at times, it is such a buzz to do!
18:00 – Time is a funny thing on radio – three hours can fly by or really go slow! However, when the show is over, I am always full of tiredness and adrenalin. After another change over, I spend a few minutes packing up my equipment, responding to emails and then start the walk home to unwind.
So there’s a glimpse into my normal Saturday on Brooklands Radio!
It is very busy for a ‘day off’ from primary school teaching but I wouldn’t swap it. Having said that, I will be doing a one-off 24 hour marathon broadcast at the end of May which will definitely be out of the ordinary. If you are around, make sure you listen in from midday on May 28th to hear just how that goes and help us raise money for Woking and Sam Beare Hospices’ ‘New Build Appeal’ – you can find our Just Giving page here.
You can find out more about me through my website www.jamesJPpearce.co.uk or on Twitter (@ItsOnlyJP). There’s also lots of information about Brooklands Radio and our charity show on our website www.brooklandsradio.co.uk or on our Twitter feed (@BrooklandsRadio).
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