Radio

Reflection on placement at 3MBS 103.5FM Fine Music – Classically Melbourne Semester 1 2012

I was given the task of co-ordinating spotlights for the annual 3MBS Radiothon.  The Radiothon, an intense 10 day subscriber drive, forms a large portion of the station’s income.  The Radiothon also serves as a time to celebrate its contribution to the Melbourne music scene, and to thank the listeners and the volunteers.  The Spotlight project involved a long process of brainstorming, liaising, co-ordinating, organising and managing a series of live-to-air performances by local Melbourne musicians.  To co-ordinate a project from its inception to its completion was a wonderful, insightful experience.  Such a project demanded foresight and constantly keeping the end result in mind.  The experience also taught me the importance of post analysis, constant communication and ongoing enthusiasm.

Throughout the project, I learnt the importance of connecting with the costumer, no matter how distant they are given the medium of radio.  When choosing the artists, your own taste is called upon; however I was reminded to keep in mind the preferences of the listeners and also the type of music that they usually heard in the proposed timeslots.  This required knowledge of the various programs and the demographic of listeners, as well listener trends.

I was also privy to observing and taking part in the marketing of such a project and the development of ‘hype’ around an upcoming event.  It was hard for me to tell the impact of this work during the lead-up, but once the Radiothon commenced, the buzz was palpable.  My first task related to this was to write an article that was somehow centred on the idea of a spotlight.  At the risk of over-glorifying the experience of a live performance and the inevitability of a performer’s pedestal, I sought to convey the shared experience of live music.

Below is what appeared on the 3MBS website and in the on-air magazine in the lead-up to the Radiothon.

http://www.3mbs.org.au/?q=node/2486

Communication was central to the success of the project.  It was my role to be the main point of contact for all involved in the undertaking.  I initiated contact with artists, responded to artists who made contact, liaised with presenters, recording engineers and 3mbs staff.  I quickly became proficient on the computer, my touch typing improved and I soon learnt to draft a concise email with ease.  Email communication was mostly utilised, with the exception of a few phone calls to artists and managers as well as communicating in person with my supervisor, the operations manager, recordings administrator, IT administrator, Sponsorship manager and general manager.

Another key communication activity undertaken was a meeting set-up to review and decide a line-up of emerging artists for our opening hour.  As the station is committed to supporting local artist, it seemed fit to dedicate an hour to the next generation of Melbourne musicians.  The opportunity was advertised through the website and social media, as well as on-air.  Eligibility and criteria were discussed and it was my task to collate, prepare and present the relevant information to the program committee.  This particular task gave me an appreciation of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ work that would occur in most organisations.  The presentation took several hours of preparation, yet lasted approximately half an hour.  I realised that the effort put into such a task is necessary to ensure that the station continued to run as efficiently as possible.

Once the program, titled ‘ Exploring Melbourne’s Emerging Artists’ was finalised, aside from letting all applicants know successful or otherwise, I was asked to write an another article for subscribers and listeners to read at their leisure.

You can find the article at this link;

http://www.3mbs.org.au/?q=node/2551

Once this opening hour had been confirmed, aside from maintaining correspondence and answering any questions from the young artists booked in, I had to start making some real progress with the ‘big ticket’ artists to book in for the remainder of the Radiothon.

As some of the programs that we chose to schedule a spotlight in were very genre specific, for example ‘Early Music Experience’, there was limited room to move, unlike the more general programs such as drive time ‘Intermezzo’ in which a larger variety of musicians could be programmed.  To navigate through this aspect of the project I categorised the list of proposed musicians into genres and then ranked them in the order of which to contact them.  A hard thing for a musician to do but the reality of the industry!  This meant that if, say, the first early music musician that I contacted was unavailable, without having to again consult my supervisor and/or the program committee, I was able to go ahead and make contact with the next musician.

Once we had a large portion of the artists booked in, again to add to the building excitement of the upcoming Radiothon, I wrote another article for the website;

http://www.3mbs.org.au/?q=node/2594

It was a delight to have the opportunity to be in direct contact with many musicians who I have admired from afar, and several too that I had not heard of.  Once the Radiothon commenced it was extremely exciting to have the ideas and the many emails sent back and forth, materialise before me.  It was extremely satisfying to sit in the studio beside the performance space and watch the artists perform.

The station transformed for the Radiothon, with lots of people about, telephones set up in the corridor beside the studios and lots of food for the volunteers!  A lot of people were kind enough to compliment the work I had done on the spotlights project, but it was contentment enough to see the faces of the volunteers as they were privy to an intimate performance of an exceptional local musician.  Furthermore, to have someone call up just after an artist had played, and wished to take out a new subscription was incredibly rewarding.  I found myself soon spending all of my free time at the station, drinking in the delightful atmosphere of camaraderie and celebration of such a fine organisation.

Initially I thought of myself as honourably selfless for doing so much voluntary work, but as I found myself wanting to be there, I realised that it had become a somewhat selfish pursuit – simply in the sense that I personally was getting so much out of it.  Truly, I learnt that you do get out just as much, if not more, than you put in.

Images courtesy of 3MBS http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.325989778906.152795.202307753906&type=3#!/3MBSMelbourne

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