First Transmission: Our Big Plan

Our Radio
Our Radio Studio
What an amazing day! Our first broadcast as Our Radio was not without its trials and tribulations, but that just seemed to make it more exciting and worthwhile. We had worked around the clock to have a five hour schedule ready for the Mencap OUR BIG PLAN day, taking up the challenge from the inspiring and inspired Liz Clyro. We knew time was short, but in the spirit of good alternative radio we decided to go for it.

We had set up a WordPress page to host the site and a Ustream account to broadcast from. Next was the important matter of getting the correct broadcasting licences from the PPL and PRS. Once we had paid our licence fees, we set ourselves up on Facebook, Instagram and most importantly Twitter. Having done that we sat around the table with the Our Radio crew and made up a wishlist of guests and decided which issues we would like to talk about on the day.

Studio Equiptment
Studio Equipment
Discrimination was a big theme with the group, but they also felt that for our opening day we should be pushing a sense of fun, promoting wellbeing and generally put across a positive message. This was a positive moment in itself as it chimed right in with the themes of ‘Our Big Plan’ and we could riff off some of the keywords such as Caring, Trustworthy, Inclusive and Positive. Excitement was building in the room. A great meeting!

On the technical front however things were a bit more difficult. We spent a few days trying to get the phone lines to work, but it was a bit beyond our scope and time frame, so we put the phone on the back burner for another day. On the guest front though things were hotting up. The amazing Ciara Lawrence-Evans came in with a proposal for London Include Me to host an hour or so and they had a brilliant playlist of songs. The Our Radio team wanted to invite guests from the world of theatre, song and Mencap itself so we set about finding the people they wanted. We had a radio drama that we had written produced and presented at Resonance 104.4FM before Xmas, also Bob Pearce sent in a lovely podcast of an interview he had made with a woman called Grace (available now to listen on our homepage) and that was the icing on the cake. Could we see out five hours of broadcasting? Fingers crossed!

Come the morning of the 29th all the Our Radio crew were in bright and early, and busied themselves sticking up posters, printing out playlists and concentrating on their questions and prompts for the day. Anticipation and excitement was running high but the crew reassured and inspired each other, and all of a sudden it was 12 o clock and the bright red LIVE ON AIR sign was flashing, and we were away.

Live in the Studio
Live in the Studio
We started with an hour of music and chat and shout outs and already the Twitter feed was busy and maybe making up for a lack of phone line. We were all feeling pretty confident. Liz brought Oonagh Smyth into the room to be grilled by the team on the direction of Mencap and Our Big Plan and gutwrenchingly this is when disaster chose it’s moment to strike. We got a flurry of texts and some concerned listeners on various floors of the office came down to tell us that the signal was down and Al they could hear was pure static. It was a real heart in the mouth moment with the fear that all the previous weeks work might go to waste and we would mess up on such a big day. Thankfully though the problem was located and the computers rebooted and we were able to proceed. Oonagh was gracious enough to redo her interview and the guys got some great answers out of her. Thank you Oonagh and big shout out to Erin for overcoming the technical Heebie Jeebies.

The podcast of Grace was played whilst the group handed over to Ciara, Jack, Bernadette and Harry of the Include Me team. Wow! These guys were on it. All four members supplied 90 minutes of passionate articulate thought and reasoning, as well as playing some outrageously good tunes. We would like more please London Include Me team- you are an inspiration to our presenters! Whilst we’re on the topic, a big congratulations to Harry for his new role as Mencap’s European ambassador. Time was flying in the studio.

London Include Me
London Include Me group
Our Radio are currently writing a drama called Going Places so it was a brilliant surprise for them when the six members of London Artbox Productions burst through the door. Artbox are from the Central School of Speech and Drama and are going to be working with the group soon. An inspired conversation ensued around the table on the nature of theatre and how it can inspire and empower the lonely and disadvantaged. We look forward to working with them in the future.

Artbox Productions cram into the studio
Artbox Productions cram into the studio
Hot on the heels of the Artbox group, the Our Radio presenters interviewed two amazing singer-songwriters Katy Carr and Helen Macookerybook. Lots of great ground was covered, and we ended the show on a real high.

Singer-songwriters Helen and Katy
Singer-songwriters Helen and Katy
Thank you to everyone who contributed on the day but especially our team of Nikki, Christian, Richmond and Joseph. It is early days for the Our Radio team but already their confidence and communication skills are building. The next year should be a total adventure.

Discussion in the studio
Discussion in the studio

The big surprise of the day was certainly the amount of Twitter traffic that ensued and we were retweeted by the likes of Gloria Gaynor and Irvine Welsh as well as a great deal of cross-pollination between different Mencap offices across the country. Social media is definitely the way to get ourselves out there, is important to interact with listeners and is a great compliment to online radio. Our next challenge is to overcome our technical gremlins and install a new mixer and then maintain a steady, varied and inspired radio timetable.

Our Big Plan for Our Radio! Yes indeed.
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