Wednesday, April 04, 2012

How To Make Friends With Influential People...

As you may or may not know, I’m a volunteer for Coventry Hospital Radio. I’m a presenter with my own show on Thursday evenings (5.30 until 7pm for future reference, in case you’re ever in University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire). I’ve been doing this for about two and a half years and still love it as much as I ever did. Probably even more so as my confidence levels have grown and I’m more and more comfortable with the sound of my own voice (well, my fake voice. My radio voice is slightly different to my usual Coventry foghorn). I’m a CHR Committee Member and an award nominee. Yes, read that last bit. A NOMINEE. I know, I couldn’t believe it either when, back in February, I was in the pub (a lot of my stories begin with ‘I was in the pub’) idly checking Facebook when on the CHR Facebook page it said that myself and the wonderful Neil Wilkes had been shortlisted for awards at the Hospital Broadcasting Association awards to be held on 31 March. I nearly fell off my chair. Me, with my shambling radio style, the overuse of ‘erm, um and errrr’, playing too much Dad Rock and my recent obsession with Maroon 5’s ‘Moves Like Jagger’? Surely there must be some kind of mistake? But no, I was indeed shortlisted for ‘Best Female Presenter’. Neil was shortlisted for ‘Best Newcomer’ (I said at the time that if he didn’t win, I’d eat a hat. Not MY hat, you understand, just a hat) and the station was up for Best Special Event for the 48 Hour Show – Live which had been masterminded by Neil and where the station (well, Neil) broadcast for 48 hours, live (the name was inspired) raising money for our radio fund and the kids ward here at UHCW.

Anyway, that’s some background for you. Fast forward to Saturday 31 March. The location? Glittering Northampton. Myself, David, Neil and Michael all met at the train station to head on our journey (Neil and me still in disbelief that we’d been shortlisted). Onto the train and Neil, ever in radio mode, had the idea of doing little snippets of us on the way to the awards. I was concerned that if he kept doing them, especially later on in the night after I’d had a few pints of Guinness, that I’d be sacked from CHR but that wasn’t to be. We had a mini interview which he is going to edit together for his show on Saturday morning (Neil Wilkes on Saturday mornings 9 until 12. For future reference once again).

The journey from the station to our hotel was less than five minutes. We got sorted and checked in and headed over to the awards show venue (literally, across the road. Brilliant). Sat and had a pint in the bar and the nerves kicked in. We were actually there. Award nominees, amongst all these other hundreds of people, we were there representing CHR.

Suitably glitzed and glammed up later (I managed to look feminine for once, look up there ^) we headed back to the awards where we discovered we were on a table with people from Radio Wey. We wandered into the room, saw our table where a man shouts ‘Here, are you Tara?’ ‘Yep, that’s me’, and he proceeded to pat the seat next to him, telling me to sit down. David said he knew that it was going to be a great night from then on. We sat and chatted to the Radio Wey lot. They were all so friendly and welcoming, Mandy Morrow was their nominee for Best Female Presenter (my competition). As we chatted, it soon came to light that although CHR is ever progressing and moving forward, we were still quite behind with a lot of stuff. Jim, who I was sitting next to asked me if we had Myriad. ‘What?’ was my reply. I admit to feeling a bit embarrassed about not knowing what it was, but it showed Radio Wey that not all hospital broadcasters had access to the things they did. Jim and Andy (the Chairman of Radio Wey) then invited myself and Neil down to their studios in Surrey for a tour and to see how they run things.

At CHR we seem to be terribly limited to the things we can and cannot do. We cannot commentate on Coventry City football matches because the club don’t own the ground, Radio Wey got funding for equipment that lets them broadcast their football teams games. When asked if there had been any local press interest in two volunteers for CHR being nominated for the awards, I said that yes a press release had been done by the Communications team but that I didn’t think it’d been in the paper yet. Jim suggested we do our own press releases.

A break between dinner and the awards show saw another trip to the bar (yes, yes I know) where we chanced upon one of the judges, former BBC correspondent and more importantly, ex CHR presenter Barnie Choudhury. I mentioned where we were from and he said ‘Come and find me at the end of the night’. During the ceremony itself, Barnie made mention of starting at CHR and also paid tribute to one of our presenters who is seriously ill.

The excitement grew as the categories CHR were nominated for were announced (by the one and only voice of the balls Alan Dedicoat). The clips we submitted had were played out (well, snippets of the clips) and it was weird hearing my voice played out to a roomful of strangers. Of the three nominations CHR had, Neil won the Silver award for Best Newcomer. I was so proud of him. Obviously I was a teeny bit disappointed to not win, I’d be lying if I said otherwise, but I was so proud to be recognised and shortlisted. I genuinely never in a million years thought that I would be good enough to be shortlisted as Best Female Presenter.

After the awards, Barnie came and found us and bought the four of us a drink. Then we got down to business. He wanted to know the ins and outs of how CHR was now run. I explained the committee was recently formed and we’ve been moving forward in leaps and bounds but there was still so much more we wanted to do.

Barnie sat with us for the rest of the evening, giving us ideas, hints and tips for things. We mentioned that CHR is 40 this year and we were going to have a celebration. He gave us a list of names of folk who had gone on from CHR to the big time and advised us to get in touch with them. He gave us ideas for how to get a Patron, an idea of who that Patron should be (someone very famous associated with the city and I learned from Neil earlier this evening that he is already on the case). And Barnie also told us to do our own press releases.

It was all a bit overwhelming really. Still chatting with Barnie and Andy from Radio Wey came over and gave me his card. Neil and me are definitely taking him up on his kind offer of visiting them down in Surrey.

One thing that Barnie said to us really stuck with me. He said that in his three years of judging the awards, he was proud to see CHR shortlisted. And that made me proud too.

The future of CHR is in our hands, and with the assistance of our new found chums, we can hopefully get shortlisted in more categories next year and who knows, maybe win a Gold award.

*Please note: All thoughts and views expressed within this blog post that of me, Tara Court.

1 comment:

  1. One thing that I learned in my brief foray into this sort of thing - PR companies/departments are shit and if you want owt doing, do it yourself.


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