Today I have been on a tour of the BBC Radio Gloucestershire studios, located on London Road in Gloucestershire.
It was all part of the Heritage Open Days running this weekend.
We were on the 1:30 tour and so turned up at around 1:20. We went straight through to the reception area to sign in and then waited whilst other members of the tour turned up.
Our guide for the day was programme controller Dominic Cotter. He first took us to Studio A where David Smith, presenter of the Afternoon Show explained how the studio works. Its all changed since the last time I was there (around 2006ish) – the old equipment has been thrown out and replaced with brand new equipment… to a cost of £2 million! (To put that into perspective, the type of studio I’m used to working in at Corinium probably costs less than £2000).
The new studios now have a touch screen with all the sound effects – everything you could possibly need on the radio from the Eastenders drums to the Strictly Come Dancing theme tunes, and from the sound of a horse to… I’ll let you fill in the gaps here!
The desk looks fairly easy to use – there’s even a load of computer screens (I like computer screens – they make life so much easier, and lazier :D). I’d guess the difficult bits are the timings (everything has to be done exactly to the second), “what’s coming up next”, and the difficult situation when you’re talking and someone else is talking into your headphones (at Corinium the communication is writing notes on a piece of paper and passing them round the room).
Next on the list, was upstairs where News Editor Graham Day explained how systems such as ENPS (Electronic News Production System) work. ENPS is the system used by all BBC journalists to share news content, whether its text based, audio or video. Graham demonstrated how it is possible for someone based in Gloucester to access running orders for BBC Points West (and vice versa), but also for someone based in London to be able to access running orders for BBC Scotland programmes. The ENPS system also means that breaking news can be sent to all BBC computers within seconds of major events happening. So the audio and information used for one of the features on tomorrow’s Breakfast Show is managed from ENPS.
We then moved on, had a quick look at both Steve Knibbs‘ TV editing “office” and the NPA (News Production Area) where the news bulletins are broadcast from, before heading to the main newsroom to find out about the website.
David Bailey does the BBC Gloucestershire website, working as part of a team of 2 (only 1 more than the Corinium website). He explained about how both Points West and Midlands Today will soon be coming to the iPlayer as of tomorrow. Also he showed us some live images from BBC Gloucestershire’s new satellite vehicle – the VERV – which is an upgraded version of the radio car. There are only 3 in the country (I believe Radio Solent have one of them).
The old radio car used to have a rather large transmitter/mast thingy on top and relied on a number of fixed point transmitters around the county to broadcast. So in some places it couldn’t broadcast because of unreliable reception. With the VERV, as long as you have a clear view of the sky, you can broadcast. Theoretically, that means it could be taken to New Zealand and used to broadcast. The VERV also has a webcam attached to it, recording images wherever it goes. Video images are also recorded which can be sent to local TV stations if there is a need. Interestingly, today its been showing us Mark Cummings‘ back. 😐
I enjoyed finding out about how BBC Radio Gloucestershire works. As a free gift, I now have a BBC tax disk holder (despite not being able to drive yet)!
What I didn’t like though… I completely forgot to take a photo of the studio equipment. 😡
Enjoy your week – I’ll write again soon.