In the run up to Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2015 in Norwich, the R1 Academy has been at the OPEN venue for the past week. The Academy consisted of a host of workshops, Q&As, Live Lounge performances and activities in the “Hangout” to encourage confidence and inspire young people to follow their dreams in the music and media industries. I was lucky enough to attend a wide variety of events that appealed to me, mainly relating to journalism and radio. In this post I will list the sessions that I attended, adding my own evaluation and summaries.
Saturday 9th May
- Careers Q&A: How To Be An Entrepreneur
The first event I attended was a Q&A with entrepreneurs behind brands such as MyVoucherCodes and Spoon Cereals. The Q&A mentioned buzzwords such a “passion”, “motivation” and “hard work” a lot, but I did not leave the event with a clearer idea of what it takes to be an entrepreneur or how to discover what your “passions” really are.
Monday 11th May
- Journalism Q&A: How to Make It In Journalism With Jake Humphrey
Rick Edwards (TV presenter) hosted the Q&A with local hero Jake Humphrey. The Q&A was simultaneously informative and entertaining, highlighting Jake’s talent to engage an audience. The stand-out piece of advice from the session for me, personally, was “Don’t sit in the comfy chair” – take risks, be interesting, and continue to push yourself to grow and improve.
- Journalism Q&A: Going Digital With Journalism
The digital journalism Q&A panel was made up of Martin Bryant (The Next Web), Anna Doble (R1 Newsbeat) and Greg Cochrane (NME.com). I asked Greg what he felt was more important – a broad skill set or specialised knowledge? His reply was essentially “both”. The main pieces of advice that I took away from the session were as follows: practice writing as much as possible; do as much work experience as possible; keep a list of things that I have done that I am proud of; stay focused and never give up. Tuesday 12th May
- Radio Q&A: A Day In The Life Of Nick Grimshaw And Team
The Nick Grimshaw and Team Q&A panel consisted of Ben Cooper (R1 and 1Xtra Controller), Nick Grimshaw (Presenter), Victoria Easton (Producer) and Liam Conroy (Team Assistant). The session was fun and lively, although perhaps not the most informative of the week. I did feel more aware of the importance of work experience by the end of the session.
- Radio Q&A: How To Be A Radio 1 DJ With Fearne Cotton, Nick Grimshaw and Greg James
I learnt how these three presenters/DJs took different paths that led them to Radio 1. Again, work experience was mentioned a fair amount.
- Careers Workshop: Get Your Dream Job With The Perfect Online Profile
This event was listed as a ‘workshop’, but contained barely any audience interaction at all. The session consisted of Jude Winstanley (The Unit List) and Charles Hardy (LinkedIn) talking about digital profiles, finding employment and other career-focused tips. Unfortunately, it was my least favourite session of the whole week: there were long pauses; the two presenters did not seem to have planned exactly what they were going to cover; there were some awkward silences; I did not learn much that was not really common sense (E.G. use the same photograph across all digital platforms etc.); the session was much longer than it probably needed to be.
Wednesday 13th May
- Radio Workshop: Make A Feature For Greg James
Greg James is well-known for his interesting and entertaining features such as Rage Against The Answering Machine and Star Caller on his weekday drive-time show, and this workshop allowed us to create our own features and pitches to be judged by Greg himself. My feature was called Headlies, and basically involves people ringing up with bizarre truthful or invented local headlines. The production team would chose one true and one false headline to be played on air for Greg to guess which one was the “headlie”. Greg chose two winning features: my group’s Headlies and another group’s feature called Nan Knows. This workshop was extremely entertaining, but more importantly made us consider requirements such as entertainment value, ease of creating and maintaining, and audio & visual concepts.
Thursday 14th May
- DJ Workshop: DJ Skills With B.Traits & Monki
The DJ workshop with B.Traits and Monki was possibly the highlight of my week at R1 Academy. Before the workshop I had never even touched a pair of decks, yet by the end of the session I was able to mix songs using the CDJs and mixer, as well as being able to use controls such as low, mid and hi frequencies and tempo controls.
- Music: BBC Introducing’s Port Isla Acoustic Performance and Q&A
Huw Stephens hosted an acoustic performance and Q&A with Port Isla, a local band that I have been listening to since they won a local competition (Rocket From The East) in early 2012.
- BBC Introducing gig and Huw Stephens DJ Set
The BBC Introducing gig and DJ set was radically different from the majority of my R1 Academy experience, since it was not focused on careers, work experience and media skills. It was really nice to go to a free gig, and I especially enjoyed Huw’s DJ set after the bands.
Friday 15th May
- Careers Q&A: How To Be A YouTube Millionaire With Jamal Edwards MBE
I understand and appreciate the way in which YouTube has acted as a massive platform for artists, vloggers and creatives, but it is not something that I am likely to venture into myself. Whilst I enjoy watching the occasional music videos, entertaining clips and economic videos on the site, I am unlikely to start my own YouTube as written journalism is where my interest really lies. I am noticing a growing trend for digital and video journalism, but at the moment I am focusing on my writing. I did, however, find this Q&A insightful and interesting, as I was particularly taken aback by the success of Edwards’ SBTV channel and brand. Few can boast an MBE and a business valued at over £1 million by the youthful age of 24, proving just how inventive Jamal Edwards has been.
- DJ Workshop: Learn To Mix With DJ Danny Howard
Since I enjoyed the DJ workshop so much the previous day, I managed to bag a last-minute reserve spot for another one, this time with Radio 1 Dance DJ Danny Howard.
- Music: Closing Party – Algorave Warm Up & Radio 1’s Dance Anthems With Greg James and Danny Howard
The algorave warm up consisted of music that was programmed using algorithm coding. I did not like the sound of the music, but I appreciated the unusual production method. Greg James and Danny Howard then took to the stage to mix some dance anthems, most of which was live-streamed on Radio 1 for over 6 million listeners to hear. A fun end to a brilliant week. Bring on Radio 1’s Big Weekend next Saturday and Sunday!