Radio goNORTH Archive 2013 Producers' Highlights Paul Johnston

Radio goNORTH Archive 2013 Producers' Highlights Paul Johnston


In 2012, as a first year HND Radio student I visited the goNORTH festival with a second year student Andrea. Our original intention was to catch the one radio seminar that was on – Richard Melvin interviewing Jeff Zycinski, Head of Radio for BBC Scotland – and return to Fife. However we found ourselves intrigued by some of the other non-radio sessions and as a result we decided to do it all again the next day. We were well and truly bitten by the goNORTH bug.

This year I was fortunate enough to get a place on the goNORTH Radio Production course. The fortnight-long course would culminate in a three-day radio station, broadcast from the gardens of BBC Scotland during the festival. Coming to the end of a two-year HND I figured what I had already learned would help me and the course would offer invaluable experience. But it didn’t really ready me for what was to come.

Two weeks of tears and tantrums, laughs and learning and personal development and achievement ensued. The course wasn’t just a step up from what I had been taught at college, it was a never-ending escalator. It took me well out of my comfort zone.

We were taught interviewing techniques, how to create interesting packages from initial idea to finished product and all within a tight timeframe.

In the days leading up to the radio station going live we had to book acts, make packages, come up with show ideas, as well as writing up scripts, running orders and call sheets. In our teams we would all produce and present the shows and also work alongside radio professionals like Vic Galloway and, in my case, Jim Gellatly.

The five production teams had a playful bunfight over the 80+ bands playing – “who’s got Jo Mango?” – as we populated our respective shows with interesting content.

The day before my first show I was happy that my second show was also ready. Wrong! Richard wanted a live singer or a band and I didn’t have one! Cue an evening of feverish phone calling to bands, manager and promoters. But, by 1am, I had a singer!!

The first show saw me behind the desk with Maria presenting, with roles reversed the next day. I had a ball presenting my show. It featured two live interviews, including my last-minute booking Ilona, and the hour flew by. The last show was guest-presented by Jim Gellatly. Every day there was a great atmosphere in the marquee with many of the guests joining in the fun, including our own goNORTH Giggles and Name a New Band competitions.

While the working side of the course has been intensive and full-on, we’ve also been able to have a social life. The networking side of the fortnight was very important and, after a stressful day, essential. It also provided some contacts in other areas of the festival.

The two weeks with the Radio goNORTH team is the kind of money-can’t-buy experience that all would-be presenters and producers should get involved in.  My personal highlight was working alongside Jim Gellatly who gave me invaluable advice.