Radio goNORTH Archive 2013 Producers' Highlights Stephen MacKay

Radio goNORTH Archive 2013 Producers' Highlights Stephen MacKay

It’s the “Bald Eagle” flying by here again. I was an individual delegate at the goNorth Festival 2012 and really enjoyed the experience of meeting people from all levels and different aspects of the Creative industries. I have recently become highly involved in local Community Radio with Monster FM and ABC Radio Alness. So you can imagine my delight when I was contacted by Amanda Millen and informed I had been offered a place on the Radio goNORTH  two week production course to build a pop up radio station for goNORTH 2013. The challenge was to bring 10 trainee’s from different backgrounds, ages, and experience and with the help of the marvellous trainer’s and experts to weld us into a Live professionally sounding radio station which fully reflected the total flavour and breadth of the goNORTH festival. Well the last two weeks met my expectations and much more.

The whole experience was awesome if very scary at times but we were encouraged, cajoled and sometimes coerced by the trainers into producing a wonder three days of live radio. When I think back to when the “Bald Eagle” first flew in two weeks ago we have all come on so far since then.

The course got off to a great start when Chloe and I took to the streets to produce our ‘Sneck Trecks’ package. That involved going out and hijacking passers-by tourist and locals alike and trying to get them to try to say a well-known Scottish phrase and say what it means. You can hear how we got on on the website. The pace of the course then was ramped up when we were paired up with another trainee to produce three hours of live dynamic radio reflecting the flavour of the goNorth Festival. We had to build three shows that were vibrant and interesting. This involved looking through the goNORTH programme and identifying interesting guests, bands and features. We then had to start planning or ideas then pitch these ideas to the trainers. We then had to start planning what was going on each show and this involved collaborating with the other teams.  The logistics of trying to get over 35 live acts and guest was a logistical challenge. Due to travel arrangements meant that it was often not possible to get a guest on your show but in that case we would offer the guest to another Radio goNORTH duo who ran a show at another time. One of my personal challenges was having to run solo on my radio shows. While this at times was very stressful I learn the importance of good planning and preparation which helps you cope when the pressure was on. One of the things I learnt was to think on my feet be adaptable and have a plan B and respond to the unexpected. That included adapting my Scripts and running orders to accommodate additional guests and unexpected changes. While this was challenging it was also a very good experience and rewarding when it worked out. I learnt the importance of timings, succinct links and the importance of focusing on the job in hand.

I was so proud that despite a number of challenges involving wi-fi connections and network connections etc. that we succeeded in producing three days vibrant professional sounding radio. What a buzz I got when I listened back to the three days of radio on Radio goNORTH It sounded so good and all the hard work was so worth it. I relished the challenge of having sometimes three live acts on the same hour long show. My highlights were hosting Rachel Sermanni, Bruce Macgregor, Willie Campbell and Glasgow band Friends in America. I was especially please to catch up with Mary Anne Kennedy at the Mercure Hotel where she spoke about the innovative project involving collaborative work between Scottish and Canadian Musician’s and film makers about a Building Bridges film which premiered at the Festival.

The atmosphere in the Radio goNORTH tent in the grounds of the BBC was so ‘electric’ and it build up each day. There was Bands and guests from all over the world coming and going and the live sessions were so exciting but at the same time the pressure was to still produce seamless professional sounding radio. I believe we achieved this and I was so proud to have the job of ending Radio goNORTH 2013. I was delighted to interview Amanda Millen live on the show when she spoke of the success of the whole festival which brought together all aspects of the creative industries from Film making, Radio, Music, Fashion and design and Publishing. Radio goNORTH ended with Willie Campbell, joined by Duncan Overmeer and Festival Director Amanda Millen leading the whole tent in singing & dancing to Proud Mary. What a high point to end the whole Radio station on.Radio goNORTH has given me invaluable experience and hopefully is a major stepping stone in my quest to produce radio shows for a living! Thank you Radio goNORTH.

However the goNORTH festival was not over yet… I really enjoyed the final night the mystery tour that end up in Inverness Airport where we were offered up a dance performance which show cased Highlands Crafts after which we were serenaded by the Cairn String Quarted. But the night was but young and we finished up moving round all the goNORTH venues and catching up so many interesting Acts. But all good things must come to an end but there is always next year to look forward to !!  Like all good birds of prey I will migrate to other climes but I will return and hopefully fly back next year.

The “Bald Eagle Over” and Out.