Journalism Student reviews of the 2015 Media Festival Talks
Yue He Parkinson by Lisa M Capener
Yue Parkinson – a delightful knowledgeable person who has innovatively created her own brand within the media world. Yue has been here for 10 years and is unique in her way of working through interviewing high profile British people and reporting for Chinese readers for BBC Chinese and FT Chinese.
When writing her interviews she said she thinks in English but writes in Chinese.
Yue gave an insight into her work and focused on how to interview high profile people. The key things discussed were choosing someone you’re interested in, making contact with people through networking and structuring the interview with 3 key things. Preparation and research is very important.
Yue discussed how interviewing is not easy. She said a lot of her time is spent researching but equally admitted that sometimes preparation will not help – when interviewing Sir Evelyn De Rothschild she had prepared a lot, however was immediately given 2 books to read upon arrival and he would only speak about these books and his family.
Yue gave us a task with her advice in mind, which was to do research and come up with questions to ask the Chinese president. We then collectively discussed this: a key theme was the use of social media in China and how he has abolished the one child policy there, which is iconic in China’s history.
Overall it was a fascinating insight into Yue’s working life that she has successfully created for herself through her fresh and outside the box thinking.
Lisa M Capener
Johnny Doom by Ffion Riordan-Jones
“Not a lot of people in radio care about the music”: Kerrang!’s Johnny Doom gives an honest and insightful talk at UoG’s Media Festival.
Kerrang!’s beloved brummie Johnny Doom spoke frankly to UoG students today, narrating through his career whilst advising on how to keep positive in a tough industry.
The 45 minute talk began with Doom reflecting on what sparked his love of punk-rock, falling for bands that were charged through with political messages and rebellious toward conformity. This lead to him forming the band ‘Doom’, who were signed by Peaceville Records. Being highlighted on John Peel Sessions, the band reached a certain level of success, but as the money dried up so did Doom’s motivation. He admitted that he lost his way in the mid 90s, but managed to grow through enrolling as a mature student studying Media. Ironically, Doom “did a bit of radio and hated it”, but excelled in photography and graphic design, leaving him with a 2:1.
After University, he had a few jobs as a production runner and crew member at venues in Birmingham like the NIA, progressing into festivals. Plenty of anecdotes were shared, from taking Slayer to McDonald’s in his car and bringing Amy Winehouse KFC; the audience were laughing throughout. Although he was surrounded by his love of music, the crewing side of producing the show itself took its toll with the long hours, so he got a job at a phone company making ringtones.
His career at Kerrang! started whilst drunk at The Custard Factory, where he met Loz Guest, the man who launched the radio station where Doom got his weekly show.
During the second half of the talk, Doom gave his personal views on corruption in a corporate industry, and his personal struggles coming to terms with the changes Kerrang! have endured as a company.
The station was one of the fastest growing radio channels, with just over 1 million listeners within the first year. However, when the station was taken over by Bauer, in 2004 the Birmingham office was relocated to London with Doom receiving a 50% pay cut to his salary. With this demotion, Doom gave insight into how his personal life changed as the music industry evolved through technology, “I enjoy my show, but it’s a corporate business”.
He discusses how he felt the whole process of having the “fat-cats” and sales teams living their “narcissistic fantasy” took the brand of Kerrang!, originally identified for its rock/metal/punk roots, into a sensational teen magazine to sell to a wider demographic.
His final words were advice to students wanting to break into the media, expressing that if he had one message, it is, “Don’t take any sh*t”. He repeated that knowing your self-worth is fundamental in succeeding, and “to keep your spirit inside yourself”.
Doom was greeted afterwards by students eager for a selfie and wanting their questions answered by one of rock’s best known DJs.
Johnny Doom by Lisa M Capener
A refreshing and somewhat unexpected talk from Johnny was given today. Johnny Doom a DJ on Kerrang Radio has had in his words lots of up and downs and said he still keeps hammering away at his career.
The seemingly down to earth man who said he initially hated radio as he didn’t like talking, has been on Kerrang radio since 2003 and the reason for this being that he loves it and loves music. He gave his very realistic view on working within radio, and said work in the sector will change and alter your perceptions of it, it seems possibly not in a positive way.
Johnny has had a fascinating and varied career and told hilarious stories of some of the random things he has ended up doing like – getting KFC for a bleeding Amy Winehouse, sweeping a stage whilst Red Hot Chili Peppers were playing and ‘that’ incident that got him into serious trouble whilst working as a Ring Tone Creator which led to him being called a porn prankster by The Manchester Herald newspaper.
(A father ordered a picture of Bert and Ernie for his 8-year-old daughter’s Nokia phone. There was a slight technical issue and a picture of a body part ended up being more something resembling Spurt and Ernie rather than the iconic cartoon characters..)
It seems Johnny has unfortunately had a hard time and therefore learnt some important lessons which he was keen to share with us, which were – don’t take rubbish from people, be strong, be wary, and just keep that spirit going inside you which is what keeps him going.
He said that although he doesn’t know what the future holds, he wouldn’t give up DJing for the world.
Lisa M Capener
Neil Simpson – ATC Management by Ffion Riordan-Jones
Manager and ATC partner, Neil Simpson, gave music students and lovers a unique insight into the rise and success of the UK’s newest and most sought after band, Catfish and the Bottlemen.
With over 20 years of experience, Simpson has worked with the likes of Collective Music, The Academy of Contemporary Music and as Director of Manchild Music. Now at ATC Management, Simpson works with acoustic/folk artists such as Half Moon Run, Brother & Bones and Augustines.
When speaking about first meeting front man Van McCan and the boys, Simpson’s impression of the Llandudno band was, “it was like getting a pizza, and all I had to do was cook it”.
With 500 gigs already under their belts, Simpson and Primary Talent agent Ben Winchester (Oasis, Glasvegas and Radiohead) helped the band get signed by Communion Records, an unexpected yet strategic move. Simpson really conveyed his enthusiasm and excitement at this time, for example the sheer thrill of stepping into Rockfield Studios when recording the debut album, whilst McCan remained significantly underwhelmed by comparison.
A large focus of the talk was how significant getting a BBC Introducing seal of approval is for an up-and-coming band, and why Simpson prefers to work with “grass roots” artists. Catfish were pushed through Introducing, climbed up the ladder of Radio 1 playlists and achieved 8 A-list tracks from one album.
Whilst unfolding the story of Catfish, Simpson spoke about the diversity of marketing new artists, and that the “bloggersphere” seems to be less relevant with the instant nature of Spotify and Apple Music.
Overall, a very revealing talk, informing students how to progress in music management. Simpson is always looking for new talent, and promises that Catfish have a lot more to come.
Pat Murphy by Lisa M Capener
Pat Murphy gave an interesting talk which was packed full of advice. This massively successful man who has a dry but great sense of humour spoke about his experiences and told how he got into journalism by telling a pack of lies after initially training as a lawyer. He admitted he has seen some horrific things whilst reporting at Hillsborough, and IRA bombings, and said how seeing these awful things have shaped how he works with regards to the vocabulary he uses. He said he will never use words like disastrous and say “a disastrous attempt from the England football team”; he said ultimately it is only sport.
Pat’s career has meant he has travelled all over the world, has written/co-written 40 books with different people such as Freddie Flintoff and Brian Clough and has a wealth of experience. He also spoke very directly about his views on certain things such as Talk Sport being a homage to the white van man and shared a few of his bugbears such as press officers! An early memory he shared was when he was aged 7, and whilst watching a Sports programme at home he said, “I’m going to work on that programme”. 20 years later, he’d done it and it was a proud moment for him and his family. Pat’s talk was packed full of advice and tips for prospective journalists which are listed below.
Pat Murphy’s Top Tips
- Nothing is easy, the trick is to make it look easy
- Your friend and ally is a watch – must always stick to time
- Really important to improve your vocabulary
- Never lose the enjoyment of doing it
- You have got to know who you’re talking to
- Never show your questions
- Always, always listen
- You want to make people wish they were there
- Try and be different
- Make yourself liked
- Get to know people and develop contacts
- Win a few, lose the rest
- Develop a relationship with your interviewee and find common ground
- Learn different ways to do different interviews
- There’s something to be said for starting early
- The most important question when interviewing is “really”?
- You don’t need to show off your knowledge – you shouldn’t be there doing
- the interview if you don’t have knowledge
- Mark your terrain out, don’t blunder in there with a list of questions
Lisa M Capener
Jon Briggs – an “on air male” by Ben Amor
“A star? – You’ve never heard of me” was the first line of this entertaining talk. Well, we may not have heard of the ordinary-sounding name of Jon Briggs before but we have certainly heard the voice. The voice is the star, the voice is Siri.
Voice over artist Jon Briggs welcomed a packed audience for his talk, one of the first to kick start the 2015 University of Gloucestershire’s Media Festival. Whilst many of us knew what had formed part of this extraordinary sounding man’s life, none of us had expected famous names, faces and jobs to appear quite so frequently throughout the talk.
Starting his career at BBC Radio Oxford, a picture of a very young looking gentleman was seen cutting tape for edit and alongside photos featuring the well known and much loved lecturer at UOG, Erika Barnes, who at the time was at the start of her career.
However, nostalgia was not to be on the cards for long as Jon reminded us that all those skills he had learnt 25 years ago, were now nearly redundant and this blunt reminder told us that the skills we are currently learning may in 25 years also be “of little or no use”.
Since his early days the voice took over and radio and TV stations such as BBC Radio 1,2,4,5 Live, BBC World Service and LBC alongside BBC 1,2, ITV and Channel 4 all combined to give a wonderful and varied CV for Jon. It therefore came as no surprise to any of us when Jon said, “for 20 years I had been on the radio show either on a daily or weekly show.”
The involvement with the BBC also featured the well-known quiz show The Weakest Link in which Jon provided the voice for over 1,800 shows. However, those of us hoping to make a quick buck out of voice overs were reminded that the payments were far from amazing, after Jon received on average £70 for each show.
Money was also relevant to other well know jobs including Jon’s stand in appearances as “the voice of the balls” on the National Lottery when regular Alan Deddicoat is ill, something Jon says “sadly, seldom happens.”
Whilst Jon is still regularly employed in the voice over industry he now owns and manages the agency Excellent. A talent company which manages over 150 voice over starts alongside around 10 television presenters, one of these being Carol Kirkwood – the BBC weather lady who had entered the nation’s hearts after being voted off of the BBC1 show Strictly Come Dancing only the evening before.
Before Jon moved on with his talk, the voice of Siri was eagerly anticipated by us all and Jon didn’t disappoint. He told us how he had been selected by Apple as the English voice of Siri, due to his voice being a perfect example of received pronunciation.
After discussing his own career, Jon discussed in great detail how important our voices are and how we should be grateful for them.
Drawing our attention to the fact that our voices are as individual as our fingerprints, he demonstrated that the way we speak can tell to our audience everything about us including our education, our background, mood and how reliable and trustworthy we really are.
Whilst the majority of us admitted we didn’t like our voices, we were told to appreciate them – as our voice is the only one we’ve got. Whilst we all admit to being annoyed when Siri on our iPhone refuses to accept our questions and we all sometimes wish we could do our own “movie” voice overs, we left the talk all appreciating our voices that little bit more. After all who will voice the iPhone 7…
Clare Bowen by Lisa M Capener
You could see why Clare is the head of creative development for the Radio Centre at her enthusiastic talk, about all things radio. She spoke about radio with buckets of passion and energy. She said her role was to get creative people excited about the possibilities of radio. She also said that radio remains relevant in the media world and she is trying persuade people that that is the case. She played examples of great radio advertising which included a moving piece with Karl Pilkington and Ricky Gervais doing a campaign to raise awareness of prostate cancer.
You could feel the atmosphere change in the lecture theatre once she had played it and could’ve heard a pin drop once it had finished.
One key point she made was that fewer words can be much more powerful and how great it is that the creativity is ever growing. She also spoke about the importance of music, how radio is about music and that music has power from a selling point of view. She then proceeded to give some quite surprising figures, one being that 89% of people listen to the radio every week for an average of 21 hours. She also compared where radio sits in comparison to Spotify and CDs and 70% of audio listening is on the radio.
Lastly Clare finished by saying she thinks that the future of radio is evolving through innovative creativity. She also set a challenge for students to enter the Design and Art Direction awards for the radio category (New Blood Awards 2016), she made a point of saying radio last won in 1983 and it was radio’s turn to win again.
Lisa M Capener
Dan Damon by Lisa M Capener
Dan gave a very in-depth look into his journalism career, going into detail about the different things he covered which included Bosnia, Afghanistan, Albania and Kosovo. He currently does a range of things but highlighted he does art projects for Radio 4; he recently did one about transgender actors.
He said he likes to focus on light things rather than all of it being serious.
Dan’s talk about his experiences were completely captivating. It was interesting to hear about some of the challenges he faced in an age when technology was not as developed as it is now, though when questioned about what impact today’s technology would have had on his experiences back then, he responded by saying that it was not that bad and though the technology was cumbersome, it still did the job.
Dan Damon met his wife whilst working out in Eastern Europe and said that working closely with her was good, as experiencing the things he has experienced can drive you mad but it was good that she had experienced it too and they had each other.
A poignant moment in his talk was him speaking about how both he, and his wife had come across an orphaned baby whilst in Bosnia, whom they adopted and brought back to the UK. Leila is now 21 and is planning on moving back to Bosnia which Dan said they are both happy about, she also does work for the charity War Child following her experiences.
Dan also interestingly spoke about the mental health of journalists and how it is now being recognised that some journalists suffer from PTSD following covering traumatic events. He went onto say that he is part of a new initiative with the BBC called TRiM (Trauma Risk Management) which is a method of support given to journalists.
All in all it was a fascinating in-depth look into the world of the veteran that is Dan Damon.
Lisa M Capener