‘Who’s the Mammy?’ – Why work experience is important.

‘Who’s the Mammy?’ is a one off BBC Radio Scotland feature programme which aired on Monday and will be repeated on Sunday 10th at 3 pm – check it out. It is a ‘day in the life’ kind of programme about Scotland’s mothers and features 11 of them from across the country; ranging from the Western Isles, Inverness, Glasgow, etc.

But, the most important thing about this 45 minute programme to me is that I got to help record it.

The BBC wanted to use inexperienced or ‘rookie’ reporters to get the content to try and give them a bit of experience, a taste of the industry and an opportunity to work on such a rare project.

I was one of 14 reporters that they gathered through contacts, colleges and universities – as well as recruiting the current BBC apprentices. Personally, I got involved through somebody I knew who knew somebody else; hence teaching me why networking is incredibly valuable.

Obviously, required BBC training was involved before we were allowed to go out with any equipment and gather any audio. We were brought down to Pacific Quay and over the course of a day taught about BBC standards, how to use the Nagra recorders and what sort of audio they were looking for.

We were also taught about interview techniques though; information that will help me throughout the rest of my career and not just for this project. We were taught about making a connection with your interviewee, giving them time to speak and listening to their answers. These may seem simple and obvious but it is unbelievable how often they are swept under the carpet. Journalists are under so much pressure these days that they need to get information quickly. They don’t have time to get the quality content you get by creating a relationship and giving your interviewee the time to think and speak.

We were then given families and times to go out and interview; making sure we made the first step in building trust with our mothers by phoning them before hand to confirm details. Something that seems so small but something that is so effective.

Interviewing is the most enjoyable part of projects like this; there were enough of us for us to take a couple of hours with each mother so their individual interviews were relaxed and paced.  This helped us produce quality content which then was edited together by producer Mairi Damer who has done an incredible job in making the programme come together.

Projects like this don’t come along very often; they require money, time and to let students like myself be involved, training. They are very special and something should be done to make sure these sorts of projects are continued and included in radio station budgets.

I know that I have learned a lot from the opportunity to become involved. Networking is extremely important in this industry because if it wasn’t for networking then I never would have become involved. Taking time to figure out exactly what content you are looking for before you go into an interview but then proceeding to go through the windows you are given during is very important. You must be flexible, friendly and you must, must, MUST LISTEN.

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