How did Talk Radio react to the Brussels Explosion?

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March 22, 2016 by johnnyseifertradio

At 04:30 when I got into Talk Radio this morning to prepare for Paul Ross on the Breakfast show I busied myself for an hour creating montages of cartoon theme tunes ahead of Marc Silk, the voice of Scooby Doo coming into the studio later in the morning. By 05:30, we had filled in all the slots of the four hour show with experts, press release interviews and the days stories. The first hour went like clockwork. As this is our second show, myself and my fellow producer Alex were really happy with ourselves. Hour two came. We started with a paper review section with our guest Jeff Brazier who had stories to tell including a girl who only ate chicken nuggets and then at 07:17 as we were coming out of the adverts and travel this happened:


How Did It Unfold On Air?

In the control room we had the tv screens showing rolling news which suddenly changed. Looking up at the screen we saw Sky News and BBC News following this unexpected story that seemed to come out of nowhere. We were in shock. After our 07:30 news bulletin came in from PA and Wire we could start reporting and getting experts. The next two hours were a whirlwind as we tried to gather as many callers as possible. This included googling Brussels media agencies and scouring Twitter to find anyone that we could talk to who were at the scene at both at Brussels Zaventem airport and then the Maelbeek Metro. The best way of doing this was looking at our British papers such as the Daily Mail online where they have credited each photo and linked it back to the sources Twitter who we could then contact. As the show went on, we carried on with live updates as they were happening and made links to further topics such as terrorism and how these type of incidents have been dealt with before as mini storyline arcs. By doing this, we are filling in the colours to a big picture as David Lloyd spoke about in his book. In the third hour it was important to recap what we had done through the show as we had lots of speakers in both England and Belgium. The best way of doing this was making a montage which we could then use on other shows across the daytime line up and help us to have a reference point for tomorrows show as we look to explore the aftermath.

How Did I Find This On A Personal Level?

On a personal experience it was a great way of being thrown in the deep end to deal with breaking news. It can not be practiced. I was really grateful for having Dennie Morris, the station managing editor with us guiding through what we should be doing. Having that supportive calm figure helped me develop and utilise my pre-existing skills to the best of my ability and to spark ideas that I had not thought about. I know that in two years I am going to be a great producer as his support is second to none and everyday I learn from him. Whether it is how to make a multi-track session on Burli #BringBackAdobeAudition or to calling an expert. Everyday is a learning curve. Secondly, being part of a live radio experience can not be related to anything. The adrenaline pushes you through. You are a trusted source and you have an audience who trusts your judgements and has turned to you to inform them and we make it our mission to make it the best it can be. We may have had gaps. We may not have had a wealth of contacts that the BBC and Sky have. We may only have a small pool of contacts  but we did a bloody good job at the best radio station that I could ever work for.  We have always been told to be nice to PR people as they will give us their experts and guests for interviews. However, there are occasions when this can not happen. Some agents do not understand that we may not always be able to put their star on the air as we have unforseen circumstances. But to be honest, all agents had seen the news and had to accept we could not do a light fun story when the news was so bleak as it would have disrupted the flow. I may be celebrity and light news obsessed but I appreciate that this type of news story comes first and I have to adapt to my surroundings and ask questions for clarification. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. I know, you know and they know I am naive and I am not switched onto heavy news…But, I am learning.


What Happened To The Show’s Content?

We did a pre-record with Marc Silk as it was a great guest and we wanted to make a social media multi-platform experience for listeners and that will be played out tomorrow. We had a game that we dropped and can be used at any time as a filler and was not important. The only feature we can not repeat for some time was favourite children’s cartoons which we based our first hour around as we do not want the Alan Partridge fans on our backs. However, tomorrow we may do our favourite sweets….


Here is the montage that I produced to show our work:



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